Re: If you had known...would you have gotten married?
A few years ago, I was engaged to a man with what I thought was combat-related PTSD. At the time, We were both medical personnel in the military. We were part of a unique population with a higher than average potential to experience emotionally taxing, jarring and traumatic events making us highly susceptible to PTSD. I wouldn't want to be the "undateable blacklisted PTSD chick." So, I thought I shouldn't discount him as a dating option due to PTSD. After all, I could just as easily deploy, see some carnage, and come back scarred. So I gave him a chance. I'll call him "Huck."
I'll admit, Huck was a rebound guy with whom I entered a relationship far to hastily. Before Huck, "Ray", the only man I'd ever loved had cheated on me and his "other woman" had bore him a son whom he'd intended to hide from me perpetually. When I found out, I poured Ray out of my heart and immediately filled the empty space with Huck. I doted on him, lavished him with love and trust he'd never earned. Emotions that had been reserved for Ray alone became Huck's. It was a whirlwind romance.
Huck, was in therapy. He'd see a psychiatrist twice a week. He seemed to be doing well... We never really discussed his mental health. Less than a year into our relationship, he proposed. I was "marrying age" and still riding the wave of our whirlwind and my mother wanted grandkids. I accepted. Foolish, I know...
A month or so into the engagement, Huck disappeared...for a week... No warning, no communication just dropped off the map. Then he was back, full of apologies. He told me he had been hospitalized. Said he was "fighting demons of the things he had seen during his last tour of duty." Afterward one of his close friends, Don, who had helped him check into the hospital, told me he'd been in the psych ward. I assumed he'd voluntarily admitted himself with some sort of PTSD related thoughts of self harm.
Huck changed drastically and rapidly immediately after his hospital stay. He vacillated between being loving, caring, engaging, fun, and witty to spiteful, rude, harsh, critical, brooding, moody, obnoxious, erratic and just plain mean. We had the highest highs during the good times and the most crushing lows during the bad. Over time, our bad days began to outnumber the good. To me, an engagement is just marriage without the certificate, I had already promised him myself forever, so he had me. I stood by him. Really for no reason other than I'd promised and I was attached. Our relationship was miserable by then. He had killed my joy and was sucking the life out of me.
Our relationship got rockier and rockier over the ensuing months. I was truly unhappy; mainly due to his emotional instability and erratic behavior. One day, Huck left a bottle of potent antipsychotics on the dresser. Not mood stabilizers, actual antipsychotics prescribed to him. I didn't even know he was medicated beyond sleep aids. Apparently, he hid them in his truck which I never drove as I loved my Jeep. I pressed him further about his mental state, telling him it was important that he be honest and forthcoming with me if I were to be his wife, that open and honest communication was imperative for a marriage to survive. He threw a fit then began a silent treatment which lasted several days. During his childish tantrum, he'd had his behavioral health records printed out and mailed them to me. He actually mailed them despite the fact that we were living together... How dramatic, and just over the top obnoxious is that?!?
I read every page of the MASSIVE parcel. His records revealed that he had been diagnosed with Bipolar Personality Disorder, Narcissism, Schizophrenia, ADHD, and Borderline Personality Disorder in his youth. His diagnoses had not changed and he had omitted/outright lied about his mental health when he joined the army. They wouldn't have let him in otherwise. He'd experienced visual and auditory hallucinations since childhood. He had both suicidal and homicidal ideations. His mother had a priest come to EXORCIZE him and bless their home when he tried to kill his younger brother during their teens. The priest apparently failed and declared Huck and their home beyond hope. He's from the backwoods swamplands of Louisiana and despite being Roman Catholic, his family believes in witchcraft and voodoo and all that mess. So, they later tried a voodoo witch doctor who refused to make eye-contact with Huck and would not enter their house. Per his psychiatrist, "it's remarkable that the patient is able to function in society and maintain employment/self care." Apparently, usually people with Huck's level of psychosis are institutionalized, imprisoned or homeless. His "last tour of duty" was in South Korea manning a tiny clinic which saw American soldiers for stuff like colds and sprained ankles for less than a year in 2009!!! He did NOT have combat-related PTSD. He had never SEEN combat. HE HAD NEVER EVEN DEPLOYED!!!
I came to understand, through reading the records that, during the week Huck disappeared, he had been involuntarily admitted to the psych ward because, one night, he'd told his friend, Don, that he saw "demons who told [him] to kill people" by "skinning them alive" and that these demons whom he called by name told him "I should start tonight with you" referring to Don. Don knew about Huck's psychosis and dialed 911. Huck was delivered to the hospital with police escorts and immediately admitted. He was only let out a week later because he'd admitted to not taking his meds and he and his parents had signed documentation to make Don his legal guardian. This was not the first time he'd been involuntarily admitted. None of these things had Huck ever told me.
I finished reading the documents on a Sunday. We were supposed to wed that Monday. I thought long and hard about how horrible our relationship had been for the past few months and how miserable my life would be if I married him. We're both Roman-Catholic, so divorce would not be an option. I thought about how mental illness is often genetic and how I'd have to give up on the idea of ever being a mother to avoid being trapped loving his psychotic children unconditionally. I thought about how his "demons" might make me a target and I'd end up chopped up in his deep freezer or buried under our house. I was 23 and not ready to throw my life away; to give up on my desire for sanity, safety and happiness for some rebound guy. I kissed him goodbye that night. I didn't even pack. I called him from my car to tell him I quit. Huck still wasn't speaking to me. He was relishing in the drama and childishness of giving me the silent treatment. I left a voicemail letting him know it was over. I didn't look back.
Unfortunately, we'd had a condom break the night before our big fight and hadn't worried about it because we were getting married so soon after. I absolutely called my gynecologist in the middle of the night on a Sunday and made him promise to place an IUD first thing Monday morning since it was a few days too late for Plan-B. I slept in my car in front of my gynecologist's office and was up bright and early for my appointment. Of course, I had to relay my entire tale to him and take a pregnancy test, which I passed (I would have only been 7 days along) before he would place it. I don't regret it for one second.
Huck stalked me for a few months, making threats, begging me to come back, saying he wanted to drop of my stuff, and such. We were both still in the army so I was super easy to find. He would show up at the hospital where I worked and make a scene. I'd just lock myself in the medication room or isolation room and call security. I felt like I was living in a tacky soap opera or a bad Lifetime movie. I hate drama and have no patience for unnecessarily dramatic people. It was incredibly embarrassing to explain my situation to my boss and coworkers but they were understanding and began to watch out for him and call security before he made it to my floor. My older brother packed up his business and moved his life across country to come live with me and we never told ANYONE but immediate family where we lived. Soon, I rarely saw Huck at all. Then, a few months later, Huck got kicked out of the army and moved back in with his parents in Louisiana. He continued calling for a while. I never answered. Eventually, I gave up on the idea of him stopping his attempts to make contact and just changed my number. I haven't seen or heard from him since.
I feel uniquely blessed to have learned the true nature and scope of Huck's psychosis prior to marrying him. He had thrown up numerous red flags and I had ignored all of them. I feel that the opportunity to read his medical records was the swift kick in the pants to let me know I needed to run for the hills. If I had married him I would be depressed, dead, or divorced by 24 years old. None of those labels appeals to me. My sister tells me all the time that I "dodged a bullet." I believe I dodged Hiroshima, Chernobyl, and Auschwitz combined.
I understand that people with mental illness need love and understanding but love is truly NOT ENOUGH. Understanding is not enough. I'm not a psychiatrist, psychologist, neurologist, counselor or other mental health professional and there fore I'm not qualified to provide the help and guidance mentally ill people require. I lack the education tools and training to be of any real help. I'd just be an enabler or a victim. Some say there's strength in suffering to love someone. I think thats incredibly naive of the sufferer and selfish of the one causing the suffering. I believe there's more strength in loving oneself enough to choose not to suffer unnecessarily especially for someone who will NEVER reciprocate.
I also understand that Aspergers is very different from personality disorders and schizophrenia. I dunno how I'd handle a romantic relationship with someone on the Aspergers or autism spectrum but I have a feeling that we wouldn't even make it beyond a few dates in the first place due to the way I communicate and the way I need my partner to communicate. Most all of my emotion is conveyed via tone of voice, body language and other non verbal cues. What I say is never as important as how I say it and in what context it's said, so I don't think an Aspie and I would make it very far beyond friendship or professional cordiality.
Anyway, I was blessed to realize my marriage would suck and end quickly and bitterly before I entered it and I chose not to get married. I chose not to be a martyr; not to live some overly dramatic train wreck of a life and I feel I made the very best decision ever. The only thing I regret is the year and a half I wasted trying to make it work with him. If anyone should find themselves in the position I was in, I would suggest without fail that he/she run for the hills immediately and don't look back.
I swear to you, I feel blessed and grateful EVERDAY that I am not his wife, grateful that I am not the mother of children with his complex mental illnesses, grateful that I don't have to co-parent any child with him. I'd have to love my children; loving him was optional.
Most people with huge insurmountable issues show red flags early on. Don't be naive or ignorant. If you see blazing red flags, RUN!! Run as fast and as far as you can.