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  • This topic has 55 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 1 week ago by anita.
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  • #379344
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Ilyana,

    regarding your son, you say that you’re still trying to deal with the trauma around his birth, which actually deepened your depression. Did I understand well that before your son was born, you sometimes had manic episodes too (you were diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 26), but, since you gave birth to your son, at 35, you’ve mostly experienced depression and the manic episodes are gone?

    If you haven’t managed to heal the trauma surrounding your son’s birth, does it mean you’re blaming him, at least in part, for almost causing you to die? Is there some resentment in you towards your son?

    #381188
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Ilyana,

    how are you? Have you managed to get into the residential treatment program you hoped for?

    #381189
    Ilyana
    Participant

    I have had an eventful few weeks.

    I decided not to go into residential treatment. My sister is funding a variety of therapists I am seeing at home. It turns out it was a good thing I made that decision, because the place I was looking at can help with trauma and depression, but only if my bipolar was stable. Last week, I realized I was having a manic phase. I think it was building for a few weeks, but I can’t be sure.

    When I get manic, I usually develop a romantic obsession, and this time was no different. I started talking several times a day to an ex boyfriend of mine for whom I have always had feelings. We talked a lot, and expressed a lot of affection for one another. We never acknowledged anything was going on, just talked a lot. He lives in another country very far away, so it felt harmless – there was no risk of anything inappropriate happening. What I didn’t see at the time is that the correspondence itself was inappropriate. Now he has stopped answering my messages. At the same time as I see it’s probably best we not be in constant contact, I miss him. I miss feeling seen and valued and like someone actually has a bit of faith in me. I certainly don’t get that from my husband.

    This is so, so frustrating. I have carried out this cycle so many times, and I never know I’m doing it at the time. It always feels different, healthy, important. Then when it’s over, I always feel stupid, like once again I’ve been shown what happiness with another person might look like, only to have it snatched away.

    I have also come to a realization about my marriage. I can’t stay in it long term. I am going to give it at most a year, and if I don’t see improvement, I will leave. We are entangled in a relationship that is not healthy for us or for our son. I know the correspondence with my ex was wrong, but it also reminded me what it feels like when someone actually likes you and wants to talk to you. If I am going to be in a relationship, I need to feel that way sometimes, and I can see that that is not an unreasonable desire. My husband is a good person, and it’s not his fault he is so bad with emotions. But I am a very emotional person, and I cannot be with someone who can’t handle that.

    I am feeling so low. Not suicidal at the moment, but very hopeless and alone. It feels like I am doomed to repeat these cycles forever.

    Thanks for checking in,

    Ilyana

    #381198
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Ilyana,

    good to hear from you. It’s interesting and may even be a good sign that you had somewhat of a manic episode, where you’ve livened up and started having romantic feelings. This hasn’t happened since your son was born, so perhaps it means something positive. It may mean you’re feeling hope again that things can be different in your life:

    it also reminded me what it feels like when someone actually likes you and wants to talk to you. If I am going to be in a relationship, I need to feel that way sometimes, and I can see that that is not an unreasonable desire.

    You’re also aware of your deeper need:

    I miss feeling seen and valued and like someone actually has a bit of faith in me.

    You’ve never received that from your mother – she was so consumed with hating your father that she sacrificed your emotional well-being for that. She sacrificed her own health too. For a long time during childhood, you believed your father rejected you and doesn’t want to have anything to do with you. You felt unlovable and unworthy. No wonder you have the need to feel loved and seen and valued. During the depressive phase, I guess you give up the hope that this would ever be possible, and during the manic phase, it seems this hope reawakens.

    You say your husband is emotionally unresponsive, and yet you married him. Could it be because at least he wasn’t so obsessed with hating other people like your mother was? Perhaps his lack of emotions felt better than having strong negative emotions all the time, like your mother did?

    It could be that your choice of husband was a reaction to your mother, a way to protect yourself from emotional abuse. But it’s not good enough, because you don’t want to live without emotional expression altogether.

    The solution would be the same that we’ve talked about in the beginning of this thread – to give yourself the love and appreciation you’re hoping to get from others. Easier said than done, I know… What are you working on in your therapy at the moment? How are you progressing with self-love and self-compassion?

     

    #381219
    Ilyana
    Participant

    I am working on quite a lot in therapy right now. Instead of the residential program, I am working with 5 different therapists lately. I have a trauma therapist, an art therapist, and a psychologist. I also am still working with our family therapist and the couple’s therapist. In addition to that, I am trying some body work, so far I have seen an osteopath and an acupuncturist. I would like to add an occupational therapist because I have been doing so poorly at fulfilling my day-to-day responsibilities.

    The trauma therapy and the art therapy go very well together. For a few weeks in a row, I have done EMDR with my trauma therapist, then done a painting about that, and discussed it with the art therapist. It feels like a very efficient way to get at the heart of my issues. I did some very powerful work around my mother last week, and it really helped.

    We are working on the self-love and self-acceptance, but it is slow going. It is also made harder by how bad my marriage is. My husband has been providing a lot of practical support, and I know that’s how how he expresses love. But I need a hug, I need someone to ask how I am, I need someone who can listen and focus while I talk. It is very hard for me to believe that I deserve to be loved and valued when my husband barely talks to me. I know I need to meet these needs myself before anyone else can, but it’s so hard to do it from inside a bad relationship.

    I am working hard at healing, but it is slow and frustrating. I’ll feel like I’m doing better, only to crash again and find myself in despair. The manic phase was really disappointing, because I hadn’t had one in a long time, and I thought maybe I was done with that. It also gives me a false sense of well-being, so it feels like all the progress I thought I made was illusory.

    Bipolar is a very hard illness to live with. My moods and my judgment get hijacked. My irrational decisions seem rational. The fact that I develop romantic obsessions makes it even worse – the part of me that gets the most intense around manic phases is such an intimate part of me, and honestly makes me wonder whether I’ve ever really loved anyone, or if it was all just manic obsession.

    This last manic phase was quite intense, but I can’t deny that I got through it ok. The guy I obsessed about is a good friend who cares about me, and it was safe to trust him with my feelings. I needed something – to feel heard and valued, and he provided it. I didn’t run off to be with him or do anything really destructive.

    I can see that things are getting a little better, but it is so slow and so painful. I have some support, but nothing feels like enough.

    Thanks for listening.

    Ilyana

    #381225
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Ilyana,

    it’s good to hear you’re seeing multiple therapists and have done some powerful healing work around your mother. It means you’re taking care of yourself, and your family is helping too: your sister financially, while your husband in practical ways. I understand though that if your husband doesn’t give you any emotional support and isn’t interested in hearing about your feelings, it’s hard to feel close to him.

    Is it that he doesn’t know what to say and how to comfort you when you complain about things? In your other thread you wrote: “He gets angry often and is completely baffled by my need for emotional support“. Perhaps he gets angry because he feels clueless and doesn’t know how to help you, which makes him frustrated?

    I am sorry that you actually feel upset about your manic episode and that it wasn’t a good sign, as I thought… What did your therapist say about it?

     

    #381243
    anita
    Participant

    Dear llyana:

    Welcome back. I hope that your various therapists regularly communicate with each other so to coordinate their efforts, and work as a team to  provide you with the best professional help possible. I know that one of your therapists recommended that you visit tiny buddha a few months ago, but I don’t know if your therapists know of your past or current communication in this forum. I believe that they need to know about it and approve of it, if you are to continue here.

    I re-read your posts since April 3 to see if I can see something new, or if I can see more of something I saw before, and I did: I saw your anger more clearly. I think that anger is the biggest obstacle to your continuous healing. If healing is a moving vehicle, your anger is The Stop Sign that stops your healing again and again.

    If you are feeling distressed now, or at any time as you read, please stop reading. If you think that there is some value in my post, you can bring it to one of your therapists.

    You clearly expressed your anger at yourself, using the words: hate, judgment, beating, etc., but you didn’t express your anger at others clearly. Yet, it is still evident:

    (1) Anger at yourself: “My whole life I have hated myself… I don’t remember a time when I didn’t hate myself…I hated the way I looked.. I make changes from a place of.. self-judgment, and eventually I get sick of it and give up. ..I have a very critical inner voice, have had for as long as I can remember. I beat myself up for beating myself up. My inner voice is always harsh, always judgmental, never compassionate. ..always finding fault with myself…I feel like a terrible person, a terrible mother, a terrible wife, a terrible sister”.

    2) Anger at your father: “My father walked out when I was three, and I didn’t have any contact with him again until I was 10 or 11…He has definitely done a lot to hurt me in the past. He was in and out of my life, and there was child support battle with my mother in which he refused to pay”.

    3) Anger at your mother: “She also intercepted letters and gifts that he sent over the years, because she said she thought it would confuse me and that I was better off without him…she all but stopped parenting me, except to discipline me when I did something wrong.. I did not have a loving, attentive mother”.

    4) Anger at your husband: “We have very little in common, and I don’t feel like he gets me at all… I don’t know how I can get better without getting emotional support from my partner.. My husband..  is so bad with emotions. But I am a very emotional person, and I cannot be with someone who can’t handle that”.

    5) Possibly (I am not sure), anger at your son: “I had a very traumatic birth during which I almost died, and it profoundly affected by ability to bond with my son”- angry at him for almost killing you, I am guessing. Mothers feeling anger is one of the symptoms of postpartum depression which affects roughly 15% of women after childbirth (Wikipedia), and some of the anger felt is at the baby.

    6) Anger at Everyone, perhaps: ” Everyone laughed off my fears, and no one talked about my father… I don’t remember ever being reassured that I was good enough, that I was worthy of love”.

    If you are still reading, llyana- I wish you well!!!

    anita

    #381263
    Ilyana
    Participant

    My therapists are not talking to each other, this is the shortcoming of my stay-at-home treatment plan. I am the go-between. I know it’s not ideal, but I also can see progress being made so am willing to accept that shortcoming. They may talk to each other periodically though.

    I agree that I have a lot of anger, and I don’t seem to be able to let go of it. I want to forgive people, especially myself, and move on with my life, but I am stuck. As you know, anger that gets held onto runs in my family. I am sure some of that anger is directed towards my son. I don’t want it to be there, I totally see that it is not his fault. I hate that I resent him, but I know that I do. I have done some good work around this in therapy. I badly want to repair the relationship with my son.

    The manic phase was good in that I wasn’t in pain, but bad in that it represents instability. Deep down I find manic phases fun and exciting, and they’re way better than depression. But they come with poor decision making, which often has negative consequences for my life. They almost inevitably lead to a crash afterwards. What I want is to be stable.

    The issue with my husband on the emotional support thing is that he is deeply disconnected from his own emotions. He maintains that he doesn’t actually have emotional needs. He doesn’t understand what they are, how they work, or how to address them in him or anyone else. This leads him to behave really coldly towards me without realizing it. For example, when I get really depressed, I go to bed during the day and watch TV. When I told him that it would make me feel loved if he came to see if I was ok, he said, “But I know you’re not ok. Why would I ask?”. He genuinely doesn’t get that people talking to one another has a purpose besides transmission of information. It has occurred to me (and him) that he might be on the autism spectrum.

    I told my husband last night that if we don’t start making real progress in the next 6 months – a year, we need to split up for everyone’s well-being. I wasn’t going to come out and say it so straightforwardly, but when I was more subtle about it, he was distracted and not fully listening to me. I realized in family therapy yesterday that he doesn’t even get how bad things are. When asked what his low point of the last two weeks was, a two weeks in which we have almost not talked at all, he said it was getting stuck in traffic on the way to the appointment. That really shocked me. I know he’s not depressed the way that I am, but for the worst thing about his last two weeks to be traffic when our relationship is in crisis and I am falling apart – it just astonished me.

    The more I think about leaving, the better I feel. We have been waiting for ten years to go back to a happy place we were in for only 3 years. Those are terrible odds, and I fear that the model we’re showing our son of a relationship is toxic. I don’t want him to struggle with relationships the way that I do.

    We’ll see what happens. Maybe our conversation from last night will be a catalyst for real growth. That would be nice. But I don’t think that’s how it’s going to go down. I think we’re too incompatible – I’m way too emotional for him, he must constantly feel like a failure because he can’t support me, and I constantly feel alone and abandoned. I think we could actually do divorce and co-parenting well together, and I think our son would benefit so much from having happier parents. I think we could even be friends.

    I don’t know. I know for now that the best thing I can do is work on myself and encourage him to do the same. It’s not time to pack my bags yet, but I do hear a clock ticking in a way I haven’t before. I don’t want to assume that ending my marriage will solve all my problems, and I know it will create many new ones. I worry about the impact it will have on my already struggling son. But I feel that it will be very hard to learn to accept myself from within a relationship in which I feel constantly rejected and isolated.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Ilyana

    #381271
    anita
    Participant

    Dear llyana:

    “When asked what his low point of the last two weeks was, a two weeks in which we have almost not talked at all, he said it was getting stuck in traffic on the way to the appointment… for the worst thing about his last two weeks to be traffic when our relationship is in crisis and I am falling apart – it just astonished me”-

    – your relationship has been in crisis for about ten years, hasn’t it? –  his answer may have been regarding the worst thing that happened in the last two weeks, as opposed to the worst thing that happened in the last 15 years, let’s say.

    “I think we’re too incompatible – I’m way too emotional for him”-

    – one emotion you have too much of is anger (“I agree that I have a lot of anger, and I don’t seem to be able to let go of it”). A lot of anger makes close, healthy relationships impossible, be it with a friend, a husband or a child.

    wiley. com on destructive anger: “Destructive anger can take many forms. Anger can be expressed in rage that is out of control, either verbally or physically. We also can express anger by snapping at
    someone or being unkindly critical. A third form that anger may take is that of cold, icy withdrawal that punishes others by shutting them out, shunning them, or refusing to acknowledge their attempts to relate to us. All of these reactions and many more can be destructive to the relationship and to our own feelings of self-esteem. Destructive expressions of anger often generate later feelings of guilt and shame”-

    – I wonder how your anger is being expressed.. (?)

    anita

    #381299
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Ilyana,

    The manic phase was good in that I wasn’t in pain, but bad in that it represents instability. Deep down I find manic phases fun and exciting, and they’re way better than depression. But they come with poor decision making, which often has negative consequences for my life. They almost inevitably lead to a crash afterwards. What I want is to be stable.

    I see how a manic phase can be exciting, that’s why I mentioned it earlier. I do understand that from the standpoint of “stability” it’s not good for you and you don’t like it, but otherwise “deep down” you like it, because you’re elated, you’re excited, you’re feeling intensely, you’re in love, you’re hoping, dreaming, soaring the skies like a bird who’s free…. You didn’t have any of that in your childhood, did you? You were afraid, lonely, felt miserable, and your mother was full of hatred and resentment towards your father. Even if your personality were cheerful and happy, you couldn’t express that around your mother – I guess she would have guilt-tripped you for being anything but miserable around her.

    In your entire childhood, you didn’t have much chance to express normal child’s emotions like elation, excitement, joy, happiness, laughter… you were surrounded with negativity, hatred, resentment, bitterness, criticism and condemnation. You probably felt guilty for even wanting to be happy sometimes. Am I guessing this right?

    If so, no wonder that you miss those natural human emotions that give meaning to life. No wonder you don’t want to remain “stable” in your depression. You said your manic episodes stopped when you gave birth to your son. Perhaps that’s when you felt you needed to “grow up” and get stable, which for you meant to become depressed, to be deprived of those exciting emotions that you craved so much? Perhaps a part of your resentment towards your son is that by becoming a mother, you felt you needed to sacrifice your manic episodes – whereas they were the only times you felt alive?

    About your husband, you said:

    We have been waiting for ten years to go back to a happy place we were in for only 3 years.

    What was different in those first three years?

     

    #381597
    anita
    Participant

    Dear llyana:

    I don’t know if it is a good idea for me to post to you today, exactly a week after your last post and my last reply to you. But I figure that you can choose to read this or not, and that if you are reading and you feel distressed, you can choose to stop reading at any time. My purpose: maybe… just maybe, a little bit of a maybe- something I write may help just a bit. And I am fine with not receiving a reply, of course.

    About your son and your relationship with him, you wrote April-June 2020: “I’m 44 and married with one child (9 years old)… I have been depressed since my son was born.. and my relationships with him (is) strained.  I had a very traumatic birth during which I almost died, and it profoundly affected by ability to bond with my son…..My son seems depressed to me. He keeps saying that life sucks and that more bad things happen than good things. I am worried about him. But he is talking to me about it, and last night he said I helped him, which made us both feel good. We are in family therapy to help heal the fractured connection we formed after my traumatic birth, and I am hopeful that if I get better… My son had a hard day yesterday. He kept saying that life sucks and that he wishes he’d never been born……my son.. is really struggling right now. He hates his life and wishes he were never born. He sometimes asks me to kill him. We have him in therapy… I have a lot of anger, and I don’t seem to be able to let go of it. I want to forgive.. but I am stuck. As you know, anger that gets held onto runs in my family. I am sure some of that anger is directed towards my son. I don’t want it to be there, I totally see that it is not his fault. I hate that I resent him, but I know that I do. I have done some good work around this in therapy. I badly want to repair the relationship with my son”-

    – Anger doesn’t want to repair relationships, it wants to destroy relationships: it is in the nature of anger to destroy, not to build or mend or fix. Part of you badly wants to repair the relationship with your son, but the angry part of you does not want to do that.

    “Often times I feel like I want to die, like no one loves me”- the little girl that you were.. she was very angry that no one loved her and she still is angry at others and at herself: “My whole life I have hated myself”.

    “I am on a number of psychiatric medications, have been for many years now…But the medication is clearly not enough to make me feel less depressed. I am lucky to have excellent psychiatric care though.. I am working with 5 different therapists lately. I have a trauma therapist, an art therapist, and a psychologist. I also am still working with our family therapist and the couple’s therapist”- none of the medications and therapies resolved your anger, true to a week ago.

    As I see it, there has to be a significant resolution of your anger, not of all of it, but of a significant amount before you can be truly motivated to make a significant improvement in your mental health and in your relationship with your son.

    When your mother was dying, angrily vomiting into a bucket with a photo of your father attached to the bottom.. when you watched that.. I can  only imagine the horror. It makes me think of a time when I was a child, seeing the photos in the album with the head of my mother torn off from almost of the photos. None of the heads of the other people were torn off, only hers. I think that I asked her why. She said that she is ugly, that’s whys. You just don’t forget things like that. I don’t remember how I felt but it was one of those many times that made me sick.

    Back to  you- maybe ever since you watched your now dead mother angrily vomiting into that bucket, you’ve been stuck yourself in that Bucket of Anger. And if so, to live life outside that bucket, you have to climb out of it and see what’s out there, outside that bucket.

    anita

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