More threads by payof


Where to begin?

A while ago I married someone whom I knew was bipolar. She was accepting of this, took her medication, seemed decent, and could be very pleasant to be around.

Over the years we had three kids. Pregnancies were difficult, due mostly because she had to go off her meds, but also for the pregancy itself (i know it is not fun). During some of those times, our marriage was very challenging.

About eight years into the marriage someone told her they didn't believe she was bipolar. She then went off her medications (against her psychiatrist advice) and our marriage cycled into an awful period. Despite my own concerns, I was ignored. Despite several visits to the hospital, emotional cycling, fits of anger, she made up many stories about why she wasn't bipolar, the best being that "her last pregancy just made it go away".

I was confronted with (and during pregnancies) a person who was always upset about something or someone (typically myself). I have endured her rages, depressed moods, sleepless nights, rediculous journals, distortions of events, tons of marriage counseling, and more. Despite all this, I stayed by her side and tried to be the husband I agreed to be and work through this. I started and continue to see a psychologist, however she was/is no longer pleasant to be around.

To make a long story ...uh, not as long, we divorced 3 years ago. During the divorce she pretty much threw every sort of accusation toward me. Her rage flared big time. Included with this, she went on a major mission to claim I was a bad parent and tried to "take me to the cleaners". Many witnesses however noted that through our marriage she always said I was a good dad, yet suddenly I was "abusive" to our kids? It didn't make sense.

During the divorce I suffered a heart attack (they put in a stent - doc said stress from last year or so raised my choleterol and resulted in a blocked artery). Fortunately there was no damage and it also encouraged me to eat better, exercise right, and ended up losing 30 pounds.

Despite her many claims (all proven false), no attacks on my part, I managed to keep joint legal and physical custody. Among other things, my time with the kids is not ideal, and I have a lot of resentment concerning her actions through all this.

At this point it now appears she is working to alienate the kids against me.

Bottom line.... I am a decent person, good parent, always suportive, a well liked professional (get along with all kinds of people), generally well humored, fairly organized and more...but I can't take much more of this. I am not sure what my next steps should be but need help.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Payof, go and talk to a counselor/therapist who knows something about separation/divorce AND bipolar disorder and who has some expertise in cognitive reframing or restructiuring. You need to find a way to cope with your ex-wife without allowing yourself to get drawn into her "reality", and to figure out a way to protect your children from her disortions as well.


Thank you for responding

I appreciate your insight. Your reference to her "reality" really hit home. She is continuing to warp every event and is continually create accusations against me.

My question is how do I go about finding a therapist with those exact interests/qualifications?

Also, when you refer to cognitive reframing/restructuring, my understanding is that it is learning "the difference between mental and physical stress management techniques". In other words, teach me coping techniques against the stress i get (from her). Is that correct?

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
No, or not exactly.

Cognitive reframing or restructuring is a technique used in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). It refers to looking at, interpreting, "reframing" events in a different light which will in many cases allow you to react to the event in less negative or extreme or unhealthy ways.

That may involve any negative emotional reaction, not just a stress response.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Part of what I mean by "her reality" is that she may need to believe or try to believe some of the things she is saying to others as a way of protecting herself -- if she can make it all your fault, then she doesn't need to accept any responsibility herself for the end of the relationship.

I emphasize that because it will probably be difficult to change her behavior, at least in the foreseeable future. She NEEDS that reality.

But what you can do is find ways of letting it go and deflecting it, both for yourself and for your children. I think that will likely require some help - that's why I suggested seeing someone with some training in CBT and acrimonious separations.
Replying is not possible. This forum is only available as an archive.