Need some help coping with "bipolar" wife - Page 4 - Talk About Marriage
Physical & Mental Health Issues Marriage and relationships are difficult by themselves, but coping with physical or mental health problems can make things even more difficult.

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post #46 of 74 (permalink) Old 02-28-2015, 10:02 PM
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Re: Need some help coping with "bipolar" wife

Once they seem to convince themselves your against them the uphill battle becomes that much harder. The paranoia feeds the "everybody" else is the problem. My stbx has entrenched herself so deep into her world that the moment anyone trys to get her to see a different perspective she just eliminates them from her life or simply refuses to listen and works that much harder to convince themselves they are right.

Sure you have had the feelings that no matter what you try or what angle you use its a no win scenario in the struggle.
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post #47 of 74 (permalink) Old 03-09-2015, 01:47 PM
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Re: Need some help coping with "bipolar" wife

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I made my first post a while ago in the "If you had known before....would you have gotten married" thread.

I've been mostly lurking the last few months on this board but could really use some guidance. Grab a beer, it's one of those long posts.

Basics:
Wife and I have been married for 19 years this year.
Things were perfect, and I do mean, perfect, no signs of psychiatric issues. She developed breast cancer five years into the marriage. Went through double mastectomy, chemo, radiation, tamoxifen, the works, she was a champ. Really inspiring. Awesome attitude. She had to stop graduate school to deal with the issue. Went back to school after missing two years.

She did well in school until her senior year (age 36) when she started with hyperreligiosity that led to her classmates and teachers becomin frustrated with her. She was becoming increasingly irritable at home; the hyperreligiosity was transmitted to me much later and by others. She barely graduated as her grades plummeted. More and more argumentative, but wanted a child. We tried for only a short time and she became pregnant.

We found out she was pregnant because that was when she had her psychotic break. She peseverated about abdominal pain and in the process became pretty psychotic, mostly delusions. She ended up hospitalized on a psychiatric floor. Of course, I thought the worst--limbic encephalitis, from returning breast cancer, can cause psychosis.....so in prep for MRI she had a pregnancy test, and boom! We found she was pregnant. The MRI revealed nothing, and repeat cancer workup also revealed no cancer. Thank goodness!

She was on the P-floor for a week as they stabilized her. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Because she was pregnant, she was started on haloperidol, which frankly did little. She went to an outpatient psychiatrist, who felt that schizophrenia was the wrong diagnosis, and felt she had bipolar with psychosis; this was based on manic behavior she'd had prior to her psychotic break. Thankfully, our little boy was born with no problems and he is now a healthy seven years old.

Various medications tried over the last seven years. The newer antipsychotics did squat. She is now on Trilafon, an old medication of hers.

Now comes the interesting part:
It turns out she'd been on Trilafon when we'd met. She saw a psychiatrist on a regular basis during the first years of our marriage. The story that she related to me was that she'd had head trauma in 6th grade after being trampled by other kids, and developed seizures. She was started on phenobarbital. During a summer program at the beginning of college, she'd stopped the phenobarbital and in the process of withdrawing from the medication, she'd been psychotic, sent home, hospitalized on a P-floor. Was on Trilafon afterward. Based on that logic, her P-doc finally decided to wean her off the medication, after all, why keep her on a medication that was for a side effect from withdrawing from another....15 years prior? It was about the time she was being withdrawn that she developed the new psychiatric symptoms.

Worse:
I didn't know about the prior hospitalization untli the psychotic break I witnessed. Now I'm wondering whether she was simply schizophrenic all along....and the disease does worsen with age.

So there's the background information. That brings me to now.

I am currently at my wits' end. Even on Trilafon, which thankfully stops the worst of the psychosis, she is quite obviously depressed. She is always irritable. She is always snapping at our son for no good reason. She spanks him sometimes when not appropriate, and I have intervened to stop this behavior. I can't have a normal adult conversation with her becausae even something reasonable like "hey, the floor is wet because you left the shower curtain out of the bathtub" becomes a major fight, with her yelling and me trying to be reasonable.

When I am home, I usually stay with my son, or take him out with me, so that he is not exposed to this behavior 24/7. Unfortunately, in my career, I frequently work 10-12 hours a day and sometimes more, so I cannot be home more. Luckily, I have at least some (not all) weekends off and I treat my son to a dose of normal parent behavior.

I have tried to be supportive, I have spoken to the psychiatrist, I have tried to engage her family (thankfully, they are supportive toward me as the same irritable behavior she shows toward my son and me she exposes to them too).

I have come to the realization that no medication is going to help her. We have tried many, and none has worked well; the Trilafon seems to be the best of them. Even a second psychiatric opinion led to the conclusion of "what else can be done?"

I am a patient person by nature, but I have to take care of myself and my son. As I type this, she is at church with my son, and I am cleaning house as she has decided that in the last few months that she can't do that. She doesn't want to help herself. She doesn't do anything to try to get a job, yet she won't apply for disability. She is quite comfortable asking for money above and beyond the reasonable allowance I give her. In that, I acknowledge enabling some of her behavior.

In short, I am thinking about leaving and taking my son, and making her move in with her parents, until she decides what will make her happy in life. The way it looks to me, it's not me that makes her happy.

I'm going to say the same platitudes as others....but I do mean them. First, I do love my wife and recognize that this illness is not her fault. I have full intention of standing by her. To her credit, she is compliant with medication and with P-doc visits and that is why I've stood by her so long. Second, I am really concerned about how the wife's behavior will affect my son. If left to her, he'd never, ever leave the house and of course that's not healthy, so I take him places and allow him to explore. On top of that, the little one is now old enough to understand that his mommy doesn't act like some of the other mommies he's seen helping out in class.However, I am concerned for my own emotional wellbeing.

I am just unsure what I can do to help her when I've done everything I can, even limit access to our money (long story, but she nearly spent us into bankruptcy during the manic phase before she was diagnosed. She has no direct access to our money since then). Should I stay and fight? Should I leave and forget about her? I am so tired of being Dad and Mom to my little one, and having a demanding job where people ask the world of me every day.

HELP!

Thanks for listening to my brain dump if you made it this far....there is more that I've left out but I hope you get the gist of my situation.
She is schizoaffective. The only drugs that are indicated for it are Invega Sustennna, a one month injectable and Invega tabs.

It never ceases to amaze me how behind the times psychiatrists are with diagnoses and treatment meds. I work in a hospital. PM me if you have any questions.
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post #48 of 74 (permalink) Old 03-10-2015, 06:53 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Need some help coping with "bipolar" wife

[Venting]
What a nightmare.
[/Venting]

She is convinced that I am against her. Even making sure that she does her most important job of the day, getting our little guy to school on time, especially since she doesn't want him on private transport (our only other option with this particular school), is a strenuous effort that leads to her venting against both our son and me. Giving the new med a little more time, though; it takes a good 2-4 weeks to assess the effect.

Cobalt, I appreciate the words, but I also work in health care. Schizoaffective disorder is a term that is so abused in psychiatry where I am that I don't even believe it when I read it now. When I see a psychiatrist use it, I immediately question them. It's too bad, because there is a clear definition for it in the DSM-V that is routinely ignored. That is certainly something I can ask the P-doc about.
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post #49 of 74 (permalink) Old 03-12-2015, 08:56 PM
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Re: Need some help coping with "bipolar" wife

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Originally Posted by anonfrank View Post
An update.


I am actively seeking a psychiatrist who specializes in treating difficult bipolar cases like my wife. Unfortunately, this may necessitate travel as most psychiatrists around here, even in our storied academic medical centers, are generalists. If someone can tell me of a good expert somewhere in the U.S., post up. I am trying not to give up, feeling I must protect and help my wife by any means necessary.

.
Anonfrank - I had sent you a PM with a p-doc recommendation. Did you see it?
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post #50 of 74 (permalink) Old 03-16-2015, 10:19 PM Thread Starter
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Need some help coping with "bipolar" wife

I did. Sent you a PM.

New med not helping, and making her feel like a zombie at night. She's at least being cooperative and taking it. We tried the recommended daytime dose and it simply made her tired.

Back to the drawing board. Sigh.

Further, trying to find HER a psychologist for talk therapy. Her psychiatrist is being helpful with leads.

Thankful for this board. At least I can post periodically to vent. Maybe someday I'll come back to this thread as a reminder of a difficult time. Someday....
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post #51 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-12-2015, 07:44 AM Thread Starter
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Need some help coping with "bipolar" wife

Update:

Saw the psychiatrist a few days ago. Wife is doing slightly better but still irritable and concerned about lost things around the house being stolen by people breaking in. Because of slight progress, psychiatrist recommended increasing the dose.

Of course, wife remembers the request to increase as "optional" and if wife thought it was necessary. I saved my energy to force the issue yesterday, in the presence of her mother, there for support. It was a HUGE fight. As she was increasingly obstinate, and her resistance continued to both me and her mother, I finally had to threaten to call 911 and having her placed on a psychiatry floor for help. At that point, she finally relented.

I almost walked out last night to stay at a hotel and begin a single life. I am, honestly, burned out as a caregiver.

My mother-in-law, however, put things in perspective. She is a Pollyanna in thinking that things will be eventually all right......I certainly don't agree given this has been going on for over ten years at this point. However, she lost her husband about six months ago. She told me that even if her husband was in the shape my wife is in, she'd rather have him alive. I didn't know what to say to that. I kinda feel bad for her, her other child is in crisis, too, as a substance abuser living a thousand miles away. She must be as stressed as I am.

A colleague of mine has (had) a wife with mental illness who was going through the same thing as my wife, for many years. She died a couple of weeks ago, likely a suicide. That has also hit me hard. My wife isn't suicidal but anything can happen with bipolar. Watching for that, too, now, that situation has me on edge.

Thanks again for letting me vent. Feeling at rock bottom right now.

I do have a question. Have any of you done the NAMI family to family support groups? I found one locally that of like to attend.

Last edited by anonfrank; 04-12-2015 at 07:48 AM.
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post #52 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-13-2015, 08:00 AM
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Re: Need some help coping with "bipolar" wife

I attended a NAMI group a few times. I didn't find it very helpful. For some reason which I can't really recall since it's been several years, I didn't feel as free to share as other members with much more severe situations, plus it seems like as a "family member" instead of a "patient" (I think there were both patients and family in attendance) less time was allocated for me. But sounds like your situation is very severe and you would be welcomed more than I was. You might want to go and give it a try. Sounds like you desperately need an outlet and some support.

You are a saint. No one not in the situation can understand what it's like to live with the unpredictability of mental illness, what you're going to find when you wake up in the morning, etc. Concerned and well meaning friends ask how my spouse is doing when what I long for is for someone to ask how I am doing. With me, we're not actually sure it's BP or something else - lately I've been thinking perhaps ADD - he discontinued his BP meds and actually does not seem that different but he does exhibit signs of racing thoughts, distractability, hyperactivity, etc. But he shows zero interest in seeing a professional and denies he has racing thoughts. I deal with confusion, hopelessness, depression, anger; sometimes I see a therapist, sometimes we see one together.

Good luck with your situation. With physical illness at least you can name it and treat it and know what to expect but with mental illness it's not so clear. It is terrible to live in confusion and unpredictability.
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post #53 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-13-2015, 09:15 PM
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Re: Need some help coping with "bipolar" wife

Anonfrank - Maybe you should also look into Recovery International, an organization which traces its roots to the writings of Dr. Abraham Low. I knew of one person who went to meetings there a long time ago, and he was very positive about his experience. Good luck, my friend. Keep the faith.
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post #54 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-15-2015, 06:36 AM
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Re: Need some help coping with "bipolar" wife

AnonFrank,

I'm praying for you brother. I think you need more than a support group. It's time you stop surviving and started thriving. You know what you have to do. You can't pump water out of a sunken ship expecting it to float again.

I feel sorry for those with depression, mental illness, hangnails, bad hair, bad childhood memories, etc. I feel sorry for the visually impaired but that doesn't mean I want a blind person flying my airplane and my compassion won't make the flight any safer.

- Unbelievable
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post #55 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-18-2015, 12:48 AM
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Re: Need some help coping with "bipolar" wife

Anonfrank - On another front, has your wife's p-doc sent her in for any periodic blood testing to ascertain that her meds are not causing any potential problems? If not, she should go. But more importantly, you should make sure that she gets tested for Vitamin B-6 and B-12 levels and for Thyroid hormone levels. There has been research that has indicated that low levels of B-6 and B-12 have been associated with psychological conditions such as paranoia, depression and mania (to name a few), and abnormally low levels of thyroid hormone are linked with psychosis.

While I don't want to give you false hope of a "magic bullet," I think the treatment of any abnormal levels may at least improve the efficacy of her meds. Good luck my friend.

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post #56 of 74 (permalink) Old 05-16-2015, 01:54 PM Thread Starter
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Need some help coping with "bipolar" wife

^^^^^
Yes, the psychiatrist monitors blood tests on a regular basis. I also have her taking a Centrum (multivitamin) daily because I do, too.

Posting an update. The new dose of the med caused tooth grinding and cognitive problems so we dropped back to the old dose.

On that dose, she has good days and bad days. On the good days, I am glad to be with her. On the bad days, I am with her but go into caregiver mode. The good and bad days are about evenly divided. I wish we had more good days, but I'll take what I get.

Her biggest complaints are that I step in while she is punishing our son (she feels I am interfering with her authority when I think she's blowing a tiny item out of proportion) and her massive student loan debt, which makes her understandably stressed.

In short, we are doing OK. Not great, but could be worse.

Still feel duped, but it's not her fault she is sick.

Still trying to find a counselor for me. These guys are backed up everywhere around here! Could definitely use one.
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post #57 of 74 (permalink) Old 05-16-2015, 08:04 PM
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Re: Need some help coping with "bipolar" wife

Frank - An Endocrinologist I spoke to recommended that anyone with a B-12 deficiency should get B-12 shots until the B-12 levels are normalized. Then, he places them on sub-lingual (?) vitamins. You did not say if your wife's B-12 levels were low, but if they were, that would be the course of treatment she might need (if only this was the answer!).

On another matter, did you look into Recovery International?

Wishing you peace and strength, my friend.
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post #58 of 74 (permalink) Old 05-22-2015, 02:16 PM
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Re: Need some help coping with "bipolar" wife

My favourite piece of advice in this thread so far, is to enroll your son in daycare or after school activities. So that he is around your wife less often, and also for your wife to have time and space for herself. As someone here mentioned, caring for children can make this illness worse.

"The pain of all your experience is what makes you the person you are now. And without your experience, you are an empty page, a blank notebook, a missing lyric. What makes you brave is your willingness to live through your life experiences and hold your head up high the next day. So don't live life in fear. Because you are stronger now, after everything that has happened, than you ever were back before it started."
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post #59 of 74 (permalink) Old 05-23-2015, 07:20 AM Thread Starter
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Need some help coping with "bipolar" wife

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On another matter, did you look into Recovery International?

Wishing you peace and strength, my friend.

I did. There are no groups in my area. I also discussed with the wife during one of her (now more frequent) lucid periods. She indicated she was happy talking with her psychiatrist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orange_Pekoe View Post
My favourite piece of advice in this thread so far, is to enroll your son in daycare or after school activities. So that he is around your wife less often, and also for your wife to have time and space for herself. As someone here mentioned, caring for children can make this illness worse.

Already done. This summer, he will be in summer camp for fun, and tutoring to be prepared for fourth grade.

Since she is a bit more lucid, she is trying to take the opportunity to exercise (all those mess caused a 70 pound weight gain). I also have another thread going about her considerable student loan debt. I am trying to help her find a part time job.

She still has days when she is just plain crazy. At least I have occasional lucidity to look forward to now.
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post #60 of 74 (permalink) Old 08-16-2015, 04:33 AM Thread Starter
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Need some help coping with "bipolar" wife

It's really sad when your spouse's mom tells you that she can't stand being around her own daughter and asks you how you deal with it.

My MIL actually told me this the other day and thanked me for taking care of her. (Ie thanks for not making her live under her mom's roof so she would have to deal with the crazy b!tch who stole my wife!) So sad.....the worst part is that there's nothing any of us, even a psychiatrist, can do for her.

There are days I wish that we could just institutionalize her for prolonged treatment, as was possible in the 50's and 60's, but now all the institutions are closed.

Still too many days when she is batsh!t crazy even with current meds. She has 2-3 lucid days a week, though, so at least the meds allow that. IC helps me to deal...

Last edited by anonfrank; 08-16-2015 at 07:30 AM.
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