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You Asked: Should I Help my EX?

Dear Sugar--

I was dating this guy about 4 years ago. We got really close and he ended up confiding in me things he never told anyone. He's severely bi-polar and has a history of depression, so he was self-medicating himself with alcohol, and was a heroin addict. At the time we were going out, he was sober about a year and going to daily AA meetings. Our different lifestyles and his drastic mood swings were too much for me to handle so we broke up. Since then, when we see each other at our yoga studio (which is about once a week), we say "hi," but that's about it.

Recently, out of the blue, I received an email from him saying that he had decided to go for treatment in a hospital for his bi-polar disorder. I was happy to hear that, but he said he needed someone to take him to the hospital for the 3 hour treatments, 3 times a week, for 6 weeks (he is going to be put out for shock treatment so he can't drive). He knows my schedule is somewhat flexible, and was basically begging for me to help bring him once a week, since he has hardly any friends who know about this, and his family is out of the picture.

I really don't want to get involved (because of all the reasons we broke up in the first place), and I really can't take off work once a week, but I feel so bad, knowing he has no one to help. What should I do?

--Want-to-Help Heather

To hear DEARSUGAR's answer,

Dear Want-to-Help Heather--

It sounds like you are in a tough place, and you are being asked a huge favor from someone who is clearly reaching out for help.

My suggestion is to ask him if he's thought about hiring a private nurse who can bring him to the hospital, stay with him, and then bring him home. He has to realize that it's a lot to ask for you to take off work once a week for 6 weeks. If a nurse is out of the question, he may need to confide in some of his other friends (who don't yet know about his situation) and see if they can help. Then you wouldn't have to do it once a week, you could maybe do it every other week.

If giving up your time isn't the main issue here, and you just feel weird about spending time with him again, knowing he is relying on you so much; I would just be honest with him. Explain that you don't think it's appropriate for you to be his caregiver and that it makes you uncomfortable to be back in his life in this way. You can apologize, hope he understands, and move on with your life. Although he clearly needs help, it is a lot of anyone, let alone an ex- girlfriend, so I am sure he wouldn't be all that surprised if you declined this responsibility. I hope this helps Heather. I hope your ex gets better, but remember you are your first priority!

Join The Conversation
its-just-me its-just-me 10 years
Excuse me, but are you going to tell me that the only communication between you and your ex is saying "hi" once a week and that you're even considering committing to playing chauffeur three times a week round trip to a facility that I'm sure has an outpatient van service of some kind? Also, are you living that far away from civilization that there is not a taxi service available? I am all for showing support but he's looking for more of a commitment from you then you probably had when the two of you were a couple. Good luck!
Rachie-Rees Rachie-Rees 10 years
It is tough dealing with bi polar, I have it and my husband and I are constantly fighting it. My family have finally stepped in and are supporting us. I'm sure my husband can relate to how you feel, as it is a difficult and fastrating illness. I hope whatever you decide that it is right for you! and that your day gets better and better for you! My heart goes out to you with this tough decision! Good Luck!
rubialala rubialala 10 years
don't get involved.
partysugar partysugar 10 years
auddie auddie 10 years
Today's shock treatment (actually ECT) is not some horrible thing like in the past. It's a brief shock, only a few seconds, focused on a particular part of the brain, with few long term side effects. It is only used in extreme cases, when nothing else is working. Even if you do really want to help him I wouldn't recommend taking him to treatments. It is probably a bigger commitment than you realize, as he may need a lot of help around the house after the treatments due to the side effects. Helping him find a service that could help him would be a lot better for both of you.
prblms4loki prblms4loki 10 years
You are already doubtful about this. I would say follow your feelings and don't do it. Just because you feel so bad for him does not mean you should guilt yourself into doing this. Sooner or later he's going to have to tell someone else, and I think it's better for his family to be involved, and you really don't owe him this much.
jessie jessie 10 years
he can call a reliable cab service, make plane to pick up and drop off. don't put yourself in a postion you might regret and have problems with. if you feel the need to help him, find cab service/driving services and ask how he's doing during yogo. good luck
designergirl designergirl 10 years
Stay away! Do not let pity get in the way of your health. If he can't admit he has problems to his friends or family then maybe he's not ready to get better. Shock treatment! What decade is his doctor from?
lickety-split lickety-split 10 years
wish him well and say you aren't available. this arrangement will suck you in deeper than you imagine. he isn't healthy and he isn't your reaponsiblity.
Marci Marci 10 years
I agree with Dear Sugar on this one. If you aren't interested in being involved with his life at all, don't do it. It's really tough to say 'no' to a request like this, but you have to if you don't want to get pulled in.
AsianSugar AsianSugar 10 years
take care of yourself first. your life and work comes first. feeling sorry for someone can be a bad thing. sounds like he can take the bus or a cab.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 10 years
I guess I'm resident softie. I think I would do it. But that's because several of my family members suffer from bi-polar disorder. I hope shock treatment is better than it used to be - otherwise I agree with junebrug - he should get a second opinion.
mon-repos mon-repos 10 years
there are medical taxies which provide service to and from health care appointments at reduced costs. They are also sometimes covered by insurance. He needs to look at what options he has available.
pinupsweetheart pinupsweetheart 10 years
I agree with DearSugar. This is a lot to ask of you. You don't want to be in a co-dependant relationship where you become his one and only. You are not a professional health care advisor. He need professional help. I know you want to help him sweetie, and you can, in a way. Just not the 100% he is asking of you. Good Luck!!
Danni99 Danni99 10 years
I think it might be worthwile to look into helping him 1 or 2 days, if it compatible with your own schedule. I wouldn't rearrange my life to help him if I were you, but I would try to help if I could. That is of course, presuming that doing so won't cause you any hurt/drama/hardship. Good karma and all that. :)
junebrug junebrug 10 years
SHOCK TREATMENT?! Please ask him to get a second opinion.
summer-roberts summer-roberts 10 years
Wow, that is quite a lot to ask of you. I agree with DS it is time he reach out to other friends who could maybe share the time. I too, would be afraid of what he would read into this gesture. Even if you agreed to help out occasionally, he may take this as an invite to ask more of you in the future. Good luck in whatever you decide.
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