Lately, I have been talking more about Bi-Polar, Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. Mental Health can be a fragile thing. What do these look like?
My ex has a friend that's nutty. He is rapid cycling bipolar with ADHD. Which means he is most of the time harmless but untreatable. If you treat the Bipolar (BP as in Bi-Polar not Blood Pressure) then the ADHD spirals out of control. If you treat the ADHD it flings him into a dangerous BP manic. The doctors are not sure what to do with this overall "worse case scenario" situation.
The man years ago (it grows worse over time) was manic one week: on top of the world, felt like a party was going to burst out of his chest, life of the party, he could fly off mountain tops, fireworks every minute, every stranger is his best friend, endless joy, endless money to spend and he does have it to spend and does spend it. Then would come a week of normal, the hard worker. He was just a slightly off, normal enough guy. Then you wouldn't see him for a week, then a week of normal again, then fireworks, crazy happy guy; every month cycling up and around and down and around and up again. Just like that, predictable patterns.
I saw him once on the week that he disappears. His depression was very heavy and very dark. His depression was darker than his fireworks every minute was bright. His lows were lower than his highs. In these lows a person suffering from BP runs a high risk of suicide. Every month: one week of celebrating life. Where you are on top of the world stating reasons for celebrating life that is intoxicating. It rubs off on everyone around you. Most people are inspired and love this person.
Many inspirational people in history are thought to have had BP. For example Winston Churchill. Some of his ideas and inspirational speeches were born out of manic episodes. He spoke inspirationally in the face of defeat and gave a nation hope. But it was the same disconnect, he felt they could win because he felt it in spite of circumstances, this same disconnect led to his unpopularity during peacetime. He ended up living out his later years in the USA and many of his descendants suffer from BP. There is a made for television documentary on this. Everyone loves this inspirational part of BP. Including me.
If I could have suspended in time this fun guy in my marriage, I would have. My ex also suffers from BP. He is not rapid cycling. He cycles slowly. He takes years to cycle around and up and down and around again. I couldn't figure out why these larger than life moments never lasted. I couldn't figure out why they cycled on a calendar in predictable ways. When it was good it was intoxicating. When it was good, it was awesome. When it was not good, it was a crisis. And it had a pattern. It was not based on circumstances. Although, most BP sufferers are try to give external reasons for their emotions. The truth is misfiring within their brains most of the time within a predictable pattern that chemically drives their emotions. There is treatment for most people with BP that helps level their emotions. Medication levels both, the manic and the depressive episodes.
The problem is that most patients miss the manic side of themselves and stop taking medication. In a manic, one makes many decisions impulsively. I asked my girl friend that has been BP her whole life, "How did you know you were manic?" Answer: "Well, I finally knew I needed serious help when I was having sex with a stranger in an elevator." why? Because life was good and it felt good and she had no control over the impulses to do crazy, exciting things. This damages your relationships and is risky behavior to your personal health and well being. It's fun, until its not. Then when the depression cycle hits, one finds themselves suicidal over the risky behavior that was "not like you." The guilt is there anyways then there is another wave of guilt because of the chemicals misfiring in the brain. You already felt remorse but then it drags you under to a darker place where suicide is a great possibility.
If bipolar was my ex husbands only problem, I would have stayed. But I believe he has NPD. There is no treatment for NPD. A person, like my girl friend, can learn to manage their BP symptoms and live a normal life through therapy and medication. She recently got married and seems happy, a normal non-manic happy. She is an advocate for management. It's life changing. She was the one who suggested that there must be something else wrong with my ex (called comorbid- two co existing diagnosis).
II. Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a person with a complete lack of empathy. He is unable to put himself in your shoes, to see your point of view, to feel how his actions affect you, family, work etc. A chaotic pattern of lifestyle choices that include overvaluing, devaluing, and discarding relationships. Most everything done is self-serving and self entertaining for narcissistic supply.
II. Narcissistic Victim Syndrome
So what did I look like after 20 years of living with a BP NPD ex-husband? I met the requirements easily for Narcissistic Victim Syndrome (NVS).
"Often times, victims have no idea they are even being manipulated, deceived, brainwashed by these toxic persons such as the narcissist until they are significantly involved within the relationship. Tactics such as love bombing, gaslighting (technique of brain washing used to instill confusion causing victims to question their own memory), and triangulation (creating an aura of desirability to draw victims closer) are used to win the hearts of these unsuspecting supplies and targets."
One of the many possible symptoms to be diagnosed with Narcissistic Victim Syndrome are nightmares. "In Narcissistic Victim Syndrome you are looking for a cluster of symptoms to emerge many are the symptoms of trauma (avoidance, loss of interest, feeling detached, sense of a limited future, sleeping or eating difficulties and nightmares, irritability, hyper-vigilance, easily startled, flashbacks, hopelessness, psychosomatic illnesses, self-harming, thoughts of suicide, etc). Some victims develop Stockholm Syndrome and want to support, defend, and love the abuser despite what they have gone through."
I was asked the other day, "How do you know your ex has NPD." Simple: "I have met the requirements for NVS. It shows all over me."
Conclusion: The good news, it all lessens with time.
I ran into the crazy ex's friend, the rapid BP friend. He was obviously manic, and he stalked me for a while. Every time I moved, he moved with me. He followed me through a crowd of spectators at a high school sport's event. He got bolder. He inserted himself twice into the group of teens or parents that I was talking with. He kept slapping my son on the back saying, "Good Job" while my son walked away. Finally, I went and watched from inside my car. Game over! And I had seat warmers to keep me happy.
I DIDN'T HAVE NIGHTMARES!
This used to cause me to have all kinds of issues for several nights. I would dream things like the ex and the friend came over to steal the kid's trampoline. I would be (in my dream) so worried that they were going to steal the trampoline. In my dream, I would decide to fight or flight. I would fight back and make them leave the trampoline. But they wouldn't leave. So, then I would flight. Just take the trampoline and leave. But they wouldn't take the trampoline and leave. I had nowhere to run. It was my house. Then in my dream I would bargain. I would voluntarily give them all sorts of things that I valued within the house in order to get them to leave. But they wouldn't leave. They would make demands in my dream. Give us this or that and we'll leave. I did. They didn't. In my dreams they never left. It was obvious to me that whether awake or asleep, in reality, they were there. My personal nightmare. Made me want to sing that old song. "Little willy won't go home" by Sweet
I think that I am getting past my fight or flight nightmares. I think "Willy" is going home.
(((Happy healing if you can)))
It all takes just so much time.
There's lots of time.
The healing of time is your friend.