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Morbid Jealousy?

Question:

I left my marriage of 5 years six months ago. He was abusive but much of it was spurred by my constant jealousy. In the beginning of our engagement he was having an online and text relationship. After that, though, he made every effort to be faithful but I never believed him. I searched his computer, his phone, I attacked female friends on his Facebook page, I was jealous everywhere we went and I would wake up in the middle of the night and sneak to look through his phone. He would always get very angry when I didn’t trust him and understandably so. This is not the first relationship I’ve ruined in this manner. I am Bipolar, with a serious suicidal history,  I am on medication. Psychotherapy only goes so far for me, as I’ve had years of it since I was very young. What can I do to help myself and stop the urge to act on this constant jealousy and fear? Thank you!

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  • Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
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Answer:

The fact that you have a Bipolar Disorder does not explain all of the problems you are discussing. After all, the fact that your husband had an online text relationship would make anyone feel jealous. You will probably tell me that you were not yet married. However, you were engaged and he should not have been involved in that relationship.

What is most troubling of all is that you describe him as being abusive. Even if you were jealous and went through all of his things looking for evidence of his being unfaithful, is not excuse for any type of abusive behavior, verbal or physical. You seem to be saying that his abusiveness was justified because of your jealousy. That simply is not true.

However, it appears that you are a very jealous person and have had problems with past boyfriends. Usually this type of problem has little to do with medication. What I mean is that the medication you take for Bipolar disorder will not reduce your feelings of jealousy. Those types of feelings and thoughts respond much better to psychotherapy than anything else. Therefore, I support the idea of your using medication for your diagnosis and psychotherapy to help you with relating to other people.

I have no idea what type of psychotherapy you have had in the past but, my educated guess is that it has been more in the way of learning how to handle the symptoms of Bipolar disorder more than anything else. We calll that “psycho-education.” However, I am only guessing. What I do suggest is that you get into Cognitive Behavior Therapy or, even better for you, Dialectic Behavior Therapy. They are closely related but DBT has with it strategies to help you learn to control and reduce feelings of turmoil and stress. This includes learning and using meditation.

To conclude, don’t be so fast to blame only yourself for the problems in your marriage. Both of you contributed to what happened. However, yes, you do need help with those jealous thoughts and feelings and that is where DBT comes in.

Best of Luck

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