Help me understand this
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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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Old 07-11-2013, 11:51 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Help me understand this

I have seen many people here say their spouse has been diagnosed with BPD or Bipolar, or some other form of mental illness. I have also seen some people say, their spouse can hold it together on the outside, as in in front of other family members, friends, or coworkers, but then they show their true "mental illness" self to their spouse. Why is that? Why can they "hold it together" on the outside, but let it all come out on the inside with their spouse? If that is the case, wouldn't whatever mental illness they have, mean they have some kind of control over it? If they can control it in front of others, why can they not with their spouse etc?
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Old 07-11-2013, 12:06 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help me understand this

I have often wondered the same thing. My husband is like this.

When I mentioned to his family what the therapist said he may have (Bipolar with some BPD traits) they were all so shocked! They couldn't believe it! Yes, some of it could have been they were in denial, but I believe they truly had no idea he had these things. Same with when they found out he was an alcoholic.

They actually told me he never showed any sings of having anything like bipolar etc. while he was growing up, or even now as an adult they never saw any thing like that in him when they are around him. Of course not, he was one way with his family and another way at home. So IMO, it does look as if they have a certain amount of control over things.
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Old 07-11-2013, 02:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Well, there's more than one factor...

(a) Many of the mentally ill acquired that mental illness from their families - and intimate situations tend to trigger their insanity. Eg, my MIL's habit of beating my wife on her birthdays has not translated into delightful celebrations.

(b) Many of the mentally ill are capable of understanding consequences. Mouth off at your husband - divorce is enough of a PITA that you have some leverage. Mouth off at your boss...not so much. So, whatever self-control they have tends to be focused towards people who are willing to hurt them.

(c) If you're crazy, you can often restrain things for 8 hours...but 24 hours is pretty hard.

(d) Most spouses of the mentally ill change their behavior in unhealthy ways to avoid conflict - thereby letting their spouse slide further into crazy.

(e) People with personality disorders are often significantly narcissistic - which means that they compensate for really poor self-esteem by building up a perfect false self and defending that false self very strongly. The easiest pattern involves building up a successful public persona - which is incompatible with acting crazy outside the house. Inside the house, of course, all bets are off unless those behaviors are likely to impact their public persona.

(f) Some people build up a public persona that minimizes exposure to their crazy (eg, quiet and shy - only goes out when they're not depressed.). Unfortunately, this doesn't work once you're married.

--Argyle

Last edited by argyle; 07-11-2013 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 07-11-2013, 05:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help me understand this

Thanks argyle! I guess I just figured the one person who has been there
For him through everything (me) would be the one who didn't get things
taken out on. I sometimes feel I have been the emotional punching bag for anger
and resentment that he may have towards the dysfunctional family who put him
through such chaos! Instead they are the ones who gets treated better and he
can control his mental illness betters round them than with me.
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Old 07-12-2013, 07:08 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks, makes sense. I was reading in another post about BPD and some are saying the same things about being able to hide it better around certain people.
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Old 07-12-2013, 08:19 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I've struggled with mental issues that stem from childhood neglect and abuse. For me it came down to triggers. I was less likely to be triggered at work because my frame of reference didn't include an office. Therefore I operated as a normal human being while in that environment.

Once I got home though all bets were off. My husband would ask some innocent question or give me a look and suddenly I'm 8 and he's morphed into my angry dad. I'm hijacked emotionally and have little awareness of my own behavior. All I know is I'm not safe.

I had no control over this until after lots of therapy.
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Old 07-12-2013, 08:28 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help me understand this

Because they have learned who will tolerate their misbehavior and who won't.
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Old 07-12-2013, 08:31 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Hey Mavash thanks for your reply to this!

You mentioned the word "triggered" which made me wonder if this is part of my problem with my husband. I have often wondered if I have said things that "triggered" him to be upset with me, shut down etc etc. The problem is, I'm not sure what those trigger words might be. Sometimes it makes me feel like I can't say anything at all for fear it might trigger something in him. It could be something simple, or something most people would think wouldn't trigger someone to be upset. I think he is very sensitive to things which makes it hard to say much.

In therapy I have asked if its possible that maybe his actual hurt/anger is from how he feels about his parents and the childhood he had. Of course the counselor has said yes highly possible. So it makes me feel like I'm getting things taken out on me for something others did. But of course when he is around his folks all is well in the world. They could say things to him and have before about just stuff in general, and it be the very same kinds of things I have said, but yet he wasn't "triggered" when they say it, but was triggered by it if I did. I don't get it!
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Old 07-12-2013, 08:40 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by unbelievable View Post
Because they have learned who will tolerate their misbehavior and who won't.
I can see this. However I'm the one who over the years has learned to not tolerate certain behaviors, although deep inside they still bother me and leave me wondering why! I have learned to have boundaries etc. when his thought patterns switch from he is ok, to not ok and he starts in with the blame game, and PA behavior.

His family on the other hand, I have no clue what they will and will not tolerate. According to them they had no clue he had some mental issues, although they were likely the ones to help create them way back when.
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Old 07-12-2013, 08:47 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Hey Mavash thanks for your reply to this!

You mentioned the word "triggered" which made me wonder if this is part of my problem with my husband. I have often wondered if I have said things that "triggered" him to be upset with me, shut down etc etc. The problem is, I'm not sure what those trigger words might be.
The ownership of the trigger is on your husband. It's up to him to be aware, to communicate his needs and to manage his own triggers. You shouldn't have to walk on eggshells out of fear. My husband is fully aware of my triggers and we've negotiated rules of engagement to manage them.

For example I have separation anxiety so I've respectfully asked that he keep in touch with a simple text every few hours when he's out of town. I've asked him to not leave me when I get hijacked emotionally. I ask for help when I'm overwhelmed. If he says something that bothers me I tell him nicely.

I trigger my husband as well so I too have to be mindful of that. He's not as aware as I am so I've studied him and I watch his body language. I can tell when I've lost him and will ask him. He's worked to discuss his feelings with me so we then can discuss what he needs from me as well. Communication and two willing parties is key.
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Old 07-12-2013, 08:51 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Because they have learned who will tolerate their misbehavior and who won't.
My husband never tolerated them which is a big reason why I healed.

He tolerates them now because he knows in his heart I'm doing the best I can. I work hard to self regulate so on the days when I struggle he's not so bothered. He supports and helps me.

I wish I were different but it is what it is. Key is I'm nice now and the help I need is a lot less than it used to be.
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Old 07-12-2013, 09:14 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Mavash, that is true, about how he should have ownership of his own triggers and communicate his needs etc. However, that has yet to happen.

I have talked with my IC about various things and my marriage. She has mentioned how my husband may need a Psychiatrist and that I need to go as well. She feels I should tell the Psychiatrist what all has gone on over the years and explain my husbands behaviors, then let the Psychiatrist determine whats going on etc.

In your opinion do you feel its my place to tell the Psychiatrist what has gone on? I see that as my husband not being accountable for his own behavior, as in he should be the one to explain what has gone on. However, my counselor has said she doesn't think that will happen with him. She also said Most people wont go to a Psychiatrist and say, this is what happened in my childhood, this is how I treat my spouse, my moods change frequently etc. So basically its up to me. I guess I just don't see the accountability in that for him. I want him to be helped but shouldn't he want help enough to go and say what he needs to on his own? I feel if I went and told what was going on, even with him there, at some point there would be more resentment from him towards me because of it.
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Old 07-12-2013, 09:21 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I believe it's up to you to set boundaries for YOU and leave the rest to him. If you do go to counseling stick to what you are not okay with and let the counselor take it.

When I first started it was MC so my husband brought up a few things like my anger and our inability to communicate. The counselor took it from there and I was held accountable.

I tried to blame everything on my husband but she wouldn't let me. LOL
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Old 07-12-2013, 10:47 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AgentD View Post
I sometimes feel I have been the emotional punching bag for anger
and resentment that he may have towards the dysfunctional family who put him
through such chaos!
Posted via Mobile Device
I think sometimes this is the case. It sounds like it could be in yours! The anger really lies toward the people that caused the mess to begin with, but the one wanting to help, gets the short end of the crazy stick and gets beat with.
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Old 07-12-2013, 12:09 PM   #15 (permalink)
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@AgentD
...on one hand, many of the mentally ill will lie through their teeth to their therapist and waste years and years of time.
...on the other hand, it isn't healthy to take responsibility for filling in their therapist.

...one possible trick...when he goes into therapy...let your MC suggest an information-sharing agreement with his therapist. Worked for us.

--Argyle
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