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Whew, where to start. My wife has a history of mental illness and has been medicated and hospitalized in the past. I was told by doctors to watch for triggers and changes in behavior. She is belemic, self destructive and comes from a family filled with toxic relationships. Most friends and family try to help but she is currently on an upswing of acceptance by her family.

We moved out of state about a year and a half ago to try and have our own family vs. an extension of her parents. We chose a place 600 miles away that she lived briefly before and she loved. About 6 months in I could see the spiral starting. She never has been able to leave the nest for more then a year without her mother convincing her what is best for her and come back to the control. She is 31.

There is no way to try and explain it all immediately here without writing a novel. After years of changing the ways I can communicate with her nothing works now. Refuses meds and is in denial. I was getting very nervous and scared, mostly for our 3yo daughter. She was pushing me away more and more but confiding in someone behind closed doors. Work was suffering, she couldn't keep a job for more than 3 months and ruining friendships with people that we have met here.

I started calling people from work and friends to find out what was going on. She had become self destructive with everyone including bouncing checks on purpose, starting fights with neighbors, landlord, bosses, coworkers you name it and now I am the enemy and the reason. Oh, she's three months pregnant.

So she packs up and runs home. Said the only way for us to be together is for me to accept guilt for her activity here, pack up our life and move across the street from her mother. The town is an hour and a half from a major highway and has no way for me to work other then as a hand on her dads fishing boat. Her family validate her, Mom for control, Dad to stay out of the line of fire and get me (someone reliable) to help him, Brother ran to the coast guard and is always overseas, Older sister is just as bad with her husband and 4 kids. It is a dead end.

My lawyer wants me to file for abandonment(left me alone in a 4 bedroom home) unfit mother and custody. She said I need help and she is where her support group is. Everyone else she has shunned including advice doctors have given her in the past. I cant even get to the talking part without getting hung up on.

I am trying to keep my mind straight and any advice would be great. If I move there I will feel like a broken workhorse that should just sit in the corner until Im told to do something. Or I get ugly legally like i know I can.

As of right now I have a letter with examples of behavior and begging her to recognize things. People have tried to call her but she is in a shell. I haven't sent it yet. Help.
 

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Forget the letter; don't send it.

Hire a GREAT lawyer and FIGHT LIKE H*LL FOR YOUR DAUGTHER and your unborn child. You can feel pity for your wife's mental disease and STILL NOT BUY INTO living with it. If she refuses her meds, refuses help, etc. then YOU KNOW NOTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE! YOU KNOW THIS.

YOUR kids will get only ONE CHANCE at childhood; it will set WHO THEY ARE for a lifetime. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE give them the BEST CHANCE at a healthy childhood, a drama-free upbringing.

GET A DIVORCE, get your kids safe, sane & healthy, put a good life together for yourself and them. Pray for your wife. ALWAYS speak respectfully to (and around) your children about their mother. She IS their mother and she didn't ask to be sick. Do not allow ANYONE to speak disrespectfully about her around you or the children (your kids will thank you some day).
 

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Fixit, welcome to the TAM forum. I agree with the advice given you by Slowly. I would only add that, because it is believed that mental disorders like bipolar and BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) are partly due to genetics and partly due to childhood environment, it is important you know what it is you -- and your two children -- are dealing with. Yet, because therapists usually withhold a BPD diagnosis from the patient suffering from it (for her own protection), there is not much chance you would find that out from HER therapists.

I therefore suggest you see your own psychologist -- for a visit or two by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion. It is important to obtain advice from a professional who is ethically bound to protect YOUR interests, not HERS. I found out the hard way that relying on my BPDer exW's psychologist for advice during the marriage is as foolish as relying on her attorney's advice during the divorce.
 

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Thank you both for your replies. A couple of things for a little more insight. She has in the past has wanted help. Just not now because of the influence of her sister and mother. I was told by our MC and her resident psycotherapist in a private visit while she was hospitalized about her bipolar diagnosis. Her mother refused to come in for sessions while she was in the hospital and that is why we tried to distance ourselves from her toxic family. This is a cycle and probably never going to stop. I don't want my children to be taken from their mother and that side of their family i am trying to find a way to try and get her some help without it being forced on her. I love my wife and want her to get help with my support or without. For our kids and for everyones future.
 

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I was told by our MC and her resident psycotherapist in a private visit while she was hospitalized about her bipolar diagnosis.
Fixit, perhaps they are telling you the whole truth. Perhaps she suffers only from bipolar. Yet, a recent study of 35,000 American adults (pub. 1980) found that HALF of the bipolar-1 sufferers also suffer from BPD. Moreover, it is well known both inside and outside the psychiatric profession that therapists generally withhold the name of the disorder when a person has BPD (for her own protection). It therefore is unlikely, if she has full blown BPD, her therapist would have told her, much less tell her H or exH or you. For a more detailed explanation of why that withholding occurs, please see my post at http://talkaboutmarriage.com/general-relationship-discussion/48178-its-official-im-getting-divorced.html#post811909.
We tried to distance ourselves from her toxic family.
Generally speaking, toxic family enviornments do not give rise to bipolar but, rather, to personality disorders such as BPD. Because bipolar is caused by a chemical imbalance in the body, it is inherited and thus occurs regardless of whether the person had a normal loving childhood or not.

Yet, because BPD is believed to have a genetic component, the two are often seen occurring in the same person, as I noted above. No scientist has yet proven to a certainty what it is that causes BPD. It is generally believed, however, that it primarily arises from childhood abuse or abandonment and that genetics seems to play a significant role too. For a brief description of the differences between bipolar and BPD symptoms, see my description at http://talkaboutmarriage.com/general-relationship-discussion/55435-long-distance-trust-issues-best-sex-ever-cant-live-without-you-fighting-help.html#post1051089.
 

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Wow, um, thank you. Your links and searching just beyond bipolar, eating disorders and self distructive paterns has opened my eyes and mind to something that, you are right, probably was held from me and her. That would explain alot of the doctors insistance of constant and almost daily therapy. I do have an apointment next week to see a therapist to try and keep my thoughts straight and i hope this person will be honest about what is going on so i can move forward. Thank you and any more research would help educate me.
 

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I do have an apointment next week to see a therapist to try and keep my thoughts straight and i hope this person will be honest about what is going on so i can move forward.
The problem is not a lack of honesty but, rather, a lack of disclosure. If the new therapist is seeing only YOU, however, he will be ethically bound to protect your interests and thus will be candid. Of course, he cannot make a formal diagnosis without your W present. Yet, based on your years of experiences with her, he can say "It sure sounds like you are dealing with...." I made the mistake of taking my BPDer exW to six different psychologists -- for 15 years -- and relying on them for a candid diagnosis. It never occurred to me that I should have been seeing a psych who was treating only me.
Thank you and any more research would help educate me.
Significantly, several behaviors you describe -- e.g., event-triggered mood changes, verbal abuse, self destructive behavior, temper tantrums, anger issues with neighbors, and always being "The Victim" -- are some of the classic traits of BPD. I therefore suggest you read my post about typical BPD traits in Maybe's thread at http://talkaboutmarriage.com/general-relationship-discussion/33734-my-list-hell.html#post473522. If that description rings a bell, Fixit, I would be glad to discuss it with you and point you to good books and online resources.
 

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Yes, eerily accurate in some ways. It is some what of a relief that there is information out there to help me deal with watching these patterns. I am an engineer so collecting information like a sponge just helps my analytically personality. Hence Mr. Fixit. I know I need as much help as I can get for myself and my wife. All of my efforts up to this point obviously haven't produced the results I was hoping for. I have felt like i am on a train platform with a choice in trains that are headed in opposite directions and leaving immediately. Now i feel i can assess and take the next train, witch ever one i decide. I slowed my reading down during "Walking on Egg Shells" and am trying not to use it to validate myself but more to understand my own feelings. Yes, any more resources would be very welcome and thanks again. Being able to breathe is nice.
 

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Yes, eerily accurate in some ways.
Accurate in what ways specifically? For example, does your W throw temper tantrums filled with verbal abuse every 2 or 3 weeks? Or, rather, does she punish you, instead, by withdrawing into icy silence and passive aggressive behaviors when her anger is triggered? I ask because almost all online information is about the former, i.e., about the "acting out" BPDers. There are a few good articles, however, about the "acting in" BPDers.
It is some what of a relief that there is information out there to help me deal with watching these patterns.
Yes, exactly, by identifying the pattern -- instead of looking only at individual traits (e.g., verbal abuse) -- you can increase your understanding a hundred fold. Of course, you will NOT be able to diagnose her. Only a professional can determine whether her traits are so severe as to meet 100% of the diagnostic guidelines.

Spotting the red flags, however, is not difficult if you take time to learn which traits are on the list. This is because BPD traits constitute a "spectrum disorder" that affects all of us to some degree. Indeed, we all occasionally exhibit all nine BPD traits, albeit at a low level if we are emotionally healthy. And we occasionally will exhibit them at a strong level, as occurs when our BPD traits flair up during a very stressful event that makes us very angry.

This means you already know what these traits feel like on the inside and look like on the outside. For example, every time you experience very strong emotions, you experience the thought distortions that are typical of BPD. The difference, then, is that BPD sufferers experience them more intensely, more persistently, and more frequently.
All of my efforts up to this point obviously haven't produced the results I was hoping for.
If your W suffers from a PD such as BPD, that will continue to be true even after this point. There is absolutely nothing you can do to fix her. She must have the self awareness and ego strength to want to fix herself. Very few PD sufferers do -- even though there are many excellent treatment programs available.
I am trying not to use it to validate myself but more to understand my own feelings.... I am an engineer so collecting information like a sponge just helps my analytical personality. Hence Mr. Fixit.
With respect to machines, yes, it is the "analytical" aspect of your personality that makes you "Mr. Fixit." With respect to people, however, it is the "excessive caregiver" aspect of your personality that makes you try to fix people like your wife. The analytical part of your mind already knows that is an impossible task and likely thinks you are a fool for trying. Yet, until you are convinced of the futility at a deep emotional level, you likely will keep trying. I am the same way. It took me 15 years to learn that it is impossible to make an unhappy person become happy. She must learn how to do that for herself.

The main problem we have is that our desire to be needed (for what we can do) far exceeds our desire to be loved (for the men we already are). The best explanation of how we came to be this way, during our childhoods, is provided by therapist Shari Schreiber at DO YOU LOVE TO BE NEEDED, OR NEED TO BE LOVED?. Please be patient -- the last half of that article is much better than the first half.

If that article rings a bell, you likely have so much empathy -- and such low personal boundaries -- that it is difficult for you to know where YOUR problems stop and HER problems begin. They all blend together in a haze. I was the same way. I therefore found that, by first understanding the nature of my exW's problems, I could more easily see -- through subtraction -- the remaining part I was responsible for.

This "backwards approach" to understanding yourself often works so well because it is far easier to see another person's problems than our own. I therefore understand what you mean when you say, "I am trying not to use it to validate myself but more to understand my own feelings."
Yes, any more resources would be very welcome.
As an initial matter, if you ever start suspecting your W has strong BPD traits, I recommend that you NOT tell her. If she is a BPDer, she almost certainly will project the accusation right back onto you, believing YOU to be the BPDer. Instead, simply encourage her to see a good psychologist (not a MC) and let the psych decide what to tell her.

Second, I suggest that, while waiting for your therapist appointment, you read Stop Walking on Eggshells, the best-selling BPD book targeted to spouses like you. (The second-best selling BPD book is I Hate You, Don't Leave Me.) If your therapist concludes that your W likely has strong BPD traits, and if you decide to divorce her, get Splitting: Protecting Yourself when Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist because leaving a BPDer can get nasty really quickly. It is written by the Eggshells author.

Third, if your therapist suspects BPD, I suggest you start participating (or at least lurking) at BPDfamily.com -- the largest and most active BPD forum I've found that is devoted fully to the spouses and family members of BPDers. This issue is such an enormous problem that that website is growing by 20 new members every day. The result is that it offers eight separate message boards on various BPD issues. The ones that likely will be most helpful to you are the "Staying" board, "Leaving" board, and "Raising a Child when One Parent Has BPD."

Fourth, while you are at BPDfamily.com, I suggest you read the excellent articles in their resources section. My favorite is "Surviving a Breakup with Someone with BPD" at T9 Surviving a Break-up with Someone Suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder - Columbia University, New York.

Fifth, I again suggest you see a clinical psychologist -- for a visit or two by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is you are dealing with -- and how likely it is she may pass it on to your children. If your upcoming therapy meeting is not with a psychologist, I suggest you also make an appointment with a psychologist -- i.e., having a PhD in psychology -- who will be better trained in identifying mental disorders.

Finally, please don't forget those of us on this TAM forum. We want to keep trying to answer your questions and providing emotional support as long as you find our shared experiences helpful. Moreover, by sharing your own experiences here, you likely will be helping numerous other members and lurkers.
 

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Accurate in what ways specifically? For example, does your W throw temper tantrums filled with verbal abuse every 2 or 3 weeks? Or, rather, does she punish you, instead, by withdrawing into icy silence and passive aggressive behaviors when her anger is triggered? I ask because almost all online information is about the former, i.e., about the "acting out" BPDers. There are a few good articles, however, about the "acting in" BPDers.
I should have been more accurate and I hope i have taught myself to use quotes correctly. From Stop Walking on Egg Shells she fits into all five aspects of lower-functioning BP's and I have seen too many to list consistent examples of each in every aspect of our relationship.

Yes, exactly, by identifying the pattern -- instead of looking only at individual traits (e.g., verbal abuse) -- you can increase your understanding a hundred fold. Of course, you will NOT be able to diagnose her. Only a professional can determine whether her traits are so severe as to meet 100% of the diagnostic guidelines.

Spotting the red flags, however, is not difficult if you take time to learn which traits are on the list. This is because BPD traits constitute a "spectrum disorder" that affects all of us to some degree. Indeed, we all occasionally exhibit all nine BPD traits, albeit at a low level if we are emotionally healthy. And we occasionally will exhibit them at a strong level, as occurs when our BPD traits flair up during a very stressful event that makes us very angry.

This means you already know what these traits feel like on the inside and look like on the outside. For example, every time you experience very strong emotions, you experience the thought distortions that are typical of BPD. The difference, then, is that BPD sufferers experience them more intensely, more persistently, and more frequently.
Yes, it does make most things classifiable but I am not blind to the fact I have my role in this by my own actions. I would just like to know how I can better myself and in turn help the people around me.

If your W suffers from a PD such as BPD, that will continue to be true even after this point. There is absolutely nothing you can do to fix her. She must have the self awareness and ego strength to want to fix herself. Very few PD sufferers do -- even though there are many excellent treatment programs available.
I know all I can do is try to lessen the amount of triggers that I cause and try to educate the people that surround her. Being a fixer makes this difficult for me.

With respect to machines, yes, it is the "analytical" aspect of your personality that makes you "Mr. Fixit." With respect to people, however, it is the "excessive caregiver" aspect of your personality that makes you try to fix people like your wife. The analytical part of your mind already knows that is an impossible task and likely thinks you are a fool for trying. Yet, until you are convinced of the futility at a deep emotional level, you likely will keep trying. I am the same way. It took me 15 years to learn that it is impossible to make an unhappy person become happy. She must learn how to do that for herself.

The main problem we have is that our desire to be needed (for what we can do) far exceeds our desire to be loved (for the men we already are). The best explanation of how we came to be this way, during our childhoods, is provided by therapist Shari Schreiber at DO YOU LOVE TO BE NEEDED, OR NEED TO BE LOVED?. Please be patient -- the last half of that article is much better than the first half.

If that article rings a bell, you likely have so much empathy -- and such low personal boundaries -- that it is difficult for you to know where YOUR problems stop and HER problems begin. They all blend together in a haze. I was the same way. I therefore found that, by first understanding the nature of my exW's problems, I could more easily see -- through subtraction -- the remaining part I was responsible for.

This "backwards approach" to understanding yourself often works so well because it is far easier to see another person's problems than our own. I therefore understand what you mean when you say, "I am trying not to use it to validate myself but more to understand my own feelings.
Very fitting from what I have read and will practice the 3 paragraph aproach the article requests you to take. I do not have a problem with critisizim. Ultimately it is what you decide to gain from it. I am looking forward to my visit and seeking help for myself because there are no negitives when it comes to improving your state of mind.


As an initial matter, if you ever start suspecting your W has strong BPD traits, I recommend that you NOT tell her. If she is a BPDer, she almost certainly will project the accusation right back onto you, believing YOU to be the BPDer. Instead, simply encourage her to see a good psychologist (not a MC) and let the psych decide what to tell her.

Second, I suggest that, while waiting for your therapist appointment, you read Stop Walking on Eggshells, the best-selling BPD book targeted to spouses like you. (The second-best selling BPD book is I Hate You, Don't Leave Me.) If your therapist concludes that your W likely has strong BPD traits, and if you decide to divorce her, get Splitting: Protecting Yourself when Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist because leaving a BPDer can get nasty really quickly. It is written by the Eggshells author.

Third, if your therapist suspects BPD, I suggest you start participating (or at least lurking) at BPDfamily.com -- the largest and most active BPD forum I've found that is devoted fully to the spouses and family members of BPDers. This issue is such an enormous problem that that website is growing by 20 new members every day. The result is that it offers eight separate message boards on various BPD issues. The ones that likely will be most helpful to you are the "Staying" board, "Leaving" board, and "Raising a Child when One Parent Has BPD."

Fourth, while you are at BPDfamily.com, I suggest you read the excellent articles in their resources section. My favorite is "Surviving a Breakup with Someone with BPD" at T9 Surviving a Break-up with Someone Suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder - Columbia University, New York.

Fifth, I again suggest you see a clinical psychologist -- for a visit or two by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is you are dealing with -- and how likely it is she may pass it on to your children. If your upcoming therapy meeting is not with a psychologist, I suggest you also make an appointment with a psychologist -- i.e., having a PhD in psychology -- who will be better trained in identifying mental disorders.

Finally, please don't forget those of us on this TAM forum. We want to keep trying to answer your questions and providing emotional support as long as you find our shared experiences helpful. Moreover, by sharing your own experiences here, you likely will be helping numerous other members and lurkers.
Absolutely no! The letter is for me. The psychologist is for me. Telling her what i am thinking would be counter productive and ripping our family apart legally is still an option but not inevitable. About all I can do is talk to people that she still lets in to tell her gently that it would be good for her to talk to someone. As of yesterday there were no options and now I feel that there are some.. as few and unlikely they are. I found Stop Walking last night and absorbed it. I read fast and will read it multiple times. I also started a list off of that book and definitely will check out the other site for more information and understanding of myself and what she could be thinking. Doing this here has helped me more than I thought it would and now understand an unbiased opinion can work wonders. I have a long way to go but I'm up and running and hopefully my story will help others. More to come and thank you.
 
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