I got this email and wanted to share it with you:
“Dave- I don’t know what to do anymore. I have so many problems. My husband’s bipolar disorder is out of control. He just keeps doing these things, and I just cnaa’t stand it any more. He won’t listen to me anymore, and there’s nothing I can do stop it. Everything he does leads to more and more problems, and I just don’t know anymore where his problems end and mine begin. I have more problems than I can handle, and I just can’t take it anymore. I’m about to lose my job because he’s caused so many problems for me at work because of his bipolar disorder. He just isn’t getting any better. I don’t even think he’s taking his medication. What am I supposed to do? Georgia.”
Wow. Now, first let me say that I’m not a therapist, so I’m not qualified to give the kind of advice that I think this woman really needs. All I can do is give my opinion, based on the kinds of emails I’ve gotten like this before.
But this woman really does have some problems. First of all, she says that her husband’s bipolar disorder is out of control. So let’s address that. That seems to be her major problem. She says he’s causing her problems, more than she can handle. He’s causing her problems at work. So he’s obviously acting out from his disorder. She says he isn’t getting any better. Now here’s the key thing. Why isn’t he getting any better? She then says, “I don’t even think he’s taking his medications.” There’s where I think the problem really is. If your loved one isn’t taking their medications, then of course there’s going to be problems. They’re not going to be following their treatment plan. If they’re not following their treatment plan, they’re not only going to have their own problems, but their problems are going to affect you. Like Georgia said, “I don’t know where his problems end and mine begin.”
But here’s the thing: All this woman is talking about is problems and more problems. And that IS the problem. And if you’re living in the problem, you’re NOT living in the solution. In this case, the solution would be for her husband to get back on his medication, follow his treatment plan, and begin managing his bipolar disorder better. But then she’s got another problem – She can’t MAKE him do that! So, again, she has to live in the solution, and not the problem. So what can she do?
I know another woman who faced the same problem at work, and she was honest with her boss (which was very, very difficult for her, but necessary), and they made it where her husband was not allowed to call or come to see her at work any more. She worked in a hospital, so her calls were able to be screened, and if he came on site, he was escorted out by security guards. Now, this was not an easy solution by any means, but it was living in the solution and not the problem. And things got better at work for her, and she was able to keep her job.
The point I’m trying to make is to keep a certain mindset – to live in the solution, and not the problem. I’m not saying it’s easy, by any means, but you may have to separate yourself from your loved one and make them own up to their own problems, so that their problems don’t become yours, and before you become as overwhelmed and desperate as the woman in this email.
Remember to live in the solution and not in the problem. Think about what the real problem is, then think of what some solutions to the problem might be. Like the woman I told you about, she had to take action at her job at the hospital. The woman in the email is going to have to try to get her husband back on his medication and treatment plan (or, perhaps, take more drastic measures – maybe consider hospitalization). You might be in the same situation, or similar. Don’t let your loved one’s problems become your problems. If they’ve been in an episode and there have been consequences because of what they’ve done in that episode, make them take responsibility for those consequences. Those consequences are THEIR problems, not yours. Or if it’s too late, and they have become yours, then go back to the principle of living in the solution and not the problem, and work it out. I know it may sound too simple. I don’t mean it to. The principle is simple. The working out of it is hard, I know. But it can be done. It must be done, because you have to find a solution to your problems. You can work this principle with your own problems as well. Live in the solution, not the problem.
Well, I have to go!