Which Pole Are We Going to Today?

I talk to my mom every week. She lives about 90 miles away from me, which is a good distance. It's not right next door, but it's not out of the question to visit her. Mainly we talk about finances, as I take care of her bills and Social Security for her since she is not able to due to her Bipolar Disorder.

Most of the time, our phone conversations are pretty productive. Over the years, we have established a deeper respect for one another than we ever had when I was a kid. Her disorder has been well managed, and though her health isn't that great, she's able to still live independently.

Every once in a while, though - probably just once or twice per year - her disorder rears its ugly head and throws me for a loop. One thing that most folks don't realize is that bipolar disorder can have a psychotic component to it. The person may hallucinate or experience delusions. Mom used to see "little men" out of the corner of her eye, but that has fallen to the wayside. She has always experienced delusions of one kind or another - usually involving someone who has been mean to her or has persecuted her in some way.

She once accused my cousin of chasing her around with a knife. One of her favorite stories was the one where my dad would beat her all the time. If you've ever met my dad, you know how ridiculous that one is. All of her neighbors would soon be "evil" and trying to make trouble with her. Lately, though, I get to be the bad guy.

When I called her this week, I could tell by her frosty voice that something was wrong. When I inquired, she proceeded to tell me how mad she was about last time we talked. Apparently, I had yelled and screamed at her, accusing her of belittling my father and just generally being a bitch to her. If you've ever met me, then you know how ridiculous that is, too.

So, what do I do? I've tried to explain to her that none of that really happened - that it was a delusion. As you can imagine, that did not go over well. I have also tried defending myself, which seems pretty futile. I've figured out that the best way to handle these situations is to just swallow my pride and apologize. Thank her for pointing these things out to me and for being able to forgive me. Yes, it tastes pretty bitter going down, but it resolves things instead of escalating them.

Anyone out there deal with a friend or relative with BPD? Or maybe you have it yourself? I'm just curious as to how others handle situations like these. I am always looking for new and more effective ideas.

Until then, you can find me in my room with egg on my face.

No comments: