Life with Bipolar

I was diagnosed bipolar in 1984. I had moved away from family who were depressing me and I felt much better. Now, since some people have come back into my life, I have been going through much depression and anxiety again. The biggest problem is my husband's daughter from a previous marriage. For over 20 years now, his children have not accepted the fact that he is with me. He recently refused to go to a party because I was not invited; his daughter told him ?You made your choice? and hung up the phone. I feel bad for causing this rift, and have been making bad feelings all these years. I get tired of people using my chemical imbalance against me. These people make me feel worthless.

Your circumstances are indeed difficult, but perhaps not for the reasons you think. As you can tell, the power of situations we don't handle very well can easily become the basis for excessive stress, anxiety and depression.

Consider these points: When people marry, that commitment supersedes all else. When your husband committed himself to you, it wasn't conditional on how his kids felt about you. Whether his children ever understand what he sees in you is irrelevant. All these years later the fact that they are so poorly adjusted to the reality of their father's chosen life partner makes it absolutely clear where the problem lies.

It lies with them. As adults, they may not like you, but they can have enough insight to know it is wrong to destroy a relationship with their father over his choice for a wife, particularly when she's still there two decades later!

You are not clear about this, because you feel responsible for causing the rift in their relationship. But you didn't cause it, you just happen to be at the center of it.

In fact his children chose it as soon as they decided who their dad should or shouldn't be married to. When people put family ties ahead of personal differences, such enduring rifts don't happen. When his daughter prefers to feel justified in her hostility towards you than to be close to her Dad, she makes a choice that hurts everyone, but especially herself. You still have a husband, but she has sacrificed her relationship with her father. His daughter wants things to be her way and she is trying to hold him hostage emotionally with an ultimatum: ?Either her or me, Dad.? And he has chosen you.

But for you to blame yourself for the choices made by other adults makes it clear that you need help in drawing and holding the line with other people, whomever they might be. Other people can be overwhelming in the tactics they deploy to get their way, and you need help in learning how to manage such people effectively.

I strongly suggest that you and your husband see a good family therapist who can help you reinforce your commitment to each other while you co-develop good strategies for dealing with his kids' nasty tantrums. It may not end the standoff, but at least you'll be clear in knowing that you're not the problem. As a final thought, consider this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: ?No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.? For your sake, and your husband's, too, I hope you'll stop consenting.

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