Just about had enough
I'm back! Sorry for the length, but once I started I couldn't stop the flow of information. After about two years since the last time I (39M) was here to ask for advice about my marriage and my wife's (41F) very apparent mental health issues, the past 6 weeks has driven me to really consider divorce for the first time.
You can read the first two parts of my story in my profile.
After Part 2, we continued in MC through the end of 2017 and the counselor got her to understand that perhaps it was the right thing that I took her to the hospital in summer of 2016, that they helped her whether she realizes it or not. This (along with a change in meds) led to things stabilizing and we ended up having a very good 2018 - her mood was stable, she worked very hard to get a middle school teaching certificate and got a new teaching position, which she loved. I don't remember one single significant disagreement in all of 2018 up through January of this year. Our kids (now 8F and 2F) were happy and thriving, our families were happy that everything was going well. We were kind to each other. I (naively, I know now) thought that things had turned around for good.
That's when everything went off the rails. In January of this year, she started saying she needed to take "mental health" days due to stress at work - OK, we all get stressed, so I didn't object, even though alarm bells were starting to quietly go off in my head. Things progressed from one day off here and there to 4 days off a few weeks later due to the stress to full blown panic attacks where she couldn't breathe and her heart was racing so badly she had to lie down. This led to her taking (ANOTHER) leave of absence from work, which ended up extending through the end of the school year and losing her position.
This was her 5th teaching job she's quit due to panic attacks in the 9 years we've been married. Quitting led her into a deep depression - the worst she's ever had - that lasted SIX MONTHS. It was so f***ing frustrating to work my butt off each and every day, and have her lay in bed all day while I cook, clean, take care of the kids. And each time she quits, she blows up our finances and leaves me to pick up the pieces. I was quite angry and bitter at this and kept no secrets about what I was feeling. I make very good money, but we're in a more expensive house in a more expensive area of town and this time I put my foot down. At first, I thought we were going to have no choice but to sell our house if she wouldn't go back to work. But in May I finally sat down and did the numbers - if we stretched, we could make it, but we had to stop all retirement and college investing and no more Catholic school for our oldest - she could go to the public school in our neighborhood (which happens to be a top 3 school in the city, btw). She reluctantly accepted but now the panic attacks changed to being about the change in schools.
During this time of depression, I was accused of numerous things - wanting to leave her, trying to abandon our family, staring at other women all through Disneyland (an ongoing theme if you read the other two posts), and of saying that our marriage "wasn't a lifetime thing." None of these were true.
She lied several times about going to her outpatient hospitalization program to both me and her parents. I scolded her one time and it turned the tide, but only for a short time. The last time she lied about it I was traveling for work and while I was on the plane she texted me that she was leaving... 15 min. later, she texted that she was at therapy (therapy was a good 25 min. away), and sent her dad the same texts. Yet, I could see movement on the motion detector in our house - more than the dog would make! I told her parents that she had lied, they rushed to our house thinking she had f***ing killed herself and found her laying in bed depressed. After that, her dad was at the house every morning to make sure she went to therapy.
End of the summer comes and after trying several medications to get her out of the depression, her doctor puts her on a new med for bipolar depression (will come back to this). She starts coming out of it and starts looking for a new job against the advice of everyone. She lands one teaching 2nd grade. She loves the school, the principal is good, and she's joining a large and supportive team. Depression symptoms disappear. Woo hoo! We're all happy. She was good for about 2-3 weeks...
Instead of going back into depression, though, she ramped even further out of it and into what I can only describe as a manic state. I now know that this is exactly what happened in 2016 and 2017 when she'd come out of similar depressions. She started suffering from insomnia, complaining about co-workers sabotaging her, and at the beginning of October, came home one day and wouldn't talk to me. She went to the bedroom and called her dad. Next thing I know, I'm walking the kids to the mailbox and her dad is driving up to our house. He says that my wife told him I'm addicted to porn, that I've been spending thousands on it. WTF?!?!?
I explained this was not true. He went in and explained this to her. When he left, I had a sit-down with her and asked her to ask me anything she wants to ask - she asks if I'm addicted to porn. "No." She asks if I have cheated on her. "No, I haven't." I ask where this is coming from - she says it's just a feeling she has. I should have taken her to the hospital then and there but I was so pissed at being accused of infidelity AGAIN, that I didn't think about it.
Next day, I'm working in my home office and two people show up at the front door. They say they're from my wife's school and she's having some kind of attack. I look and she's in the lady's car with her head in her hands, looking like she's just absolutely freaking out. I go in to get an anxiety pill thinking it's just another panic attack. When I come back out, she's walking to the stairs and says "It's you! You motherf**ker!!! You're hurting them!!" - long story short, she starts accusing me of hurting our children, she won't take the pill, she crawls up the stairs in hysterics, lays face down on the kitchen floor and starts chanting names - mine, my dad's, her dad's, Donald Trump, etc. as people who are hurting the kids. I call 9-1-1, paramedics and police come, and police end up leading her off in handcuffs and take her to the hospital. While she was in the police car, she doubled down and accused me of not only hurting the kids but touching them as well. She ended up spending 3 nights in the hospital but they wouldn't make a diagnosis. Instead, she somehow convinced the NP there that she was fine and I was the problem!
Since then she's been extremely hostile to me and her dad. Very sarcastic, mocking me, verbally abusive, telling people I made up the whole thing because I want her to be like my schizophrenic mother and put her on more pills. She wonít let anyone (even her mother) tell her she needs to take her meds. I called her doctor one day to report her behavior and his staff stupidly called her phone back instead of mine - this really set her off. She started in on me, calling me a fat motherf**ker, obese, disgusting, a piece of sh*t. Threatening to call a lawyer if I ever call her doctors again. When I told her she was being abusive, she said "then divorce me!!" You name it - she called me it. I have been very cold toward her since that night.
I was even falsely accused last weekend of texting with our daughter's cheerleading coach. She still says I said our marriage wasn't a lifelong thing - I told her no matter how many times she says it, it won't come true.
I've begun seeing a therapist again to keep my own sanity as this is all making me feel quite depressed. He's told me (and my wife's therapist has told me) that she absolutely is bipolar - evidenced by the depression that was resistant to so many drugs and the mania accompanied by delusions. I have no doubt in my mind that this is what I'm dealing with. And I have no doubt in my mind that this is never going to change. We're supposed to go to back to the marriage counselor next week, but I don't know how much good it will do anymore.
Is now the right time to call a lawyer and get a consult? Should I wait until after MC? My worry is that if I start the process of divorce, I will irreparably damage my daughters (my oldest especially). I make enough money to keep the house on my own (my wife doesn't) and I'll be able to move up in my career and make more money if needed. But what would custody look like? What can I do to make sure that my wife's mental health doesn't bleed over into the divorce? How can I minimize the effect on my kids? Is this even the right thing???