49-year-old husband needs advice

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confusedguy
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 7/18/2008 12:43 PM (GMT -7)   
hi everybody. i need some help/advice. i am a 49-year-old man married to a 44-year-old woman.
 
warning: this is a long story.
 
my wife and i have been married for 12 years and together for 15. during this time she has had no signs (at least that i could see) of being bipolar or having any other psychological problems. but she (and i, to a lesser degree) have worked in high-profile jobs and i have noticed that, as the years have gone on, she has become more high-strung. she's had a very successful career and her current, demanding job requires her to get up at 3:15 am every day so, naturally, she often operates on a sleep deficit.
 
anyway, we have had a very loving and close relationship. we hardly ever fight, have always been kind and thoughtful to each other, etc. if asked, i would have rated our marriage about 9.0 or 9.5 on a scale of 1-10.
 
she had a tragic childhood -- her mother died when she was 17 of breast cancer, her adopted father when she was 19 and she had no brothers or sisters. an aunt helped raise her but her aunt died about four years ago. she has never much complained about the bad hand she had been dealt, but i noticed that in the last few months, she was thinking more about her childhood. she's friendly and outgoing but does not let people get too close, with me being the exception. throughout our marriage she has been very open with me and honest.
 
we don't have any children - for years, i think she wanted to have a child but was not quite 100 percent ready for the committment. i come from a large family and know that couples should only have a child if BOTH partners are 100 percent committed to the idea, so i did not pressure her. two years ago (she was 42 at the time) she told me she wanted a baby. she got pregnant very quickly and for four and a half months, the pregnancy went wonderfully. i had never seen her happier. she wanted to know the sex of the baby (it was a boy) and was buying baby books and talking to me about what we should name our child. (NOTE: this was very unusual for her because she has always been very cautious -- because of her life history, she tended not to get excited about something until she knew it was definite.) tragically, she had a miscarriage at four and a half months and we lost the baby. it was horrible.
 
the doctors said we could try again in a few months. because of her age, she told me she wanted to go to a feritility doctor to increase our odds. i said, "fine." we went through two failed attempts (the second time we got a heartbeat but the fetus didn't take). she was taking her third round of fertility drugs this summer when she turned to me and said, "i want to stop the fertility treatments." i said i was sorry to hear that but understood how she complained that the drugs were making her feel weird. but then she dropped the hammer: "i feel our marriage is dead and that you're more like my roommate than my romantic mate. i want a divorce."
 
i was stunned. i tried to talk her out of it, telling her that maybe she was just stressed out ... or maybe it was the fertility drugs talking. but she was oddly unemotional and said "i'm seeing things clearly now." she did not want to see a marriage counselor. she said had thought this thing through and had made up her mind. anyway, for the next two and a half weeks, she was like a machine -- lining up a divorce lawyer, calling real estate people to determine how much we could get by selling our house, getting a month-to-month lease for a temporary apartment she could move to in a few days, buying a $2,000 plane ticket for a trip to hawaii with her girlfriends, etc. in the meantime, i spent the first week in a daze, wondering what the hell had happened. by the second week, i was still confused, sad and angry but, realizing that she had made up her mind, trying to figure out what i should do next.
 
i went away for four days and came back home, finding her crying on the couch. she said she wanted to see a marriage counselor and wanted to save the marriage. "have i ruined everything?" she asked me. i told her she had done a lot of damage but i thought the marriage could be saved.
 
then a few days later, she became very wound up -- saying she was having trouble sleeping and frantically telling me that her hair was falling out. i couldn't tell right away but she wasn't simply imagining it -- there was a lot of hair in the bathtub and on her pillow. she told me a dermatologist said the hair loss was probably caused by the hormones she had been on for fertility treatment. she was also rubbing her hands and moving her feet nervously. i called an old family friend who's a doctor. he talked to my wife on the phone and then when they were done talking, he told me privately, "i think your wife is bipolar. get her to a psychiatrist ASAP."
 
we did ... and the psychiatrist said he should be checked into the psychiatric ward. she spent four days there, mostly getting some much-needed sleep and seeing a couple therapists. they started giving her seroquel and she calmed down pretty quickly.
 
but starting around day three, she started acting very distantly towards me -- just like she had when she first told me she wanted a divorce.
 
after she checked out, she told me she and her therapist thought maybe she should move to the temporary apartment for a little while. i was a little hurt but said okay. she seemed reluctant to leave and i told her she could stay with me. she said, "no i should go for a couple days." i told her she could come back sooner if she wanted -- whatever she thought was best.
 
anyway, i didn't hear from her for three days. i finally called her and she sounded upbeat, saying that she thought the new place was helping her get some much-needed rest. three more days passed -- she didn't call -- so i called her. same story: "i think i like it here." she says she's taking her medication (seroquel) and seeing her therapist twice a week. she says her doctors are still trying to figure out what happened to her. she's hoping the manic episode was just a fluke due to lack of sleep and stress. during our 12-year marriage, she could get upset and a depressed at times (sometimes wallowing in negativity) but it never got so bad that i considered taking her to the doctor. prior to meeting me she had made a couple impulsive decisions (quitting school, having a brief marriage with a guy she said she never really loved) but while she's been with me she hadn't done anything remotely like that.
 
sorry to go on for so long but i am completely lost. she only talks to me when i call. we have always been very close, with both of us making long-range plans together and sharing our hopes, dreams and anxieties with each other. whenever we've had a bad thing happen in our marriage, she would grab my hands and say, "don't ever leave me, you're all i've got." and i never, ever considered leaving her. but in the past 13 days, we have physically seen each other just once -- and she was very distant, analytical and remote, even to our golden retriever (and man, she has always loved that dog).
 
i have a good friend whose mother is bipolar who is telling me to hang in there, that my wife still loves me very much.
 
but she sure isn't showing it and i wonder if there is another man (that might explain her wanting the divorce so suddenly and not wanting to see a counselor) and a large part of me thinks i should take the hint, cut her loose and somehow try to move on with my life without her. but i love her and wish the girl i've loved so much for 12 years will come back ... or if she's gone for good.
 
advice?

CapninHapnin
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 285
   Posted 7/18/2008 5:12 PM (GMT -7)   

I'm having to think on this one.

I'll get back to you when I think I have some good advice.

Right now all I can say is hang in there.

Cap


I want "I wish I had one more day to spend at the office" on my tombstone.

I used to be crazy, but now I have enough money to be called eccentric.


azteacher
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 80
   Posted 7/18/2008 6:42 PM (GMT -7)   
Well, I've been thinking about your situation for a few hours. I'm sure it's frustrating that you posted this a few hours ago and still have not gotten a response. I'm afraid I don't have very much advice to offer you, but i did want to say a few things so you didn't feel like you were left hanging. I was recently diagnosed as well. It's been about 3 months since my diagnosis and since I've been on meds. Like you I woul rate our marriage very high (9ish). However, lately, I find myself wanting to be around him less and less. Even to the point where I fantasize about leaving him (I never would). I feel like my meds are making me less emotionally attached and I'm wondering if this may be what is going on with her. I can tell you though that the more my husband bugs me and is in my face, the more I pull away especially sexually. Right now what I need is space and it seems like this is what she needs as well too. So, I would give it to her, even if it hurts you to do this. Does this make sense?

CapninHapnin
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 285
   Posted 7/19/2008 5:26 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Confused

I spoke to my expert (my wife) and she recommended you get as much training on this issue as you can. In her case, she went to a therapsit.

She said both spouses should be in therapy or under the care of a pdoc. Both suffer from the disease, the one that has it and the one that doesn't. She also recommended you go alone to these sessions, as if you go with your spouse the session most often gets off issue. In the start, your wife will not go by herself on a regular schedule. But you need to learn strategies in dealing with this disease.

My wife also recommended you start to turn some hard assets into liquid assets and conceal these from your spouse. Sounds very wicked, however as in our case, she needed to have some cash I could not get to.

You have a very rough road ahead of you, I won't try to make it all look easy. But you obviuosly love your wife. So it will be worth it.

Cap
I want "I wish I had one more day to spend at the office" on my tombstone.

I used to be crazy, but now I have enough money to be called eccentric.


confusedguy
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 7/19/2008 6:42 AM (GMT -7)   

thanks cap and azteacher.

so i guess you both think she definitely is bipolar? can the disease manifest itself in a woman of 44? could it get worse when she hits menopause?

if anybody else would like to respond to these questions -- and, most important, to my lengthy original post -- i would welcome it.

confused guy

 


CapninHapnin
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 285
   Posted 7/19/2008 7:26 AM (GMT -7)   
I cannot say if she is bipolar, only a trained professional can diagnose that. And, whatever the problem, it cannot be diagnosed over the telephone. But there is a problem.

Bipolar is a disease that is very unpredictable. Althought there are statistics that lean towards symptoms first appearing in late teens, I had a friend which the symptoms did not appear until his mid-forties.

But your wife needs some type of treatment. In any case where a spouse has a medical condition, the other spouse should get information on how to help that problem.

On the seroquel, some medications work and some don't. Every patient does not respond to the same medications the same way. All of us have stories on how long it took to get a medication mix that works. Some here are still trying.

Please don't take this on by yourself. There is help out there. The results will be more favorable with help than without.

Good luck,

Cap
I want "I wish I had one more day to spend at the office" on my tombstone.

I used to be crazy, but now I have enough money to be called eccentric.


azteacher
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 80
   Posted 7/19/2008 8:28 AM (GMT -7)   
I agree with Cap, you can never tell when it will manifest itself. Generally it's when the person is younger. However, I am almost 34 and was just diagnosed. Granted as I look back, I do see some of the symptoms throughout my life (the impusivilty, overspending, mood swings, selfmedicating, inattentiveness). Have you gotten any books on the disorder yet? The first book I bought was Bipolar for Dummies and it's so easy to read. Again, though I can't stress how important it is right now to give her space. I didn't even think about the financial aspect of it though. Cap gave you some excellent advice there. In a manic episode (untreated) she can do some serious damage so I would watch those bank accounts!

sukay
Veteran Member


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 1432
   Posted 7/19/2008 4:25 PM (GMT -7)   

Confused guy,

IMO your wife is definitely going through something!

It doesn't sound like a good time to be making any permanent decisions.  Don't let her rush you into any decisions right now. It doesn't sound like she is emotionally stable right now.

I would definintely give her some space until you, her and the doctors have a clearer picture of what is going on.

Keep us posted.


serafena
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 3715
   Posted 7/19/2008 5:59 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Confused guy,

Unfortunately I'm on vacation and only able to get to a computer once a day, so please forgive me for taking so long to respond to your post.

First let me welcome you to HealingWell and the bipolar forum.

Like the others, I wouldn't feel comfortable making a judgement about whether or not your wife is or isn't bipolar. It's clear that she's making huge decisions rather rashly, which can definitely be a part of bipolar, but also the hormones and also menopause too. So I like Sukay's suggestion that if you can, you stick around for a little while, letting her have her space.

Use the intervening time to get as educated as possible about bipolar as possible. There are tons of books available on the subject, and you are in a good place to talk with other bipolars about things you have questions about.

Is your wife still seeing the psychiatrist? Is she still only taking the Seroquel or is there something else as well?

I'm sorry for the frustration and pain you must be feeling. I hop we can offer you some community here.

serafena
Serafena
Co-Moderator, Bipolar Forum
Bipolar II


M73
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 88
   Posted 7/19/2008 6:18 PM (GMT -7)   
Other than what the others have hit upon, I'll tell you bipolar illness runs in my family.

My aunt didn't show signs to the point of interference with normal daily functioning until age 52. Do I think hormones or your wife's schedule could bring an an illness to the surface which might have been dormant for lack of a better word? Yes. Certainly.

If she is responding to the Seroquel, and as the proof is in the pudding so to speak, I would probably think that even though I cannot diagnose an illness, that would be something to consider.
bipolar II, lamictal and klonopin cocktail.

-We'll keep pushin' till it's understood
and these badlands start treating us good


confusedguy
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 7/20/2008 9:40 AM (GMT -7)   

thanks for the responses. it helps to get feedback as i have never experienced anything like this before.

serafena, my wife tells me she is still seeing her psychiatrist about once a week to discuss the cocktail of drugs she is taking. i think she is only taking seroquel but i don't know for sure ... maybe some inderal too.

what's weird and frustrating (among all the other things) is that she seems perfectly rational. she's back doing her demanding job and doing it well. when she talks to me she's dispassionate and -- by all exterior indications -- calm; distant but calm. so the logical side of me tells to wise up and move on with my life; still keep the lines of communication open and don't force any issues but at least make a psychological break -- work on the assumption that the relationship is over so i can emotionally turn the corner.

but my heart tells me something is not right -- that her rationale for leaving just doesn't quite add up. so i should just hang there.

living in this limbo is excruciating. one part of me is saying, "you're a sap! how can you ever trust her again? get outta there before you go crazy!" the other part of me is saying, "you had 12 great years of marriage with this woman. you two shared everything together. now suddenly she turns on a dime and says she wants out? something doesn't add up. stay calm, reasonable and patient."

argh!


M73
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 88
   Posted 7/20/2008 11:29 AM (GMT -7)   
I can always hold it together for work, I'm bipolar. I just fall apart in personal relationships. It's almost like you put on another face and the distraction at work is so heavy that functioning without the craziness for 8 hours a day (or more for some people) is second-nature.

There is also another diagnosis that sorta looks like bipolar disorder, it is called borderline personality disorder. Some are misdiagnosed from both groups and some are both.
bipolar II, lamictal and klonopin cocktail.

-We'll keep pushin' till it's understood
and these badlands start treating us good


closure
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 471
   Posted 7/20/2008 1:06 PM (GMT -7)   
I feel bad because I haven't replied to you and you obviously need advice, but honestly I don't have any clue what to tell you. I'm glad others have responded and offered some advice. The only thing that has come to my mind while reading all this is for you not to jump to the conclusion she's bipolar. I mean she could be...I really have no clue, but it could be a number of things. Depression, the meds, the trouble she had trying to have a baby, menopause knocking on her door. It sounds like some of the problems started after the failed attempts at having a baby and while I've never gone through that personally I've seen it happen to others before and am worried it could happen to me...I may not be able to have kids, so it's a pretty devastating thing. She had a rough time growing up and that plays a big part too. I know personally the meds make it harder for me to connect emotionally with my boyfriend now. I try my hardest, but it's a really weird feeling. So I guess my advice is give her some space and try your best to do couples counseling if she's up for it. she obviously has issues and needs therapy. only thing to keep in mind...you can't force her to do anything. she has to want to work on things too so it's up to you if you want to wait for her and see if she comes around or if you want to move on. that's all I can think of...I hope it made some sense. it's a really tough situation. keep us updated. *hugs*
27 female
 
Bipolar, panic disorder, PTSD, PCOS, hashimoto's disease/hypothyroidism, acid reflux, and in the process of being diagnosed with either crohns, colitis, or even lupus...who knows really! the docs sure don't lol. Too many meds to list!


marthamae
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2008
Total Posts : 285
   Posted 7/22/2008 4:52 PM (GMT -7)   
I was only diagnosed with bipolar two years ago. I am 49. However, looking back through my life I see crystal clear episodes and patterns of mania and depression. The mania appeared mostly as "successful, driven" behavior. The depressions were obvious and hellish. I guess no one in my psychiatric treatment world knew about bipolar. I've always been called "depressed" and treated with antidepressants.

I had a manic stage about 14 months ago followed by a life threatening depression. It was the deepest darkest hole I have ever ever been in. I've been depressed many times but this was unbelievable. Death would have been a most welcome relief. I don't even know how to describe it to you. I felt my mind was so close to just crossing over to the other side. My husband and three kids sort of kept me going but there were many times I didn't give a darn about them. I was way too overwhelmed.

My guess (and this is just a guess) is that this whole thing is not very much about you at all. That can be very hard to believe and painful to hear. It's not that she doesn't love you or has some other man or whatever....you're not really on her radar. Her mind is racing around and finding wild little places to be right now. You're "boring" to her. She can't help that...she is ill.

You need counseling to help you decide if she is worth it. My husband decided I was worth it BUT we had three kids together and had been married 22 years. Plus, frankly, he is that kind of nice person. I don't know I would have put up with me.

I'm on a ton of meds which keep me in reality. If she is bipolar, she has to be medicated properly (IMO) before any couples therapy will do you any good.

Good luck to you and good health to her :)

loving frustrated wife
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 865
   Posted 7/22/2008 5:45 PM (GMT -7)   

Confusedguy, I will chime in only for a moment. I am the wife to a BP, and a mother to another. Married 16+ years. We have 3 kids. The youngest are 7. Okay....I recognize that most of the feedback you have been getting focuses on the assumption that your wife IS BP from the sound of it. HOWEVER....I think it is WAY too early to know. Here's why...Your wife was taking a lot of hormones attempting to have a baby, not to mention the fact that she had 2 (or 3) miscarriages...again...hormones being totally thrown out of whack. SO...until you wife's chemical system gets cleaned out and back in normal working order for her...I don't think you can know anything for sure. But, with that said there are 2 or 3 other possibilities....1) all the chemicals have triggered a dormant condition of BP that she was genetically pre-disposed of (although...I haven't heard of this – but again…I am no pdoc),  2) the chemicals from the infertility drugs & miscarriages have caused a chemical shift in your wife so she has developed BP (or the “like” type symptoms)...or 3) Your wife emotionally is off as a result of loosing 2 babies she wanted very much and this is how she is coping with the pain. To shut off her feeling about the loss has also shut off her feeling for you.  People grieve in all kinds of ways.  Now...I am NOT a doctor, and only a VERY qualified pdoc (who takes into account) all the drugs to get pregnant that your wife put in her system for quite a while, along with the changes the pregnancies could have produced - either temporarily or permanent - can make that dx as to really what it is. But for what it is worth I believe it is very early to make decisions on your part.

So...what do you do while you are waiting for all this to "play itself out"....exactly what you are suppose to....TAKE CARE OF YOU. Get on with your life - see friends, family...focus on work, a new hobby...whatever you want. That doesn't change you also BEING there for her. Let her know for now, you are not going anywhere...you love her and want your marriage, you are willing to do whatever it takes to help her (and you as a couple if there are problems you need to address together), be there for her, support her...etc. But if she needs space...okay...for now....she can have whatever she needs from you. But....she must also understand...you will not wait forever, that you and your feelings count too, and there will come a moment you may choose out for yourself if this "push/pull" goes on too long. And please understand CG that ONLY you can determine how much you can take...the hurt, loneliness, anger...etc. that will be inevitable here...and how long YOU elect to hang in there. (There is no right or wrong…and no judgment here.)

 

No matter what the REAL issue turns out to be here, what you are going through is hard. But...it still sounds like a relatively short time that you have been in this new divided upheaval...so BREATHE and assess what you want to do...but don't be hasty about making decisions. If you love your wife, and I believe you genuinely do, than if you elect to try and hold on and figure some of this out...prepare for a bumpy ride for a while. It might also be a good time to work on your self both emotionally and/or physically.

My best wishes to you both. LFW

Post Edited (loving frustrated wife) : 7/22/2008 6:54:53 PM (GMT-6)


confusedguy
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 7/26/2008 2:52 PM (GMT -7)   
thanks for the responses, lovingfrustratedwife and marthamae.
 
i am trying to hang in there. your advice has been noted. i've let my wife know that i want to somehow make this marriage work ... the hard thing to take is that she has no offered indication that she wants to keep this relationship going. so for now i am trying not to confront her with an either/or choice and give her some space but at the same time to somehow become emotionally and psychologically independent of her. 
 
twelve years ago i was diagnosed with colon cancer (i pulled through okay and am cancer-free now) but this situation is 100 times worse for me emotionally. it's like the world is off its axis.

Diskus
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 110
   Posted 7/26/2008 7:00 PM (GMT -7)   
I can't comment on all of your circumstances...but, I will say that her "liking it in the apartment" is a common feeling. It's safe, she doesn't have to come to terms with her existence outside of an environment she controls. I just dealt with this w/ my fiance (29 male). It is possible that she has been suffering her entire life. We have a way of dealing with things that can mask hysteria, so to speak. I will say that when my fiance was manic, he was MOST logic to the point of manipulating our conversations with circular logic from which there was no escape.

That was before he was treated.

You really have to consider your happiness. I waiver often, yet i know my fiance is my love and i will never fall in love the same way again. I stick it out, but we are young (ish). I am not sure what i would do in your situation as I imagine you're feeling betrayed as well as confused and hurt. I'd urge you to seek out a nami support group. The forums are wonderful, but you might be able to find out resources in your area though the groups.

Diskus
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 110
   Posted 7/26/2008 7:05 PM (GMT -7)   
ps, I agree with Marthamae wholeheartedly...she is ILL. Bipolar is very much a physical illness. Also- counseling is key. There are some things you will never be able to say to your spouse (perhaps)..and if she does come home to you (even if she does not), counseling will be for YOU. It will keep you sane and able to support her (not enable, support).

Hang in there, I say this often, but you're really not alone.
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