SPARC Forums

Main Forums => Visitation Issues => Topic started by: frust123 on Jan 06, 2005, 10:47:40 AM

Title: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: frust123 on Jan 06, 2005, 10:47:40 AM
Hi I am a divorced mom with one 6 yr old child. My ex husband has a diagnosed bipolar disorder that he is not taking his meds for. He has supervised visitation court ordered because of a past suicide attempt. He has now entered another phase of his disease (not sure if he is manic or depressed) but is paranoid, demanding and irritable, etc. and topping it off with alcohol besides.  I don't think this man is stable in any way. A week ago he was convinced he that he had cancer and was dying and proceeded to tell our son this info, but no doctors had diagnosed any of this.  How should I handle his visits with my son?

Thanks for any help.
Vicki
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: olanna on Jan 06, 2005, 11:04:25 AM
Is there any history of physical abuse? If not, you might just explain to your son that Dad is a very sick man and sometimes his mind isn't good.  

I mean honestly, what you are saying is that Dad has an illness...you wouldn't want to interfere with visits if Dad was say, diabetic or had cancer...so long as he isn't violent and there are no threats of physical harm, I would just try to explain the affects of the disease to my son in a simple way, and continue the visits with Dad.

Kids are much more accepting than we give them credit.
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: frust123 on Jan 06, 2005, 12:19:05 PM
We do know that this is a very different disease than diebetes or cancer though. Also if he is not being treated medically currently then the state of safety is up in the air at this time.
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: Stepmom0418 on Jan 06, 2005, 12:41:29 PM
But you did say that visits are supervised, right?

If they are supervised in a safe setting such as a place designed for such visits then child should be safe.

If they are not in a safe setting and being done by a non professional then maybe request the court to change the order so it could be done in a professional setting.
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: olanna on Jan 06, 2005, 01:47:16 PM
No disease is exactly like the other.  If there has been no physical abuse, why would you want to stop the visits?

So what if he's a liar....hell, I know plenty of people that are liars and they don't have bipolar disorder.  
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: DeterminedForTheBest on Jan 06, 2005, 05:39:43 PM
I agree with olanna.
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: Sunshine1 on Jan 06, 2005, 08:23:32 PM
Man this is scary, I am having bipolar SM problems.  I understand what you are going through.  Where are the visits supervised?  Are they at a visitation facility?  If so you may want to tell the supervisor what is going on and have them intervene before he starts telling his cancer story.

You are just going to have to do what we all do here and that is de-program the child after his visit.  We have to do that and our BM/NCP is an undiagnosed bipolar person!

Hang in there, bipolar disorder is a rollercoaster disease especially if he isn't taking his meds.

Hope I helped a little.
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: frust123 on Jan 06, 2005, 10:40:14 PM
Hey thanks for the responses.

This is my first time on this and I'm unfamiliar with some of the abbreviations you are using. Can you explain?

The visitation is actually at my parents house and supervised by my parents. Which is physically a safe environment. But my sons Dad leans so heavily mentally and emotionally on my son and that is what I'm worried about. Plus he has a past suicide attempt, and the day he called to say he was dying gave me the impression that he might not make it through the night by his own hand.

I allready do the 'de-programing' and any damage control after visits and phone calls. But what possible positive effect is his father having in his current state. I'm not proposing to never let him see his son, but he needs to be healthy to be able to form any kind of positive relationship that my son can be proud of.

Thank you Sunshine for an understanding post.
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: frust123 on Jan 06, 2005, 10:54:37 PM
Actually we had an isolated incident regarding physical abuse, when the visits were being supervised at his parents house. Thats when the visits were changed to my parents house. Physical abuse is just one facet of abuses. Bruises on the skin can go away but the memory can last a lifetime. What good reason should a child but left vulnerable to that?

Lying also has no bearing on this matter. It is not as much that he's lying its more that he actually believes what he says is true. Things that a rational person knows cannot be. Its called paranoia. I'm not sure anyone can really know 'if or when' he may become violent.

But I'll be damned if I wait for something terrible to happen before I protect my son. That is just foolish. It is also why kids are minors until they are 18, so they have an advocate ( or two in many cases) right at home.  
Title: So what did you come here for?
Post by: olanna on Jan 07, 2005, 01:08:43 AM
Cause it looks like you wanted validation for your decision to stop the visits between Dad and child.

Keep in mind, you might not know if he is going to get violent, but rest assured the child is going to suffer if he isn't allowed some type of contact with *both* parents....
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: olanna on Jan 07, 2005, 01:13:24 AM
"but he needs to be healthy to be able to form any kind of positive relationship that my son can be proud of."

So, kids that make a weekly trek to the jails and prisons to see their mom's or dad's don't have a positive experience because they can't be proud of their parent?

Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: Peanutsdad on Jan 07, 2005, 05:29:50 AM
I also deal with an ex who is bipolar,, not on meds, a lengthy history for suicide attempts, mult arrests for DV.


My heart goes out to you.
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: frust123 on Jan 07, 2005, 10:22:29 AM
Just ask yourself that question... Can you have a positive experience from something you're not proud of???

Is there some sort of rule that I'm not aware of for being on this site?
I was under the impression that this might be a respectful place to gather info or at least constructive critisism. So my question for you olanna is why are you here responding to a post with such disrespect just because you may not agree with it? If you don't think I have a valid issue, then you no longer need to respond to it.

FYI: I am not looking for validation, but rather some sensible possible advice from people who may have been through a similar situation.
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: Stepmom0418 on Jan 07, 2005, 10:49:33 AM
I had have an ex husband that has been a violent criminal and has just been released from prison on a drug charge. I have been through alot of issues with the things he has told our 2 children as well as the children have seen a great deal of domestic abuse situations. He played some serious mind games with the children and yes it did bother them for a while as they did not know who to trust.

Now let me tell you that these girls love and care about their dad deeply! There was a period after our seperation that he was required to have supervised visitation. I believe that it actually did more harm and gave my ex more ammunition to use against me with the girls. He always told them that he couldnt take them to the park because it was my fault and I make him stay and be supervised. I was always the bad guy  in everything.

Now things are alot diffrent. My ex and I are now sharing our girls! He is trying to get his life on track and as long as he maintains living a drug free life I will see to it that he sees his children whenever he chooses or the girls choose and as much as he can! I will not put a limit on the time he spends with them because he has already missed out on so much due to a drug addiction problem and that also causes a mental problem too.

My point for telling this story is that people change! Keep the child safe from harms way but don't take the child away from dad or dad from the child! We as parents have to put aside our feeling and allow a meaningful relationship with the other parent as much as we may see the relationship as being somehing that may damage the child. Throughout life children are faced with all sorts of ups and downs and this may be a down but there may be a time in the future that dad changes.....trust me I know ........I NEVER thought that my ex could change but he so far has proved me wrong! For our childrens sake I hope he continues to prove me wrong as they love their daddy dearly!

Think about the damage to the child if they grow up without a father! I grew up not knowing my dad and I would wish that upon NO child Ever regardless of how "good or bad" dad may be! Put your feelings and anger aside and let the child know dad!
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: olanna on Jan 07, 2005, 10:58:32 AM
How have I been disrespectful to you by stating my own thoughts? You came here to a public message board and asked a question, to which I responded. And yes, I do believe you are looking for validation in your decision to curtail your child's interaction with his Dad.  Doesn't mean because I believe this, I think you are wrong in looking for the validation.  We all need different things at different times. I think you have already made up your mind on how you intend to handle this situation by the statements you have made. You don't want to hear anything that opposes that view..and it's fine if you don't. But don't expect that everyone that doesn't share your opinion or ideas isn't going to give your their own...;)

And to answer your question about the pride thing...I don't base positive experiences on pride. I view everyone and everything as a learning situation where I can gather some type of knowledge from whatever experience I have. So, as long as I learn, it is positive.

And really, you, like anyone else on the board, don't have to the right to pick and chose which posters get to respond to your questions.

You don't know what my experiences are in life. You don't know if I have had to deal with someone just like your ex...
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: frust123 on Jan 07, 2005, 11:09:36 AM
Thanks for the reply.

I hope the future does hold changes for my sons father. As for the supervised visits at my parents house, they have many options of things to do. My parents are willing to accompany them on outings, which they have done some of. (Golfing, fishing, bowling, movies) These times mostly my father goes with them. In the recent past I have allowed a couple of overnight visits at my parents home. At this point I have now stopped the overnights, but he is still allowed every other weekend 8am to 4pm Sat and Sun.

But now that the illness is so acute, he didn't even remove his coat the whole last overnight visit. I have tried to tell him I think he needs to go back to the dr. but he won't even acknowledge that he is having any problems.

I'm not angry with him either, I just want him to get some help before he becomes a danger to himself/others. Before its to late for the future to be different.

Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: Stepmom0418 on Jan 07, 2005, 11:18:27 AM
>Thanks for the reply.

You are welcome.
>
>I hope the future does hold changes for my sons father. As for
>the supervised visits at my parents house, they have many
>options of things to do. My parents are willing to accompany
>them on outings, which they have done some of. (Golfing,
>fishing, bowling, movies) These times mostly my father goes
>with them. In the recent past I have allowed a couple of
>overnight visits at my parents home. At this point I have now
>stopped the overnights, but he is still allowed every other
>weekend 8am to 4pm Sat and Sun.

Change CAN always happen! My ex and I have been divorced since 1997 and seperated before that so it may take some time but it CAN happen! I hope for the best for you, the child.
>
>But now that the illness is so acute, he didn't even remove
>his coat the whole last overnight visit. I have tried to tell
>him I think he needs to go back to the dr. but he won't even
>acknowledge that he is having any problems.
>
>I'm not angry with him either, I just want him to get some
>help before he becomes a danger to himself/others. Before its
>to late for the future to be different.


Have you considered trying to get the courts to order counseling for your ex and your son? I say your son too because if what is going on with your son then it may be in his best interest to have someone other than you or his father to talk to. Plus a professional can also make recommendations to the courts as well. Maybe supervised visits in a facility with a professional might help as well. Most people are on their best behavior when in front of a professional.  I would think that your ex would not say things to the child that are not true if supervised by a professional. IMO
>
>
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: frust123 on Jan 07, 2005, 12:43:46 PM
Would you knowingly put your child into a situation like this just so he might learn something from it?

To this point I have not curtailed his court ordered visitation, if my mind was made up I wouldn't have posted any questions.

Have you had to deal with a similar experience? Did it include your childrens lives/wellbeing? How did you deal with it?

This is the kind of info I am looking for.

Thanks
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: frust123 on Jan 07, 2005, 12:48:57 PM
Thanks for the suggestions, it has been helpful for me to get some outside of the situation ideas. I will be taking into consideration.

Thanks again.
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: frust123 on Jan 07, 2005, 12:52:12 PM
Thank you.

How do you deal with it?
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: olanna on Jan 07, 2005, 01:46:48 PM
What is it you want to accomplish?

What tools and resources do you have available for you to accomplish your goals?

Yes, I have had similar experience.  We did an intervention because we all believed the person was harmful to *self*...and with that, the person got help, medicine and leads a fairly normal (what's normal??) life and interacts with family.  If the person is left to isolate, there is no one to provide a normal sort of thought process as an example, hence, they slip further and further away...

All the family members were involved. In order to know what you are missing/hurting, one must be aware that there is something missing or someone being hurt..

:)
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: Sunshine1 on Jan 07, 2005, 04:07:58 PM
Frust, email me at sunshine1_sparc@yahoo.com. ( it is sunshine 1 underscore sparc) I am just now embarking on the trial and tribulations of a bipolar SM (step-mom).  We are currently going through a Guardian ad litem and the whole divorce nightmare seems to be resurfacing.  I feel like I am divorcing my ex for a second time.

Anyway if you just want to chat, cry, or gripe, drop me a line.

It will work out.  Keep your head up!!
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: Peanutsdad on Jan 07, 2005, 04:18:46 PM
I've laid down very strict guidelines on how I deal with her:


1. When she calls and starts the "manic" fast speech full of hate, I calmly tell her that her number will be blocked for 2 days.

2. I refuse to get into "debates". There are many times her actions or perceptions are WAY skewed.

3. I always speak calmly with her. Raising your voice or using an adversarial stance in speech is a sure way to set her off. Her rages progress to the point where she is inarticulately screaming, so I dont go there.


4. Her "poor me" times,, dont even enable that. Refuse to speak about it, I tell her she has to learn to deal with her issues.



It has helped that she got married. I feel sorry for the guy, he's always on the verge of splitting up with her. Now he has lost custody of his child due to her,,,,so I am rather worried.
Title: Good advice!
Post by: EyeforKids on Jan 08, 2005, 12:23:04 PM
GREAT guidelines!

I need to print that and pass it on to someone I know.

Maybe the child can also use this to help cope with the situation.
Title: Just printed off
Post by: MixedBag on Jan 08, 2005, 05:52:30 PM
for two step-kids to use....

Very good advice.

Since I have either been on the other extension in the house or listened to the tapes we have, I can really relate when you said "where she is inarticulately screaming".  

I've even seen the two step-kids go at it so bad that neither one of them made sense anymore which was really frustrating for them and stepped in the middle to just plain stop everything.  THEN I told them that neither one was making sense anymore, calm down, and above all THINK.  That was a long time ago, but geez, I can relate.
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: MixedBag on Jan 09, 2005, 02:38:58 PM
Concentrate on his actions and not his sickness....

He may be sick and that's no reason to deny.

But his sickness may cause unsafe actions and that's what you base your decisions on.

I believe we deal with an undiagnosed Bi-polar BM which is why I printed off PD's suggestion.  
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: frust123 on Jan 10, 2005, 10:01:04 AM
Thanks to you all for coming forward with some advice, I'm going to print it all off.

Please continue to give ideas, as I will check back again soon.

Thanks again!
Title: RE: Bipolar ex problems
Post by: almostastepmom on Jan 11, 2005, 03:51:19 PM
Hate to not reply to original post, but I'm the SM and have a problem with the BM who has custody of the      2 kids and is Bi-Polar.  We don't know if she takes her medication, but we do notice BIG emotional swings when we talk to her, drop off the kids, or have any contact with her at all....
What do the courts say about all of this, can they play a role in it or do they just stay out of the way like normal?
Title: Support for you
Post by: backwardsbike on Jan 12, 2005, 05:33:48 PM
Hi!

My DH is bipolar.  If the person is not taking their mediacations they are not stable.  And alcohol use is a predicted outcome of stopping the meds.  I firmly believe that you should make certian that the man is taking his meds and sober prior to visits even supervised visits.  

I may get flamed for this but I am willing to go out on a limb here.  Your child could be damaged by hearing that dad is dying from cancer.  Ex is in an active phase of his mental illness.  He needs treatment before anymore visitations occur.  Would he be in agreement with inpatient treatment to get his meds readjusted?  Sometimes it is a situation like this that pushes a person to get help.

My ex is on his meds and sober for five years now.  I have two NC kids and two from my marriage to DH who live with us full time.  DH even did the daycare while I worked and did fine but I was constantly assessing his stability in the early phases of his recovery.  I do think my ex played the mental health card in an unfair way to gain custody but I do agree that the saftey of the kids is paramount.  That inculdes mental saftey.  No it doesn't make you popular but  you need to do what you need to do to make sure your child is safe and supported.  A delusional parent is scary to a kid.  They don't know what to believe.  People who are delusional are convinced of what they are saying and so are very convincing to a child.

On the other hand you need to educate your child about his dad's disease.  He needs to know dad is a good person and that while he may be ill at times he is still dad and deserves love and respect.  Kids understand more than we give them credit for.  Your son can be helped to understand that this disease comes and goes and has ups and downs.  Perhaps some sessions with a therapist for your son could be helpful to allow him to express his feelings and get some insight from someone not directly involved.

Please try to maintain your objectivity also.  Bipolar is a cruel disease.  Make sure that you do not allow yourself to punish your ex for past mistkes by witholding your son.  You do not sound like you are doing this but the disease is such that the biploar person can cause extreme pain to their family and sometimes it gets really hard to separate it all out.  As long as you are sure that no part of your motive is revenge I think you will make the decisons in the best interest of your child.