Ex-Girlfriend Cycling Again?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. Where do I begin? I wrote back in June about how my gf was cycling a was off meds. You suggested she get back on meds and see a therapist. I showed this advice to her and she agreed that she would get back on her meds, and see a therapist. She also wanted me to see a therapist as well. I explained to her that I would go to couples counseling with her once we get her settled in with her therapist. She does not have insurance so we had to find a cheaper way for her to see a therapist. I called some local organizations and found a couple that deal with people with no insurance. I get her in. She gets back on her meds, but cant afford to pay $70/refill (450mg) on 30 day supply so we asked her Dr. at time to drop mg to 300 so she can pay just $4/refill. The Dr. agreed. I noticed a little difference in her mood when she switched. She once again became a little hyper. I just contributed it to switching and getting used to take three pills a day. Well everything was going pretty good until the end of September beginning of October. I noticed a change in her attitude. She was depressed for about a week. She then all of sudden was happy again. She also had her first meeting w/her therapist. Almost immediately she began to push me away. She explained to me that the therapist told her that she probably did love me if she cheated on me. I also knew the anniversary was coming up on her first major episode, so I was worried to say the least. I was upset to say the least about what she said. She also found a new girl friend during this time. She said she makes her laugh. The drinking then began to pick up once again. By, the way, her “friend” she find out is cheating with her brother who is also married. I explained to her that she needs to get out of the middle of this. She said that she was staying out of it. She began to go to the bar almost every night.

Her therapist even thought about upping her meds b/c of her drinking. Just what I was told. Well it all came to a head last week. She said that she likes to help people with problems and I have no problems to fix. I also should have seen this coming since we haven’t had sex in 2 months. I left at the request of her father b/c I don’t want anything bad to happen to her and want to help her. She then began to sleep with the guy that was sleeping with before and let her brother and her friend come over and stay the night the past two weekends. She went to her therapist, and her therapist told her she was doing the right thing by staying away from me since I am stressing her out. I have no problem “IF” I am the problem. I, however, don’t believe that she is being completely honest w/ her therapist. Do I just let this go and wipe my hands of this or somehow let her therapist know that she is only telling her what she wants and is trying to manipulate her. As far as I know, she hasn’t told her therapist that is. She did sign a waiver so her dad can talk to her therapist. Her dad does know about the other guy, but not the affair. We have talked and he said that she seems calm and is ok. I agreed that she is not as bad as she was last year at this time, but she is cycling. Isn’t there other meds she can try to help as well. Just seems like the lithium isn’t helping as much anymore. If she takes all three pills. She is also smoking pot again. I don’t know much about bipolar just what I have read. Everything that I have read says she is cycling. How bad, not sure. I have even handed her some pamphlets to show her the symptoms and she almost dismissed it right away. I asked her to read. Not sure if she has yet or not. I want to here to get the right help just dont know if going to the therapist once a month is going to help her. Shouldn’t she be going at least twice a month or more? I also feel like I am the only one who cares. Everyone seems to feel that she is ok since she isnt havent a psychotic episode. Please try and help.

A. I am glad my advice was helpful to you and your ex-girlfriend. It is good that she was able to begin therapy. But as you mentioned, her situation seems like it has become unstable again.

You are correct to be concerned. You said that you thought she may be lying to the therapist. This may be the case. The problem is that you have no way to know for certain what she tells the therapist. I am unclear about why the therapist would tell her to stay away from you and why and how your presence causes her increased distress.

You may not be able to talk to her therapist because of privacy laws but you can call her therapist and leave her messages. There is no law against you contacting the therapist to offer “your side of the story.” I am not sure how helpful that would be but you do have that option.

Other concerns about your ex-girlfriend’s situation include the fact that she is using drugs and alcohol. She may be cycling as you suspect or she may be having a negative reaction to her usage of drugs. The psychiatric drugs may not work properly if she is using illegal drugs or alcohol. The combination of drugs and alcohol with psychiatric medications can also be dangerous. In addition, it is also possible that the combination of psychiatric medication and the substance abuse is exacerbating her bipolar symptoms. The truth is that there is no way to know what is occurring because of her substance abuse. This further complicates the situation.

To answer your specific question, yes, it does seem that she should be seeing her therapist more than one or twice a month. She should also stop marijuana and drinking because these can exacerbate or increase the likelihood of her experiencing bipolar symptoms. The medication may work properly if she were not engaged in substance use.

All that you may be able to do in this situation is to suggest that she get help. If she is not willing to take your advice, then there is little else that you can do. In the meantime, you should try to protect yourself emotionally from this situation and that may mean setting boundaries and limitations with her. This might include, for instance, not seeing her while she is sleeping with another man. You should set these types of boundaries with her for your own psychological health. If you have difficulty knowing how to set boundaries and limitations with her, it might be beneficial to you to see a therapist. A therapist can teach you how to insulate yourself from your girlfriend’s instability. I hope this helps. Let me know how things work out.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Oct 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). Ex-Girlfriend Cycling Again?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 17, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/10/27/ex-girlfriend-cycling-again/