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I've been married to my wife for 21 years and about 6 years ago we learned that she suffered from schizophrenia. She never suffered previously, or if she did we never realized it, we've been together since 1985, and have been blessed with 2 wonderful boys. The illness came on rather quickly, and has affected our lives ever since. Over the six years that she's been suffering, she has been on several different medications, and only one that has shown positive results. She was on the only medication that worked for two and half years, and things during that time were tolerable. About a year and a half ago, she as well as her psyciatrist, decided to wheen her off that medication because of possible long term neurilogical damage that could develop. Since changing her medication she has continued to get worst. My hope from through all of this was that there would be some magic pill that would make this illness go away, and my goal has always been to do whatever I needed to do to keep my family together. She has been unstable for about a year now, and our lives have been a living hell. I don't ever seeing her getting back to being the woman I married, and I see her behavior now having an affect on our son's. I feel my only choice now is to take my boys and leave, because I feel my wife, and their mother left about 6 years ago. We are all she really has, and I understand her illness is not her fault. But I know I have to do something before I lose my sanity as well.
 

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She needs to find another doctor, while some medication cause more damge than others, her doctor is being nelgigent on her treatment if is is bad enough for you to leave. You do need to do what's best for your kids an yourself, however I would encorage you to help her find another doctor or at least get a second opinion. It's simply not acceptable for her not to have a working treatment with all the treatments and success in patients with her conditions.
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I agree that she should probably get a second doctors opinion for her longterm treatment, however, it's extremely difficult to reason with her regarding treatment when most times she doesn't believe she's sick, that "someone is doing this to her." She has tried no less than 6 or 7 different anti-psychotics, and the only one that has been effective has been Haldol. She no longer wants to take Haldol because of the possibility of Tardive Dyskinesia. The doctor went along with her not wanting to take Hadol, and prescribed another med fearing if he didn't she wouldn't take anything at all. I really don't see the difference if the medication she's taking now is ineffective. Chances are since she's stopped taking the Haldol, if she was to start taking it again it would take a lot longer, at a lot higher dosage to get her stable again, if she were able to get stable at all. Since she's stopped taking Haldol, chances are it will become ineffective as well. The problem is you are not able to reason with her because of her delusions and her fixed false beliefs. I always felt that when she's stable our life is tolerable, when she's not it's terrible, and believe me for the last year things have been pretty bad.
 

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Maybe a family intervention? Or maybe a marriage counselor to help you discuss? I'm really sorry you are going through this :(
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If you do decided to leave her make it clear that her unwillingness is contributing. Perhaps that can be a big wakeup call. You are doing the right thing for your children, I grew up with an unstable parent who still refuses care. It has taken such a toll on me as an adult.

Also have you spoken to her doctor? You can meet with him or call him an tell no the treatment is not working.
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Did something terrible happen in the last 6 yrs to her that you know of for this diagnoses to be made? Or perhaps something else happened yrs ago?

What were some of the things going on with her that the doctors felt this is what she had. If things are really bad, it may be a situation where she needs to be hospitalized until the right kind of treatment?medication can be put in place. A second opinion is always a good idea.
 

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I talked with a lawyer about the divorce, and she suggested I see a counselor for myself, as well as the boys. And as far as marriage counselor, on most days she has so much going on in her own head to worry about trying to save our marriage. For a marriage counselor to work, both the husband and the wife have to be willing to make the necessary changes to make things work, she isn't capable of doing that.

I have spoken with her doctor, I make him aware of how things are at home, and he try's to change her meds accordingly. The sad thing is, I can't have her hospitalized, she's the only one that can do that, the only way I can is if she in danger of hurting herself. Believe me, I feel I've done everything I feel I can.


And as far as a traumatic experience that would trigger this, nothing, our life was going good, we were both happy, life was hectic, but good.
 

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Was she having delluisions or hallucinations? Speech disorganized? How did they determine she had Schizophrenia?

Several things can cause that, from genetics, to environment etc. Stress and traumatic events can usually trigger it. How old are your boys? Did she have a stressful pregnancy? Anything happen to her when she a child?
 

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First of all i'm really sorry you are going through this. Watching a loved one and the mother of your children sink deeper into mental illness is like watching somebody you knew and loved die slowly and being replaced by their killer.

At the end of the day none of us is living what you are living at home. I commend you for wanting to keep your family together. You are a good man and doing what a man must do but at the same time I'm sure it must be killing you inside to watch your children see their mother break down day by day into something that doesn't even remotely resemble a nurturing, loving mother and wife.

You are looking for answers as most of do. I'm sure you have prayed and googled her condition for hours trying, hoping to find a cure or hope that things will get better.

At this point there is nothing wrong with long term planning to save what is left of your family. Your wife's condition may worsen over time regardless of what you do. You need to be prepared for this and protect your children. Keep all documents handy and start setting an internal, personal deadlines on what you are willing to put up with and for how long. Remember that you have kids in the picture. You need to be sane to help provide for your kids. If you are broken down you can't help anybody let alone your kids. Keep doing what you are doing but understand that your mind and body will not allow this for too long.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Was she having delluisions or hallucinations? Speech disorganized? How did they determine she had Schizophrenia?

Several things can cause that, from genetics, to environment etc. Stress and traumatic events can usually trigger it. How old are your boys? Did she have a stressful pregnancy? Anything happen to her when she a child?
When she had her initial meltdown they have a certain criteria to determine if it's schizophrenia, has to do with suffering from delusions, and hallucinations, for a 6 month's or longer. There's no test to determine schizophrenia.

My boy's are 11 and 15, and no one has really been able to determine what triggered the onset. Our life was normal, she worked full time, and was trying to maintain a life and a family, nothing really out of the ordinary. We lost our first child at twenty weeks, so there may have been some additional stress, but she loved being pregnant, and she loved being a mom.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
First of all i'm really sorry you are going through this. Watching a loved one and the mother of your children sink deeper into mental illness is like watching somebody you knew and loved die slowly and being replaced by their killer.

At the end of the day none of us is living what you are living at home. I commend you for wanting to keep your family together. You are a good man and doing what a man must do but at the same time I'm sure it must be killing you inside to watch your children see their mother break down day by day into something that doesn't even remotely resemble a nurturing, loving mother and wife.

You are looking for answers as most of do. I'm sure you have prayed and googled her condition for hours trying, hoping to find a cure or hope that things will get better.

At this point there is nothing wrong with long term planning to save what is left of your family. Your wife's condition may worsen over time regardless of what you do. You need to be prepared for this and protect your children. Keep all documents handy and start setting an internal, personal deadlines on what you are willing to put up with and for how long. Remember that you have kids in the picture. You need to be sane to help provide for your kids. If you are broken down you can't help anybody let alone your kids. Keep doing what you are doing but understand that your mind and body will not allow this for too long.
Thanks for your words of encouragement, it tears me apart everyday to see the woman I've known for most of my life suffer though this. I loved her from the moment we met, and it kills me that our life together is ending up like this.
 

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My sympathies, Namdeer. My ex became bipolar when our son was young. It was a very difficult time not only because of her behavior changes and the difficulty in finding a suitable mix of stabilizing drugs, but because our marriage was already close to over. I endured about 6 years of that, and finally she was stable enough that we went ahead with our divorce, and I could be confident that she could share custody.

My second wife had badly treated Lyme disease that was subsequently misdiagnosed as something else, and was very ill for 8 years. Our relationship was almost ideal despite this, even when eventually she had auditory hallucinations when it got to her brain. We finally found a specialist who successfully treated her a few years ago, and aside from some minor neurological and heart damage, she's again her wonderful self.
 

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I'm so sorry you and your family are going through this! I'm sure it's hard on everyone involved.
I went to school with a lady who was later on diagnosed with this. She was fine all her life until her
B/F kicked her down some stairs while she was pregnant, after that incident happened and she lost
her baby, she wasn't right since and was diagnosed with Schizophrenia! She has been in an adult group
home most of her adult life. I know genetics can play a role and sometimes traumatic events. Something changes
in the brains chemistry when things happen that are traumatic. I also think its good to get a second opinion!
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My wife too had a major breakdown almost 18 years after our marriage. We also have two boys, who were even younger than your children at that time. There were times when I thought we couldn’t make it as a family but we survived.

Here is my story and suggestions for you:

1. You need to get involved in your wife’s treatment. Do not depend on doctors to make unilateral decisions. The vast majority of psychiatrists simply push pills. They meet the patient for 15 minutes and make a snap decision about what adjustments to make to medicines. Furthermore, they rarely engage in “talk therapy”, even though their own standards strongly suggest that medicines should be coupled with “talk therapy”. The biggest problem in serious mental illness is “compliance”. This is where “talk therapy” can make a big difference.

2. Initially, I thought that the illness came out of the blue. However, looking deeper it became apparent that we were oblivious to something that was all around us! For one thing my wife’s sisters were also affected. They all lacked friends and had severe trust issues. It turned out that they had grown up in an environment of extreme misogyny. They had been victims of incest and child abuse that went on for many years, suffered domestic violence and neglect. To top it all, the family was politically prominent, deeply religious, and it had been drilled into the children that they were a perfect family. Talk therapy helped in one important way – the counselor never allowed her to minimize or to rationalize what happened to her. The resulting honesty made her open to changes that took many years and that continue to this day. I think that it also helped in compliance. By the way, talk therapy is useless when the patient is already psychotic. So medicines are essential for restoring a degree of sanity and only then does talk therapy become useful.

3. Please note that Haldol is one of the older antipsychotic medicines. I am surprised that your doctor even prescribed Haldol. It is an older medicine and, I think, more prone to Tardive Dyskinesia. There are a number of newer drugs called ‘atypical antipsychotics’. The most popular is Olanzapine (US trade name – Zyprexa). There are a number of others also – Geodon, Seroquel, Clozapine etc. For us, Zyprexa was a miracle drug. In fact it worked so well that my wife would then want to stop taking it once she was functional. So, she would go to the doctor, dress nicely, act normal, and hide any negative thoughts that still lingered. The doctor would be convinced (remember he is deciding based on a 15 minutes of observation) and he would take her off the medicine. And then slowly the paranoia would rise and the cycle would repeat. A big cultural problem is that most psychiatrists (and the general population) believe that these medicines are bad. So, they are ready to oblige as soon as the patient asks to discontinue them. Ask yourself: Does the fear of future neurological harm (for which there is no evidence) outweigh the loss of the joy of life that she is experiencing now and the harm that is being inflicted on your children at such a critical time of their growth?

4. You cannot force your spouse to take medicines. However, you can make it clear to them that if they stop taking their medicines you will leave them. Even though it is not their fault that they are suffering from this illness, they are still responsible for complying with treatment. Be prepared to follow through if necessary. Every time my wife suffered a breakdown and her paranoia returned, I was terrified that one day her paranoia would be directed at me and then she would stop listening to me. I was the last line of defense (her family washed their hands and denied everything) and I knew that once she stopped trusting me, she was doomed and our marriage was doomed. I was lucky that that day never came and it made me more determined to see that her medicines weren’t discontinued. The conflicts about taking medicine are some of my most painful memories.

5. Your children are going to be affected - whether you leave your wife or stay with her. It is a no win situation. I choose to stay and to work to minimize the damage. I succeeded to some extent. Financially, I was lucky to achieve success early. Money was a life saver for us because I was able to leave my job and stay home for several years. By the way, even that affected my boys because we were very conscious that our children should not grow up in an environment of affluence. Some of my wife’s nieces and nephews had terrible childhoods because their sick mothers were violent and paranoid. So, the decision to stay or leave is an individual one. It is possible that leaving her may well be a way to save you and your children from greater damage.

6. I am going to suggest something that some will find controversial: Do not hide the illness from family or friends or even from society. By taking it underground we make it easier to deny and harder to treat. Being open about it will also ease the pain of others who might walk on this road someday. If you think that this will isolate your from society, chances are that as a family you are already isolated from social interaction because of her illness. On the other hand, going public might help you find support from others who have faced similar problems. Now let me also add that I did not fully follow my own advice and only now have I begun opening up. It is also easier for me now, because my children have grown up, there is greater awareness of these issues and there is unlikely to be an impact as the prominence of her family has also faded over time.

7. We have a pretty good life now. Our children have left home. My wife still takes her medicine. It is the smallest recommended dose but we intend to keep it going for the foreseeable future. She is active and full of life. I am also busy working and enjoy learning all the new things that I had not been able to dabble in when I was mired in family issues. Our story isn’t over and I don’t know what life holds for us, but I do intend to enjoy the good place we are in now.
 

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I can empathize with you. You are in a terrible situation.

I took care of a nephew of mine who has diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He was 22 at the time. There comes a time when the care giver has to save themselves. It sounds like you are at this point. Not just for yourself but for your children.

One thing that will make this easier is if you can get her on SSI and SSD, if she is not already. With her diagnosis and inability to function it should be easy. It took about 6 months to get my nephew on SSI from the time I submitted his paperwork.

Then someone would need to be appointed as the person who is responsible for managing her money.

We were able to get my nephew into an institution for a few months because his delusions included his need, as a God, to kill everyone who has ever crossed him.

Our laws are terrible when it comes to mental illness. They do not allow the loved ones to really help a person like you wife and my nephew. We did go to court to have my nephew put in an institution for a few months. But it was not enough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
My wife too had a major breakdown almost 18 years after our marriage. We also have two boys, who were even younger than your children at that time. There were times when I thought we couldn’t make it as a family but we survived.

Here is my story and suggestions for you:

1. You need to get involved in your wife’s treatment. Do not depend on doctors to make unilateral decisions. The vast majority of psychiatrists simply push pills. They meet the patient for 15 minutes and make a snap decision about what adjustments to make to medicines. Furthermore, they rarely engage in “talk therapy”, even though their own standards strongly suggest that medicines should be coupled with “talk therapy”. The biggest problem in serious mental illness is “compliance”. This is where “talk therapy” can make a big difference.

2. Initially, I thought that the illness came out of the blue. However, looking deeper it became apparent that we were oblivious to something that was all around us! For one thing my wife’s sisters were also affected. They all lacked friends and had severe trust issues. It turned out that they had grown up in an environment of extreme misogyny. They had been victims of incest and child abuse that went on for many years, suffered domestic violence and neglect. To top it all, the family was politically prominent, deeply religious, and it had been drilled into the children that they were a perfect family. Talk therapy helped in one important way – the counselor never allowed her to minimize or to rationalize what happened to her. The resulting honesty made her open to changes that took many years and that continue to this day. I think that it also helped in compliance. By the way, talk therapy is useless when the patient is already psychotic. So medicines are essential for restoring a degree of sanity and only then does talk therapy become useful.

3. Please note that Haldol is one of the older antipsychotic medicines. I am surprised that your doctor even prescribed Haldol. It is an older medicine and, I think, more prone to Tardive Dyskinesia. There are a number of newer drugs called ‘atypical antipsychotics’. The most popular is Olanzapine (US trade name – Zyprexa). There are a number of others also – Geodon, Seroquel, Clozapine etc. For us, Zyprexa was a miracle drug. In fact it worked so well that my wife would then want to stop taking it once she was functional. So, she would go to the doctor, dress nicely, act normal, and hide any negative thoughts that still lingered. The doctor would be convinced (remember he is deciding based on a 15 minutes of observation) and he would take her off the medicine. And then slowly the paranoia would rise and the cycle would repeat. A big cultural problem is that most psychiatrists (and the general population) believe that these medicines are bad. So, they are ready to oblige as soon as the patient asks to discontinue them. Ask yourself: Does the fear of future neurological harm (for which there is no evidence) outweigh the loss of the joy of life that she is experiencing now and the harm that is being inflicted on your children at such a critical time of their growth?

4. You cannot force your spouse to take medicines. However, you can make it clear to them that if they stop taking their medicines you will leave them. Even though it is not their fault that they are suffering from this illness, they are still responsible for complying with treatment. Be prepared to follow through if necessary. Every time my wife suffered a breakdown and her paranoia returned, I was terrified that one day her paranoia would be directed at me and then she would stop listening to me. I was the last line of defense (her family washed their hands and denied everything) and I knew that once she stopped trusting me, she was doomed and our marriage was doomed. I was lucky that that day never came and it made me more determined to see that her medicines weren’t discontinued. The conflicts about taking medicine are some of my most painful memories.

5. Your children are going to be affected - whether you leave your wife or stay with her. It is a no win situation. I choose to stay and to work to minimize the damage. I succeeded to some extent. Financially, I was lucky to achieve success early. Money was a life saver for us because I was able to leave my job and stay home for several years. By the way, even that affected my boys because we were very conscious that our children should not grow up in an environment of affluence. Some of my wife’s nieces and nephews had terrible childhoods because their sick mothers were violent and paranoid. So, the decision to stay or leave is an individual one. It is possible that leaving her may well be a way to save you and your children from greater damage.

6. I am going to suggest something that some will find controversial: Do not hide the illness from family or friends or even from society. By taking it underground we make it easier to deny and harder to treat. Being open about it will also ease the pain of others who might walk on this road someday. If you think that this will isolate your from society, chances are that as a family you are already isolated from social interaction because of her illness. On the other hand, going public might help you find support from others who have faced similar problems. Now let me also add that I did not fully follow my own advice and only now have I begun opening up. It is also easier for me now, because my children have grown up, there is greater awareness of these issues and there is unlikely to be an impact as the prominence of her family has also faded over time.

7. We have a pretty good life now. Our children have left home. My wife still takes her medicine. It is the smallest recommended dose but we intend to keep it going for the foreseeable future. She is active and full of life. I am also busy working and enjoy learning all the new things that I had not been able to dabble in when I was mired in family issues. Our story isn’t over and I don’t know what life holds for us, but I do intend to enjoy the good place we are in now.
SCCLLGHN - Thanks for your words of encouragement, from reading your post, your situation is very similar to my own. You had a lot of good content, and I want to reply to all.

1) She has gone to talk therapy a few times in the past, and she seemed to do very well during that time, but kind of like the medication once she starts feeling better she doesn't believe it's useful and decides no to go.

2) I guess in hind sight there may have been a few signals, but I guess you really don't see the red flags until you site back and go through what we've gone through.

3) Zyprexa, Geodon, Seroquel, Clozapine, Abilify, Risperidone, and probably a few others that I can't remember have all been prescribed with very little or no effect. Clozapine was "suppose" to be the magic pill, but she couldn't get to the clinical dosage with having serious side affects. Unfortuately, Haldol was the only medication that worked, and now it too will probably be ineffective due to the fact that her dosage has been stopped.

4) For years I thought I was being helpful by making sure I gave her the meds, until one day she said no, then I realized it was out of my hands. I'm feeling now that she has lost her trust in me, and anymore my boys and myself are the only ones she really has left.

5) Honestly, I know my children are being affected now. I've been blessed with 2 wonderful boy's, but now they've become prisoners in our home. I've always wanted to keep my family together, but my focus now has to be what is in the best interest of my boys.

6) That's a real tough one, although I've only talked openly with close family and friends, I guess as long as she continues to spiral out of control I may need to be more open about our life.

7) I glad to hear your life is going well, maybe hearing your story will help in making the tough decisions I'm faced with. I said earlier our stories are similar, hopefully the ending will be the same as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I can empathize with you. You are in a terrible situation.
I took care of a nephew of mine who has diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He was 22 at the time. There comes a Tim when the care giver has to save themselves. It sounds like you are at this point. Not just for yourself but for your children.

One thing that will make this easier is if you can get her on SSI and SSD if she is not already. With her diagnosis and in ability to function it should be easy. It about 6 months to get my nephew on SSI from the time I submitted his paperwork.

Then someone would need to be appointed as the person who is responsible for managing her money.

We were able to get my nephew into an institution for a few months because his delusions included his need, as a God, to kill everyone who has ever crossed him.

Our laws are terrible when it comes to mental illness. They do not allow the loved ones to really help a person like you wife and my nephew. We did go to court to have my nephew put in an institution for a few months. But it was not enough.
Elegrl - Thanks for the post, I'm sorry as well that you too had to help take care of someone who suffers from this illness, you can understand the challenges I face.

She was able to receive SSI, it was a 2 1/2 year process, but she is receiving it. I am the person who is responsible for managing her finances.

She has never really shows any violent tendancies, but with her delusions and fixed false beliefs, I always have that fear in the back of my mind.

Thanks again for your words of support.
 

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Elegrl - Thanks for the post, I'm sorry as well that you too had to help take care of someone who suffers from this illness, you can understand the challenges I face.

She was able to receive SSI, it was a 2 1/2 year process, but she is receiving it. I am the person who is responsible for managing her finances.

She has never really shows any violent tendancies, but with her delusions and fixed false beliefs, I always have that fear in the back of my mind.

Thanks again for your words of support.
My understanding is that schizophrenics are usually more of danger to themselves then to someone else. My nephew is an unusual case. But his threats of violence did help us get him into a facility for a while.

While SSI is not a lot of income, I would think it can help you feel a bet more at ease if you feel that you have to separate from her. That’s why I thought it was important. I think I forgot to mention that in my previous post.

I get the impression from what you have said that your wife does not have any family of her own. Is that right?

Have you looked round for any kind of support system in your area for anyone who can start to help you? What you are doing is very hard to do on your own.
 

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My understanding is that schizophrenics are usually more of danger to themselves then to someone else. My nephew is an unusual case. But his threats of violence did help us get him into a facility for a while.

While SSI is not a lot of income, I would think it can help you feel a bet more at ease if you feel that you have to separate from her. That’s why I thought it was important. I think I forgot to mention that in my previous post.

I get the impression from what you have said that your wife does not have any family of her own. Is that right?

Have you looked round for any kind of support system in your area for anyone who can start to help you? What you are doing is very hard to do on your own.
That's my understanding as well, in my heart I would never want to beileve the woman I married would ever harm me or our children, but now she doesn't seem like the woman I married, and her behavior at times is irrational, so I guess anything could be possible.

She does receive a "decent" amount from SSI, probably more that most because she had worked about 22 years prior to her illness. She would also receive alimony, and a fair amount from our joint assets if we do divorce.

She does have both parents alive, and an older brother, however, her relationships with her family was "strained", and since her illness they have pretty much abandoned her. I know family is family, but I also realize that all relationships take work, and if both parties aren't able to put the work into the relationship, things usually fall apart.

For the past few years, I wanted to talk to a therapist, maybe I was too proud to do so. When I talked to the attorney, she suggested I talk to a therapist, as well as my boys. I've talked to a therapist once, and have an appointment in a couple of weeks for the boys.

This situation is extremely difficult, people always tell me that they don't know how I can do it, and to be honest, at times I don't know how I can continue to do it myself. They claim that God only gives you what he feels you can handle, all I can say is no more God, I've had enough !
 

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That's my understanding as well, in my heart I would never want to beileve the woman I married would ever harm me or our children, but now she doesn't seem like the woman I married, and her behavior at times is irrational, so I guess anything could be possible.

She does receive a "decent" amount from SSI, probably more that most because she had worked about 22 years prior to her illness. She would also receive alimony, and a fair amount from our joint assets if we do divorce.
She must be getting SSDI. That’s dependent on the social security she paid into. SSI is not related to normal social security. The max monthly Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment is $710 for 2013. IF she is getting SSDI, she might be able to get SSI as well.
She does have both parents alive, and an older brother, however, her relationships with her family was "strained", and since her illness they have pretty much abandoned her. I know family is family, but I also realize that all relationships take work, and if both parties aren't able to put the work into the relationship, things usually fall apart.

For the past few years, I wanted to talk to a therapist, maybe I was too proud to do so. When I talked to the attorney, she suggested I talk to a therapist, as well as my boys. I've talked to a therapist once, and have an appointment in a couple of weeks for the boys.

This situation is extremely difficult, people always tell me that they don't know how I can do it, and to be honest, at times I don't know how I can continue to do it myself. They claim that God only gives you what he feels you can handle, all I can say is no more God, I've had enough !
It’s a shame that her family does not seem to feel a responsibility to help with her. I guess it’s easy to just let you do it all. Sure relationships suffer when both parties do not participate enough. But this is a very different situation.

It’s good that you are going to therapy. Are you active in any church? If so they might have some help. Sometimes they have people who can take over for a while to give you a break.
 
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