Husband of bipolar wife needs help understanding

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LandM74
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Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 10/25/2004 3:52 AM (GMT -7)   

My story is a long and confusing one, and I need some help from someone who understands and has knowledge about this condition. My wife and I have been married for 20 years. She has always been faithful and has never even looked at another man. Also I have always known she had problems. This year we finally decided the OCD and severe anxiety needed to be addressed for her peace of mind.

 

She went to see a behavioral therapist for several sessions and she recommend that my wife see our family doctor and get some prescription medication to treat her problems in addition to her counseling. The therapist recommended some medications and advised her to stay away from anti-depressants. The doctor in his infinite wisdom decided she needed Zoloft and clonazepam. At first things appeared to be better, then the doctor increase the Zoloft to 150mg daily. I could see a noticeable change in my wife and see said that she was starting to feel better. One of the changes was that she began doing things my wife would not normally have done, such as flashing her breasts to a couple of male co-workers. She came home one day and told me that she had done it and seemed almost proud of the fact that she did it. She also began wearing revealing clothing around the house. She also cut her work t-shirts down the front a little to make a suggestive opening. At one point she told me that she had always feared that I would leave her and now she was no longer afraid or worried if that happened. She also told me that she liked the new her. I knew some things were different but I only saw the ripples on the surface. What I didn't know was that she was drinking daily in addition to taking the medication, and she even left work at lunch on many occasions to come home and drink, then went back to work. When she got home from work she would drink several beers and then hide the bottles before I got home from work. She had left me at home one night with our children and said she was going out to dinner with a girlfriend, but come to find out later she met one of the men she was having the affair with. She had him come over to our house several times and had sex in the garage knowing my teen age son could come home from school at any minute and catch them. This pattern continued to occur from May of this year until the middle of September. I was away for a weekend in the middle of September and when I arrived home that Sunday, I found my wife drunk and unmistakable evidence that she had had someone over to our house on that Friday night. When I confronted her she lied to me for three hours but she finally told me she had been having sex with another co-worker instead of the one I knew had been to my house. When I questioned her about him she finally admitted that she had had two affairs with these co-workers over a period of three months. This was happening before and after our family vacation and also at the same time we celebrated our twenty year anniversary. We argued and fought most of the night and the next morning we started again. She was really distraught and upset and she kept crying continuously. She kept telling me she needed help because this was not her and there was something wrong with her. I missed work and took her to see our family doctor. She explained what had happened, how she felt something was wrong and she needed help. All he could say was that it was not really his field but she should continue taking her medicine and see her therapist. We left there and went to see her therapist and told her the complete story. By this point my wife was almost ready to have a nervous breakdown. The therapist would not allow us to leave until I promised her that I would take my wife to the hospital and have her self admit herself into the psychiatric ward. I took my wife to the emergency room and once in the psychiatric ward I was told that I would need to leave now and that if all went well she may get to come home Friday. Needless to say I was in shock about the whole turn of events. She spent five days in the hospital and was diagnosed with severe anxiety, OCD and also as being bi-polar. That was five weeks ago and I am still struggling to understand what happened and why. When I asked why she did it she responded she didn't know why and it felt like it was not her doing those things. What I am trying to understand is did she not know what she was doing, did she know but didn't understand it was wrong, or she knew what she was doing and didn't care about the outcome. She did things I know she would never have done, almost like it was two entirely different people. Someone please help me understand what she was thinking and feeling during all of this time frame.


snohare
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Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 2088
   Posted 10/25/2004 12:35 PM (GMT -7)   
I have only ever been "high" like that once, briefly, and most of my experience is from the viewpoint of having a close friend with it, so I can't really tell you how it feels. But hopefully this will help you sort things out in your mind a bit...
This sort of behaviour is not untypical of mania (the "high" of bi-polar) - in fact, uncharacteristic promiscuity is a diagnostic sign, as is risk-taking. Your wife's reaction the morning after your fight is also very typical of how people feel after they come down from the high, and the low self-esteem that comes from these feelings will be one of her (and your) biggest challenges.
What the behaviour boils down to is a lack of inhibitions when "high". Any ideas or comments voiced by the sufferer just reflect that, rather than causing it.
Like you say, it's like an entirely different person; and the person who cries afterwords is the person you know and love. (Even though that person on a "high" is likely to be very "bubbly", "vivacious", "charismatic" etc - in other words, popular - when they come down, the feelings of humiliation can be crushing.)
IMHO, Zoloft is likely to be at the root of this problem. SSRI's seem to work by modifying amygdalic responses. (The amygdala is a part of your brain that acts as an emotional filter; if a dog bites your hand and you are always afraid of dogs afterwards, that is an amygdalic response.) Depression or anxiety can be seen as malfunctions of the amygdala, whereby inhibitions (that's a technical term from neurology, talking about how nerve cells work) are increased by an abnormal amount. Prozac, Paxil and the like are notorious for causing mood swings and disinhibition in a small percentage of users, hence all the lawsuits; unfortunately there is no way of knowing in advance who will be adversely affected, and they can be absolutely wonderful therapies, so it's just a case of keeping a very close eye on things.
Lots of ifs buts and maybes in there - it's what I feel is the case, but it's a hot debate, and I'm no healthcare professional, I just read lots of science journals.
You're already on the right road looking at this forum; have you tried using search engines to find out more from websites ? 
Best of luck.

snohare
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Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 2088
   Posted 10/25/2004 12:43 PM (GMT -7)   

Sorry, forgot to say:

To answer your last question, my memory is of feeling very much like I was on a runaway train. First of all I felt just happy, then there was a gradual slide into an abnormal state of mind where I was doing things that made people who knew me go "Wow !" There was a little voice at the back of my mind telling me that something was wrong, but I just couldn't stop myself, I was enjoying myself too much and enjoying the attention I was generating. And typically people enjoy seeing someone that happy and outgoing, so there's little or no social pressure from others. Subtlety is absolutely wasted....as is condemnation.

 


LandM74
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 10/25/2004 2:26 PM (GMT -7)   
Snohare, thank you so much for offering your perspective. I have been doing a lot of research on bipolar and I think I have finally accepted what happened.  I think now I should only be concerned with helping her get past what happened and helping her try to cope with her medical problem. It has been 31 days since I was allowed to bring her home from the hospital and we both have been through some emotional and trying times.

snohare
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 2088
   Posted 10/25/2004 8:54 PM (GMT -7)   
You sure have, Land - my heart goes out to you both.
Don't forget to give yourself time and attention when you need it - "He that is ill to himself is no good to anybody". We all have this stereotype of the selfless carer in our heads, and try to live up to it, and beat ourselves over the head when we fail...but it's a myth.  It's natural to get all stretched out of shape, and feel sorrow, and yes anger, and of course despair because things have changed so much from when they were better...but "that which does not destroy you will make you strong".
There you go, the day's looking better already - I've finished with my cliches... ! tongue LOL
Best of luck with the roller coaster.

havta_b_luvd
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 56
   Posted 10/25/2004 10:20 PM (GMT -7)   
Thank you both sooo much for your posts!!! :-) Ya'll made my heart warm with your thoughts and considerations for others! Thank you
~T~

snohare
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 2088
   Posted 10/25/2004 10:56 PM (GMT -7)   

Easier to say than to do, havta_b ! I'm great on theory,poor on practice ( except with errors). LOL

"No-one is ever entirely useless - they can always serve as a terrible example to others."

(British army saying.)


havta_b_luvd
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 56
   Posted 10/26/2004 1:24 AM (GMT -7)   
As my daughter would say snohare, "I feel ya" LOL I know exactly what you're saying. It's difficult to take advice we believe to be good and sound. But just knowing that there are people that really care, still in the world, is what I'm appreciating! You don't find too many that care anymore.
I'm new to the forum and find it difficult to talk about my problems, but will eventually I'm sure.
Land, thank you for supporting your wife. I wish my husband would try to understand me eyes but I believe it's probably more important for me to understand me first....so hopefully in time that will come. But again ty both for being fantastic people!!!!
~T~

LandM74
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 10/26/2004 11:57 AM (GMT -7)   
snohare, your 10:54 post is a very accurate assessment of my raging emotions. I will never forget when I found out what was happening, how angry, hurt, sick, lonely, and cheated I felt. I knew absolutely nothing about bipolar and I was sure that my wife was trying to make excuses. Then the next morning the rage that was burning inside made me almost crazy to the point I could barely contain myself. Then that afternoon as I left my wife in the psychiatric ward and went home how utterly alone I felt for the first time in my life. When I woke the following morning I still felt at my lowest point in my life but the realization came to me that I was alone in my house and my wife of twenty years was in a hospital 50 miles away. As I talked to her on the phone that Tuesday she mentioned the word bipolar and I started reading trying to understand what it was. I found some comfort in knowing she was not the first to ever do something like this and I understood that it was not just a middle age fling which has helped me accept what has happened. The more I read the more I want to understand what my wife has lived with most of her adult life and what things she never let me see. I still have good days and not so good days but the one good thing that has come out of this so far is my understanding of just how much I do love my wife inspite of all that has happened. I could blame her, I could try to hate her for what happened, or I could choose not to try and understand but the single though that something could have happened to take her away from me
makes me appreciate what I have more than I would have ever thought possible.

havta_b_luvd, I don't know about your situation and I probably am not qualified to comment on it, but your husband may be struggling to understand, absorb, self-reflect, and ultimately accept what happened in your situation. It took me many days to stop asking my wife why she did this to me, but eventually I made it to where I told her I knew she didn't do it to me but the other person used her to do this to me.

havta_b_luvd
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 56
   Posted 10/26/2004 3:52 PM (GMT -7)   
Land, you're a beautiful person! Your wife is a very lucky lady. As I've been trying to assess my life and the actions/decisions I"ve made over the course of it, so that I can hopefullly put it into words, I'm noticing behaviors such as your wife had. I've not been as lucky as you two, when I would do these bad things I would leave my husband at the time and start anew, no matter how much I had loved him before the behavior. I felt I cheated and to make it right I should just leave. I'm not sure how much destruction I've left in my wakes. I was diagnosed about 8 years ago with bipolar by a FNP that I'd gone to for many many years and trusted totally. Not long after the diagnosed I left my marriage of 8 yrs and moved across the country to be with my now husband. Foolish huh? I'm now 42 trying to figure out when, where and why I screwed things up sooooo badly and if there are any ways to fix, accept and go on with what I've done. I've been with my husband now for almost 6 years, married for 2. He's a good man, but he's very anti-dr's and anti-meds and I know this ole girl can't go without her meds, right now it's just prozac but I'm soon to see a new general practioner (I've not seen anyone at all for about a year) and then probably a pdr. So ya'll that's part of my story and whether I want to or not I'm sticking to it tongue
~T~

snohare
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 2088
   Posted 10/26/2004 4:50 PM (GMT -7)   
Well havta_b, it's a big leap from "we're all grown ups here" to "Sometimes our behaviour is outside our control and we need help", and a lot of folk just never manage to make the jump.
You generally find that the more people know about the science of how the different bits of the brain work, the more easily they can relate to it going wrong. But very often it will only sink home when it comes from an "authority", a newspaper or some other source they think of as trustworthy. Ironically enough, the people (patients) dealing with the problem often aren't trusted, even though they know more.
In some ways it's a lot easier to blame everything that happens to an individual on that person's choices, because that way you don't have to admit the world is a big scary place full of "random" illnesses that we personally have no control over. For many people if their prayers do not work and they know their motives in prayer were pure in heart, then that leads to the conclusion that the sufferer is somehow bad, for why would God do harm to a good person ?
To me, that's like asking, why did God break my leg, or give me a skin rash ? Most of men's ills are men's doing. If I fall down a hill while out walking, I can blame God for breaking my leg, or I can think "It's up to me to learn and grow from this" and review my risk assessment procedures. If I see someone else didn't bother to fix a problem, or knowingly did harm, I'll point a finger, but otherwise, I usually try to remember, everyone in the world is on a learning curve. 
If I eat the wrong additives, go to the wrong places, do the wrong things, if my mother was exposed to certain chemicals while I was in the womb, even if I was born at the wrong time of year in certain latitudes...I may fall ill with different things. And we all of us are exposed to these risks, everyday, and usually don't even know it. Which is why I'm inclined to think, hazards are God's way of telling us to look after one another; and the more people fail to, the louder He speaks.
Gee whiz, sorry for that rant ! 
Land, I've got to say,  I think your wife's a very lucky lady. I think you've come a very long way in a very short time, to understand things so well. The problem you face now is going to be, now that you know what problem you're facing, how do you cope ? How does it change things between you ? That'll be the burning question for both of you. You may have to be her protection, when she is defenceless.
And meantime, there will be times when you will grieve for the way things were, as if the past were a dead person, and you will feel anger and frustration; but that's all part of the process of adapting, and moving on. That is why we need moods; they are like a chemical gear box for the brain, that helps us look at things in a different way.
But it seems to me that if you are so motivated by love, and if your wife knows this, then this could even be something that draws you closer together. It's a nice thought, isn't it... yeah  
Best of luck to you both !  

snohare
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 2088
   Posted 10/26/2004 7:22 PM (GMT -7)   
Oops ! In case you hadn't guessed guys, I was writing while Havta_b was posting....almost beat her to it but I lost the whole lot and had to re-write. (So you've got it double concentration, LOL)
This forum sure is doing wonders for my short term memory problems - I'm getting lots of practice trying to recover lost posts.

havta_b_luvd
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 56
   Posted 10/27/2004 5:55 AM (GMT -7)   
Thank you Sno for your words of wisdom. I'm so grateful that I've found this forum! I need all the input and suggestions I can get, for I'm at witsend with myself. And to be honest, I'm so afraid of embarking on this new adventure (not of my choosing LOL) The only peron I have here to help me with the "side effects" that I don't/can't/won't see is my 16 yo daughter. But thank goodness she's old enough now she can understand what's goin on maybe. And in the process help her ole mom out with some input :-)
Thank ya'll for being there! And understanding or helping me to understand.
Land, hang in there bud. I'm sure it's gonna be a rough and rocky road but you've found this forum and that will help a great deal with helping you cope and deal hopefully.
~T~

snohare
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 2088
   Posted 10/28/2004 7:23 PM (GMT -7)   
Definition of "adventure":
"a time of chronic confusion, aggravation and panic, seen in retrospect as a collection of very interesting after-dinner stories." eyes
I never really appreciated that old Chinese curse until I hit rock-bottom, "May you live in interesting times !" Ooh, it's a beezer ! yeah
 
Time is a lens; the longer its focus, the clearer we usually see.
 
Aagh, enough ! Anyone would think I'd been eating Fortune Cookies...and I've never even seen one. sad

havta_b_luvd
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 56
   Posted 10/29/2004 5:57 AM (GMT -7)   
LOL yep Sno I was thinkin you must really like your Chinese food. But sometimes those ole proverbs come in handy.......that is if you remember when ya need em tongue
~T~

YingYang
New Member


Date Joined Sep 2004
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 11/15/2004 8:03 AM (GMT -7)   
Before I was diagnosed with bipolar (one) I thought I was just wild. I was also depressed and anxious. The doctors had me on zoloft and buspar. I wound up taking the whole bottle of zoloft one day because it seemed right at the moment. I had no idea what I was doing. It turns out that people who are bipolar CAN NOT take anti-depressants alone. They should be on low doses of it and in combination with other mood-stabalizers. What it sounds like your wife was experiancing is the mania and hypo-mania. The anti-depressants also make you go into psychosis. My psychosis was so severe that I was seeing and feeling bugs for a week. That was my second trip to the psychiatric ward and the diagnoses of my Bipolar. Since they flushed all meds out of my system I was in a high I thought was the old me. People who are bipolar have a lot of regrets in their lives. Especially if they have bipolar one. They have to chaulk it up to the fact that they are mentally ill. But also remember that you dont have to be. With the right medications you can be 'normal'.  Its going to be a long road. Its been a little over a year since my diagnosis of bipolar and about 8 months since its been catagorized as type one. I am still not stable on medication yet. I've been through countless of meds. You have to be on some meds months before you know if they are working or not. There is the trial and error of meds. Its a crazy trip we have to take. As long as you and your wife sit and talk about whats going on and you both read as much literature about this disorder, the easier on your marrige this will be. Its a struggle everyday to deal with people but like i said, it doesnt have to be. I wish you two the best, and I hope the two of you realize that sometimes this disorder makes you out to be who your not. In time it will be controlled. Your wife needs you right now very much.

bpfarmerswife
New Member


Date Joined Dec 2013
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 3/6/2014 10:17 AM (GMT -7)   
LandM74 I realize it's been several yrs since your original post but I would like to ask you some questions if you're still around. Thanks!
Husband diagnosed BP Dec 2013 from stimulant
Bipolar runs in family

UserANONYMOUS
Forum Moderator


Date Joined May 2011
Total Posts : 4235
   Posted 3/7/2014 4:22 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi bpfarmerswife,

I'm sorry but I'm not sure if LandM74 will get your message as he/she hasn't been on HW since 2005.

I'm locking this thread since it's approximately 10 years old. However, please feel free to start a new thread with your questions. I'm sure active member will be happy to answer if they can.

Thanks :-)

UA
Moderator - Bipolar

Depression, Borderline Personality Disorder.
Chronic Pain - Cervical Kyphosis, Cervical Spondylosis, Thoracic Scoliosis.
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