Need some help coping with "bipolar" wife
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.
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.
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.
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.