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We have been married for 5 years after a relatively short courtship. 60 days after we were married she had to be hospitalized for 2 weeks with a mixed stated mania. She was diagnosed with Bipolar I. My instincts were to leave, but I went looking for answers. I came to this forum a lot then (2007-08) and searched my soul and decided that even with the illness, I was going to try my best to support her. The next several years were a little blurred with different doctors/meds & such. Finally we got her stable enough to take care of herself and even teach on the college level and I felt like we were on our way to a life. But... as time goes on, things are just getting worse. Not in terms of mania/depression but just severe dysfunction. I can find no common ground and ultimately, I am accused of not doing anything for her at all which hurts because, let me tell you, I try as hard as I can. The harder I try to do things or help her the more viscous she gets. Its mind boggling. Whatever I do, it's wrong. She manufactures this reality that I don't support her, but I can honestly say that I would be embarrassed to admit some of the things I have agreed to in order to be supportive. My feelings and emotions have been trampled and there is nothing I can count on in this marriage. I feel so alone. I do have a very supportive loving family, but now she is attacking that on all fronts and it is shaking me to my core. I have lost all love/compassion I feel for her and find it hard to even look at her. Ok, with all that said...

Why do I find it so hard to leave? She pushes me so far beyond my limits and I say to myself, "Thats it, I cant take this anymore". But just as soon as I think about it, I feel almost crippled like I cant leave. I make excuses like Christmas is coming, we have a vacation planned, I just cant leave now, etc. Then I say to myself that "if she pushes me again though, Im out!" Well she does, but the next time is the same. She pushes and I shut down. I know that it is fear, but why do I care? I mean, she treats me horribly, why do I care what happens to her after I leave?

I apologize for the length of this post, but just another couple details. We have no kids, are in our mid 30's and both educated.

I would sincerely appreciate any advice/wisdom.
 

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Mine has bipolar, too. Common sense says "leave", duty says "stay" and I guess duty wins. If that's your plan, too, you don't have the luxury of emotions, feelings, needs, wants, or frustrations. Forget "fair". That's a place to ride the merry-go-round and eat cotton candy. Like me, you probably don't leave because she has a serious illness and you realize she'd be in an institution, swinging from a rope, or another homeless mental case if you did. Leaving someone because they are sick just sounds dishonorable to me, so it is what it is.
 

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No matter what you do - you are wrong in this woman's eyes. It is severely dysfunctional. The point is, if whatever you do is wrong, why not start to consider yourself. Don't throw your life away, which is what you are doing. Your wife is going to live her life, but you need to move on and live yours. I have been in this emotional prison myself and eventually you realize that you are sacrificing yourself to a situation that will never improve anyway. You are here to be happy and to give to those who want what you have to offer. Have courage and reach out for it.
 

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Why do I find it so hard to leave?...I know that it is fear, but why do I care? I mean, she treats me horribly, why do I care what happens to her after I leave?
Part of the problem is that you are a nice guy and you PERCEIVE yourself as 'a nice guy'. In your book, nice guys hang in there, suck it up, fight the good fight, sacrifice for the good of their family, etc. It's the code in which you were raised.

That being said, you need to remember that these rules for being a nice guy, a dependable guy, a good guy, a mature guy were developed to deal with normal everyday life. YOU'RE NOT LIVING A NORMAL LIFE! You have given it YOUR ALL for 5 L-O-N-G years; and there is no improvement in sight. There will be NO IMPROVEMENT in sight. Your wife has a long-term illness which is what it is.

Now the only question is whether YOU should leave this unhappy, unfulfilling, soul-crushing, toxic relationship (guess which way I'm leaning!).
Originally posted by unbelievable:
Leaving someone because they are sick just sounds dishonorable to me, so it is what it is.
Unbelievable is CERTAINLY entitled to his opinion. If HE couldn't live with himself for leaving his sick wife, then THAT is how he feels and THAT is how he should deal with it. But YOU are NOT unbelievable! If you feel that you have given it your all, if you feel that YOU are deserving of a peaceful, happy, loving, stable, mature, fulfilling, growth-filled relationship (which you obviously THOUGHT you were getting when you married your wife), then THE ONLY WAY you're going to get what you deserve in this VERY SHORT TIME ON EARTH is by leaving with dignity (for both of you) and moving on.

Does that make you a terrible person? NO! A slacker? NO! A quitter? NO! Just a man, a person like the rest of us who is trying to do the best FOR HIMSELF as well as others! Look, you can't be a happy healthy person for your spouse, your parents, your children, your siblings, your friends UNLESS YOU'RE FIRST A HAPPY HEALTHY PERSON. If you're not THAT, then you have NOTHING left to give others. And THAT is the crux of being here...to help others.

Redoak, get yourself into some counseling (it doesn't have to be for years...a couple of months will help you TREMENDOUSLY) to deal with your desire to leave. A counselor can help you deal with the end of your marriage, find a course of action that best helps you decide on WHAT you want for your future and HOW best to achieve that future.

You have NOTHING to feel guilty about. If OTHERS choose to stay in such relationships, that is THEIR business. If you decide to leave yours, that is YOUR business. No-one else is living YOUR life but you; no one else understands it as thoroughly as YOU do.

I, personally, don't believe you get any EXTRA STARS in your crown in heaven for being a martyr. If you do, it's not MY kind of place to hang around for eternity then!
 

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I appreciate everyone's comments. Oddly enough they do represent well the emotions I go through almost daily. On one hand I look at it like unbelievable. There is a lot of truth there. There are certain luxuries that just cant happen in this marriage. And yes, I do feel in my heart that if I leave, she will not be able to take care of herself and either be institutionalized or commit suicide. There is no support from her family.

On the other hand, Slowlygettingwiser hits the other side of my emotions. It is not going to get any better and there are no points for allowing yourself to be beaten. I am a good person and want to enjoy this world with someone. I have been to counseling and read many books, not only on her illness, but codependency (which i definitely am) and toxic relationships. And I will continue, but it just seems to bring me back to the same place which is:

I know that my life will get better when I leave my wife and I also know hers will get worse.

I keep getting stuck in the reason trap, trying to figure this out, but there is no figuring, it just sucks. I think what I feel most days is shock that this is happening. I even have a tendency to talk myself out of it while I am at work just to come home and be slapped in the face with reality. I also have fear that I will cave. If I leave and she cant take care of herself, will I be able to handle that? I mean, if I come back then, it would be disastrous and I would be trapped forever. But how am I going to make it, watching the person I made vows to, spin down to their own destruction? I know that it is not my fault, but i cant get away from that.
 

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I respectfully disagree with JohnDoe, as a co-dependent personality, 'helping her out' would just get you SUCKED BACK IN again.

I know that my life will get better when I leave my wife and I also know hers will get worse.
The ONLY way to make a decision on this is BY YOURSELF. Anything WE SAY will NOT really help you make the FINAL DECISION, it will just give you additional ammo for each side of the argument.

I think it boils down to this:

WHY do YOU THINK you are on this Earth?
What do you think the best use of your life is?
Is there merit (in whatever form you want to call it: 'grace' 'salvation' 'ameliorating sins' 'being a more caring human' whatever) in YOU PERSONALLY living a cr*ppier life so that your wife can live a less cr*ppy life? [I am NOT being sarcastic here.]
Is your calling to be an advocate for your wife? For yourself? For others?

UNFORTUNATELY, only YOU can answer these questions. I do NOT envy you! It will take some real soul-searching.

Please keep coming to TAM and asking questions, venting, seeking advice, giving advice (YOU may have just the answer/suggestion that someone else is seeking...your situation give you a unique perspective). You may have answers in a matter of hours, you may not have them for months. But we'll be here to give you encouragement WHATEVER route you choose.

You are NOT alone!
 

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She was diagnosed with Bipolar I. ... as time goes on, things are just getting worse. Not in terms of mania/depression but just severe dysfunction. ...The harder I try to do things or help her the more vicious she gets. Its mind boggling. Whatever I do, it's wrong.
Redoak, HALF of the people suffering from bipolar-1 also have full blown BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), which my exW has. This finding was not obtained in a small hospital study. Rather, it was obtained in an ambitious 4-year study (pub. 2008) in which nearly 35,000 American adults were examined in face-to-face interviews. It was funded by NIMH (the National Institute of Mental Health). See Table 2 at Prevalence, Correlates, Disability, and Comorbidity of DSM-IV Borderline Personality Disorder: Results from the Wave 2 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

I mention this finding because, due to the strong association of these two disorders, bipolar-1 is often unfairly blamed for very vindictive and abusive behavior -- like the "vicious" actions you mention -- that is one of the hallmarks of BPD.

Significantly, if your W does have strong BPD traits -- and there is a 50% chance she does -- she is capable of exercising control over her abusive behavior if she chooses to do so. There are many excellent treatment programs all over the nation. Although BPD cannot be cured, the therapy programs teach the BPDer clients how to manage their emotions, how to do self soothing, and how to intellectually challenge their intense feelings.

Hence, if your W has BPD and refuses to seek treatment, you are harming her by protecting her from the logical consequences of her own bad behavior. Your enabling behavior, in that case, is allowing her to continue behaving like a spoiled four year old -- and GET AWAY WITH IT. It therefore is important that you establish strong personal boundaries and enforce them, which almost certainly would mean that she will find you intolerable to live with.
I have been to counseling and read many books, not only on her illness, but codependency (which i definitely am) and toxic relationships.
Like you, I am an excessive caregiver (i.e., "codependent"). For guys like us, the notion of walking away from a sick loved one is ANATHEMA. It goes against our family values, our religion, our morals -- indeed, against every fiber of our being. Yet, if your W has strong traits of BPD and refuses to seek therapy, walking away is exactly what you should do. Otherwise, you will destroy her only opportunity to have an incentive to seek therapy.
She was diagnosed with Bipolar I.
That does NOT mean she does not also have BPD. It is well known, both inside and outside the psychiatric community, that therapists are LOATH to tell a client -- much less her H -- the name of her disorder when she has BPD. Instead, the therapist will list only the co-occurring Axis-1 disorders like bipolar and PTSD.

There are many reasons why therapists routinely withhold this information from high functioning BPDers to protect those clients. One reason is that treatment will not be covered by insurance if the diagnosis is BPD but will be covered if it is an Axis-1 disorder like bipolar. (For the other reasons, see my post at http://talkaboutmarriage.com/genera...-official-im-getting-divorced.html#post811909.)

I therefore join Slowly in recommending that you see a counselor. Specifically, I suggest you see a psychologist -- for a visit or two BY YOURSELF -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is you are dealing with. Remember, your W's therapist is NOT YOUR FRIEND. Relying on her therapist for advice during the marriage would be as foolish as relying on your W's attorney during the divorce. It is important you see a professional who is ethically bound to protect your interests, not hers.

I also suggest that, while you are waiting for an appointment, you read my overview of BPD traits to see if most sound very familiar. Of course, you will not be able to diagnose your W. Only professionals can do that. But spotting the red flags (i.e., strong traits) is not difficult when you've been living with someone for five years. My post is in Maybe's thread at http://talkaboutmarriage.com/general-relationship-discussion/33734-my-list-hell.html#post473522. If that description of BPD traits rings many bells, I would be glad to discuss it with you and point you to good online resources. Take care, Redoak.
 

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Leaving someone because they are sick just sounds dishonorable to me.
Unbelievable, having bipolar disorder or BPD does not give one a free pass to be abusive and vicious to one's spouse. Moreover, the folks suffering from these disorders will not have a strong incentive to learn how to manage their issues unless they are allowed to suffer the logical consequences of their own bad choices. It therefore is a big mistake to think of these disorders as comparable to having cancer or a missing leg -- things over which one has no control.
 

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One of the main reasons you cannot leave is that it will take enormous energy to leave. Your energy is consumed in making it from day to day with your wife. (BTDT)

From what you have written you really need to get out of this relationship. You are disappearing. Instead some other co-dependent, mentally exhausted creature is replacing you in your own body. It will come to the point where you will be as mentally ill as she. It is not unusual for the spouse of a person like your wife to develop serious, life-long depression and other mental illnesses.

So now how do you get out when all of your energy is going to get by day to day.

There are two ways.

One is to call a friend/relative now and tell them you are on your way and ask that they let you use their spare room or sleep on their couch for a while. This is cold turkey and very effective.

The other is to make an exit plan. Then instead of needing to muster up all of the energy to walk out in one fel swoop, you can work one step every day or two. It does not take a lot of energy to work each individual step. And at the end of those steps you are free.

How do you feel she will react when if/when you tell her you are leaving?
So what does an exit plan look like?

1) Make appointment with an attorney to see what your rights are in a divorce and to get them to start the paperwork. Do not file until the day you leave.

2) Get all of your and her financial paperwork, passwords, etc. Make copies of them and move those copies to a safe place: your office, a friend/family's house, etc. I used a small 5x5 storage space for this as I did not want to get family involved in this stage.

3) Move as many valuables of yours as possible out of the house to your 'safe place'. Again I used a storage place.

4) Start using a different address and move as of your mail to that address as possible.. you can rent a po box or use the address of friends/family.

5) Open checking/savings accounts in your own name only (if you don't already have this. Get any direct deposits like pay moved to your new account.

6) Move things like clothing to where ever you will be moving to.
 

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We have been married for 5 years after a relatively short courtship. 60 days after we were married she had to be hospitalized for 2 weeks with a mixed stated mania. She was diagnosed with Bipolar I. My instincts were to leave, but I went looking for answers. I came to this forum a lot then (2007-08) and searched my soul and decided that even with the illness, I was going to try my best to support her. The next several years were a little blurred with different doctors/meds & such. Finally we got her stable enough to take care of herself and even teach on the college level and I felt like we were on our way to a life. But... as time goes on, things are just getting worse. Not in terms of mania/depression but just severe dysfunction. I can find no common ground and ultimately, I am accused of not doing anything for her at all which hurts because, let me tell you, I try as hard as I can. The harder I try to do things or help her the more viscous she gets. Its mind boggling. Whatever I do, it's wrong. She manufactures this reality that I don't support her, but I can honestly say that I would be embarrassed to admit some of the things I have agreed to in order to be supportive. My feelings and emotions have been trampled and there is nothing I can count on in this marriage. I feel so alone. I do have a very supportive loving family, but now she is attacking that on all fronts and it is shaking me to my core. I have lost all love/compassion I feel for her and find it hard to even look at her. Ok, with all that said...

Why do I find it so hard to leave? She pushes me so far beyond my limits and I say to myself, "Thats it, I cant take this anymore". But just as soon as I think about it, I feel almost crippled like I cant leave. I make excuses like Christmas is coming, we have a vacation planned, I just cant leave now, etc. Then I say to myself that "if she pushes me again though, Im out!" Well she does, but the next time is the same. She pushes and I shut down. I know that it is fear, but why do I care? I mean, she treats me horribly, why do I care what happens to her after I leave?

I apologize for the length of this post, but just another couple details. We have no kids, are in our mid 30's and both educated.

I would sincerely appreciate any advice/wisdom.
You know the answers. You don't need advice. You just need to keep on talking/posting and your decision will come. A marriage is beautiful when based on respect, love, honesty, faithfulness, loyalty, and friendship.
It's clear some of those key components are missing. So identify them and fix them or leave. Life is about decisions so it's really upto both of you to fix the issues. It up to you to leave once you can't.
Good luck and stay strong
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Unbelievable, having bipolar disorder or BPD does not give one a free pass to be abusive and vicious to one's spouse. Moreover, the folks suffering from these disorders will not have a strong incentive to learn how to manage their issues unless they are allowed to suffer the logical consequences of their own bad choices. It therefore is a big mistake to think of these disorders as comparable to having cancer or a missing leg -- things over which one has no control.
I do agree with you. When mine gets over-the-top and becomes abusive and blames it on the illness or meds, I tell her perhaps it's time to load her up and carry her to the mental hospital. It's a little cold but it's effective. I just tell her that my limit is "civility" and when she can no longer control her behavior or when she is no longer responsible for her behavior, a hospital is waiting and as a caring husband, I will see to it that she gets the support she needs. So far, that always snaps her out of it.
 

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I don't mean to take over this thread for my issue, but could I ask everyone their opinion on something? My wide has the opposite issue, but it is very much a mental issue: she is extremely apathetic. She doesn't care about anything. Just goes through the routines of life. Her idea of a conversation is to try to say whatever the person wants to hear. She has no interest in sex, even though she will if I ask her. She does not pursue or maintain friendships; and of the several friends she has had. she has mostly lost because she never engages, never calls. Worst part she shows no remorse or even awareness over her lost friendships. I have been pleading and begging for years for her to address this, as far back as 1999. And, she forgets everything, even things like a planned getaway weekend... forgets because she is so disinterested. Her apathy has destroyed our marriage. Is this a reason for divorce?
 

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Hi, the subject of your post caught my eye.. I actually just joined this site hoping to get advice about my own miserable situation. My subject line would be same as yours, just substitute the word husband for wife. I feel for you, this is a difficult, sad situation. You have to keep reminding yourself that she is sick, and a sick person has to get treatment. Many mentally ill people refuse to admit/accept they are ill, and blame everyone around them for their troubles. Is she in therapy/cooperating with meds/treatment? You would probably need your own therapist, plus marriage counseling. I think it's doable, as long as she is willing to stay in treatment. But, do YOU really want this?? You were on these forums 4 years ago..it's now 4 years later and you are 4 years older. I'm not sure how sick she really is, because in my opinion, many of us that have married abusive people (me, for example) could be married to someone who really has an undiagnosed mental illness. So, like another poster said, do we deserve verbal, emotional, even physical abuse if our spouse
Is diagnosed with an illness? You are only in your mid 30's, you have a long life ahead of you, that could be cut short due to a stress related illness of some sort.. Maybe you could
Slowly start building a life for yourself, socialize a bit more, join some things, just stay away. And when you have to be with her, try not to fight back, react, show her she is getting to you, etc. I know it's so hard. You should start going to a therapist also. But she can't use you to take out her anger, frustrations, anxiety, mood swings, distorted thinking, etc. When she gets crazy tell her you will call an ambulance and have her taken to the hospital, because she needs professional help and you are not a psychiatrist. I hope you eventually have the strength to take care of yourself and your own needs. But, I know firsthand how hard this is.. My father stayed with my mentally ill mother for 40 years. He died from a heart attack when he was 67. She also did not get sick until I was about 5 years old. He chose to stay and I grew up watching my mother either lay in bed all day or scream. She refused to get help and said we were all the crazy ones. My father worked two jobs to support us and was basically never home. So, he did decide to stay, but the only way he couldcope was by having a separate life. He was also worried about me and my brother too, and what would happen to us. You don't mention kids so I assume you don't have any. I truly believe that's the only reason why he stayed. I grew up with no self esteem and married someone who treats me terribly. This is what I get to deal with now. Sorry this reply is so long, I think my point is is that these types of relationships just cause so much chaos and dysfunction..and requires so much effort, I'm a product of it and my heart still aches for my dad. He deserved more..and I don't blame my mother, but she also refused to get help.
 

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Hi, the subject of your post caught my eye.. I actually just joined this site hoping to get advice about my own miserable situation. My subject line would be same as yours, just substitute the word husband for wife. I feel for you, this is a difficult, sad situation. You have to keep reminding yourself that she is sick, and a sick person has to get treatment. Many mentally ill people refuse to admit/accept they are ill, and blame everyone around them for their troubles. Is she in therapy/cooperating with meds/treatment? You would probably need your own therapist, plus marriage counseling. I think it's doable, as long as she is willing to stay in treatment. But, do YOU really want this?? You were on these forums 4 years ago..it's now 4 years later and you are 4 years older. I'm not sure how sick she really is, because in my opinion, many of us that have married abusive people (me, for example) could be married to someone who really has an undiagnosed mental illness. So, like another poster said, do we deserve verbal, emotional, even physical abuse if our spouse
Is diagnosed with an illness? You are only in your mid 30's, you have a long life ahead of you, that could be cut short due to a stress related illness of some sort.. Maybe you could
Slowly start building a life for yourself, socialize a bit more, join some things, just stay away. And when you have to be with her, try not to fight back, react, show her she is getting to you, etc. I know it's so hard. You should start going to a therapist also. But she can't use you to take out her anger, frustrations, anxiety, mood swings, distorted thinking, etc. When she gets crazy tell her you will call an ambulance and have her taken to the hospital, because she needs professional help and you are not a psychiatrist. I hope you eventually have the strength to take care of yourself and your own needs. But, I know firsthand how hard this is.. My father stayed with my mentally ill mother for 40 years. He died from a heart attack when he was 67. She also did not get sick until I was about 5 years old. He chose to stay and I grew up watching my mother either lay in bed all day or scream. She refused to get help and said we were all the crazy ones. My father worked two jobs to support us and was basically never home. So, he did decide to stay, but the only way he couldcope was by having a separate life. He was also worried about me and my brother too, and what would happen to us. You don't mention kids so I assume you don't have any. I truly believe that's the only reason why he stayed. I grew up with no self esteem and married someone who treats me terribly. This is what I get to deal with now. Sorry this reply is so long, I think my point is is that these types of relationships just cause so much chaos and dysfunction..and requires so much effort, I'm a product of it and my heart still aches for my dad. He deserved more..and I don't blame my mother, but she also refused to get help.
If you want help you really do need to start your own thread. Just use your above post for your very own thread.
 

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To Elegirl: not sure if you read my post. I talked about my own life experience here to give Redoak some insight into what I experienced, not because I'm asking for help. I'm sorry you took it that way, but I really only care what redoak thinks, since he's the one looking for advice/wisdom here.

To t10eml: redoak didn't ask what we recommend or not, just asked for advice/wisdom, which I already gave.
 

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By the way, he did ask, "why can't i leave"? I already know the answer to his question and I believe he does too. He is afraid to, he is worried what will happen to her, he has guilt, he took his vows seriously. My father was the same way (oops, talking about myself again). And, she is sick. What makes this so hard is that he probably knows/remembers the side of her that he fell in love with, but now this illness has taken over. I don't think he deserves to be miserable, but I do understand how he feels. I will say again, I hope he will get the strength one day to take care of himself and his own needs, since he also deserves a partner. I think a therapist would help, at least to be able to vent.
 
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