, thanks for the callout.
She sounds horrible! But there is the wonderful side of her too.... a kind-hearted and very caring person over-all. It feels like I am living with two people - the woman I dearly love, and this other monster that takes over her body increasingly often.
No, Elrin, not horrible
. Rather, she sounds emotionally unstable
. The behaviors you describe -- i.e., irrational anger, controlling behavior, easily triggered temper tantrums, vicious fights with her own son, lack of impulse control, and blaming you for every misfortune -- are some of the classic warning signs for BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). Importantly, I'm not suggesting your W has full-blown BPD but, rather, that she may exhibit moderate to strong traits of it.
I caution that BPD is not something -- like chickenpox -- that a person either "has" or "doesn't have." Instead, it is a spectrum disorder, which means every adult on the planet occasionally exhibits all BPD traits to some degree (albeit at a low level if the person is healthy). At issue, then, is not whether your W exhibits BPD traits. Of course she does. We all do.
Rather, at issue is whether she exhibits those traits at a strong and persistent level (i.e., is on the upper end of the BPD spectrum). Not having met her, I cannot answer that question.
I nonetheless believe you can spot any strong BPD warning signs that are present if you take a little time to learn which behaviors are on the list. They are not difficult to spot because there is nothing subtle about behaviors such as always being "The Victim," lack of impulse control, and temper tantrums.
We are in our mid-forties... and she seems to be the nasty woman more often. I'm worried about menopause.
Elrin, the most common cause of strong BPD behavior is not the lifetime disorder itself but, rather, a temporary strong hormone change -- as occurs, e.g., during puberty. Indeed, such a large share of teenagers exhibit a strong flareup of BPD traits for several years that psychologists are very reluctant to diagnose a lifetime BPD issue until a person is at least 18 years old.
Similarly, it is common for women to exhibit strong BPD trait flareups during pregnancy, postpartum, PMS, and perimenopause -- due to the strong hormone changes occurring at those times. Hence, given that your W is in her mid-forties, the most likely explanation for a flareup of BPD symptoms is perimenopause -- i.e., the transitional period of hormone fluctuation that leads up to menopause. Although perimenopause typically lasts 3 or 4 years, it can be much shorter or longer than that.
I suggest that you urge your W to have her hormone levels checked by her OB/GYN doctor. If she is going through perimenopause, the BPD behaviors of instability and irrational anger likely are temporary flareups of the BPD traits that all healthy people have.
Yet, because hormones can fluctuate frequently during perimenopause, it can be difficult for a doctor to find evidence of the change in a single blood test. Several tests may be necessary. Hence, if documentation proves difficult or perimenopause is not indicated, I would suggest that she consult with a psychiatrist -- who can evaluate her based on her behaviors, not her blood tests.
In contrast, when a person is diagnosed by a therapist as "having BPD," the therapist is not referring to a temporary flareup of BPD traits but, rather, to a lifetime condition that typically is fully entrenched by the age of five. When that occurs, the BPD traits usually start showing very strongly in the early teens and -- absent years of treatment -- remain strong throughout the person's lifetime.
The only exception is that the permanent BPD traits typically disappear during courtship because the person's infatuation holds her fears at bay -- with the result that her new partner will not start triggering those fears until her infatuation over him starts to evaporate.
As a precaution, I suggest that you take a quick look at my list of 18 BPD Warning Signs
. If most of those signs sound very familiar and started occurring early in your 12-year marriage -- not just in the past 2 or 3 years -- I would suggest you read my more detailed description of them at my posts in Maybe's Thread
. If that description rings any bells, I would be glad to join 3X
and the other respondents in discussing them with you. Take care, Elrin.