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How do I stop putting myself in a potentially dangerous situation?

By September 29, 2009 - 2:18pm
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I'm not sure that I came to the right site for this but here it goes.. I recently left my fiancé. My ex fiancé has bi-polar and basically wasn't treating me the way I know I deserve to be treated. The issue is I know I did the right thing but I miss him, I really love him and want to help him and have had a really hard time cutting him completely out of my life. I know it's necessary, primarily for my safety. I guess it's kind of a stupid question but how can I stop putting myself in a potentially dangerous situation? How do I stop caring?

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Thank you very much for the comments. In answer to some of the questions asked, he was diagnosed at 19 and is now 30. He was off his medication for a good year and a half out our relationship. Which I would later find out can make the condition work. As far as the medications I believe he was on
Prozac, Zoloft, and Seroquel. I do know that people with bipolar can live healthy normal lives as long as they take there medication and seek the help they need. I made the decision to stay with him when he told me about his disorder, and whole heartedly believed that once he got the help this was going to save our relationship.

I am in a safe place now, I have recently moved in with my parents, I would get calls from him though, saying he just saw my dad here, or he just saw my grandpa there, and has always threatened me with "I'm bipolar, I can get away with a slap on the hand for just about anything" Now I'm not saying I necessarily believe this but it's still threatening. My problem is when he calls me a day or two later apologizing profusely for what he said it's so hard for me to stay away. I guess I just don't know when it's him talking or his disease? I just don't feel like the hateful person he can be at times is the real him.

I'm learning though, it gets a little easier day by day. I really appreciate your comments and concerns and will stay safe.

October 6, 2009 - 1:44pm
(reply to Cyndi Lu)

Cyndi Lu,
I sympathize with your situation. How hard it must be for you to hear the "nice" person on the phone, while still fearing the threats of the mean one.

You did the right thing by leaving, and you are doing the right thing by trying to stay away. If he wants to get better, he needs to be in treatment and taking his meds -- not threatening you one day and apologizing the next.

If he does go back to treatment and taking his meds, things may feel differently to you. But you shouldn't feel responsible for him, and you don't want to live like this -- being pulled in two directions constantly. You are a thoughtful and giving soul, but only he can take the steps to become steady and responsible for his own condition.

I'm glad it's getting a little easier for you day by day. Take care, and please continue to update us. Others in relationships with bipolar people may be able to learn from your experiences as well.

October 7, 2009 - 9:08am
(reply to Cyndi Lu)

It is wonderful to hear back from you!

One thought I had, after reading your question, "I don't know when it's him talking or his disease? I just don't feel like the hateful person he can be at times is the real him."

I understand what you are saying, and you want him to be the "real him" (the nice person that you know) all of the time. However, in a relationship, you are in a relationship with the whole person...and that includes the mean parts, whether it is driven by his disease, his choices not to seek treatment, or a combination. It is through his apologizing and "honeymoon" phases that he is hoping to show you the promise of how he can be, but with the honeymoon phase also always comes the abusive phase (emotional abuse, is unfortunately, abuse too). The abusive phase is the mean, hurtful and scary person comes through...the part that you hope is his disease only, and not him. And, I know it is emotionally draining, but he just can not be "the real him" in the honeymoon phase and then the "bipolar" person in the abusive phase; he is the "real him"---mental illnesses and all---in all phases.

I wish you much happiness!

October 6, 2009 - 2:24pm
HERWriter Guide

Hi Cyndi Lu

Everyone has give you some excellent advice and you have definitely come to the right place for support! Good overall health does not just mean the physical kind - it also means the mental, emotional, spiritual aspects.

I have an additional question - when was your ex diagnosed with bipolar disorder and what medication is he on?

While symptoms of bipolar disorder vary from person to person, threatening behavior is not a typical symptom, nor are people with bipolar disorder a higher risk to others, necessarily, than other people, although they are at risk to themselves (suicide).

I don't want you to assume that someone with this disorder is a risk to you - if he is violent in any way, he may simply be a violent person who happens to also have bipolar disorder. He would be violent with or without the condition.

Can you give us more details about his diagnosis and medications?

As to how to stop caring? You can't - and that's normal. You don't have to stop caring for someone just because they are no longer in your life. How to stop putting yourself in these situations, I'm not so clear on this - do you mean you continually respond to his requests for contact? Or is this a pattern in your life, generally?

September 30, 2009 - 12:06pm


Alison gave you some wonderful advice. I agree with her that your concern, first and foremost, needs to be your safety. I am assuming that there is some history of violence or threatening behavior here that caused you to leave? Am I right?

Many people with bipolar disorder get therapy, take medications and learn to live good and productive lives. But your ex-fiance needs to be the one to seek help for himself. It's not something you can take on, it just doesn't work that way. A person who has bipolar disorder is dealing with changes in brain chemistry that make their life erratic; they need professional help to begin to smooth it out.

The fact that you really love him and are missing him makes perfect sense. After all, you had spent enough time with this man to believe that he was the one you wanted to marry and spend your life with. It takes time to move on past that kind of commitment. But we all have to take care of ourselves, first, and if you feared for your safety, you had to get out. You did the right thing. Just take it day by day and don't be too hard on yourself for not being able to "get over it" so easily.

You may have done your fiance a favor by leaving, Cyndi. Sometimes it's something like that that ultimately makes a person want to change and get help.

September 30, 2009 - 9:34am

Hi Cyndi Lu,
You absolutely came to the right place, and I'm glad you found EmpowHer!

I will forward your question to one of our medical experts, but in the meantime, you can read other women's responses to your question.

My response: your question has two very different parts to it, and need to be separated. One is, "how do I stop caring about a person; how can I help this person that I once loved and still love?". The other question is, "how do I stop putting myself in dangerous situations; how do I stay safe?"

I hope you know that our primary goal is to keep you safe. Are you in a safe place now? Why do you fear for your safety?

Here are some resources that you will need to have at your fingertips:
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−SAFE (7233)

If you are in immediate danger, call: 911.

To answer your other question, of course you would miss someone that you have loved, and still love, and this is OK. It is because you have a kind heart that you want to help him get the care that he needs. However, you can not do this for him when he puts you in a dangerous situation. You are not the one to help him when your safety is in jeopardy. You may never stop caring; many of us who have had significant relationships with others...and are married to other people...can still care about the other person. We hope they are doing well; we hope they are happy. Caring does not ever need to stop.

What you can do is practice the art of "Letting Go". My mom gave this to me 15 years ago, and it had a profound impact on my life while I was dating a boy that was beginning to show some abusive qualities. Please read this, and let me know what you think: http://www.empowher.com/community/share/how-let-go-tips-peace-happiness-and-healing-relationships-others-and-yourself

Here are a few of the words of wisdom that are most powerful in your situation:
...to "let go" does not mean to stop caring, it means I can't do it for someone else.
...to "let go" is not to enable but to allow learning from natural consequences.
...to "let go" is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.
...to "let go" is not to try to change or blame another, it's to make the most of myself.
...to "let go" is not to care for, but to care about.
...to "let go" is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes but to allow others to affect their destinies.
...to "let go" is not to be protective, it's to permit another to face reality.
...to "let go" is not to fix, but to be supportive.

I hope this helps, and I hope to hear from you again.
Take care of yourself.

September 29, 2009 - 3:01pm
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