Mentally Ill Spouse Support


#1

Please don’t start off with “I’m so sorry”. I only want valid advice or sharing. I also hate it when people say to me “thank you for your service” when they discover I was military. It comes across shallow and disingenuous. I like and need to keep things real.

Does anyone on here have a spouse that suffers from some sort of mild mental health issues that causes lots of unnecessary stress? PTSD, Depression, medication (won’t take it on their own), disagrees with things that seem rational parenting, go to bed on time, eat right, exercise, etc. I added the last few because they are important aspects for maintaining and improving good mental health in people that suffer with depression and anxiety disorders.

Things got so rough on me in 1998 that I started taking medication to help me deal with the stress of it all. Before she got worse I didn’t need medication. But it’s gotten so difficult that I’ve found myself depending more on it. I hate the headaches I get from it. But I will continue to take it as needed.

The real reason I resigned from a job was to help take better care of our children and take off more stress from her. A few years ago she decided to get a job teaching and that put so much extra stress on our family because our basic needs went without being filled for over a year. It was obvious the children were feeling neglected and I just couldn’t handle the mandatory overtime from my job and support the family needs (cooking, cleaning, etc.). But last night my daughter started crying saying “mommy doesn’t love me” after trying to get her attention. This has been going on for so long and my wife won’t take the time to feed her attention or at least teach her to handle less attention. My problem with all of this is that my wife spends way too much time on social networks and emailing our pastor and texting her students and other teachers.

I could care less that she does this but I’m really concerned about the long term effects on our children and our own relationship. I’m not a jealous person, but would like her to pay more attention to even me, not just our children. But our children come first. This is the real reason I’m even on the social media - trying to understand it better and be part of my wife’s new world. I feared losing her because of her insistence in participating on the social media. I’m winging it through this and don’t have a support system to get through it. And, yes, I’ve already tried talking to her over the past several years since it began. She is stubborn or really more ill than I originally thought. It doesn’t make sense to me anymore.

So, does anyone know of a support group that I could participate in without ticking my wife off.


#2

Take a stand. Disconnect the internet if you have to.

If she threatens to leave then let her. Tell her you are keeping the kids though.


#3

[quote="violet81, post:2, topic:224611"]
Take a stand. Disconnect the internet if you have to.

If she threatens to leave then let her. Tell her you are keeping the kids though.

[/quote]

That is rather harsh, don't you think. Being a spouse is not a walk in the park, it's a sacrifice. I'm trying to be a good husband, not another statistical divorce. Divorce is not possible. i made a choice to take care of her too, not just the kids. My hope is that over time, she may not need the meds or will begin taking them. Maybe she just needs me to encourage her to take them. I don't know. But leaving is not an option - unless she becomes dangerous.

Don't you realize what that does to children? I won't do what my parents did to me and my siblings...resulted in suicide and several attempts.


#4

[quote="PbloPicasso, post:3, topic:224611"]
That is rather harsh, don't you think. Being a spouse is not a walk in the park, it's a sacrifice. I'm trying to be a good husband, not another statistical divorce. Divorce is not possible. i made a choice to take care of her too, not just the kids. My hope is that over time, she may not need the meds or will begin taking them. Maybe she just needs me to encourage her to take them. I don't know. But leaving is not an option - unless she becomes dangerous.

Don't you realize what that does to children? I won't do what my parents did to me and my siblings...resulted in suicide and several attempts.

[/quote]

Start demanding more compliant behavior from her.

If she threatens to leave because of your new behavior then say "fine". Chances are she is bluffing. If she isn't bluffing then she was planning on leaving anyway.

Quite frankly...you have every right to be concerned. Perhaps she has an online boyfriend?


#5

I learned something over the years by reading these forums. I learned that I am not the only one in my situation. I never would have realized this without connecting with others in a similar situation, which I don't think would have happened without the internet. But I've never tried a support group. I've just been hanging around here reading posts for so long that eventually I saw posts by people in situations similar to my own.

My life has a sort of yo-yo quality to it, that depends very much on how things are going, and the like. The internet is available 24 hours a day, which is a nice feature. :) The support it offers me is access to someone to interact with, but not really about my spouse. I more often talk about other things, like Catholicism.


#6

I doubt the boyfriend thing. She shows me affection and tells me she loves me. If I do the “tough love” thing she foes into a spell of shaking profusely like she just experienced a murder or something tragic. In the past she’s threatened to leave about once or twice a year.

The reason she has this disorder is caused from abuse as a teenage girl. It’s taken her 21 years with me to open up a little more each day. Becoming Catholic made a huge difference in her. But now she has to learn that she is responsible for herself. It’s a slow process and I’ve seen some improvement. We love each other. It’s just sometimes I get so down and discouraged that I feel the need for a place to go. Because of her fears, driven in her from her fundamentalist faith, family and friends, she reacts very odd. I’ve even tried to talk to our pastor about it but the priests don’t seem to want to talk about any of it. The only choice is finding a Christian therapist that understand our belief on the issues of divorce. Like I said, divorce is not an option. Her family would be devastated and I’d break a solemn promise. Our own children would be crushed, not to mention me and probably her. We have 2 young children and a teenager.

She’s been in and out of therapy a few times and has made progress. She’s much better compared to what she was like when we first married. Since her conversion to Catholicism she’s become much more supportive by comparison. But she still lacks the depth of support one would expect from a spouse. I’m not very demanding at all, really. I feel lonely a lot, and turn to our Lord constantly in prayer as well as seek assurance in what I’m doing by playing with our children . I play their games and pray with them and even read books and bible stories.

Though she initially and secretly did not support my desire to become a preacher, she’s finally started to support me over the past 3 years for my feeling drawn to the diaconate. I wish I didn’t feel this way about it because I’m not sure it will work if she doesn’t get better. I’m giving it to the Lord. I have a strong feeling that if I can get her to let go of the school she teaches at and take a teaching job closer to home she’ll get a bit better. She does improve when she’s not working, but she still goes through those low moods.

Hey, it’s difficult, but seems worth it to set an example for our children and to support a wounded soul that was devastated by life experience growing up. Had I not entered her life she was doomed to marry a real loser that would have hurt her. I knew that and God led me into it. I trusted God in this and even married her a second time in the Church. I could have left her almost 4 years ago. But I chose to stick it out because I believe marriage is for life, even when the spouse is difficult. Mental illness is not an acceptable reason. She doesn’t want to leave me either. She knows she would have a difficult time and that it would hurt our children.She also realizes at times that she does have a problem with taking her medication. I’m just looking for some sort of support system, not someone telling me to abandon God by abandoning her.


#7

How can she be THAT mentally-ill and also a good teacher?? If she is capable of being a good teacher then why not a good wife and mother as well?


#8

[quote="Pug, post:5, topic:224611"]
I learned something over the years by reading these forums. I learned that I am not the only one in my situation. I never would have realized this without connecting with others in a similar situation, which I don't think would have happened without the internet. But I've never tried a support group. I've just been hanging around here reading posts for so long that eventually I saw posts by people in situations similar to my own.

My life has a sort of yo-yo quality to it, that depends very much on how things are going, and the like. The internet is available 24 hours a day, which is a nice feature. :) The support it offers me is access to someone to interact with, but not really about my spouse. I more often talk about other things, like Catholicism.

[/quote]

The internet is okay when discussing things about my faith and family situations on a different forum. But those people know my wife and that would simply be strange. I've been in therapy and have made it clear that certain things are reasonably untouchable. I do give the occasional putting down my foot, but end up having to ease off sometimes.

She's like a dog or cat that gets distracted by a squirrel - like on "Up". She's wonderfully funny, but goes into a sort of trans where she's unreachable for days, maybe weeks. Relations with her reaches null most of the time. She never touches me unless I complain/beg for it and then its very little and short lived. Whereas she begs for it daily from me to scratch her back and that's basically it.

She can't seem to stop feeling adversely affect by work and church politics as much as me - though I have my moments now and again. I've lived with much stress most of my life and have found effective coping methods. She can't seem to detach herself from her work or internet play when she gets home. I wonder sometimes if she's a little autistic or something similar.

But, like I said, she has moments of being really fun and pleasant to be around if I can ignore our little girl begging for attention. At least over the holidays she didn't constantly text. She did it, but not as much. I fear my daughter may follow in her momma's footsteps.


#9

[quote="violet81, post:7, topic:224611"]
How can she be THAT mentally-ill and also a good teacher?? If she is capable of being a good teacher then why not a good wife and mother as well?

[/quote]

I have no idea. But somehow she manages to escape in it. She teaches English and that's another way she escapes. She's helping poor children in the worst part of town - kids that come from the kind of poverty she knew growing up. PTSD is associated with violence. Her's was experienced over a six month period. She has moments of being fine, but dips into these really unexpected crazy moods. Just today I jumped on her after she started shaking like a jackhammer. The medication keeps her functioning properly if she would just stay consistent about taking it. That's why I wonder if she has some sort of autism. She is phenominally talented, but lacked the confidence the first 18 years of our marriage to do anything about it. She's not a typical woman on any level. I think she's a good catch, but some of her ways are really over the top bazaar to what I consider "normal" healthy behavior. She even admits this sometimes.


#10

If she is as nutty as you describe then she needs you to be the strong one. It sounds a bit like you are letting the crazy person in your relationship dictate how everything will go. What sense does that make? Maybe you should be the planet that pulls her into YOUR gravitational orbit, instead of the other way around?

If she can manage herself in the structured and highly competitive environment of teaching, then she can probably manage herself in her home also. The thing is- she doesn’t have to. You will always be their to manage her mistakes and coddle her emotions.

Maybe being the victim has a huge pay-off and she isn’t motivated to stop?

Whatever she has been through there are other women have been through worse. How do you think the women of Darfur…many of whom have been violently raped countless times… manage to get up in the morning and do their duties?

She will feel so much better about herself when she realizes she is a survivor, not a victim.

Women, generally, take their emotions more seriously than they should to be taken. They are comforted by a man who isn’t manipulated by feelings. I think you could be that man… but it seems that you are afraid of doing the wrong thing.

Maybe you just need a good counselor who can back you up and give you confidence.


#11

Has your wife been diagnosed yet? You mention she is on medication. My former husband was bi-polar, however at the time no one had any knowledge of his having a mental disorder. My daughter is also bi-polar and until she had a bad breakdown 8 years ago I had no idea what was wrong, except we all said she was like her father.

There is a group called NAMI, it is nationwide and is a support group for both the person with the disorder and the family. They deal with many different mental diseases and might be helpful.

I have given up that my daughter will ever achieve a normal life and just have to accept it. It has been very difficult and I do my best to make sure she always has food, housing etc., but I am single and live on a budget.

I feel much empathy for these poor souls who are ill, as society doesn't really care about them. I understand your frustration. My strength comes from God and there are times when I just want to have a normal life. I have accepted the fact that we all have our crosses in this life and know that my daughter would love to be well.

Prayers for you and your family.

Yours in the Heart of Jesus and Mary

Bernadette


#12

[quote="BernadetteM, post:11, topic:224611"]
Has your wife been diagnosed yet? You mention she is on medication. My former husband was bi-polar, however at the time no one had any knowledge of his having a mental disorder. My daughter is also bi-polar and until she had a bad breakdown 8 years ago I had no idea what was wrong, except we all said she was like her father.

There is a group called NAMI, it is nationwide and is a support group for both the person with the disorder and the family. They deal with many different mental diseases and might be helpful.

I have given up that my daughter will ever achieve a normal life and just have to accept it. It has been very difficult and I do my best to make sure she always has food, housing etc., but I am single and live on a budget.

I feel much empathy for these poor souls who are ill, as society doesn't really care about them. I understand your frustration. My strength comes from God and there are times when I just want to have a normal life. I have accepted the fact that we all have our crosses in this life and know that my daughter would love to be well.

Prayers for you and your family.

Yours in the Heart of Jesus and Mary

Bernadette

[/quote]

Thanks, Bernadette. Yes, my wife has been diagnosed with PTSD and depression. By definition PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder. I have met a few bipolar people in my life and know just how difficult they can become. At least my wife is not bipolar. She took an online test the other day at my request and came out as probably "borderline disorder personality".

She has learned to not trust people. Her new relationship with our pastor was a major relief for both of us. He, in spite his short comings, stood upl like a real man a few weeks ago dealing with our DRE's deceptive actions. The priest reassured her that we do not need to move to a new parish. She learned to hide her anxieties in her previous faith becuase they consider her anxieties as being weak. She does realize she has problems, but sometimes she defends her actions, even when it seems obvious she's not right. Please do not construe that I'm having a beaching session about her. I'm looking for people that have successfully overcome this kind of adversity.

As far as being and enabler, violet81, sticking by a spouse that wants to make it work is best in my opinion.


#13

[quote="PbloPicasso, post:12, topic:224611"]
Thanks, Bernadette. Yes, my wife has been diagnosed with PTSD and depression. By definition PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder. I have met a few bipolar people in my life and know just how difficult they can become. At least my wife is not bipolar. She took an online test the other day at my request and came out as probably "borderline disorder personality".

She has learned to not trust people. Her new relationship with our pastor was a major relief for both of us. He, in spite his short comings, stood upl like a real man a few weeks ago dealing with our DRE's deceptive actions. The priest reassured her that we do not need to move to a new parish. She learned to hide her anxieties in her previous faith becuase they consider her anxieties as being weak. She does realize she has problems, but sometimes she defends her actions, even when it seems obvious she's not right. Please do not construe that I'm having a beaching session about her. I'm looking for people that have successfully overcome this kind of adversity.

As far as being and enabler, violet81, sticking by a spouse that wants to make it work is best in my opinion.

[/quote]

My daughter also has personality disorders and anxiety problems. She was very talented, played a keyboard by ear at age 2, composed beautiful classical music, and managed an office at one time. All this is gone now and it is a shame. I just wish that the medical field would actually find a cure, as I am very distrustful of them, I believe if you can transplant a heart etc. why does it seem so impossible to find a cure for those with chemical inbalances in their brains.

As you have been told, why not leave etc., I also have been told to just let my daughter make it on her own. This is such a horrible thing for one to suggest, would they leave their loved one who is dying of cancer alone? Of course not. My prayers are that someday soon someone will be brave enough to announce there is a cure. There is so much financial gain for doctors, researchers etc. dealing with the ill, that if there were cures, there would be no more money. I know that sounds distrustful, but at this point I am.

God Bless

Bernadette


#14

My concern is that your children are seeing her as the model for womanhood and motherhood. She is surely not a healthy model. I am not advising you to leave her, not at all, but you've invested a lot of time on this project and I'm not sure your return is proportional.

violet81 brought up the payoff for remaining a victim. This is a very "attractive" trap for many of us, both men and women but women are more susceptible because we do give so much attention to our own emotions.

Your wife remains in the past because she gets a payoff for her victimhood. Lots of people have experienced severe traumas in life. I am not saying it is easy, but one does not have to stay stuck in the past IF one wants to live in the present.

I think your wife is selfish. She can give to her students but retreats from her own family? There is something pathetic about that. It seems to me that YOU care more about her mental and physical health than she does.

Now she probably has an internet addiction (it's not hard to acquire, I consider myself addicted) and is using that to retreat from her connection with you. She can always fall back on her past abuse if you put any demands on her whatsoever. And you give it full credence.

I think you need a counselor who will give you specific strategies for things to improve, not stay mired in the past and her emotions about what happened so long ago. Get someone who can do short-term goal-oriented therapy, not open-ended rolling in past trauma. She should have specific and clear goals to achieve, like "1. Spend only 15 minutes on email every 3 hours. 2. When a thought about trauma occurs, substitute with a pleasant thought. 3. Spend one hour each night reading to or playing with children. 4. Go out with husband once a week to a fun activity." etc.

I would start treating her like a grown up. She IS a grown up woman and has children. It's time for her to move through that past trauma which is NO LONGER happening.

Get a copy of the book, "Boundaries" by Henry Cloud. Read it and put it to use. You are giving her a lot of excuses to treat you like dirt. I don't know why you need to accept that. It doesn't mean you have to leave, but you don't have to shape your whole life around this wounded person. You deserve happiness too. Right now you are excusing a whole lot of really ****** behavior because she plays the fragile wounded child role really well.


#15

You are living in Oz and "Walking on Eggshells."

Process Flow Diagram - Cluster B Personality Disordered Woman's Guide to Conflict Resolution

Check out the articles on www.shrink4men.com

Also Dr.Roy Sheppard has a insightful youtube video Dangerous Women


#16

I think you nailed it, C S P B. BPD seems to fit everything the OP described. Great suggestions. That 2nd link though, describes a lot of arguments with women in general.


#17

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:16, topic:224611"]
I think you nailed it, C S P B. BPD seems to fit everything the OP described. Great suggestions. That 2nd link though, describes a lot of arguments with women in general.

[/quote]

Yes, that is true, but BPD takes it to an extreme. It is like multiplying the confusion and frustration of male-female communication by a factor of 100.


#18

How about PMing me. I am living through some of what your wife is going through–as is my family. It’s a struggle.

FYI: Someone asked how one can function and still be mentally ill? Try looking up boarderline personality disorder (a family member has this). Tell your kiddies to not take it personally. A great psychiatrist who does med management and talk therapy is a great option!


#19

“for better or worse” :thumbsup:
Sometimes it’s mostly for worse - not for me. I’m get exhausted like many home moms. Why do so many people think men can handle this better than women? Doesn’t even make sense. Men are expected to be rough and touch, which I fit the mold, but have a heart so I avoid being the jerk. Before she converted she wouldn’t even talk about her trauma with anyone, much less me. Relations were nearly absent and a one way street, which made me feel like a creep. But I kept trying to build her trust, which I finally got at our 18 years of marriage and 3 children later. She lived in constant fear prior and never trusted anyone.

Now she’s gained enough confidence to discuss it more openly with me, though we tend to avoid deep talks about it. I’m here if she needs me but we try to keep it light. I need someone to get deep with sometimes, especially making the big decisions that ultimately I’ve had to make on my own because she tends to blow it off. She acts like money doesn’t matter in that it doesn’t matter whether I make a lot or little. She never used her degree to get a good paying job in the past. Teaching is the best and double pay of her previous attempts as receptionist style jobs even though she obtained a paralegal certification on top of her degree. Women are mostly marginalized in her previous faith. Women are expected to “submit” to their husbands and any man in the Church. I tried to teach her that she is a human person that deserves due dignity and respect. Her new found confidence and dignity came from Catholic teaching and the example of our priests treating her with dignity and respect, unlike the the church leaders - elders, deacons and preachers - from her previous fundamentalist Christian faith (Church of Christ - restoration movement). We were part of the more conservative group in that tradition.


#20

I feel the need to reply once more. Violet, please do not speak of what you do not know. Calling someone nutty is degrading his/her dignity as a person. We all have our flaws…but God made us in His image.

Stop Walking on Eggshells is a great book, as is a website called BPD Central.

Prayers,

Sandy


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