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Wife requires my emotional stability to function
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Wife requires my emotional stability to function

My wifes condition is very strange.  I'll describe her normal day.  She wakes up about 7:15am every day.  Shes perfectly normal.  We get the kids on the bus and I leave for work.  She works part time so most days shes home.

The problem is that as the day goes on she works herself up with an issue to the point she appears almosr hysterical or drunk.  Her eyes get tiny, she fumbles around and she slurs her words.  She also doesn't make a lot of sense.  Sometimes shes worked herself up so bad shes collapsed in bed by the time I get home about 7:30pm sleeping until 7:15am the next morning.

This has gone one for about 3 years now.  We have some wine around the house but she started to buy and drink vodka while I was at work.  She also started smoking at the age of 37 when a friend gave her a puff.  Shes up to several cigarettes a day.  She knows how upset I get at her when I find them hidden but she does it anyways.  She also can now lie while looking very sincerely at me.  Its really hurt my feelings and I feel I can't trust her for anything she says anymore.  Some days when I come home from work the emotions are almost too much for me to handle and I get upset at her.  This has been straining my marriage with her to almost the breaking point.  If it wasn't for the kids...

The stranges part is that on Saturdays and Sundays when I'm around all day shes perfectly fine.  Its like she needs me as an emotional crutch.

The doctor has diagnosed her with bipolar disorder and has her on medication for over a year now.  I can't really tell if its helping her or not.  She was seeing a therapist but I think they were pretty useless.

Is this really bipolar?  I've read a book on bipolar and I think there may be something else here.  Why is she perfectly fine when I'm around?

Please help.  The doctors haven't been able to so far.

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242532 tn?1269553979
If you put the "diagnosis" aside, you have already described for me a pretty clear picture.  It is very likely that your wife has a substance abuse problem, alcohol or other drugs.  On the weekends, when you are there to allay her loneliness, she doesn't drink, so she functions well.  This kind of emotional dependency is best dealt with by treating both the substance abuse( aa) and the emotional dependency( therapy).  If previous therapist didn't work, you need a new one, but sometimes it not work because therapist not know re the substance abuse, that is why both have to be treated together.
Avatar f tn
I don't know if she has bipolar or not.  Her doctor is in a better position to judge this.

Try researching borderline personality disorder.  That has an abandonment criteria to it which could explain why she is fine when you're around.

Borderline personality disorder and bipolar can be difficult to differentiate at times.  Some people can also  have both disorders.

If she had bipolar I would have expected a noticeable improvement with medication.  Medication can help stabilize moods in people with bpd but it is not always said to be that effective.

Inexperienced and unskilled therapists can potentially do more harm when treating people with bpd.  Also therapy can be extremely difficult for this patient population.

It sounds like your wife could benefit from receiving appropriate support and treatment.  I would strongly encourage you to follow this up.  There are issues to suggest she isn't coping so perhaps sooner rather than later.


Avatar n tn
Thank you both very much for your responses.  Your two answers have given me more insight than what I've heard from either her doctor or therapist over the past 18 months.  It seems to be an easy catch-all phrase to label someone with bpd and leave it at that.  After a few months of bi-weekly counseling, the therapist signed her up for a self esteem course and the counseling ended.  I'm no expert but this doesn't sound like real help.

I think this whole mental illness was triggered by her brother’s tour of duty in Afghanistan.  I’d find her watching the daily news reports of dead servicemen shipped back from Iraq and Afghanistan and crying hysterically convinced that her brother was next.  I prayed for the day when her brother would return so life would be tolerable in our house.  He finished his tour of duty unharmed but my wife didn’t get better.  Instead it continued to get worse.

I think the single best help for her has been the change in me.  Before her suicide attempt and hospitalization for mental eval (forgot to mention that) I started to think she just decided to be lazy, rebellious, an alcoholic, a slob, and selfish and I was just being used for my financial support.  We’ve been married 16 years with 3 kids.  I work long hours plus much of the housework.  She works only 5 hours per week and the rest of the week she has free, but would do nothing but watch daytime TV.  I couldn’t take it anymore and would almost daily start arguments that she is lazy and not pulling her weight.  She clearly wasn’t.  I was at my limit.  I didn’t know she had a mental illness and arguing was making it worse.

I now know that this is an illness and provide much more support and understanding.  Some days are still very hard on me.

When the time is right, I will gently bring up your ideas with her.  I think she’ll be open to listening.

Thanks again and thanks for listening and excellent advice!
Avatar f tn
I don't think it's ever appropriate to label a person and not provide adequate treatment or support.
I also believe it is a persons fundamental right to know their diagnosis.

I personally don't believe courses are the answer.  The course on top of the twice weekly counseling would have been more appropriate (in my opinion).  But I think the self-esteem issues should have been addressed in therapy.  I don't think a course can do these justice.

The wound hasn't healed or issues haven't been resolved.

I think accepting an individual as they are is perhaps the single most important thing you can do for them.

Telling your wife she was lazy was the worst thing you could have done.  This can make a person feel guilty, powerless and hopeless, etc.  These negative emotions can become overwhelming and as a consequence tv (or drugs or alcohol, etc) can become a way to escape reality.  A way to cope.

TV and the internet are my two most utilized coping mechanisms.
I don't think people understand the severity of the dysfunction.  Take away either of these two coping strategies and I become severely overwhelmed.
I had a discussion with my GP earlier in the week.  He said my parents (my mother in particular) just view me as being lazy whereas he perceives me as being overwhelmed and burnt out.  I can't begin to tell you how frustrating it is not to be able to do even simple things.
It think this is primarily a psychological issue.
Some days I can be extremely productive while others it is a mission just to get out of bed.

The strain placed on you and the relationship is understandable.
You're right, it is an illness and support and understanding are essential.

I know you'll talk to her when you feel the time is right but please don't delay this for too long.

Good luck and best wishes
Avatar n tn
Thanks Jaquta,

You give a lot of insite into a world I know nothing about. Please understand that lashing out at her was only because I couldn't take the emotional and physical burden anymore.

When I came home that Friday evening from work and found her overdosed on pain killers and alcohol, lying there in the bed almost comatose, I left the room, and seriously considered closing the door and leave her to die that night.  She'd finally be at peace and so would I.  For a moment I felt finally liberated, I felt lighter, I felt happy, relieved.  Feelings I hadn't felt in a long time.  Then I felt the massive weight of responsibility return to my shoulders and went back into the bedroom and dragged her into the car and to emergency.

This is why 90% of marriages such as this fall apart.  The emotional load for the well spouse is just too much to bear for most.

Also, with the poor theraputic treatment, I feel like I am alone in this, no support and no one to turn to.  My brother went through a nasty divorce that ended with him emotionally destroyed and spending a several weeks in a mental institution.  My mother does all she can to hold his sanity together including financial support. I'm a 43 year old man, a manager of very large project and proud of my ability to pull organization out of chaos but sometimes my mother and I just get together and cry.  We feel powerless.  We feel like hostages.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that in such a marriage, the well spouse suffers just as much as the spouse with the emotional problems.  We are only human too.

I pray you find peace.  Explore your passions.  I believe that finding your natural element will greatly help your well being and give you that drive to bounce out of bed on those dark days.

Avatar f tn
I understand.  It must be incredibly difficult and stressful living with a spouse with emotional difficulties (or any difficulties for that matter).

I can't imagine the strain or pressure you're under to actually be able to justify that decision to yourself.  I think it just shows how desperately overwhelmed you are/ were.  To love a woman and then want to leave her to die ...
That peace and contentment would have been short-lived and would likely have been replaced with guilt and self-loathing.  You know that.  Deep down you do.

Marriages fail because people take the wrong options and partners aren't committed either to themselves or each other.

Your brother should try therapy to see if that works.  Talking might help him.  It's possible for him to rebuild his life (if he wants it enough and he gets the right support).
I think it's OK for your mother to support your brother but not to enable him.
Your poor mother will have a breakdown herself with all the family stress.
Talking and crying are good.  Laughter and joy better.

Mental health services can be pretty poor.  I'm very familiar with how damaging some T's and treatments can be.

Have you talked to your wife about perhaps doing an inpatient stint?  I only ask because sometimes that can help contain some people.  It may give you a break and also give her a buffer.  I find that sometimes when you're unwell you can let things slide.  Often these periods are time limited but they can also be very destructive.
This depends on where your wife is at now.

If she's doing OK (by that I mean surviving) then perhaps some intensive therapy would be enough.  That would probably entail two plus sessions per week.

Perhaps you're too close where your family are concerned?
Perhaps if that was my story you would be able to advise me what to do.  Are you able to take a step outside of this situation and problem solve it?

You're also not your brother.  You probably have concerns about ending up like him.  You won't.  You're strong, you'll get through this.

I kind of disagree that the spouse suffers as much.  You have the option of walking away, your wife doesn't.  You may get some slight reprieve, your wife never does.

You may feel like hostages but just to clarify, I don't think your wife is holding you hostage (not intentionally anyway).  I would view it as the other people holding everyone captive.  You have the skills to change the situation.

You can change your situation and your family situation by making decisions and following through.  You need to stand up and take the lead.  Include your family in the process though and don't alienate them (your wife, brother, mother).

You're right, a person's strength, healthy aspect or passion is a good way to find them-self again.

Can you participate in some family activities?
Do you need to cut back your work hours so that you can take some pressure off your wife and provide her with more emotional support at this time?  Somethings not working in your life and you probably need to make some significant changes.

Think about it and see how you can work all your responsibilities.  You may need to re-prioritize some things.


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