Insights into a mentally ill mother and child rejection - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 02-23-2014, 05:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi all,

My stbxw has many issues evidently one is bipolar. She also has addiction issues. We are formalizing the end of our divorce either between us or through court. I'm no longer worried about custody. Right now she only has one day a week that is supervised to be with my dd.

I truly want to be able to help but she is entirely unpredictable emotionally and other.

My daughter over the last year and half has received one form after another of rejection. She is doing well all things considered as I am a superb parent and my inlaws have been an enormous help although the impact is not something I can fix but I do my best to support her feelings. I didn't know how much she was repressing until recently. She is 5 in a few months

My approach was for us all to spend some time together on and off but my ex is in a bad way. I'm questioning how good any exposure is right now unless things drastically change.

This is all lost entirely on my stbx, although she acknowledges being a bad parent, there is no change and she engages me in conflict on a regular basis. One week its nice the next its like toing back to our initial separation. It's toxic. I think her psychiatric issues developed from a pre existing anxiety issue that was brought out full blown by chronic pot use, amphetamine use for awhile, a brief opiate use for a few months, and now chronic pot coupled with klonipan use. She has lost her jobs, got a dwi, been rejected socially, has major panic attacks, she has short term amnesia episodes where she doesn't recall conversations, she says she has out of body experiences at times, and feels like she has different personalities at times which I think are just emotional hijackings where her moods swing from agitated and paranoia, to total apathy (not like a fu apathy but just a wreck less I don't care about anything sort of stoic disinterest in consequences or like an emotional numbing), then she comes back a little and is depressed. She has ideas that just don't make sense at times and everyone is trying to control her, everyone. This part is incredibly manipulative. She is unbelievably rude to an obnoxious extent but I don't think she is totally aware of it. She has no boundaries socially, engages in lots of casual sex, talks about it openly with everyone, and spends most of her time with a crowd that's in their early 20s who do much of the same. She is 29. She has been talking about suicide for a year and was sent to the psych ward for a week for one instance of cutting.

Im looking into local child psychologists that use play therapy.

Any ideas or help or insights into bipolar and child rejection by a mother to a daughter would be welcomed.

There seems to be a lot of addict like behavior and agitation or hostility not to me only but everyone ends up being the bad guy; blame shifting, major manipulation, lies, total avoidance of responsibility, she is on a lot of meds and stoned most of the time. I think she addicted to her klonipan which her psychiatrist dolls out willingly even when she exceeds her limit. Her therapy has reinforced her feelings about everything and that she is the victim in all circumstances.

My daughter I think is emotionally scarred from the rejection. When they have been together her mother is couped up in her room, doesn't engage, and invalidates basic parenting around my dd feelings about pretty much anything. when I ask my dd if she wants to call mom when she says she misses her she will wrap herself around my legs almost in fear, her eyes well up, her smile turns upside down, she doesn't like to talk about it, she cried on the phone to my stbx for 20+ minutes which is unheard of. She said she didn't know if her mom loved her, she has asked my mil if she is her mother etc.

I don't think my dd has been exposed to any real conflict like fighting etc. it's just a mother who shows little to no interest although she says I love you, she doesn't do anything to show it. Then the basic parenting stuff like setting a bad example and invalidating my dd needs entirely. Not showing up, changing schedule without warning, being present in the house but not engaged at all, just playing on the computer, sharing adult themes with my dd etc.

Ironically my ex is able to have (unhealthy) relationships with others but avoids mothering completely. It reeks of narcissism but I don't want to dismiss it that simply. I think the best thing is for her to be in a treatment program as this is all unsustainable.

Part of me thinks she should hit rock bottom but I don't think it's a worthy risk. On the other hand I'm wondering about the long term effects on my dd from basically one third of her life being full of confusion and being rejected and ill treated by what was once a superb mother and is now someone who is circling a major crash.

So what to expect from mother daughter rejection and what to know about bipolar behavior would be helpful

Thank you
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#2 of 6 Old 02-26-2014, 09:00 AM
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Bumping your post in case it was missed.
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#3 of 6 Old 03-30-2014, 09:41 AM
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It sounds like your ex doesn't do well around you. It sounds like you also trust her parents with the child. It would be better for all visitation with her daughter to be through her parents, and if they're willing to act as a go-between for communication, that would likely be better as well.


Even if you don't think you've done anything wrong in your relationship, it's possible you did. No one is perfect. I would bet money that the ex of mine who abused me has no idea that his actions were abusive or so damaging. You may have exacerbated or even triggered severe problems for her without realizing it- and now being around you could be a trigger for her. She was able to function with these mental issues for years, being a superb mother by your own admission, something must have triggered this change- it may have been in part due to you even if you don't realize this or want to accept it. If this is the case, then it's better for her not to be around you as you're unintentionally inhibiting her ability to heal. It sounds like she isn't ready to have a good relationship with you right now. Respect that and give her space to heal.


There are a lot of parents that have no direct interaction with their ex, even though they're both raising the same child. Communication and drop-offs are done through a third party. If the parents can't get along, it's better for the child not to see that constant negativity and conflict. Ideally, parents can get along. But by the time divorce is in the picture, it isn't an ideal situation.


I know this is an old post and based on more recent posts, it sounds like this isn't as much of a concern anymore- but if your ex does want to be involved in her daughter's life again, this is something to keep in mind. Even if she's healing and is in a secure and stable place, she still may not be able to be around you. There is no reason that you can't respect this and still facilitate a relationship between your daughter and her mother.

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#4 of 6 Old 03-30-2014, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
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I think a lot of what you say is true however eventually practical life begins to take precedent. Right now I'm glad my dd mothers isn't in her life. I can live with a lot, a lot, and I tried very hard, however when defense mechanisms and someone's want for self destruction takes a direct role in every aspect of their life, there is a lot more complicated things going on. I hope the best for her and that she recovers and becomes a functional person and drug free as well as gets the mental health counciling that can benefit her. But a lot has to occur before I'd trust her around my dd again. She was medicating my dd with sleep aids so she could put her to bed very early just not to have to deal. I'm sure every marriage influences everyone's perspective but as adults, in the end, our choices are our choices. There is always room for compassion and understanding and equally s important, hope but then there is safety and welfare and responsibility which are the practical considerations when youre a parent. It's a sad state of affairs.
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#5 of 6 Old 03-30-2014, 07:38 PM
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I don't know if I can be of any help, but I would like to if I can.

My mother is undiagnosed and untreated, but I'm almost certain she's bipolar. Thankfully she doesn't have addiction issues as well. When I was growing up she was by turns neglectful or emotionally/psychologically abusive. Sometimes physically abusive as well. I kept trying to have a "normal" relationship with her and kept getting hurt and/or manipulated until about 5 years ago. For the last 5 years I have had almost no contact with her, and I am so much healthier and happier.

The best thing you can do for your daughter is to keep her away from her mother. If the mother receives treatment and makes a good recovery, then maybe some visits, but not before that. What helped me come to terms with my moms treatment of me may also help your DD, if told in an age appropriate way. I told myself, and kept telling myself, that my mom was sick and UNABLE to love me & mother me. I wasn't bad, it wasn't my fault, I need to not take it personally. It's about her, not me. it doesn't make it any easier to cope with her shit, but it does make it so I can let go of the idea that I DESERVE to be treated that way. It also allowed me to forgive her.

Age appropriate counseling is also a really good idea. We did art therapy for my DD when she was 5-6 and it was very helpful. Best wishes to you and your DD during this difficult time. If there is any other way I can be of help, please let me know.

Me + DH = DD (1/2004) & DS (6/2013) & One on the way (11/2015)
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#6 of 6 Old 03-30-2014, 09:28 PM
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My ex has ptsd and I always suspected drug use but never had solid proof. He disappeared for a while so I got very good terms on our divorce that protected my dd when he wasn't ready to be responsible and that I can fall back on if this ever happens again. Overnights are not in the schedule, the most he can have is eight hours every other week but he prefers shorter weekly visits and can sometimes handle longer visits also. My dd is older now and doesn't allow herself to be ignored when she is with him so he typically doesn't seek out long visits.

I have been lucky though because he gets good treatment through the VA and is able to be selfaware now and put off visits when he is in a bad spot emotionally. His therapy is his responsibility and my dd's welfare is mine. As long as he is doing a good job managing himself and being a parent during his tine I don't feel the need to be involved with him at all. Stepping back and making decisions based on what your dd needs to be safe emotionally may be easier on all of you.

It sounds like your ex isn't good at knowing her limits and you are unsure of what limits to set. It is hard to make these tough decisions about limiting visitation when we are concerned that they will hurt a person we still love and care about. I think you should get your dd into a good child psychologist who will help you sort out how much damage has been done, hoe you should proceed, and will testify in court if it comes to that. It sounds like a lot of damage has been done already and it may be good for your dd to be able to work through it.
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