I’ve been with my husband for eight years – married for five of them. We have a beautiful four-year old son, three dogs, and a cat. For the most part, we are a happy family.
My husband has been diagnosed with ADHD, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder and, most recently, major depressive disorder.
He has been treated with different medications for all of those things. The latest diagnosis we are treating is his major depressive disorder…
…but there’s something else there, aside from the depression.
There is rage– an all-consuming rage.
As long as I’ve known my husband, he’s had these episodes.He loses control, and snaps on everyone and everything in his path. He’s broken windows, phones, end tables, lamps – the list is never ending.
When these episodes happen, the man I married isn’t there.
He’s gone, and something else takes over. He’s told me on numerous occasions that he doesn’t remember what occurs during these episodes.
He can remember the episode, but he doesn’t remember his words or actions. He told his psychiatrist that he almost blacks out when he gets to that point in his rage.
She gave him some more medication, and basically said, “See you in a month.”
He feels worthless, and that makes him angry. He isn’t a talker, but when he does talk I can hear the anguish in his voice.
He says nothing happened to make him the way he is. Nothing terrible – nothing worthy of the rage inside him.
He doesn’t want to be this way, he doesn’t want to be anxious and hopeless and angry and sad.
But he doesn’t know how to stop.
It used to happen when he couldn’t find any weed. Then someone would come through with some, he’d smoke it, and the world would right itself.
But more recently, it’s been for no reason I can understand. A month ago, he put a loaded shotgun in his mouth, and he told me, “Good-bye.”
That ended with a police escort to the local hospital.
He spent three days there, changing his medication and talking to someone for ten minutes a day. He attended group sessions, and when he came home, he was ready to be better.
It was a week before he had another episode.
And since then these episodes have been happening every 3-5 days. Some are more serious than others. The last time, he threatened to kill himself.
Unfortunately, that isn’t anything new, except that, this time, he also threatened his mother and I.
We’re going to try therapy, but right now, it feels like he’s a ticking time-bomb, set to go off at any second. From the outside, I know it doesn’t look like he’s trying but he is, he really is.
So this is where I need help, The Band:
Do I stay, or do I go?
Do I walk away from my husband because he’s sick? Or do I stay, even if it’s to the detriment of my sanity, and my child’s well-being?
I don’t know what to do and I have no support network.
My son’s father was never in the picture, and my mother is a recovering addict – currently incarcerated. My godmother, the woman who raised me, is dead. I have a brother, but he has no job, and no home.
My best friend was witness to the gun incident, and has mostly given up on me. She told me that I’m codependent, and making terrible choices for my child. She thinks I should leave my husband, like she did. But her husband was an alcoholic – mine isn’t.
My in-laws have been terrific. Any time we need somewhere safe, their home is always open. But they are elderly – one of them is in a wheelchair. I feel I can’t burden them with this. I feel I am making them choose between their son, or their grandson and I.
Where can I go? What should I do? Please, The Band, help me. I feel so alone. I’ve prayed to every god I can think of, and I still feel so lost.
There is no handbook for when you marry someone with mental illness.
I don’t know if I’ll ever have babies.
Let me tell you what I do know:
I know that I’ll never birth a baby.
I know that my husband doesn’t create sperm.
I know that he’s ashamed of it and that makes me ashamed of him. He should advocate for all men out there who suffer silently through infertility, but he won’t, and I won’t “should” on him.
I know that I’ll NEVER do another round of infertility treatments because they make me crazy and hurt like hell.
I’m a wreck while on the drugs and a wreck when they don’t work.
I know I had at least one egg welcome donor sperm into her secret chamber and try to dig into my lining and hold on.
I know that the drugs made my lining extra thin so that her little grippers might as well have been coated in oil.
I know that the first pregnancy test came back MAYBE, as did the second.
I know that the day I went in for the REAL TEST, I started to bleed.
I know that people expect me to move on.
I know that the only way I will get a child is if I adopt.
I know my husband is worried about adoption.
I know we can’t afford adoption.
I know that I will find a way to do it.
I know that there are days that infertility defines me, and I can’t help but wonder if it is because God is punishing me.
I would give anything to have a child and can’t stand to be around people who suck as parents. Yeah – I’m judgmental of your parenting.
I know I can do it better.
Recently, someone came back into my life.
This person was my whole entire world for three years. This was My Person, the love of my life.
They loved me.
All my flaws.
My Person made me feel whole.
My Person calmed the negativity I had in my life.
My Person held me when I needed to cry. They listened when I needed to yell. This person sat behind me and picked head lice out of my hair for 8 hours when I cried because no one else in my life would help me. My Person was so beyond good for me.
Then, slowly I started letting the negative creep back in, I let the people that were supposed to care talk me into believing them instead of this amazing person I had in my life.
You see, I always knew I was a failure.
I always knew I would never amount to anything.
My Person believed in me and my worth and well… I really don’t know.
I have no excuses except I was young and dumb and influenced easily by people that should have been supporting me. I longed for THEIR approval and love and if I didn’t have that, why should I deserve anything else.
I left this amazing person with a heavy heart but headed in a direction I was being basically shoved into for many years.
I married, had kids, was verbally and emotionally abused before I finally left.
Even after I left I tried to make it work. I mean, no one else would ever want me.
During this time I searched out My Person.
They’d moved far away to another land.
They seemed happy and from what I could see from my computer screen didn’t want me anymore.
I did reach out, I called, I emailed, I basically stalked this person.
But they had moved on. I was just a memory to them; that was okay. After all, I didn’t deserve them.
Fast forward a few more years.
I still watched My Person from afar. I was friends with their family but still had not contact with My Person.
That was okay. I was happy knowing they were happy.
I met someone, dated for a few years, got married again. And I am finally HAPPY! Well, at least most of the time. My old negative thoughts are all still there but I’m mildly successful at pushing them down.
A couple weeks ago, My Person showed up in my life again like a whirlwind.
They have never been far from my thoughts; I still watched.
But here they were in my inbox and we’ve been talking and it’s like the last twenty years disappeared and I am right back where I was, where we were; My Person and I.
And I am so so so in love. I always was.
And I’m torn: how can I love two people this much? What do I do?
I need this person in my life, they are a part of me has been missing for so long.
It’s like I got my right hand back. I need them to know I love them. Because I do…
…but we can’t be together.
I love where I am now, I love the person I’ve married. I love my home and my job. Right now? There’s half a century and twenty years between us, but I still need them in my life.
I find my mind wandering a lot lately.
The what if’s.
I find myself wanting to wake up in one of those stupid romcoms where everything is different but it just seems right and you don’t want to wake up.
I want to find a damn DeLorean and make different choices.
We are enjoying a day off. It’s Easter weekend. Reflecting Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. He is cutting up vegetables. He cuts himself and is bleeding everywhere.
He can’t even let Jesus Christ take center stage.
He needs all the damn attention!
Why does he think his needs are more important than mine?
Now, I need to help him feel more comfortable.
Constantly complying. I am not a part of the equation. I have been SPEAKING for years, repeating myself constantly. I don’t ask anymore. I don’t ask for things. I don’t ask for affection. I am living in limbo. Boundless. Floating.
I am invisible.
I need to be released from this responsibility that I’ve been carrying for too long.
For the last eight years we’ve drifted apart, each of our roles were extremely different from the others.
I was primary care taker of the baby, he just worked to not be in pain. He was in and out of doctor’s offices, and in bed most of the time he was home.
He was cold to me. He couldn’t help it. I know.
To me, he had it easy: just relax, lay in bed, watch TV, take medicine, have another useless steroid injection.
Umm… when do I get the debilitating disease so I can sit on my ass all fucking day? I feel trapped, imprisoned.
I had grand expectations that he would complete me, complete my life and it would be this grand ball with dances and tea parties. Our roles are still tragically different, neither supporting one another, neither of us need each other. We are in different places, both have different goals.
We are in the same room, breathe the same air but we’re worlds apart.
The lack of trust and respect – it’s killing us. I cannot trust that he’ll be there. That he’s ALL IN. We’ve been having some good months lately… but soon, that chronic pain will take him and paralyze him again.
That anxiety keeps me in the crazy.
And… so here’s the state of our union. I’ve become accustomed to not including him in my day. He’s had so many limitations, so many special needs. He’s never been able to engage, so I forget that he’s there sometimes.
Somewhere between the chronic pain, taking days off for doctor appointments, disappointments, missed opportunities, we disappeared. I stopped trying to make the structure we live in a home. He was too busy or too sick to care. He didn’t want me. I got used to that.
I became hard, and cold. I worked so hard to leave my father’s house only to end up exactly where I started. I try. He tries. We both feel the unbecoming of us though. It was a slow fade to black.
I’ve veered on a divergent path and, if I’m being honest, I don’t care if he follows or goes in the opposite direction.
How the fuck did I get here?!
I didn’t say no when I was victimized as a child. It happened on more than one occasion. He made me feel special and important.
Years later, I realized I was just his prey among many.
My brain started to split. There was the good me and the bad me.
Then I started cutting to feel something. ANYTHING. Then I would only feel anger, resentment, bitterness, shame.
Then I would drink myself to oblivion to be numb again.
And round and round we go….
I watched my father beat up my mother countless times. I was powerless. The only thing I could do was disconnect. Detach from the situation, go off in my imaginary world.
These days, the only real way I can relate to men is if they are anonymous, objectified, and made common.
Maybe if (they or) I become more anonymous, objectified, common, I don’t have to engage. I can pay to play. I can pay to heal in a way. I can acquit myself of the emotional debt.
I would have room for… selfishness.
Dear Littlest Sister,
I wish, for so many reasons, that we were closer. It seems that all your life I’ve watched you hurting, and I’ve never been able to help you. Either it was out of my hands or you wouldn’t let me close enough to be any good.
I know I’m a disappointment to you, and that there are times you wish we didn’t share a name. I’m sorry. As difficult as our relationship has been, I have always been proud to call you my sister.
When you were five and our parents divorcing, I should have been more sensitive. I should have seen the Little Sister that needed reassurance.
Looking back, I don’t know why I minded it when you followed me around – you were so darn cute!
When you were playing softball, I wish I hadn’t been so wrapped up in my teenage-self. I wish I’d praised you for all your hard work; told you how great you were. Had I praised you, would you have felt shadowed by our middle sister’s spotlight? Would you still have given up sports?
Maybe it would have changed your future to hear how proud I was of you.
When you were experiencing your own depression, I wish I hadn’t been thousands of miles away. I’d have held you as you cried. Maybe then you wouldn’t have tried to overdose. If I’d been there to listen, would you have started cutting?
When you enlisted in the military, did I tell you how my heart swelled with pride? When you came back from your basic training and tech school I was, once again, wrapped up in my own stuff.
Did I tell you that I loved you?
Did I tell you that I missed you each day you were gone?
And now, when you’re hurting – when your life is spinning- the distance between us is more than the five-hour drive. I want to call you and listen to your tears. I want to to tell you that broken hearts hurt worse than childbirth, but that you’ll heal and be stronger.
I want to comfort you and give you the compassion and support that I know you won’t get from our mother or our middle sister.
It’s silly, really. We’re so much alike, you’d think we’d be closer. But, as I look back, I can see all the wedges I drove between us.
And so, I’ll write this letter to you; a letter you’ll never see. I’ll keep you in my thoughts as I wait to hear news of you. And I’ll pray that this isn’t the thing that causes you to hurt yourself again.
You are such a beautiful person.
You give so much of yourself to everyone. You, who never wanted children, are my son’s favorite aunt. He glows when he talks of his time with you and he tells anyone who will listen that he wants to join the military, just like his heroes. Do you know you’re one of his heroes?
Do you know you’re one of mine?
I love you to the depths of my soul. And no matter what, you will always be a part of me.
I am so infinitely proud of you.
Your Big Sister