More alters, bipolar disorder and more family issues, in other words: what else is new?

I had therapy yesterday and something happened, I say “something” because by the time I came back we were over time on our session and I couldn’t remember a parts of it. My therapist said a part came out that seems to protect me from crying and there was something about screaming…I don’t know. The problem is that, since we went over time on the session and she had a client after me, I didn’t get any details on what actually happened during the session. It’s not my therapist’s fault, I feel bad for taking time from her other client. I won’t see her for a while though because of the Labor Day holiday since she’s out of the office that day. So now I have all this confusion that I won’t get any clarification on for two weeks. Ugh!

The parts I do remember during the session consisted of my telling her about the camping trip over the weekend. A reader hoped I’d had a good time camping and there’s a yes and a no part to that answer. Overall I found camping interesting and parts of it enjoyable. The first day was really weird though because I felt entirely disconnected from everyone there, including my husband. We were with a very large family of hardcore campers and then there was my husband and I and another friend of ours making up the whole group. I couldn’t relate to a lot of the family dynamics going on so I think that was part of it. There was a point in the day where I was sitting on a large rock in this river that was right by our camp site and I saw my hand holding a stick I had picked up, and that hand was poking holes in the sand and drawing little doodles with it and I had this moment that felt like I was feeling the emotions of two different people. My feelings were slightly puzzled as I observed my hand doodling and I was aware of what felt like another person’s emotions thinly layered over mine. Those emotions were very child-like and simplistic. It felt like the child enjoyed just sitting there doodling in the sand by herself. I decided to just observe and let the feeling stay for a while and the hand kept doodling in the sand. Then the hand decided that it wanted to feel the current in the river and when it touched the water it was very nice and kind of fascinating. Then I felt this sudden sadness that didn’t understand and I felt that child-like presence go away and I was alone sitting there in the river and my hand was in the current and I was just…sad. My therapist and I were on the same page about where those feelings would have come from because it seems obvious that it was about a sense of loss from not having those kind of experiences as a child. Very simple, childhood experiences that some people take for granted and that others would have killed to have. Which brings me to something else we talked about yesterday: people who have great families and don’t appreciate it. This came up because of something that happened with my sister-in-law. She has bipolar disorder, I have bipolar disorder, so I get that whole deal. Sometimes those of us with bipolar disorder, depending on our natural, innate personalities, may use the disorder as an excuse for bad behavior. I’m not talking about all of the mood swings and horrible awfulness that comes with being bipolar. I’m talking about the basic person that we are inside, our natural personality and inclinations apart from the bipolar. For instance some people are naturally extroverted so that doesn’t mean that every time they are excited and talking with people that they are being manic. There are some people whose natural inclination involves being lazy, so even though we experience bipolar depression which can suck the life right out of us, that doesn’t mean that it’s the reason our homes are always dirty. Does that make sense? I’m saying that, being bipolar has far-reaching effects and changes us in many ways but that there are innate characteristics that we have that still affect our actions and our way of life and opinions etc. I say that because my sister-in-law is like that. She’s bipolar but she’s also innately lazy (which she will tell you herself) and she gets pleasure out of being contrary and rude (which she will also tell you). She’s actually quite proud of it. She brags about being rude to other people and just doing what she wants even if it hurts someone else for no reason. When I talk to her, she talks over me for most of the entire conversation, no matter what we’re talking about. Even if she calls to talk and asks me how I’m doing, I’ll start to answer and she’ll talk over me and start talking about herself. Anyway getting back to the story, my mother and father-in-law’s anniversary was this month (August) and my husband and I decided that we should all do a family portrait together. Now, let me say here that as a person with DID from a f ‘d up family I realize how distasteful and horrible this would sound to many, if not all of us. Let me assure you that my husband’s family happens to be one of those rare (or not so rare according to my therapist) “normal” families. As in, no abuse whatsoever. Not perfect obviously, just not abusive. Ok, so keeping that in mind, I visited with a local photographer and we bought a gift certificate had it framed etc. and gave it to my in-laws as a present. They were happy and they thought it was a great idea. My husband’s father had prostate cancer two years ago and his mom has lupus. I think we all realize that things can change in an instance and we all felt this need to get together as a family and have a really special picture. I spoke to my mother-in-law later and she said that my sister-in-law wouldn’t participate. Now, my in-laws only have two kids, my husband and his sister. Then there’s me and his sister’s husband that round out the group. Without his sister and her husband, the family is not complete. That devastated my mother-in-law so I decided that I would take on the challenge of getting my sister-in-law to participate. Keep in mind, that I too have bipolar disorder and there are many days that I can’t even drive or leave the house, hence part of the reason I am on Social Security Disability. My sister-in-law refuses to drive so I call her up and tell her that I will drive her myself, we can go shopping for outfits and we’ll have lunch at her favorite place and I ask her to please consider doing the picture. I tell her it will only take 1 hour to do and I tell her that everyone can come over to our house for a BBQ afterwards. She starts complaining about her parents nagging her about how dirty her house is (Note: her parents own the condo they live in and they live there cheap). She brags about not being clean and how it’s none of their business. I say something about them being her landlords, she complains some more and talks about her enjoyment of making other people mad and how irritating her parents are. You get the idea I think. So here comes the kicker. I say to her “You know that you have amazing parents right?” she says breezily “Oh yea, I know I do, I love ’em.” so I ask her if she will at least give me a maybe for the pictures. She says yes. Days later I hear through my husband that she told my mother-in-law that she won’t do it. So we all gave up. I found that the incidence bothered me more than it would have before and I told my therapist about this. I told her that it’s like I’m looking at everything differently. I’ve always known my family was screwed up, I called it dysfunctional to keep it simple if someone asked about my family. Now that the whole DID thing has happened and I’m having do deal with what really happened to me, I find that family dynamics can bother me more than they used to. Hearing my sister-in-law say that she knows she has great parents who love her, hearing her say it like it was the most mundane thing in the world and then blow it off and then seeing that she won’t take 1 hour out of her life to do something that would mean the world to her parents made me so angry. I was so angry that when my husband and I were talking about it, my voice started shaking with anger. I had to take a deep breath and get a grip before I lost it. You see, even though my sister-in-law refuses to drive, which I can accept, she does everything else she wants to do. She goes on cruises, they stay at cabins in the mountains, she goes to museums, she buys $1500 cats. She won’t clean her house, she’s rude just for the sake of being rude and she’s so selfish that I don’t know what to do. I guess it really got to me that someone who had and has what many people would have loved to have had, could just dismiss it like that. Does that make sense to anyone or is it just me? So now recently whenever something family related comes up, good or bad, I’m just bothered by it. My therapist and I are discussing ways for me to handle the emotions that keep surfacing and ways for me to stay present instead of going away. Of course during this conversation with her I went away and someone else showed up so we see how that turned out huh? 🙂

After therapy, later that night, someone wanted to color in the coloring book so I let them. This is so weird because I’m trying to understand how to work with something I don’t fully understand myself yet. We haven’t even discussed “systems” yet in therapy. We don’t even know how many alters I have. I’m getting stuff from books. It just seems like there’s always too much happening that can’t be covered in 45 minutes of therapy a week! By the time I see her something else has happened since last week. Frustrating! Jeez, I think I’m done for now, this post is going to take up two pages!


About CimmarianInk

Abuse Survivor Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) also known as Multiple Personalities
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6 Responses to More alters, bipolar disorder and more family issues, in other words: what else is new?

  1. roseroars says:

    When I saw the title of your post I thought “Cluster*%@&!” and it kind of sounded like that. It seems as if you turned a lot of your energy into trying to change your SIL, and make her understand how and why she has the kind of family you didn’t. I understand why she pissed you off, but she probably won’t change for you for one portrait if she hasn’t yet changed her own life. And she doesn’t have to change her life for you or anyone else. You have made a major decision to completely alter and understand your way of thinking and being. I think we project (or protect) ourselves onto others when we don’t understand why they can’t see how much safer, secure, healthy and loved they are compared to us. Does that make sense? Can you try to turn that love and comfort you were missing growing up inside for those younger parts? Buy some candy and a stuffed animal and watch “Rikki Tikki Tavi” or another kids film. I’m glad the coloring is helping. Be good to yourself.


    • CimmerianInk says:

      Hey Lisa!
      I agree that my reaction to my sister-in-law is probably, as you said, projection. I’m seeing things from different points-of-view now and I’m not equipped to handle it yet. As for dealing with the young parts, I have no idea how to comfort or love them. I don’t even know what comfort means, seriously, I draw a blank on that one. My therapist said yesterday to be “gentle” with myself and “nuture” myself and I’m like “What does that even mean?” I have no idea what she’s talking about. Even seeing you say “Be good to yourself” puzzles me because I don’t know what that means or how to do it. Part of it might be that I’m mostly going on vague instinct when it comes to what my alters want. The coloring book thing was the first time I felt any kind of internal communication and I followed the impulse to figure out what was needed. I have no tools or ideas on how to communicate internally so I’m at a loss. I won’t see my therapist for two weeks so I feel like I’m stuck for now until she can tell me what to do. Oh, and yes your comment totally makes sense. 🙂

      • Paul says:

        I absolutely understand what you are going through. At least admitting and getting help for mental dissorder is the first step. My wife has put up with two of her sisters with depressional Bi-Polar and they refuse to even consider getting help or identify that they have a problem. They always bring up the past issues, make themselves look good to others and cuts down my wife and blames it on her. My wife has put up with them for many, many years. She is such a forgiving person. I have given my friend who is a psychologists a detailed list of what my Sister In-Law’s Yolanda H., & Sandra F. does and she actually diagnose them as manic/psychotic Bipolar disorder. Communicating during a mood swing is the number one relationship problem when a person you love has bipolar disorder she said. They blame everyone, wig out, and hang up on you. They have an excuse to hate you but then when they need something, they come to you for help. It makes sense because they both have a hard time holding jobs and getting along with co-workers and they rely on family members and friends for money. They have taken advantage of us living with us and we were stupid enough to help them.
        My friend also says that up to 50% of people with bipolar disorder refuse help or refuse to accept the diagnosis (yet you still have to live with the symptoms). Loved ones with bipolar disorder may be enthusiastic one day and withdrawn the next for no obvious reasons. & I see that all the time. The oldest sister Yolanda could not get a hold of us after we blocked her number and so she decides to use her Niece to get information from us through her calling us. My children absolutely hate dealing with them. Also, how can someone talk bad and trash mouth your children but then ask them to be friends on Facebook? How sick is that?
        •50% of people with bipolar disorder have trouble with alcohol and/or drugs. Often this is an effort at self-medication. Again another symptom; they drink and start talking bad about others. I just think it’s sad but the only way to fix this is to stay away from them. My wife finally had enough and cut relationship with them. The only time she will talk to them is if they seek help. Our children know the problem and just stay away from the soap opera. Many have advised me to just stay away from people like that. So sad because they are family members but again we shouldn’t have to deal with it and let it ruin our lives and my childrens lives.

      • CimmarianInk says:

        Hello Paul,

        While I sympathize with you having in-laws who seem to have selfish tendencies and it’s a real shame that your wife can’t enjoy a relationship with her sisters because of that, I feel that you missed the point of my post.

        Throughout your comment you blame bipolar disorder for your in-laws actions. A bipolar disorder “diagnosis” that came from a friend of yours and not the doctor of your sister-in-laws which can’t be counted as they never met with them.

        You say things about your wife putting up with them and being forgiving…the whole point of that section of my post was to bring out that bipolar disorder cannot be blamed for people’s innate personality traits. If your sisters-in-law are selfish and dishonest and users, you can’t blame being bipolar for that. Sometimes people are just jerks and mental illness has nothing to do with it. That was my point.

        The fact is that most people with bipolar disorder suffer for decades before someone takes them seriously enough to get a diagnosis. It’s not that they don’t want help. People may mistake bipolar disorder for other things like adult ADHD etc. Plus the fact that mental illness has such a terrible stigma attached to it, that can make people afraid to seek help for fear of being ostrasized and put into stereotypical boxes that are based on fear and ignorance, not fact.

        Self-medicating is a tragedy and most people with NO mental illness run their mouths after drinking. Again, blaming an illness for people being stupid.

        Bipolar disorder isn’t something that needs to be forgiven or “put up with”. No one would say that to someone with cancer but mental illness gets treated like it’s a choice. And your sisters-in-law would need to see a psychiatrist on their own to get a real diagnosis and not just an opinion someone gives after hearing a list of complaints.

        Bipolar disorder is a heinous illness but people keep acting like it’s the person’s fault for having it and it’s such a hardship for everyone else to deal with. You should try actually living with it in your head sometime, that’s a hardship.

        The point is that people can be assholes all on their own without having a mental illness, and people with mental illnesses can be assholes just because their personalities are naturally like that. Bipolar disorder doesn’t automatically make someone a dick, they can do that on their own.

  2. castorgirl says:

    This is a tough situation, because ANYONE would get seriously annoyed with the actions of your SIL… She has some major issues surrounding entitlement, boundaries and acceptable behaviour. I’m not sure if she’s using the diagnosis as an excuse, but it sounds incredibly negative for her and those around her.

    The issue for you, is how much emotional energy you want to spend on her. As Lisa says, she’s not likely to change anytime soon. She sounds pretty comfortable in the spot she’s in. You’re not going to be able to shift her from the spot by yourself.

    I get what you mean about the self-care wishes from people… I don’t get them either. I don’t know how to do them or what they mean half the time. I tell others to “take care” or “go gently” because I care about them, want them to be safe and look after themselves. But I can’t turn that concept towards myself. To put it bluntly, I stink at self-care.

    I’d consider allowing the young one to play in the sand and water good self-care… As was the colouring. It may not seem much, but they’re really big steps… you’re allowing a space for those parts to have their needs met. It sounds incredibly sad that the young one was playing in the sand and felt the grief of not having the opportunity to do that when you were growing up. You allowed the space for you to both experience that… that’s great 🙂

    Take care,

    • CimmerianInk says:

      Thanks for supporting my feelings about my SIL, I appreciate it. And of course you and Lisa are right, she’s not going to change and I don’t have the energy to work with someone who is so comfortable where they are. I was so surprised that you said you don’t get the self-care stuff either! It’s probably because you are so caring towards others and you’re always there for the rest of us. I just assumed that you were doing all kinds of self-nurturing! I just wish I knew how to communicate internally, but it seems unlikely until I know how many parts are in there, or maybe it’s not about that, I have no idea.
      Now, I’m thinking about you and wishing that I was a fountain of wisdom that could explain what self-care means and that I could have all kinds of wonderful ideas on what to do. Maybe I’ll have to go back to my normal method which is research? I’ve been trying to deal with having feelings, maybe I need to go back to using my head. 🙂 I would like to help you as much as you help others.

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