Dealing With Someone With a BiPolar Disorder

We have a son who is bi-polar, but is not diagnosed. We have gone through a lot with him. He will not take any medication, he only self medicates with substances and alcohol. He always wants us to bail him out of his utility bills. He usually pays us back lately, after we keep after him, but he can't handle his life or finances.


He is currently on social security and works part time at a fast food place. He gets enough money to live, but he always chooses to spend it on wants and not needs. We can't get him to see this. We are so sad and at our wits end. We see him as a hopeless case at this point. It has been hell living with him at home and even now that he isn't at home. Any ideas?

By Keith from Albuquerque, NM

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October 14, 20101 found this helpful
Best Answer

As hard as it may be, you might want to try "tough love". Don't bail him out, but before he next asks, investigate (in your community) resources he might use to get help from. Whatever you do, don't let him move home!


Call a local mental health clinic and find out if there are support groups for family affected by mental illness. Other parents may have a good idea about resources; and someone may also have an idea about how to get your son to seek the help he needs. They can also help you strategize how best to apply your "tough love".

Just rest assured that things will not change if you don't change your reactions to him; and that he is grown now, and has an adequate income, and you should not feel guilty for trying to help him become more responsible for himself.

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October 14, 20100 found this helpful

I agree with the advice posted by Jilson. Although you love your child and are concerned about him, enabling him isn't a way of helping.


I do have one question, you say that he has bi-polar disorder, but is undiagnosed. If he has not been diagnosed by mental health professionals, how do you know that he is bi-polar?

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October 16, 20101 found this helpful

I have been there. I finally told "my girls" two of them that the worst had happened. I no longer have any extra money. It was hard watching one of my girls going from pillar to post trying to find someone that would let her crash but believe me now I am thankful. When I let her go she straightened up and is now married and working at a great job with great grandkids. God bless you and good luck.

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October 16, 20101 found this helpful

I truly feel for you from the bottom of my heart and soul but I have to tell you that your son is most likely 'not' bi-polar and he and everyone else are just using that as an excuse for his substance abuse and his not being willing to grow up and take responsibility for his own life! Every time you bail him out of a situation you are enabling him. It's time for some tough love!


I know first hand because of my brother. Everyone, sadly including me, always bailed him out and his substance abuse just kept getting worse and worse. Slowly others stopped bailing him out and finally, when he had turned 50 and the pain it caused me was enough, I had to let go for my own well being. At this point he had no one else to turn to.

It just about killed me that I had no clue where or how he was for almost a year! One day I finally got a phone call. His years of abuse (that we all allowed to continue) had landed him in emergency for an assortment of ailments including his teeth rotting and skin problems but the worst was heart disease caused from the abuse. He almost didn't make it!

He is now clean and sober but he has so many health issues that his quality of life is greatly reduced and shortened. I will forever feel guilty that I didn't give him tough love decades earlier! My suggestion for you and your loved ones is to go to Alanon meetings for support and guidance.


And where was my brother during those tortuous months that no one knew where he was? He had literally been living under a bridge slowly killing himself with substances and begging and stealing. He too had used the excuse of being bi-polar and doctors simply gave him legal drugs instead of treating his substance abuse! I don't think you want that for your son!

Also, I don't understand how he can be on Social Security Disability and not be monitored and how can he work part time and remain on disability? There's something wrong with this picture and he's taking advantage of not just you, your family and his friends but all of us as a society :-(

Good luck to you and God Bless!

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October 16, 20101 found this helpful

How do you know he has Bi-Polar if he's not diagnosed? It takes a Psychiatrist to diagnose Bi-Polar. It's mis-diagnosed often.


You're enabling his behavior by giving him money when he spend his on wants instead of needs. If there's a way to put your foot down and insist he seek qualified help, I suggest you do this or he will keep making your life miserable, and you will be helping him to do it. It's not easy, and I feel for you. Good luck!

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October 16, 20101 found this helpful

My husband is bi polar,and we have been married for almost 23 years. In that time, we have raised six children,and are still very much in love. So, please, do not think there is no hope! It wasn't all roses, though,we lost two homes with acreage,and there were other losses along the way. The one saving factor in all of it was that he was determined not to let our children see him under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The downside was that he would do great for awhile, then explode and disappear, and come back home terrified and ashamed, once with an STD. However, I started to recognize the "warning signs" of an impending manic episode; temper, irritability, confusion, lack of sleep. And then I realized that he had gotten into trouble with the law on December eighth, on three different years!
The last time,after begging him and begging him for months to get help before it happened, he disappeared on December 8th, and in the next six weeks, was arrested for two different instances each, of hit and run, driving with a suspended license, and improper tag, assault and battery, simple assault and child endangerment, and get this, stealing a deputy's car!
And I let him sit in jail for six weeks, until they got him properly diagnosed and medicated. I even went off a bond I had previously stood good for, so he would have to stay in jail! After six weeks, I bonded him out, WITH the stipulation that he continue to take his meds and go to the mental health clinic.
Thank God,we have discovered these things:
Sleep is absolutely crucial. His 'acting out' which took place in late spring or late fall (Dec 8th) were in direct correlation to the increase or decrease in amount of sun he was getting (he is a carpenter and works outside).
He had to trust someone, in this case me, who could look at him from the outside in and say "You're getting rocky"
He now takes an Ambien every night, and his Depakote, which is actually an anti-epileptic medicine but regulates the order the neuro transmitters fire in his brain, no more anti psychotics or anything, and that is it, and it has been almost ten years since he spent the time in jail.
God be with you and your son.

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October 16, 20100 found this helpful

Those who doubt you can say BiPolar without a doctor telling you, probably don't have anyone they live with dealing with it. It makes you feel crazy with what you should do, what you want to do, and what you actually do.
Talk to social services to see what they can help with in getting a dx done. You may need to get a court appointed conservator for him. Do not take the job yourself, as this is what you are doing now with non-compliant client doing as he wants.
If he has to be accountable to someone else and with consequences, this is a boundary he will learn to live with. The court can appoint someone to check with him on a daily basis, check the meds, etc.
Time to let him grow up and be accountable for his behaviors, no matter how hard it is. Protecting him as an adult is doing no one favors.

My brother had always been under guardianship from child to adult. Was not till we moved him to my state to a group home that we entered social services programing. It is much easier to deal within the system than outside the system looking in.
The peace of mind will bring you back to the mother son relationship instead of warden/prisoner situation where you have gotten.

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October 17, 20100 found this helpful

I too am bi-polar, have been since 1978. I raised two beautiful sons with God's help. I strongly recommend you find a support group for yourselves. National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) is one. Ask a social worker for recommendations if you don't know of any.

Please keep in mind that 15% of all bi-polars commit suicide. Remember he didn't ask for this illness so be kind and loving. If my parents weren't there for me, I'd hate to think where I would be. What convinced me I was bi-polar was a little pamphlet I read that had a checklist of all the symptoms. Actually, I felt good to be able to know my illness had a name.

Most important, keep the faith. If you don't believe in a higher power you will regret it. It is a roller coaster ride from hell. I'd be long dead if not for the grace of God.

Kind Regards.

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October 28, 20120 found this helpful

Hi, I am also Bipolar we didnt ask for this illness, and yes it is an illness as parents we must love unconditionally! God must be center. I would suggest some kind of conservator to manage his finances. I was blessed with entrepreneur skills and ability.

My disorder led me to create 14 businesses some successful. Some flyby nights but it also didn't allow me to manage them properly and i risked, mismanaged funds, created investors, hurt them and their families. Early on the cash flows were so great I plugged every irresponsible decision with money. But the obvious problem was there. I could not pay my own bills, keep a household,

All utilities were always getting cut off. Resulting in my wife and children leaving me! I got help because I applied the biz concept to my personal life. I got a controller for my life and financial decisions, it was a must! I would stare down a mortgage payment not pay it, and go get a $5000 mountain bike because that would fill my endorphins at the time. Eventually I would lose the house.

Support! Love! Encourage! Patience ... Get educated Get God in center
Josef "Entrepreneur"

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