Help: Dealing with manic neighbor

@bagarad (5599)
Paso Robles, California
January 26, 2012 5:21am CST
It's been a long day. Our neighbor / tenant, who lives across the driveway from us, whom I will call m1 has been acting strange for three days now. She has a history of bipolar and she has it under control most of the time. But for three days, she has been manic. She came to clean for us last night, something she normally finishes in three hours. But she was talking to my husband for six hours while she cleaned part of that time, and it was evident she's not herself. She came to tell me today that strange things (that weren't strange at all) have been happening on the property. Hubby wasn't here, and I was alone. I stepped outside, because I knew it could get long. I also had a headache that wouldn't quit. I let her talk for several minutes and knew it wasn't going to go anywhere, so I finally asked what I could do for her, and she said nothing, she had just wanted to let me know. I assured her that what seemed strange had a simple explanation and she shouldn't worry, but I'd keep an eye out. (When she last was having episodes, it was about this same time of year, and it manifested in paranoia .) I finally told her I had to get back to work and she said she had to go do some errands, which included picking up some meds. I was hoping they would be the ones for bipolar. She was gone several hours. Meanwhile, Hubby came home from a day business trip that's six hours round trip, and he'd been gone about nine hours. He was tired and hungry, and I got him fed and put some medicine on his toenails, which he can't reach himself since his hip replacements, so he could go to bed. He fell asleep at once about 11. I went upstairs to work on my computer. About 12:45 I heard screams as my neighbor was yelling at us for help, and I was, at first, afraid she might have flipped out. I ran downstairs, and she was pounding at my door, telling me her friend (whom I will call m2, had passed out and might be dead. I wasn't sure how much to believe, but I knew m2 had been on drugs again and m1 had taken her in to try to keep her clean. She was screaming at me to get Hubby (who was already asleep) to help her get m2 in the car so she could take her to the ER. I sort of froze so she walked straight into Hubby's bedroom and got him. He got his slippers on and he told me to call 911 even though my neighbor didn't want us to. I called and explained and said I'd go out to the road (we live in a rural area on acreage) and shine my lights so the ambulance could find us. My husband was over there by then and they had m2 propped up. I was glad to see she wasn't dead. I went out to the road to wait for the paramedics. It seems forever, but they got there -- one large engine, an ambulance, and an unmarked car of some kind. I thought it could have been a coroner, since I had told the operator the person who came to me thought her friend might even be dead. I directed the emergency vehicle parade up the hill to the mobile home. My neighbor kept trying to tell the medics what to do and they told her to stand back. (I had told them she was probably manic and might need as much help as the one she'd called about.) We decided to let them sort things out and retreated back home. M1 went to get dressed when the ambulance left, and a few minutes later we heard her car leaving for the hospital. A few minutes after that another car drove up. I presume that was a friend she might have called to come wait with her at the hospital. They are all AA members and recovered alcoholics, and they do support each other in times of crisis. After seeing that my neighbor wasn't home, the other car left, probably to join everyone at the hospital. After praying and sitting up with my husband until he was ready to go back to bed, I decided I needs to write this all out and tell someone. I'm glad the friend showed up. I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop. I've left a lot of unnecessary details out, since it's a complex human situation. I'm hoping someone at the hospital will notice what's wrong and do something to help, but I don't expect it will happen. We would like to help, but don't have the training. M1 is an adult and does not know she needs help and even though she knows her history, she would not believe she was manic even if we told her. I'm glad Hubby will be home tomorrow, but if anyone knows how to handle someone in a manic stage, please offer your tips. M1 is a wonderful person, but she's not rational and doesn't know it. We know her well when she's normal, and so we know she is not herself. We know worrying about M2, for whom she feels responsible, is probably putting her under even more stress. She has also lost an important customer and has a quite irrational explanation for it. I'm afraid she will lose even more, and she's out trying to find new clients while she's in this state. I feel so bad for her, but don't know how to help. Any ideas out there? I just heard a car come back. I'm not sure if I should go to bed or not. I'm certainly ready to. I feel very drained all of a sudden, now that I have this out of my system. If you were in my shoes, how would you handle it?
5 people like this
9 responses
@GardenGerty (77686)
• Marion, Kansas
26 Jan 12
Barbara, all I can do is sympathize. I think Dragon has given you practical advice. My one close friend who is bi polar knows when she is "getting sick" and she calls and gets med adjustments. She is a nurse. I have also known people who are more like your neighbor. Some people feel that they enjoy how they feel when they are on a manic phase. Around here there is a group called NAMI and it seems to function very well with educating and helping people with various disorders. She might be open to looking into that when she is in a more "normal" state.
3 people like this
@bagarad (5599)
• Paso Robles, California
26 Jan 12
I agree. My husband and I both came to the same conclusion as Dragon independently of each other, but, of course, didn't have a chance to discuss it until this morning. I don't know how well an AA sponsor is equipped to handle this type of thing, but I think M1's sponsor is with her now, doing what she can as it relates to M2's condition. I hadn't heard of NAMI.
1 person likes this
@dragon54u (27584)
• United States
26 Jan 12
That's really hard to deal with because people like that don't realize they need help once they get to a certain point. First, you tell her that she is behaving erratically even if she doesn't realize it. Tell her she needs to take her meds--I assume she has a prescription for her bipolar? She'll probably deny anything is wrong but point out that it took her 6 hours instead of 3 the other day and she ran her mouth more than she cleaned. Mention other examples. Remind her of how she acts when she has it under control. Maybe you'll get through to her. If that fails, talk to one of her more responsible friends, if possible. If all else fails you'll have to wait till she's really freaked out and call the emergency squad. Maybe the hospital where her friend went will notice something. The best thing right now would be for her to make a scene at the ER and be treated or admitted.
3 people like this
@bagarad (5599)
• Paso Robles, California
26 Jan 12
As I was trying to sleep last night, I was thinking of talking to her like that. I prayed a lot, and I think if she is still that way next time she comes over I will have to do this, with my husband there to act as a second witness. We were both hoping last night that she would make a scene at the ER, but the person whom I believe is her AA sponsor met her at the hospital and I see that car there this morning. Maybe she knows what to do. I hope so. At least someone is with her.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
27 Jan 12
Hmm. Here in the Philippines, we fancy that people in the US have less ties to their neighbors than we do. Now that I read stories like these, in some parts, people are actually more tied to their neighbors than here in our shores. I believe you basically did the right thing, bagarad, though, if I were in your shoes, I'd have stopped worrying up until I sent her off to the hospital. Thing is, I believe in setting boundaries (I'm currently trying to get through the book "Boundaries" by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend), and if you feel like you're overtaxing yourself for your neighbor, I believe that you could stop helping by now. I believe in helping people, but never at the cost of my personal peace. If it feels like you've helped enough, and you feel like you should reserve some energy, head space and emotional reserves for yourself, I believe you've done what good neighbors should do. More than, even. :) I admire people who are ready, willing and get to helping others. I salute you, Ms. bagarad. :) I just hope you won't overdo it. :D
2 people like this
@bagarad (5599)
• Paso Robles, California
27 Jan 12
I"ve read and heard about the importance of maintaining boundaries in my Stephen Ministry training. But in Stephen Ministry, they are not supposed to assign you anyone who is mentally ill. Mentally Ill people do not respect boundaries when the illness has kicked in. M1 was downstairs talking to my husband this morning before I was up. An hour later I came down after she left. We had breakfast and I got the dishes done. I came upstairs to check my email and get a list of the books I need to pull to ship to a customer. Then I started outside to go to the warehouse. On my way down the stairs I heard her again. My hus band was in the bathroom with the door shut. She had just walked in, talking as she went, and was on her way out muttering something when I got downstairs. She didn't see me. Guess she didn't see my husband and left. When I returned from the warehouse a few minutes later, she was back. We will have to remember to keep the doors locked when we are in the bathroom or dressing. If I see her coming, I go outside to meet her so she won't be inside where it's hard to get her back outside. We've had three visits today, plus the one where she didn't see any of us, and it's not even noon. I guess we will have to wait until the medications kick in. She simply doesn't know what she's doing.
1 person likes this
@Rick1950 (1481)
• Peru
27 Jan 12
I wouldn't have done it better than you. I don't really know how to deal with such persons and it is probably not easy. I think the specialists are the most appropriate. But, after all, I see you have been very helpful and your reaction was the most succesful.
2 people like this
@bagarad (5599)
• Paso Robles, California
27 Jan 12
We are still very much involved, and our neighbor is downstairs now talking to her sister on my husband's cell phone. I hope she will get some sleep tonight, so we all can. Now she doesn't want to be alone in her house.
1 person likes this
@WakeUpKitty (8717)
• Netherlands
26 Jan 12
It's hard not to help out esp. if this person is also helping you out. I would have called 911, tell them what is going on and just like you also told them the lady is bipolar. I don't think there is much more you can do. It's out of your hands now. Let's hope they will recognize her state but just like you I doubt they do. I wish you a good nightrest.
2 people like this
@bagarad (5599)
• Paso Robles, California
26 Jan 12
WE slept in and have heard no more today, except that M1's truck is home now and the other car that came last night as moral support for her was also there this morning. It is now gone, and I'm assuming they went together somewhere -- probably to visit M2 in the hospital if she's still there. We are mentally preparing for the next encounter.
1 person likes this
@JenInTN (27570)
• United States
26 Jan 12
Most people that are in a manic state don't realize it but the good thing is that she has been diagnosed and probably understands that. If she has been submissive in the past to therapy, chances are she wants help. If I were you, I would sit her down and explain that you are worried about her because she has been acting as though she were manic. It might be that her medicine is not working well for her and these things are quite common. She might have actually dealt with it in the past. Tell her even if she feels "ok" that it would make you feel better if she just talked to her doctor about it and see what he says. See if he will do a medication adjustment. The bad thing with mania is that although she is "up" right now..the mania has a very very low side too and that us another story entirely. Don't want to get into that...it's better to try and get her stabilized before she crashes.
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@bagarad (5599)
• Paso Robles, California
27 Jan 12
She has been talking to my husband for at least an hour and they are still talking. M2 came home with her last night. M2's problem was a reaction to a prescribed medication, and it was a good thing we called 911. Everything around here is bizarre today. I think I mentioned that after M1 left to be with M2 at the hospital, another care arrived at her mobile home and then left. I assumed this was M1's friend who then joined her at the hospital. The same car was there when I finally made it up this morning. Now M1 says no one came to the hospital with her last night. She thinks this is M2's daughter and boyfriend coming to enjoy the place while M1 is gone, which she was. M2 came over and at least then I found out what had been wrong last night. She said, " You know M1 is manic now, right?" I said I knew, but didn't know what to do about it. M2 said M1's doctor had upped her medication and she will probably normalize in a couple of days. But I predict a wild ride. Meanwhile, this afternoon M2 came over to tell me she was going to walk over 2 miles to the hospital because her unmarried pregnant daughter (18 pregnant by 16-year-old boy) is having an ultrasound and she wanted to be there. I offered to take her because I wasn't sure she was well enough to walk that far. I had her there in ten minutes and the daughter was already there, so she never would have made it in time walking. I wasn't sure how she would get home. She was back over here by 4 PM somehow and was expecting M1 to take her home. The two got into a shouting match and I was running for my video camera to tape it if I needed the evidence for medical personnel later. By the time I had my camera it was too late, since my husband decided to drive M2 home. Then M1 came over to explain M2 was calling her crazy and she wasn't crazy, she just needed rest. I told her I thought she needed rest, too, and encouraged her to go get it, but she kept talking on and on. My husband had asked her for the number of her next of kin and she had given us a sister's number as the one who took care of all the family affairs and knew what to do for everyone. Now she was back saying not to use that number because that person was too far away and did not share her values or the way she lives and she didn't want her to handle such emergencies. It's been like a 24-hour soap opera around here. I hope she will sleep tonight so the rest of us can. I think she's gone home now, so I'll go down and see what has transpired.
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@bagarad (5599)
• Paso Robles, California
27 Jan 12
I relaxed too soon. I went downstairs after she left to talk to my husband. Then I heard her voice like she was on her cell phone loudly outside my door. My husband told me to listen, but her voice wasn't clear -- just loud. When I husband finished changing he went to listen and then she banged on the door. She's been trying to call her friends, including the M2 whom she fought with this afternoon and told never to come back, and no one will answer her calls. I think the depressive phase is starting. Now she says she's lonely and everyone has deserted her, leaving her to clean her house all by herself after they messed it up, etc, etc, etc. We have been telling her to go home and sleep, but instead she'd talking about joining her friends at some restaurant where they go to sing and surprise them all. I anticipate if they aren't there, she will be back at our door. If they are, there will probably be a scene. I guess we'll have to wait it out. I guess I'd better go back down. My husband needs reinforcements.
1 person likes this
@JenInTN (27570)
• United States
27 Jan 12
The medicine isn't supposed to be that extreme. The doctor needs to be notified right away. He has to adjust if there are reactions this extreme. You have really got your hands full. I hate to harp on the doctor thing but she is dangerous to herself and others when she is in this state. It might just seem aggravating but the truth is that the normalize that M2 is expecting might be a crash. I hope she gets tired enough for you to rest. There's no chance she's taking other things besides her medicine right?
@dorannmwin (36609)
• United States
31 Jan 12
I think that how you would be able to help the neighbor would be dependent on what kind of a relationship that you have with her. If you are friends, then you could suggest that she might need to go to her doctor and see if her medications might need to be adjusted. I know that it is during this part of the year that a lot of people will suffer from changes in their emotions. I've seen it myself in one of my really good friends and also in my husband this year as well. I think that it might have something to do with the lack of sunlight.
1 person likes this
@bagarad (5599)
• Paso Robles, California
31 Jan 12
Lack of sunlight might be partly responsible, but the added stress of living with another person again, especially one she was trying to keep away from her bad influences, is more likely to have caused it. I think her medication dose had just been doubled as well, and it might have been too much.
• United States
26 Jan 12
wow! sounds like she needs an intervention. i live with someone that's bipolar. it's very straining on any relationship, especially when they run out of medicine and take their time to get it refilled. she should feel lucky to have neighbors/friends like you. good luck. we'll be praying for everyone.
1 person likes this
@KrauseHome (28091)
• United States
3 Feb 12
Personally since it has been a week since you posted this I do hope that things are better. I am sure Prayer and praying for this woman and her situation is a lot of the Best help out there, besides getting her or someone to understand her situation and taking the meds and getting the help she needs. I understand Depression and that, but not the manic issue of it all and am sure it is quite complex. Just hope they can get her the Help she so desperately needs.