, thanks for the heads-up!
She is bi-polar, but not super extreme....
Unhappy, was your W diagnosed as having a full-blown bipolar-1
episode in the past year? If so, it means there is a 47% chance she also has a lifetime problem with full-blown BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). If her diagnosis was bipolar-2
, the likelihood of co-occurring BPD is 36%. See Table 2 at 2008 JCP Study
I mention this distinction between bipolar and BPD for several reasons. One is that it is common for BPD behavior to be mistakenly diagnosed as bipolar. A second reason is that, even when a therapist correctly determines that a patient has both BPD and bipolar, it is common for the therapist to tell the patient (and her husband and insurance company) only about the bipolar diagnosis. For many reasons, therapists generally are Loath to Mention a BPD Diagnosis
Third, BPD generally is far more difficult to treat than bipolar. Whereas bipolar
sometimes can be treated quite successfully by swallowing a pill, BPD
is very difficult to treat and medications will not make a dent in it.
Finally, the fourth reason is that, because both disorders are believed to be heritable to some extent, it is important to know what risks your three children may face. Whereas the onset of BPD typically occurs in the early teens, that of bipolar typically starts at age 25 (with the common range being 18 to 30). As to bipolar disorder
, a 2012 Systematic Review
of 37 bipolar studies concludes, "The lifetime risk for bipolar affective disorder is 15%–30% in individuals with 1 first-degree relative with bipolar disorder....
" As to BPD
, it is unclear how high that risk is because only a few studies (all with small sample sizes) have been done. Three older studies (1985 and 1988) found that "between 10 and 20 percent of first-degree relatives of people with BPD also have BPD...."
See BPD Survival Guide
(at p. 42).
A more recent 2011 study, however, estimates the risk at between 28% and 37%. It therefore concludes that "An individual with a first-degree relative showing BPD exhibited a statistically significant 3- to 4-fold increase in risk of BPD compared with an individual without a first-degree relative with BPD."
See "Comment" section of BPD Family Study
. Whereas the earlier studies had been based on self-reporting by the BPDer patient being treated, this 2011 study was based on interviews of both the BPDer patients and their affected family members.
The NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) reports an even higher figure. It states "BPD is about five times more common among people who have a first-degree relative with the disorder." See NAMI on BPD
. Given that the lifetime incidence is 6% for the general population, this estimate would place the risk at 30%.
With Bi-polar it can be anything/anyday.
Generally, no. Because bipolar mood swings are caused by gradual changes in body chemistry, it typically takes the mood two weeks to develop and then many weeks to disappear. In contrast, BPD mood swings can occur in ten seconds because they are triggered by events (e.g., some minor thing you say or do), not by body chemistry changes.
Been to multiple councillors with varying degrees of success.
MCs excel at teaching communication skills. Yet, if your W exhibits strong BPD behaviors, her issues go far beyond a lack of communication skills. Until a BPDer has had several years of individual therapy, MC likely will be a total waste of time.
I suggest you see a clinical psychologist -- for a visit or two all by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what you and your children are dealing with. When BPD is a strong possibility, it is important to consult with a psychologist who has never treated or seen your W. In that way, you are assured that he is ethically bound to protect YOUR best interests, not hers.
I also suggest that, while you're looking for a good psych, you read my description of the major differences I've seen between the behaviors of bipolar sufferers (e.g., my foster son) and BPDers (e.g., my exW) at 12 Bipolar/BPD Differences
If most of those BPD symptoms sound very familiar, I would suggest you also read my list of 18 BPD Warning Signs
and my more detailed description of them in Maybe's Thread
. If that description rings many bells, I would be glad to join Farsidejunky
and the other respondents in discussing them with you. Take care, Unhappy.