Saturday, June 10, 2006

Our Secret

Posted by Anonymous (again, no relation to previous Anonymous posters. )

If you'd like to use this space to tell stories/secrets/confessions of your dangerous maternal mind, send me an e-mail and you too can enjoy the refuge of the Basement...


I can't blog about this on my own blog. I really can't share this with my friends or my family because regardless of how open-minded they are, this is the kind of thing that lingers in your head and makes you start to judge or question someone and their motives.

See, my husband, my wonderful sweet, loving husband who is also an amazing father, is a little bit crazy. You wouldn’t know it when you met him. I didn’t. You would meet him and think “What a nice guy, and they make such a nice couple!” He is a nice guy, and we are a very nice couple and great parents. (And I admit my ego WILL NOT allow that image to shatter, not yet anyway.) But every once in a while we go through a little bit of crazy. Last week was one of those times.

My husband dated a girl years before I met him who seemed like Miss Wonderful. He fell hard, and soon her friends were his friends and her life was his life. They were both young and thought they would marry. Then he moved several states away for his job and the long-distance took its toll. He found out she was cheating on him, badly, and it ended, badly. Much bad mouthing was done on both sides and he lost (her) friends over it. He was at a geographical disadvantage and she was able to convince some of their friends to assist her in harassing him. Or stalking him. Well, as much as you can stalk someone from a distance. The end result was that he ended up having a mini-breakdown and spending a week in the hospital.

Flash forward many years and we meet. I fell in love immediately and we knew right away that we were both THE ONE for each other. A few months in I noticed some “quirks” – he used a PO Box instead of having mail delivered to his house, he would get quiet when he got hang-up calls on his phone. He finally shared with me his background and admitted he suffered from some post-traumatic issues from being harassed. He had trouble trusting people and was wary of sharing too much about himself. He had a psychiatrist and was on a very mild dose of anti-anxiety medicine. He told me all of this because he felt like he could finally trust someone (me) and wanted me to know everything.

When we got engaged, he had me meet his psychiatrist who answered all of my questions and told me how well he was doing. We got married and all was well until I started noticing all of the little notes he kept about strange cars and things he saw on the road. He was extremely privacy conscious, not with me, but with anyone who was NOT me. If we met someone at a party and they asked too many questions about him, I could see him visibly get anxious. One time the Fed Ex guy came to our door and asked if I was _____, same first name as his ex girlfriend. It was just a wrong address but he obsessed about it for days, afraid she was trying to start something again. He was very wary of patterns and inconsistencies, like if we saw three different people wearing LA Lakers shirts in one day (we are on the East Coast and Laker fans are few) he would obsess about the fact that the ex had a brother who lived in LA and what did it mean. He worried about why the guy next store stopped saying Hello to him. Stupid stuff that I didn’t even notice. Paranoid? Yeah.

So now what? These periods of paranoia come and go in about a week. They happen about once a year, generally during a period of great unrelated stress - 9/11, a job loss, etc.. Sometimes we get a mini one in between, like we did last week. I admit, and so does he, that the more he talks to me about it, the better he handles it and the quicker he gets through it. But I don’t always like having to listen to him be crazy, and I admit that sometimes, in the middle of it, I want to leave him and run as far away from this problem as I can. Because I can't understand why someone as smart and wonderful as he is can really think these things are happening to him. Because I can't understand why someone as analytical as he is can not logically understand that this is NOT happening to him. And that is really low, because he is a great husband the whole other 95% of the time, and a great father 100% of the time. I am also disgusted with myself for not wanting to deal with it because I pride myself on being a "dealer" and a "survivor". Funny thing, how just when you pride yourself on something life will send you a massive curve ball to test yourself.

For what it's worth, it is not entirely in his head, or wasn't. I do believe he was harassed way back, and his family has confirmed it, but this is YEARS later and I don’t think it is happening anymore except in his head. I have talked to his doctor and he said I should just ignore it. So helpful, that $100 per visit doctor.

So that’s it, our dirty little secret. Everyone thinks we are such a great and fun couple. We generally are. But sometimes my husband thinks we are being followed, or that someone is tapping our phones. But, since the rest of the time, 99%, he is such a great, easy going and loving guy, I deal. I just wonder if other people deal with stuff like this. And when I really feel sorry for myself, I think about all of the other really bad crap people have to deal with and realize an occasional bout of crazy is not so bad.

Maybe? Anyone?


Anonymous said...

I've had a little experience in this area ... OK, I used to try and get into the minds of people who were 99% crazy and 1% normal, so I'm definitely coming at you from a clinical point of view but a POV, nonetheless, that is going to be more proactive than reactive.

With the caveats aside, allow me to begin:

Without meeting your husband and really talking with him and taking a long history, I am inclined to suggest that you're dealing with something more than anxiety and PTSD. I think he's suffering from a different type of chemical imbalance that can be restored.

Please consider consulting another doctor.

I don't want to frighten you, however, in my experience those exhibiting his signs can sometimes worsen very quickly. If your husband is in his late 20's, early 30's and this paranoia seems to come and go, I'd seek another doctor's opinion sooner rather than later.

Also, I have a problem with a doc who tells a spouse/partner to ignore signs of aberrance.

Now to the important stuff ... YOU ARE A REMARKABLE INDIVIDUAL WITH TREMENDOUS COMPASSION AND PATIENCE. And your husband is a lucky man. Mental illness does indeed have a stigma attached to it and what you're feeling is perfectly normal. And there's nothing wrong in discussing these feelings with the new doctor - one who treats the couple as a means of treating the individual.

lildb said...

I'm with anonymous. My brother went through something very similar; he ended up developing full-blown schizophrenia (I believe, anyway. There's never been an official diagnosis made, but the evidence -- in the form of his having been homeless for the last five + years, and exhibiting many overt behaviors that are indicative of schizophrenia -- is there).

I think, nay, believe wholeheartedly, that if my parents, who were privy to his screwy behavior patterns (and chose to keep them from me, a thing that makes my head explode the minute I start to think about it and probably always will so I'll just get back on topic) had assisted him in finding some help, for the *years* that he behaved more and more irrationally, rather than sit back passively and pretend it would all resolve itself, that he would be in a very different place right now, rather than living as a homeless person in Florida (which, hey, if you're gonna go homeless, go beach, right? Right??); he might have a family and kids and be my friend and my confidante and my brother. Instead of the stranger that he is, even when I have seen him (approx. 5 1/2 years ago) -- his eyes were those of a person I didn't know. It was the creepiest thing to look into those eyes and *not see my brother* reflected back to me.

I say this for one purpose: go with anonymous' opinion on this one. Consult a new doc. Get some stronger, more appropriate-for-his-issue meds, even. While your mate may not be schizophrenic, he is possibly exhibiting potential signs of schizo-affective disorder, or something along those lines. There's even a form of bipolar that has tendencies of schizophrenia, etc.

Also - here's to my being way off, and his not requiring any of that. It's (god, sorry, cliche disclaimer) better to be safe than sorry, though. Go get that second opinion.

Lastly - a really big hug for you, lady.

Annie, The Evil Queen said...

I'm jumping on the second opinion bandwagon. This current doctor doesn't seem very proactive. The worst that will happen is the next doctor tells you the same thing.

You may want to find someone to talk to yourself to sort through your feelings over these episodes. It must be exhausting for you. It's obvious you love your husband and you've taken your vows very seriously. Remember to take care of yourself as well.

Her Bad Mother said...

I would repeat what the other commenters have said here. I would also add this: it's important that you not beat yourself up for being bothered by this. You're concerned. You're worried because you love him so much. And it's clear that you do not want this to get away from you, to get out of hand under your nose. Which is exactly how you should feel.

He's so lucky to have you.

Biggest hugs. Know that you have support here anytime.

lildb said...

p.s. I'm worried that I was too much lecture and not enough support in my post - it's pretty evident that you are a wonderful partner who is obviously willing to do what it takes to help your fella. He IS really lucky to have you, as HBM pointed out so succinctly. You're going about this the right way.

Anonymous said...

I can actually identify with this situation on a few levels - except I'm the one who's overstocked with crazy, and my husband's the one whose ex-fiancee continued fucking things up for him several years after they broke up.

You sound like such an incredibly understanding spouse, someone who really cares about helping her husband because she truly respects him. I can understand your bewilderment at his thought processes, and that's why I think the other commenters are right: second opinion.

I would start with his general practitioner/primary care provider/family doctor and go from there (as you will likely need a referral for psychiatric care). The fact that he still has these episodes indicates that something is still amiss, and either therapy or meds or both could be what it takes to keep him on track.

I wish you the best, and I do hope you'll submit an update.

Mother Bumper said...

First I have to say that you are an incredibly strong and supportive person. I don't know if I could do all the same but when I look at my husband I'm sure I would. I also agree with what everyone is saying - get another doctor's opinion. I worked in the hospital system (Canadian) for years and I was raised by two medical professionals and if there is one thing I have learned: doctors are human and just that. Yes they spent years in school and practicum learning how to treat the human body and mind, but they make mistakes also. I'm not saying your doctor is wrong or has treated your husband incorrectly but another opinion should neither insult or upset the current doctor. Two or more sets of eyes are sometimes better then one.
I hope this helps a little bit. We are here for you.

bubandpie said...

It's so clear from your post how much you love your husband. But the terrible thing about mental illness is that when these episodes occur, it's not your husband you see (like lildb said about her brother - she looks in his eyes and sees a stranger). Over the last decade or so I've immersed myself in the journals of L.M. Montgomery as they've been published, and one thing that really struck me in her ordeal with a mentally ill husband is the repulsion she felt when he was sick. It's hard. But it's so, so normal. And there is help out there. If not meds, then at the very least a good counsellor who can be a listening ear at the times when it's not healthy for you to carry that burden alone.

krista said...

hey, I don't want to go on here in the comments section. But I thought I'd let you know, that I am a support worker for families of people living with mental health issues. My job- is to support people who are in your exact situation. I run anonymous support/education groups for people who are in your situation.

I can not even begin to tell you how often I hear about people in your shoes. You are really not alone in this, and his struggle is your. It effects you greatly, and you deserve to get help with that (if you want it)

Maybe there is a support organization or group near where you live?

If you are interested I can help you find resources (especailly if you are Canadian, but even if you aren't...)

You are totally welcome to email me.

Krista at the silent k dot com.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Author commenting here - Thank you all for your support and advice. This was a HUGE burden off of me just to be able to express everything to someone.

I will definitely see about getting a second opinion for him. We have actually discussed schizophrenia before with the doctor who cited different reasons why it is NOT that - including assuring me that dh's problem was not hereditary. Sounds like there is still alot to learn.

Thank you HBM!!!

FishyGirl said...

First off, I want to say that you are a very strong person, and you obviously love your husband very much. Your post sounded exactly like my father's behaviour, and he is bipolar, has been for more than 30 years now. Fairly extreme paranoia has clouded his judgement for years, and it was incredibly difficult for my mom, and then my sister and I once my mom died, to cope with. I recommend 2 things: 1, get thee to a psychiatrist, who can sort out if it is any of a variety of chemical imbalances that can cause this, and then work to find the appropriate medication mix for it (my father's has been controlled for all 30 years with a variety of medications), and 2, make sure to take some time by yourself to take care of yourself. It is hard to live with and love someone who is going through such things, and to be the best support to him, you have to make sure you support yourself, and allow others to support you. I wish both of you all the best of everything.

gingajoy said...

i have nothing substantive to add, except to add my own virtual hug of support. i hope that even writing about it and talking about it with these others has lifted the burden a little for you.
i am totally in awe of the kind of community a blog like this can yield--such amazingly thoughtful, intelligent, and helpful comments. what a great idea. HBM.

Anonymous said...

Hi, first anonymous comment giver here.
While schizophrenia is normally considered a hereditary disease, that's not always the case. However, more on point, most of our relatives (I say "our" because I mean EVERYONE) were not privy to the medical treatment and/or diagnoses available to us now. Mental illness in the 50's was such a taboo and often purposely misdiagnosed so as to avoid the stigma. What I'm saying is that your husband may very well have a history of significant mental illness in his family line, but it just went undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
Glad you're seeking another opinion - please let us know how that goes.
OH! Do not be surprised if your husband strenuously resists going to another doctor, he's got not only familiarit with this doc but also comfort, b/c it seems this doc is telling him what he wants to hear. Be strong and insist on a new doctor and do not give into any guilt your husband may try and inflict. AND, most importantly, if the original doc expresses any misgivings about your husband seeing another doctor, dump that doc immediately.

Anonymous said...

Update from the author -
I had a very good conversation with him last night and turns out he has already been thinking about another doctor because he feels like there must be more available for him than what he is getting from his current doctor. He was very open to my feelings and all in all it went much better than I could have expected. I think being a father has made him even more conscious of how he needs to manage his problem and his mental health.
He is a very gentle and loving man, for that I am very grateful.

Anonymous said...

My husband has OCD. He is medicated, and is generally fine, but no matter how much I love him, it drives me crazy (ha - poor choice of words?) when he pulls me into his obsessions, or I notice him doing it. I know I should be more patient with him, but when I see him get anxious about whether something bad is going to happen to someone because I rearranged his books, or checking the alarm clock exactly eleven times before going to bed just grates on me! One thing that has helped is that my husband has a journal to write his obsessive thoughts in. We've agreed that if after writing it down he still needs to talk to me about it or ask me to reassure him, than I will.

I feel like this makes me a bad wife. It's good to hear that someone else feels similar. Hope the second opinion helps!

Anonymous said...

I was so struck by the love and concern you have for your husband. You should not feel bad for being scared or troubled or upset about this. Mental illness is too often a "dirty little secret" in people's lives because often no one talks to it. That you did talk about it here is brave and important because you are not alone. There are so many families out there dealing with similar things. I am glad you are going to look at a second opinion and you are talking openly with your husband. A support group for you with others who are going through similar things is also something that you might consider. Sending lots of luck and love your way.

Anonymous said...

First anonymous commenter back AGAIN ... geez!
Your husband's willingness to seek another opinion as well as having thought of it on his own and his willingness to discuss things with you ARE ALL SO VERY, VERY GOOD!
Bring all your med bottles with you to the new doc. I wouldn't be surprised at all if is current meds are making things worse in the noggin.

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