Hi, I'm a husband of a BP woman seeking some help and support. We've been married 15 years and our relationship is really on the rocks (again) but this time feels like we're getting closer to splitting. She's recently (a few weeks before xmas 08) come out of a 3 week stay in a psychiatric clinic after suffering from an episode of suicidal depression and anxiety (that had manifested from a string of triggers (stress/bullying at her work, a grandma getting old and looking close to dying, a work friend trying to commit suicide). It's her 4th major episode. They can always be linked to major life events (1st moving country to a European country, 2nd moving house, 3rd loosing her brother (who she was very close to) at the age of 30 to bowel cancer). and there have been many ups and downs in between that we never really associated with BP, she was diagnosed as BP in 2004 (3rd episode), the other 2 episodes had been blamed on a general anxiety disorder (but looking back mania was clearly there too) and were treated with SSRI antidepressants.
I guess this post is going to be a bit big as I've got a lot of stuff to get off my chest
Our story started with us meeting in our early 20s, we met in a pub and all our friends were into music and recreational drugs. It was the early 90s in the UK and the rave scene was getting big. We loved to party and go clubbing etc. as did all our friends... We started to go out and after only 6 weeks of seeing each other every day and being very intensely in love decided to rush off and get married. We got a special license and got married in secret a week later, came back and told out friends and families who were all very shocked but very happy for us (although they thought we were mad and didn't think it would last). My wife was at college at the time and I worked for a university as a technician (untrained) and was a small time pot dealer (so had tonnes of "friends" (i.e. customers) and a wallet full of cash. She had just come out of a bad relationship and was damaged goods really. (I feel the co-dependant finger being pointed at me already).
She was always a bit volatile, especially after drinking but I found it kind of fun. My family were quite strict and a bit square, hers were a bit crazy and liked a drink and smoked cigs etc. So it was a new world for me in many ways.
I'd always thought that there was a fine line between madness and sanity... Having been an avid music fan (punk, techno etc.) I'd always thought being mad was quite cool in a way. Although I didn't think my wife was mad at all, just excitable and fun with a darker side occasionally but the darker side seemed like just her vulnerable side. I probably wasn't very mature about relationships and assumed it was just girl stuff...
Her Dad has been controlling and verbally abusive to her mum over the years and everyone wonders why her mum stays with him. He shows a lot of signs of BP (getting the kids up for midnight feasts, infidelity, spending when they are broke, etc.) and has a dark side but self medicates with alcohol (to the point of liver disease, but keeps drinking). Everyone drinks around him and is basically in denial about his alcoholism...
Everyone says she takes after her father....
I should make it clear that she is a beautiful, charming, loving person. But when she's depressed/anxious she's obviously a shadow of herself. When she's manic she's controlling, uncaring, emotionally cold and either lies a lot or (looking at it a different way) very confused with a twisted memory and perception.
It seems that she never recovered from an n episode in 2002 (due to only being given SSRIs) and was becoming manic in 2003/2004. She was getting closer and closer to a friend of her brothers (who I knew too), to the point that other people were raising their eyebrows at her body language etc. when were all in the room at the same time. She spent more and more time with him (I naively thought it was innocent). We argued about it, her saying that I'm controlling and me saying that if the shoe was on the other foot she would be hurt and feel abused... Normally an argument about him would end up with her going into full rage....
During this time of instability in our relationship her brother was diagnosed with bowel cancer. So I had to try to take it all on the chin as it's not nice causing arguments with someone while they watch their flesh and blood deteriate and die over a 6 month period. During this time I threw myself at work or buried myself into computer games and pot at home to hide from reality. It felt as if I was darned if I did and darned if I didn't do anything about it...
A week before her brother dies she left me and moved in with the other guy. I was sure she was ill. Something was badly wrong with her but her family were more concerned about their son dying and were in denial about their daughter's problem... The Dad is always in denial about his issues anyway and the mum is co-dependent as far as I am concerned so they are (if you ask me) experts in denial.
To begin with I thought (maybe naively, maybe not) that her relationship with her brothers friend (who she was staying with) was innocent. I offered them financial support. But more and more I became paranoid that they were al the least having an emotional affair and at worst a full affair.
Her brother dies and at the funeral I had to sit away from the family, she was sitting next to the new man and holding his hand the whole time. It was emotional hell for me.... I didn't want to be there but at the same time I did. I wanted to do something about it all but at the same time I couldn't.
At this time I got counselling through work (my employer is very understanding and offers brilliant support to its staff).
My councillor suggested that I was co-dependent (my mum is a bit of a bossy one and my wife has been compared to her before, they aren't alike in any other way though as far as I know (apart from being brunette) and needed to work on what was right for me. That I might have to cut my losses and leave her. She helped me stand up for myself more.. My wife hated my councillor... (they never met but she could see the effect she was having)
Her brother's friend (the new guy in my wife's life as far as I was concerned) cared for my wife, bought her presents, and basically took my place in her life for a few months. Then as my wife became more and more manic (still not diagnosed at this stage) found he couldn't cope. My brother (who was supporting me) describer her as not looking angry as such but looking panicked, confused.... During that time I asked her if she loved the other guy, she said yes. I asked if she'd slept with him, she said yes, I asked her if she wanted to start a family with him, she said yes, but looking back, she was in full mania at that point... I'm only now realising that she might have just been saying what she thought I wanted her to say. I was very angry and hurt at the time... also very confused as I didn't understand BP (I know, I know, I never will really, not being a sufferer myself).
Up to this point I had been called her on her mobile every day to make sure she was OK. As much as I didn't want to I felt responsible towards her, I knew she was ill. I wanted to play hardball with her but felt it would be cruel. She always seemed fine when we started chatting but became more and more irate during the call so that at the end of every call I had to hang up on her... then call her back, apologise for hanging up but explain that we couldn’t maintain a reasonable conversation and it was enough for her just to tell me she was OK. But she always wanted to talk.....
As I became stronger (I'd given up the pot at this stage, it's always been a large part of my life) I stopped calling her. And she started to call me instead, se became a lot nicer and admitted that she was realising that I wasn't the bad guy, that her brother's friend wasn't perfect and she didn't like her life with him, she wanted to come home.
Around this time she got into a clinic (with my help) and was diagnosed. I went to see her almost every day but she insisted in her new man coming to see her. One minute she was crying saying she couldn’t loose me, the next telling me to get out of her life as my presence was stopping her new man commit to a relationship with her.
I didn't trust him as he had fancied her when they were teenagers... he's a pretty weak guy (mentally) in my opinion and quite a loner, staying home smoking pot all the time, only mixing with one or two mates who came round his house. I realise now that it could be more that she felt less threatened being there, there was less of a contrast between her and him. The more I got better at handling our crazy life, the more it made her feel inadequate. Although I'm not sure of any of this stuff... I doubt I ever will be.
Eventually she was discharged from the clinic and put onto mood stabilisers. She came home, we went though a long period of living in separate bedrooms, but she would always try to sneak into my bed for company and affection. I found it almost impossible to say no. I do love her an awful lot... and always have.
Things got better after some time but she was still going round to his house in secret. She would say she was doing something else and seeing a girlfried but take more time than I thought was normal to travel. So one day I drove over to his house and saw her car there, waited for her to come home and calmly told her that I knew something was going on. She eventually agreed to not contact him anymore.
We (stupidly) didn't get couple counselling at the time....
We then both went back to our mellow life of watching TV, going out with friends for drinks etc. All our activities tended to involve drinking, smoking weed or both though.... But we were essentially happy. We still obviously were scarred from the previous events. We never dealt with them. To begin with she had asked for forgiveness. But more and more she said nothing happened with the other guy anyway and it was all my fault as I was horrible to her while her brother was dying. So she thought it was all my fault and I thought it was all her fault.
Around this time she saw another Psychiatric (not private this time) and he said she could come off all the drugs, she was not BP at all ( I wasn't at this meeting).... she started to get worse but on seeing him again the psych said she was an alcoholic and a cannabis addict and she only had herself to blame. (I wasn't at this meeting)
Someone suggested we go for a holiday, so we booked 2 weeks on an island in the Med and had a terrible time. We argued the whole time or just smothered it with simmering resentment. It was a total failure and we came back thinking we'd get counselling then split if it didn't work.
We got counselling but the councillor said she wasn't qualified to deal with us as my wife was way too ill so we resolved to deal with it ourselves. Our sex life was almost non existent. We still loved each other and were great friends but there was something badly wrong. We knew it.
We started sleeping together again but there still felt like something was wrong... It felt forced... unnatural. I don't think we trusted each other but neither of us dared admit it.
Anyway back to the present. She's come out of depression and had a week or 2 of seeming (to me) normal... then over xmas she seemed to be getting manic again (every mince pie she ate was aparently the best one she'd ever tasted, she could go for a 6 mile walk and not feel any tiredness.. etc. etc.) So the psych took her off the Prozac he'd used to lift her mood and left her on Seroquel and another mood stabilizer (I forget its name).
She thinks she's healthy. I think she's manic (or hypermanic at least but possibly spiraling upwards (and I'm making it worse as we're stressed)). She's irritable and argumentative. She's unemotional. We've gone back to sleeping in separate bedrooms. I have to be the one to walk away from arguments or she'll probably rage to the point of physical violence, she did the other day and punched, kicked and scratched me, had a half hearted attempt at smothering me with a pillow and threatened to stab me if I didn't leave the house (just for the day i think). It sounds very scary and I was scared... but thinking about it in hind sight I think she's just desperate. I'm making her mad (from her perspective) and the only way to stop it is to get me away from her for a short time...
I've called her healthcare team for intervention and we're going to the clinic on Monday... I've been keeping a diary and given details to the clinic nurses.
I'm sure I'm making her worse. She hurts me through rejection and I assume it's a repeat of the behaviour before she left me. I see her manic behaviour and it's an echo of the time she left me. It makes me paranoid that she's cheating on me (I have no evidence that she is at al other than her behaviour). She'll go to the shops and be there for hours and hours... I can't believe that shopping can take THAT long... (typical male confusion probably lol) But she's aparently taking an odd amount of time doing other things. She spent hours wrapping my birthday presents the other day... almost 3 hours. I think her ability to comprehend time moving is effected right now. That's one of the things that's so confusing, she's doing things that remind me of when she left me but at the same time doing really nice things for me and being really sweet.
I think I'm damaged by her actions in the past and misinterpreting her odd behaviour as she's hyper manic from coming out of depression. She's convinced that she's 100% healthy. We had a fight (verbal) the other day in front of some old friends, she told me that they all said it was my fault and that I was horrible to her, I had made her mentally ill etc. etc. But they called me on my mobile themselves and told me that they were worried about her as she was acting manic.
So I guess she's either lying or her memory and perception is wrong. As if it doesn't matter what someone says to her as her brain will interpret it in the twisted way that it wants to... ??
How will I ever know what's a lie and what's a confused thought? I respect her and usually take the attitude of her being a responsible adult so I should react to what she's saying, but a friend in psych care says you need to step back and almost treat her like a child. It feels offensive towards her...
I guess the really big question is can I cope? I've stopped smoking dope and drinking to be able to manage the situation better.... which means the clouds in my mind are clearing and I'm wondering if this really is the life for me... Even if I can cope, do I want to? Will I look back in the future and think I've thrown my life away on a woman who at some point may not even comprehend it? I'm welling up in tears all the time, it's happening now. But I have to hide it from her as she'll see it as an attack on her; to her I'm just trying to make her feel guilty (as she is right now anyway). My friends and family can't believe that I have coped for so long and wonder if it was the dope taking the edge off that made it possible. Which makes me wonder if I can cope without it, almost as if I have to smoke dope to stay with her (don't worry, I know that's a screwed up point of view)
What's even more frustrating is that her psych (aparently) said she had to stop smoking dope all together (that makes sense) but can carry on drinking a couple of glasses a day (which to her means half a bottle). I'm prepared to stop smoking and drinking in the home all together, but she's not interested... She wants to keep drinking every day (between 1 and 2 large glasses a night, so not excessive but as far as I understand any thing you smoke or drink everyday is basically an addiction). The booze would surely mess up her meds?
We're planning on getting couple counselling through the clinic to help (which ever way we end up)
I'm planning on going to a local BP support group too (should I take her if she wants to go?)
I feel so confused though as it's like there are 2 sides of me, the hard side is saying "prepare to leave the b*tch" and the softer co-dependent side is saying "she's the love of your life you idiot... help her !!! You can manage"
It's hard growing up to the fact that you have to give love freely and not expect an equal amount in return. I feel like my innocence (and part of me) is slowly dying as this goes on.
I know I'm far from perfect and sometimes make her worse but I'm also frightened that I am co-dependent and being a sap.... How the hell do you get it right ? Practise ?
Also I find that my view and mood around it cycles terribly, like a grief cycle, crying, angry, hard but reasonable, jollier and less concerned.. It's making me feel like I have some form of bipolar-lite (don't worry, I know I don't and I don't mean to offend any BP sufferers by trivialising it.
Why don't clinics virtually insist on couple counselling or spouse training for coping with this... I feel so isolated. No one else I know has a clue what I'm going though really... only what i can explain to them.
Sorry for rambling (I've just thrown this down and not proof read it) and thanks if you take the time to respond.... I've probably given too much information for an introduction?
(I had to edit out references to illegal drug use per Forum Rule #1 -- serafena)
Post Edited By Moderator (serafena) : 2/6/2009 9:00:56 AM (GMT-7)