Posted 10/25/2005 7:58 PM (GMT -6)
Howdy, gang! I'm new to this whole mental health thing, and need a few words of encouragement, I guess.
Here's the situation: I'm a 35-year-old wife and mom to a 6-year-old daughter. My husband has always had what seemed to me to be symptoms of mental health problems, but I never knew what it all meant. He's always been moody, quick to anger, and defensive about ... well, about everything. He's a very emotional guy and tends to react without thinking. I recognized facets of ADHD in him the minute I met him -- I was working as a preschool teacher at the time, so it seemed very clear.
about 2-1/2 years ago, he had a major anger episode at his job in the financial sector, which resulted in disciplinary action -- part of which was mandatory anger management counseling. He did the mandated counseling, but I knew he didn't take it seriously, he was only doing it to keep his job. about 18 months ago he quit that job for a major career change, one that unfortunately didn't work out. (That's an understatement; he spent 6 tumultuous weeks at the new job, then finally saw the writing on the wall and quit before he could be fired.) For months he had feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness that apparently didn't really subside, though I thought they had. He bounced from one low-paying job to another while we struggled financially (I have a very stable, professional job, fortunately) and I tried to keep things as normal as possible for our daughter. Against his wishes, but because we needed his higher income desperately, he went back to the financial sector about six months ago. Which, by the way, he hates with every fiber of his being.
He seemed to like the new job at first, and he seemed to be making friends. The year that he spent bouncing from job to job, he almost completely withdrew from my daughter and me. We were all living in the same house, but none of us were really connecting. And while he would never be physically abusive with either of us, I found myself protecting my daughter from his verbal outbursts and criticisms, which began to border on the emotionally abusive. All of that seemed to get better after he started the new job. Or so I thought.
To my profound shock and amazement, I found out a few weeks ago that he'd been participating in some really unsavory behaviors with two co-workers -- who happened to be a married couple. He wasn't having an affair with either of them, but he was exchanging some very explicit materials with both of them, including e-mails and photographs of each other. And I found all of this out while sitting at the family computer helping my daughter with a school project. I found some pictures of him that shouldn't have been there.
When I confronted him about it, he immediately said it was just an impulsive action, he knew it was wrong as soon as he did it, and he'd already contacted the counselor he worked with during the employer-mandated sessions. He said it would never happen again, and to my knowledge, it hasn't. He does, however, have almost daily contact with these co-workers -- who agree that the whole thing went too far. But he can't get away from them, so I'm a little worried about that.
More worrisome to me, though, is that he has continued to withdraw from me and from our daughter. He says he wants to stay together and get through this; he even found a marriage counselor for us to work with together, and will be seeing a psychiatrist next week in addition to his counselor. But he's rarely at home anymore. When he is home, he buries himself in a book, or just withdraws to a different room. He doesn't seem to enjoy much of anything, not even things he used to get excited about. We're taking a short vacation this weekend to a favorite getaway spot, but I suspect I'm going to hear from him tomorrow that he has too much work and can't go with us. This very gregarious guy rarely talks and never laughs anymore. He planned weeks ago to attend a favorite band's concert with The Guys tonight, but confided in me this morning that he didn't even want to go.
I'm nearing the end of my rope. I've been as supportive and as positive as I can, but nothing seems to matter. He told me this morning that he doesn't know what's wrong with him, and doesn't even know who he is anymore. And I don't know what to do.
I'm sorry this post is so long, but I really have very few people to talk to about any of this. My girlfriends think he just needs to grow up. My sisters, were I to tell them, would probably just tell me to pray. And our mutual friends know nothing about it, because until he actually gets a diagnosis of depression or ADHD or both, he doesn't want to tell anyone. I guess I'm just hoping there are other women out there who have gone through this and who could give me some advice, tell me what to expect from the marriage counseling, help me understand. Because while I'm trying to hold my husband and my family together, I feel like I'm falling apart.