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Steven Olsen
Steven Olsen, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1765
Experience:  More than twenty years of expertise in counseling, psychological diagnosis and education
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I met a guy on a dating website 6 months ago. We split up

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I met a guy on a dating website 6 months ago. We split up days ago and trying to work out of there is any mileage in contacting him or whether the issues will always be there and if this is due to his bipolar. I found out that he was bipolar after looking for a pair of socks to wear in his drawer and came across a drawer full of medication - of course I was scared but stayed calm. I asked if there was anything he wanted to tell me; 4 years ago stress from work caused him to be hospitalised, he had tried to take his life and had an episode 4 years prior. He had been on Lithium but had come off it in Jan/Feb as it was making him feel numb. He said he was fine now. We had some initial issues and what I found really hard was that we couldn't discuss things; he would walk off then come back and apologise. One time we were at a hotel after seeing his parents, I had already said that I would not enter into a sexual relationship even though I loved him until STD's test had been done and his reaction; leave the hotel room and walk off. There was a more significant issue when he had booked last minute theatre tickets, I said I was busy. I know that was game playing but I found it annoying when he didnt plan stuff in advance - I later relaxed about 'planning' when he told me he had dyspraxia and had to go with the flow. He said he wasnt good at remembering birthdays etc either. To me, it didnt matter what he did on a date, picnic, but to me planning/thinking about it before hand showed you cared. When I said I couldnt go to the theatre he wasnt happy. Something made me go back on line to the dating site where we met, his profile was still live (although later I found out that he had cancelled but not deactivated it, I agreed it wasn't clear from the site). I know this was bad but I sent him a message as someone else, he offered theatre ticket, I suggested I was interested in sex too and his response was sure I'll book a hotel room. I was devasted, I knew what I had done was wrong but I couldn't believe. When we spoke he said he had no intention of the hotel room, didnt want to go alone to theatre and wanted to teach me a lesson. He already had said he loved me so I couldn't understand how he could do that. He said the next day he didn't understand his behaviour, it was wrong, maybe it was BP, he didnt know. He agreed to see a psychiatrist. His job involved working for the olympics and stressful, he was moving house too the Dr was concerned he might be heading towards an episode - he had been drinking frequently, spending more than normal (not excessive amounts), he prescribed a mood stabiliser. I said I was going no where as long as he promised to look after himself and not a while he had a PT, eating healthy, taking meds and less alcohol. Then about a month ago things have not been good, the time the olympic preparation was finally coming to an end. At first he seemed ok and thanked me for my support. He was working really long days and I suspect he has drinking. One eve he said he had broken down on text, I was concerned so I called a few times. His response - why do you keep calling, what do you think I'm [email protected] around and put phone down. I thought what a bizare thing to say. He couldnt explain it after other than he cant deal with stress. The following week we were due to meet after work. He text to say could I meet him at his work as he was with work people having a drink after a really hard day and had 'no capacity' to get on the tube/taxi 15 minute journey. It was my first week in a few job and it was selfish behaviour and all about him. At a wedding a few weeks ago he seemed more intent to go and get drunk then spend time with me and he also confessed that he had started smoking. Last week we met, he spent most of the time talking about his olympic stuff then when he asked me something, I said you dont seem interested in my stuff, his response was your stuff doesnt excite me, I said that upset me he took it as criticism and walked off and left me in the bar. After, he said he had made an effort to ask questions but I was good at turning it back to him and that he cant deal with any stress. I said I wanted to end it and picked up my stuff but last week thought I would offer an olive branch and asked if he wanted to meet. He was at a hotel after attending a wedding (I thought he was so stressed) and would come to me. Then he suggests me coming to the hotel for treatments, I said thats not a good idea. 2 hours before we were due to meet he said he'd fallen asleep (he was hungover)could we rearrange. I said that was it as thought he could have made an effort. He text to say 'last resort get a taxi I'll pay'. I didnt respond. He sent another 'I'm working tomorrow, you didnt have to be stubborn and could come'. I tried to call he didnt answer. I think him not being on meds, drinking is ffecting him and I said he needed help. Maybe its not that? I said I was worried about him

Let me see if I can help. I want to be supportive to you, but I also want to be realistic and honest as well.


Your previous boyfriend has very complex and multiple issues. He is bipolar. He has a neurologically based issue, dyspraxia; he drinks; he can be callous and abrupt. In truth, this relationship, if you decide to pursue it further, will be challenging.


I am concerned for you as I feel that some of what you have written could simply be his own personal struggles and difficulties. Other parts, the more serious behaviors, seem more personality based...and the impulsiveness that he seems to be experiencing more and more of is an indicator, as the doctor stated, of a possible impeding hypomanic/manic episode.


He also showed little concern for your "relationship test", where you portrayed another woman on-line and asked about sex, to which he replied that he wanted a room. Then when confronted he says he is just punishing you and he would not do so. That makes no sense. A man who loves you would not act like this, intent not. This entire situation seems very unbalanced and all about him. I am concerned that if this progresses, his whole interaction will become about him and your needs will be not addressed at all.


Best practice in these cases:


If he wants you he needs to show some behavioral changes. He should agree to steady and consistent treatment of his bipolar disorder. This is a genetic illness and responds only to consistent treatment. Going on and off again when he feels better (or when he feels the drugs are blunting him) is an ineffective method, and he will not enjoy stable moods as a result and his behavior could be damaging to him, and to you.


He must agree to no drinking. His conditions worsen with alcohol and he must invest in a plan where he is abstinent. Some folks just cannot drink because of medical conditions. He is one of them and must show that he loves you through actions like this.


Lastly, he needs to show you respect. To tell you that you no longer excite him is hurtful and the exact opposite of love and care. To me, he is hurting and lots of that hurt is being directed at you. He also needs to invest in his recovery and needs to see that he must be serious about his illness, lest he lose you and even worse.


I would suggest putting this relationship on hold for a little while, just to see if he can show maturity and investment in you. You are worth more than what he is offering you right now. He can change if he wishes; he is not hopeless by means, but he must make that choice, and you can assist him in wellness by making that (done in love) demand. Steven

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks for your reply Steve. I'm usually someone who can see whats going on but I must say for the last few weeks I've been totally questioning myself and whether I've not been supportive enough. 'The relationship test' as you so nicely put it really hurt me and I remember how he was quick to say I shouldnt have trapped him. However as he seemed to realise things were going on and he was willing to seek help I tried to draw a line under it and did trust him, otherwise there would be no point.


I think I forgot to say that about a month ago, around the time things seemed to go down hill he told me he stopped taking his mood stabilisers. I said that was really not a sensible thing to do especially when drinking alcohol too. He said he was fine and that I was unduly concerned. I asked if he would come with me to see the Dr we saw before but he said he objects to a shrink telling him about him as he knows himself better than anyone. I can understand that but I also understand that in his situation he wont necessarily accept whats happening.


The comment he made about my stuff not exciting me. He said he didn't mean it like that but to me it was really disrespectful. His stuff doesnt excite me but you shown interest if its the world of the person you love. When I said I was upset by that, his response as always was defensive and he saw it that I was criticising him. I know I'm not perfect and have probaby been too intense at times with the relationship and I have criticised him in the past - although I saw it more as saying what is important to me. What really upset me though was how he just got up and walked off leaving me in the bar as he said he just has 'low tolerance levels right now'.


I agree its imbalanced, and thats how I've been feeling. I feel I've given everything and its one way. I helped him move house, find a new apartment, unpacked his new apartment, took him to Italy for his birthday. He has done some nice things too and has said he appreciates all I've done for him and I've changed his life for the better (this was before the last few issues). I did it because I care and not to get anything in return but I always feel he puts his self before me.


He sent me an email saying I don't understand his stress levels and never will and said that biologically he cannot cope with stress. He has though seemed to have managed to get through the olympics although I don't know if he is ok as I've not seen him now for a few weeks. I'm frustrated because he does not seem to think there is a problem, and may be there is not, maybe he is fine?? You would not think he had a mental illness, he has a good job, friends etc..


Is it possible not to be on any medication and be ok? He seems to have convinced him self that he is and I think maybe his behaviour is nothing to do with the BP? Do you think his behaviour could just be because he is selfish and not as a direct result of the BP/not taking med/alcohol influence??


I'm not sure how much the dyspraxia features, he said he was told he had it as a child.


Its upsetting because when things were good and he was on his meds and living a healthy lifestyle he said he saw his future with me and I felt the same. I have always said to him that as long as he helps himself I wont go anywhere, but hes not helping himself.


With regards XXXXX XXXXX the dr said he needed to moderate it (I think he realised not drinking at all was unlikely) as that could be a major issue (which I totally get - it affects chemicals in the brain so of course will have an impact), yet he insists that he wont change his life as going out with friends and family for drinks is a part of that. I'm sure a glass or two of wine would be a good compromise but he seems to have to drink to excess. I feel he is being immature and not taking responsibility but then at the same time I think maybe its nothing to do with BP..


Thank you for the additional information.


I think we are on the same page here.


Bluntly,this man is living in denial. Bipolar Disorder is, even if it is in its mildest form (Cyclothymia) a serious but manageable condition...when the person takes the medication as prescribed. If they do not, and I lost count of how many told me the same exact wording as this man...that I know best about my body, etc, etc. Well, they all ended up in the hospital, multiple times with broXXXXX XXXXXves and relationships. No, as this is genetic and biochemical, the medications may change over time, but to not take them is emotional and social suicide. It catches up, always. On meds, it is as you said, he is a different person. That is because that part of his brain that is not working well is controlled via medication and stabilized. His choices and moods will be much more typical.


Still, his reaction to you tells me that he is not ready to deal with what he must. He still very egocentric and is acting more like a teen male than an adult male. I do not mean this in a cruel way, it just seems to be fact. This may be some of the bipolar disorder, but I also get strong impressions from your description that he has a great deal of emotional baggage to work through. He is angry, but unfairly that anger is being taken out on you. And, until he can get the help he needs, both medication and to deal with the emotional unfinished business, he will continue to be unsafe, too unstable, for a long term relationship.


Until he does what he needs to do to get his life in order I am afraid that in all likelihood this pattern will repeat. And, you are worth far too much to be hurt like this, over and over. Again, I think it is best to recommend that you set very clear limits with him, and if you see the limits being violated, to move on. I know that is painful to hear, but it is the truth and is what is best to protect you and keep you emotionally safe. Steven

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