Hi there leaveorstay
I am sorry to hear that you are having such a hard time of things at the moment.
I would also suggest hopping onto the Bipolar forum and read a few stories over there. Her moods do sound like they can be all over the place from the bits you have shared and often it is easy just to miss the 'mania' side of the scale and just focus on the depression. If you think about
it in more detail are there other fairly regular occasions where she seems to 'swing' from one end of the scale of depression to the other end i.e. mania/euphoria. These periods can be close together or months apart for BP sufferers. I am not saying she is BP obviously just that 'getting by' may be onto something for you.
I have been living with my Bipolar Type 1 hubby for over 20 years and having just lived through the worst year of our lives in terms of his longest suicidal depression (14 months) I completely understand what a total nightmare life can be sometimes. You (well me anyway) end up focussing totally on trying to keep that person happy and around and walk on eggshells at the exclusion of your own mental and physical well being. My wonderful hubbie was only diagnosed 2.5 years ago so for many many years we just lived totally in the dark and I could never understand where his moods and behaviour
towards me came from. I am a long way from perfect but some of the cruel things he used to say to me that stayed with me for a long time cut really deeply but the strange thing was after these type of events he would almost 'forget' that he had behaved in this way and genuinely could not see why I was so upset. He is actually an extremely loving and touchy feely kind of guy but during the depression and mania he can become totally cold and almost uncaring towards me like I could walk out the house there and then he would not blink. That more than anything freaked me out for a long time especially as most of the time he was so loving and would tell me constantly that he could not imagine ever living without me!!
I can tell from your posts that you are a really caring guy and an unbelievably supportive husband and yes I can also believe that so many people are telling you to give up on her. My parents and sister have spent the past 20 years on an ongoing basis trying to break my hubbie and I up. I feel extremely resentful towards them for this (and in fact now live 10,000 miles away and this is a big part of the reason) but now that I am older (38) I can understand a little how hard it must be for parents to see their child seemingly having such a tough and unappreciated life when they could maybe be with someone 'better' in their eyes. What they have NEVER seen with us and lets face it who really knows what goes on with a couple behind close doors is all of the wonderful times and experiences we have shared together in addition to the bad times. You don't have to suffer from a mental illness either to have a difficult marriage!!
Living with someone suffering from mental illness can be tough, even with treatment it is definately not the end of the problems and I know now that I am going to be on an emotional rollercoaster with my hubbie forever. BUT the big difference for me is that I can stay with him because he now appreciates his illness and takes ownership of it which makes a HUGE difference in how I cope with it. I think that if your wife appreciated how patient and understanding you were and that she has an illness (chemical imbalance with her brain chemistry) that is no different from diabetes for example in that you have to take medication to put that chemistry right, then I think you would feel a whole lot better about
living with her when she is suffering in periods like this and maybe be able to distance yourself from her behaviour
and accept that it is not always your 'fault'. It is very very easy for people when they are in these moods to look at their hubbie/life etc and blame it on that as there is nearly always something wrong at some point in your life, ie. money, career, famiy, deaths, health problems to blame the depression on.
Actually the one major thing that finally made my hubbie realise that he had a problem was when we had changed our lives completely, moved away from his very dysfunctional family, were living in a tropical environment with lots of sun, he had a decent career etc etc and yet he still felt very very depressed. It was only then looking at his life that he thought that his depression was not due to his environment but could be totally unconnected. At this time we did not even have all of the info we have now about
depression and thought ourselves that it could only be caused by what was going in a persons life. Obviously this can still cause depressive periods for people and so I still think a lot of people are misinformed that for some who suffer longer term depressive episodes that the majority of the time it is totally unconnected with their personal situation and is just the brain chemicals playing up.
There are a few hopeful clues I think in what you have said about
your wife appreciating that she sometimes hints that she thinks you would be better off without her that at least shows that sometimes she seems to be lucid about
but I know from my own experience that this can disappear in an instant so you really never know where you are with her.
For the first time in many years when my hubbie visited the doc (which by pure chance was a stand in and very straight talking) he had a bipolar wife and he sat my hubbie down and told him in very honest terms about
the depression/BP etc and that he should never let me go/not appreciate me as once on his own it was a downward spiral that he would probably never recover from. Meaning that whilst your wife has you to at least keep her a little 'in check' as it were she is still living in some reality. If she ever ended up alone she would very quickly probably deteriorate into a more delusional state of mind where she was totally disconnected from what is acceptable and not if you get my meaning.
Also if she is Bipolar and is only taking an anti-depressant then that can be very bad news sometimes - is this the case and if so do you think that led her to go off the other end of the scale (the knife incident). If BP is not diagnosed properly and most BP people only go to their docs when they are depressed. The doc doesn't probe enough, prescribes ADs and then they gradually raise the persons mood until they are manic and can often end up in hospital or worse. Just another thought? Does she get very agitated, can't sleep properly for example at times?
It is really sad to hear of her childhood abuse and again some of the things you mention like very low self esteem ring so true with the way my hubbie acts as well. He was not physically abused unlike your wife but was mentally abused for many years. Nothing he did was ever good enough and his father constantly put him down. He never got praise and was made to feel totally worthless. Like you and your wife who sounds like she has a lot going for her so does my hubbie, he is extremely creative, very clever and talented in so many areas but TRULY believes still to this day that he is TOTALLY WORTHLESS and that I and 'the world' in general would be better off without him. I didn't understand this for many years but it TOTALLY stems from the way his father treated him and I am afraid that it is too late now to turn these things around. Your wife certainly sounds like she has a lot of very disturbing issues to deal with in relation to her family and again until she has done this I am not sure how successful she is going to be with your own little family. You don't say much about
her interactions with your daughter but hopefully she is not repeating history as it were and treating her in the only way she knows how which is how her family treated her.
Sorry for the long post but one final thing, usually mental illness has a long history going back through generations. Obviously you cannot forgive how she was treated but if her own parents, grandparents suffered from depression etc which is often the case then the cycle often repeats itself. Do you have any knowledge of this and if so did anyone of these people undergo treatment etc? My hubbie's father was like he was because of his father and so on and so on...
Anyway, hope this helps and keep trying whilst you still have the strength and determination to try and get her some proper treatment and also do not forget about
your own and your daughters wellbeing in the meantime. The one positive thing is that you know your wife was not always like this and so you can see that it is the 'depression talking' and not the 'real her'. It really can turn people into unrecognizable human beings.
One final thing I have learnt fairly recently is that when someone is in this mindframe you can exhaust yourself and do 100 things right to try and keep things running smoothly and you can guarantee that that person partner will pick on the one thing that you have not thought of/is not an issue/ does not make sense to do it that way!! I think you are maybe in a slightly easier position (although I hate to use the word 'easy' but I am sure you will know what I mean) in that you are a man so you do not have the added thing that I felt for many years in that my husband could have quite a menacing demeanour when he was in a certain mode, he still to this day could not see it in himself but because of his male physicality this added another level of problem for me in standing up for myself for a long time. However, now that I do this more often, have got a little more confident as I have got a lot older in my convictions I have to say that although he may not like it in the moment (although from your incident with the knife you will know that you have to be careful how you do this and maybe wait until afterwards until all is calm to raise the issue that their behaviour
really is unacceptable sometimes) it has meant longer term that my hubbie does have a lot more respect for me genuinely so my reaction to him was also part of the problem.
NB: I was looking for a very similar post which I had put a couple of long replies to "Wife with depression, what to do feel lost, helpless?" which I thought sounded very similar to your situation but noticed you have found it and posted a reply to the person concerned so I may have repeated myself a lot above if you have read this other thread.
Post Edited (Honey Bee) : 12/28/2007 4:22:45 AM (GMT-7)