Bipolar neighbor I can't help nor walk away

Fred and Wilma have been good neighbors and friends for about 15 years. Last summer, Wilma split and Fred is not doing too well on his own. He was diagnosed BP a few months ago. I stop by once or twice a week to say hello and give the house a quick look to see if he’s taking care of it and himself.

Yesterday he was pounding on my door and yelling. The phone and tv weren’t working. He was a wreck. Physically shaking, hands twitching, swearing, talking to himself.

For all I know he has pulled out wires in a fit of frustration. Or perhaps just not paid the bill. I couldn’t get a live person on the phone (Saturday) but told him I’d left a service out message and the carrier would call me back.

With that, Fred left. Less than an hour later he was back, pounding on the door, and there was another ISP go 'round. And again, he left.

Now I myself am BP. I have been hospitalized voluntarily. My meds are finally balanced, my mood is level, and life is good. I have some sense of what Fred is experiencing; although I wonder how much of that is projection.

Thing is, I can’t do any more than I’ve been doing without jeopardizing my own hard won stability. But what does walking away say about me? Does that make me a selfish, fair weather friend? He seems to have been abandoned by his entire family. A good friend of mine wrote me off before I was stable. I understood why she did it, but it was a hard thing to take when I was still quite sick.

I know I can call 911, either for a wellness check for him or if I feel threatened. Likely either of those would cause him to lose control. And, having experienced a wellness check myself, I wouldn’t expect him to thank me for caring.

I know walking away is best for me, but right now I don’t feel good about doing it.

I’d appreciate any thoughts y’all have. If you don’t have thoughts, gumdrops will do.:rolleyes:

Whats his attitude like when he’s not having a manic episode?

Can you really help? My mother in law is Bipolar, and has been in an institution for years. When she’s manic, there is just nothing anybody can do to help her except get her hospitalized once she proves herself a danger. Anything you do try to do just convinces her you’re trying to kill her or you’re Satan or a Nazi or whatever. I really don’t see that you can help this guy. It isn’t in your power.

My mother was bipolar, and an alcoholic to boot, so I had that experience from my childhood to early adulthood.

This past year I had an acquaintance, who I had known for a few years, with multiple episodes. He was hospitalized twice. The first time I picked him up when he was released. I spent some time with him, taking him out for coffee occasionally, taking him shopping. The was hospitalized again for a few weeks, and again I tried to maintain contact and talk to him. I think it was in July he started telling me some really tall tales. I told my husband I thought he was losing it again. He was also saying some things that made me wonder if he was on the cusp of becoming dangerous to others. We decided I would try to distance myself from him.

Then a few months later I was driving by the building where he lived, and all of his stuff was out on the front lawn. He had been evicted. I was in contact with a mutual acquaintance who confirmed this, and told me that this person would be looking to me for money. He came to my home at least twice, banging on the door, scaring the bejeezus out of me. I never answered it. I saw him a couple of times after that out on the street, we never discussed the eviction, and I didn’t bring up the times he pounded on my door. I haven’t seen him in the last couple of months, and would prefer no to come across him again. I feel badly for him, but I’m just not equipped to help.

He’s pleasant enough. But seems uninterested in understanding his disorder. He seems to think he just has to stop certain behaviors, such as swearing, and he’ll be cured. In a year. What kind of therapist would say that to a patient? I’m not sure he even has bothered to understand the meds he’s taking. One day he’s going to sell the house. Next day he’s trying to meet women because God doesn’t want him to be single. Maybe get a roommate. Just leave. He’s all over the place.

I’m sorry to read of your mother-in-law’s situation.

There was a time when hearing “I can’t live without you.” from a guy would make me giddy. Now it makes me want to lock up all the knives.

Growing up with alcoholism is bad enough, but you got a double whammy. Shouldn’t happen that way.

Thank you for sharing. And for caring for your friend as long as you were able.


I’d try to avoid him until he starts to take things more seriously. If he questions why you are keeping your distance then you can politely give him some constructive criticism.

Yes, I am going to avoid him for a while. That’s best for me. Neither Fred nor the MIA Wilma have a clue about flashbacks and emotional triggers that take me back to a place I don’t want to revisit.

Thank you for your help.:wink:

You didn’t say. How old were you before you got treatment?

Do you remember before you acknowledged your disease and got treatment for it how amenable you were to being told there was something wrong with you and you needed to get help?

I’ve banged my head against this wall for years. Here’s what I finally learned:
***You can’t help anyone. They have to help themselves. Then, the most you can do is help them to help themselves. ***

A good friend of mine has a master’s degree in social work and has been a therapist and she agrees with what I just said.

It’s got to come from him. And you said he seem uninterested in his disorder.

And you have my sympathies, it was a relief when my Antics of a Crazy Woman was out of my life.

I couldn’t do a thing to really help her and I don’t think you can do a thing to really help him. He needs what you can’t give him…medication and serious therapy.

Once he’s getting those, by all means, then step in and help him help himself.

But do let him know that’s what you’re doing. You’re not deserting him. But you can’t do anything until he gets on medication and gets some real therapy. Now if he needs help setting that up or with transport, that’s something you could offer assistance with.

I got to go with what Renee says.
My Aunt was BP and an amazing person when she was taking her meds but sometimes she would go through these phases where she would stop the meds and become very destructive.

I just recall that she eventually ran everyone (including family) away because there was nothing we could do. Eventually the state got involved and put her in a place that mandated her meds and cared for her. What was sad about the whole deal was all she needed to do was take her medications on own and she would have never ended up where she did.

Is that your blog? I used to see it over on IMDB… I like it a lot

Part of being emotionally healthy is setting boundaries that protect you. Recognising that this is a situation that threatens your own well-being is good. You don’t owe your neighbor your well-being and it’s ok to set that as a boundary.

Thank you lalaith. I had bouts of depression from age 15 that were attributed to adolescence. I sought treatment off and on throughout my 20s and 30s. Always for depression. I didn’t get a diagnosis of bipolar until I was about 52 or 53. The dr. who made that diagnosis is a saint. When he told me he could help me but I was on too many drugs for him to determine what the problem was, I realized one can be drugged to the gills and still be giddy with relief. I’ll be 67 later this month and I feel that finally I’m ok. Whether or not Fred will be so lucky, who knows.

If his wife couldn’t convince him to get proper treatment, you certainly can’t. Divorce yourself as much as possible from the situation. I don’t agree that constructive criticism will be helpful – he will not take it as you intend. It is quite likely to backfire and lead to paranoia, which could make you a target for retaliation in the form of accusations, frivolous complaints, possibly even vandalism (depending on the extremity of his disorder).

yeah… it might at that… :frowning:

I grew up in a home with a lot of untreated mental health issues. It didn’t get better as the years went by and as my siblings aged.

It was very challenging, but there came a day when I knew, continuing to engage with some of them was, in fact, endangering my own mental health. I am estranged from a few, as a result. There are times when I question, (as it’s been some years, occasionally they reach out to me), if I shouldn’t, ‘give it another try’?

But then I remind myself how stable my life became without them and how healthy I am as a result. For me it always comes down to two simple questions:

“How highly do I value my own mental health?”
“What would I be willing to sacrifice to protect it?”

I wish you good luck with this very challenging situation!

“I can’t do any more than I’ve been doing without jeopardizing my own hard won stability.”

You said all that needs saying, right there. That’s your answer. Congratulations on getting that far yourself, and bless your heart!

I used to work at a hospital that had a psychiatric facility (3 units - locked adult, unlocked adult, and pediatric, which was locked) and I saw “Discontinue all medications” many, many times. It’s very common for this to be done for inpatients so the psychiatrist can see their baseline level, and go from there.

bless your heart! And yours, too. I just spent so many years doubting myself (the ex helped in that) that I still need a final whack upside the head at times.:smack: