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Depressed Wife for 15 years

I’ve edited the original post as I felt I gave too much background information because of my mood at the time of writing it. I hope this one helps with understanding and is briefer.

My wife and I have been married for 17+ years and we’ve known each other for 18+ although she will tell you we’ve known each other for longer since she remembers our very first introduction and I don’t. Overall, she's been depressed for a little over 15 of those years. In any case, we met through a mutual friend. I feel the need to be transparent as possible, but bear with me as I can get long winded.

We are both Christians although she started out a Jehovah’s Witness. Over the course of some arguments, debates and her own research she left that organization.

We both come from broken homes with substance abusing fathers. My stepfather attempted to physically abuse my mother and him and I physically fought about that.

We both had superficial ideas of what a relationship and marriage were. For both of us this was our first serious commitment with anyone. I fully admit in our early years I did not take things seriously. Also, now when things get bad I get distant and find solace in things I enjoy. Writing, artwork, stuff online, etc.

She gets happiness mostly from romance in anything really. Most recently it is The Flash television show, fanfiction and simply anything about it. This absorbs nearly all of her time and makes her neglectful in many areas of the house that she is not forced to give attention to like the children. She is a SAHM, been one since our first child. It was a mutual choice, but as you will see below, it has also become one of the reasons for her depression. At least that’s what she told me in the past although she will deny it now at times.

When I officially met my wife as I see it, she was involved in a relationship with one of my best friends. I say relationship, but she was more like his side woman while he embarked in serious relationships with other women. I won’t get into the minutia of details, suffice to say she was never really in a good relationship before me.

When we got together I’d like to say it was love, but in hindsight I wonder if it was infatuation that drove us. Early years were fun and we were interested in each other. She was in college and I was in the military. She had dreams and ambitions, but there were signs of some issues as well.

One main thing I want to point out from our history is that she blames me for her career and dream goals crashing. This is because we debated the issue of fame and its influence on a family. She wanted to be a super diva the likes of Madonna, Beyonce, etc. Don’t get me wrong, my wife is very talented. So far I have only heard her sing and unfortunately, I’ve never seen her act. Still, we disagreed about how a husband should follow his famous wife and how children should be involved in Hollywood, etc. I believe she took my disagreements with that lifestyle as disapprove with her pursuit of stardom. I just wanted to be the husband whose identity was relatively kept in private and not have my children’s or my life decided before we had a say in it. That seemed to have been what she had planned out. I say I believe she blames me because she has told me so in so many words. I bring this up because I feel it is relevant.

Fast forward. My wife officially started showing symptoms of depression after we had our first daughter, it got worse after the second and even worse when we had our son and later our last daughter. When we had our son she tried to persuade me to abort him. Of course, I was upset and that conversation did not go very well.

Later, her depression worsened as our financial situation unraveled. I’ve been the sole breadwinner of the household since the first child. My wife has tried to find employment, but due to having a college degree and being out of work for so long she has not achieved that. Now, she simply thinks it is impossible no matter how reasonable an argument you make that she has to keep trying. I see this as part of the depression also. We lost our house in 2015 due to a job I was laid off from and the bank at that time not willing to work with us after I got behind on the mortgage. The therapist says things like this helped elevate her depression, anxiety, ocd tendencies and personality disorders. (I can’t recall if she is BPD or something else, see below the reason why).

My wife has also been suicidal in the past before she met me and after she met me. It comes and goes. She has also been going through an identity crisis since becoming a mother. She said she lost herself to motherhood. Despite wanting children she has also blamed me for having children as well in the past. Although now she denies that she ever did and she denies she blamed me for losing her dreams and ambitions.

I also suspect moving away from family hasn’t helped much either.

Now that our children are older and no longer fully dependent on her, but still somewhat dependent. She has shifted to living vicariously through them. She’ll say she really has nothing to live for other than to ensure her children have a happy life and to find happiness in them.

We have seen two therapists. Once when I was in the military who prescribed her Zoloft. Another off and on recently as finances allow. This therapist does not believe in pharmaceuticals unless they are absolutely necessary. She has been mostly in diagnosis stage for my wife and she believes in seeing us together so we can work on it as a couple. As I’ve said, I’ve edited this post to cut down on a great deal of the minutia and because when I wrote it, I was more venting and ranting than anything.

This is starting to get long so I want to add a few things about my flaws for transparency. I have anger, frustration and resentment issues that have developed over the years. I am the type of person who lets things fester and then they explode. I have never wanted to be an overbearing husband so I try to go out of my way to not be that, however, I believe in doing that I have created an atmosphere where I should have said what I wanted in a woman early in the relationship. The problem is I had no idea what that was at the time, I’ve only began to figure it out through my time with my wife. I don’t want misery, negativity, depression, neglect for responsibilities, playing the blame game constantly, etc. I want to be able to sit down and have a disagreement, work it out, converse about differing opinions, have interest in each other, each other’s hopes and dreams, projects, etc.

Sometimes I get mad and act out. I have never hit my wife and never will. I believe from her words that my frustration, resentment, and anger makes me bitter and then I turn into a person who doesn’t want to listen to her and throws up just as many walls as she does. So she says that when I say I want her to be confident that my not listening to her opinion, etc. destroys her confidence. I want to add here that there are certain subjects she and I are perfectly fine disagreeing on and coming to a mutual understanding, agree to disagree, or forced compromise. Then there are certain subjects, like politics recently, that we can’t seem to have a heated debate about without her often feeling I disrespected her opinion. I’m a person of facts and reason, she’s more a person of emotional argument. She always tells me later when we have the same conversation that it’s about my delivery. Yet, my problem with that is that despite me being calm, she still does not seem to receive the issues I bring up, especially if it comes to depression or anything on her end.

For more transparency, I have fantasized about being separate from her. What it would be like with a normal person. I’ve wondered if I am the cause of all this. If I’m the toxic person in the relationship. Sometimes I feel I am and she would’ve been better off with someone else. However, I have my disagreements with divorce from a Christian perspective and from someone who grew up without really having a father present in the house or knowing that fatherless or motherless homes can do damage to children.

I have written enough and I’m close to making this as long as the old thread again. However, looking at my word count, I cut it down to way under half of the old one.

Thanks for reading, any support and advice is welcome.
 

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First off, being a military wife is NOT the easiest role to do, speaking from personal experience. 10 years in if it, and I'm still jumping through hoops with it sometimes lol. So kudos to her for making it through that.

Second, any advice or ideas I give are not from a medical background...no medical degrees here. Okay?

Now, it really does sound like your wife has a bad case of postpartum depression and/or major depressive disorder. Usually these are treated with pharmaceuticals, but there is another method you can use that isnt all that expensive. Try having her take Vitamin D3 every day and see if that helps her mood. A lot of women are deficient in it (myself included), and has shown in medical studies to help boost a person's mood.

Next is you. You are a veteran, and you should have access to the VA. I'd you have deployed, I'll put this bluntly: GET YOUR BUTT THERE FOR PTSD TESTING!!! Look dude, if ain't no crime nor is there a stigma attached to going to see the mental health clinic for it. Just from your post, you show several clinical signs of it. It would help your marriage out a lot to get the free help that is available. I've seen Vietnam, Korean, and even OIF soldiers there. Okay? Please dont be one of the 22? Okay?
 

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Akinaura, thanks for your response. I will ask her about the Vitamin D3. The Therapist has her on this stuff called Mood Support, can't remember if I put that in the above post.

I'm not a combat veteran, but I will consider being checked out as I have experienced traumatic events in my life.

Thanks again!
 

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I can’t recall if she is BPD or something else, see below the reason why).
ElRoy, you say your W's therapist says stress has helped "elevate her... personality disorders" -- but you cannot recall if the personality disorder is BPD. I therefore observe that the behaviors you describe -- i.e., repeated suicidal episodes, lacking a strong self identity, controlling demands, temper tantrums, verbal abuse, black-white thinking, always being "The Victim," and rapid flips between Jekyll (adoring you) and Hyde (devaluing you) -- are classic warning signs for BPD.

Significantly, I'm not suggesting that your W has full-blown BPD. Only a professional can determine that. Rather, I'm suggesting she may be a "BPDer," i.e., a person who exhibits strong BPD traits which can make your life miserable regardless of whether they are so severe as to exceed the diagnostic threshold. Hence, given your decision to remain married to her, I recommend you consult with a psychologist to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is that you and your children will be dealing with.

The therapist says... [she has] depression, anxiety, ocd tendencies.
If your W really does have full-blown BPD, it would not be surprising that she also suffers from those co-occurring "clinical" disorders. A large-scale American study found that, for female BPDers, 80% also suffer from a mood disorder such as depression and 81% also suffer from an anxiety disorder. See Table 3 at 2008 Study in JCP.

As Akinaura observes, your W may have "a bad case of postpartum depression." That seems to be a large part of her problem, given that you say her depression started after the first child's birth and got worse after the other 3 births.

Postpartum, however, would not explain the repeated suicidal episodes that occurred prior to childbirth. Indeed, they started before you even met your W. You state that "My wife has also been suicidal in the past before she met me and after she met me. It comes and goes." You also state that her therapist concluded that she has a personality disorder. I note that personality disorders are believed to form in early childhood, not after delivering a baby.

Any support and advice is welcome.
ElRoy, if your W does suffer from strong traits of BPD, there is no way for you to fix it. Indeed, a team of psychologists cannot fix it unless the patient is strongly motivated to fix herself. I therefore suggest that you consult with a psychologist -- for a visit or two all by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is that you and the children are dealing with.

I caution that BPD is a "spectrum" disorder, which means every adult on the planet occasionally exhibits all BPD traits to some degree (usually at a low level if the person is healthy). At issue, then, is not whether your W exhibits BPD traits. Of course she does. We all do. Rather, at issue is whether she exhibits them at a strong and persistent level (i.e., is on the upper third of the BPD spectrum).

Not having met her, I cannot answer that question. I nonetheless believe you can spot any strong BPD warning signs that are present if you take a little time to learn which behaviors are on the list. They are not difficult to spot because there is nothing subtle about behaviors such as verbal abuse, repeated suicide attempts, always being "The Victim," and very weak self identity.

Of course, learning to spot these warning signs will not enable you to diagnose your W's issues. Although strong BPD symptoms are easy to spot, only a professional can determine whether they are so severe as to constitute full-blown BPD. Yet, like learning warning signs for a stroke or heart attack, learning those for BPD may help you avoid a very painful situation -- e.g., avoid staying in a toxic marriage and avoid running into the arms of another woman just like her.

I therefore suggest you take a quick look at my list of BPD warning signs to see if most sound very familiar:


  1. Black-white thinking, wherein she categorizes everyone as "all good" or "all bad" and will recategorize someone -- in just a few seconds -- from one polar extreme to the other based on a minor infraction;
  2. Frequent use of all-or-nothing expressions like "you always" and "you never;"
  3. Irrational jealousy and controlling behavior that tries to isolate you away from close friends or family members;
  4. A strong sense of entitlement that prevents her from appreciating your sacrifices, resulting in a "what have you done for me lately?" attitude and a double standard;
  5. Flipping, on a dime, between adoring you and devaluing you -- making you feel like you're always walking on eggshells;
  6. Frequently creating drama over issues so minor that neither of you can recall what the fight was about two days later;
  7. Low self esteem;
  8. Verbal abuse and anger that is easily triggered, in seconds, by a minor thing you say or do (real or imagined), resulting in temper tantrums that typically last several hours;
  9. Fear of abandonment or being alone -- evident in her expecting you to “be there” for her on demand, making unrealistic demands for the amount of time spent together, or responding with intense anger to even brief separations or slight changes in plans;
  10. Always being "The Victim," a false self image she validates by blaming you for every misfortune;
  11. Lack of impulse control, wherein she does reckless things without considering the consequences (e.g., binge eating or spending);
  12. Complaining that all her previous BFs were abusive and claiming, during the first few months of your relationship, that you are the only one who has treated her well;
  13. Mirroring your personality and preferences so perfectly during the courtship period (e.g., enjoying everything and everyone you like) that you were convinced you had met your "soul mate;"
  14. Relying on you to center and ground her, giving her a sense of direction because her goals otherwise keep changing every few months;
  15. Relying on you to sooth her and calm her down, when she is stressed, because she has so little ability to do self soothing;
  16. Having no close long-term friends (unless they live a long distance away) even though she may have many casual friends;
  17. Taking on the personality of whatever person she is talking to, thereby acting quite differently around different types of people; and
  18. Always convinced that her intense feelings accurately reflect reality -- to the point that she often "rewrites history" because she regards her own feelings as self-evident facts, despite her inability to support them with any hard evidence.
If most of those behaviors ring bells and raise questions, I would be glad to discuss them with you, ElRoy.
 
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