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 proposed in 1996.
He’d always said, “If you get the ring, I’ll say yes. ”
I did, he did.
We did in September 1997. We’d been together for 3 years already. We were a good couple, we were happy. I knew his bipolar disorder was manageable, I knew we could conquer anything.
Years passed, new home, new jobs, a lot of loneliness. He worked swing-shift which is not good for a relationship or anyone with mental health disorders.
This is where it is no longer my story…I had an affair, I left him, albeit amicably. We remained friends, he kept it, “in the family” in a round about sort of way.
They had a kid, So did me and my new husband. We spoke on occasion, kept in touch via family.
We each moved forward.
2018, a lot of suicide, celebrities, local people, friends of friends. I thought I should check-in with him but I didn’t.
Time and time again, I didn’t.
I awoke one morning to my husband asking if I knew anyone in a certain neighborhood there’d been a major tragedy.
I waited until I got to work.
I texted my ex, “What’s your mom’s address?” No response. “Hello?” No response. Messenger dings, My ex sister-in-law. “Can you talk?” I told her that I was at work.
“His mental illness got the best of him, he did the unthinkable, he killed A, he killed B, he killed C, and A, he took his own life.”
My past destroyed in one night.
He left a child parentless
I have spoken to the child. We connected. I have nothing bad to say about the child’s father.
I loved him, always. We were good together. We grew apart.
I feel I could have helped had he just reached out to me.
Today 11/15 is his Birthday, I wish him peace on the other side. I know he fought his demons, I know they over ran him in the end.
I still love him, he’s my past, I will, as always, hold him close to my heart.
There were 4 victims that night.
All of them fell victim to Bipolar Disorder, a failing system, and a lack of understanding from those around the one suffering the most.
Today, I will light a candle for your Birthday,
You are missed. You will always be missed.
I will always remember you.
Happy Birthday, RIP, DLP.
I will never forget that sound.
The crunching of the packed snow beneath my feet, dissonant with the throbbing in my ears from my racing heart.
He sought me out. He wanted my forgiveness. Wanted to talk to me…to see in my eyes that forgiveness was even possible.
I sought out a safe place to meet him. Though I knew with certainty that he wouldn’t physically harm me, I feared for my emotional safety. My aunt provided that shelter.
Fourteen years prior, he shot my father twice and killed him.
I was two. And in an instant, fatherless.
As I reached to open my aunt’s door, I was stuck between two places. In that moment, with my hand clenching her doorknob, I could move forward or I could retreat. There simply was no in between.
I pushed the door open and the heat from my aunt’s house engulfed me.
He was there. Sitting at the table. I greeted my aunt, shed my coat, and sat opposite him at the table. And I waited.
It wasn’t my turn to talk.
He apologized. His words were much what I expected them to be. I knew the story…the reasons why he did what he did. They had been the best of friends.
I can still see him, rubbing one of his hands with the other, worrying his skin raw.
But his eyes? His eyes expressed his sorrow and remorse in a way that his words never could.
I’m not sure I have ever seen eyes as soft as his were in that moment as he sat there, stumbling over his words, looking to me for encouragement to continue speaking.
I let him speak until he was completely deflated…words expelled like air from a balloon overfilled to near bursting.
There was a familiarity about him. Some part of my brain remembered him.
In that moment I was left to make a choice. To forgive him or to hang onto my anger and hurt, polishing it until it gleamed with bitterness.
It was the moment to choose whether to set him free of his burden or take that opportunity to make him pay. To crush his hopes for a release from even a small part of his guilt.
I didn’t hesitate for a moment. I forgave him.
I made a choice that freed us both.
The easy, predicable choice would have been to hold my anger close, fueling it with thoughts of all that had been ripped from me.
The more difficult choice was to forgive him, to recognize that he was human and that relinquishing my anger would bring me peace unlike anything I had ever known.
His life was already broken. He would never be the person he was before he killed my father.
But my forgiveness? He sat there and asked it of me.
And offering that it to him was truly the fork in my road.
The Road Not Taken — Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
*The decision to forgive this man who destroyed my family was my choice. This was the right choice for me. If I were my grandmother, grandfather, uncle, aunt, or mother, I can’t say that my choice would have been the same. That is impossible to know. I can only truly know what is best for me. I love my family beyond words and their strength astonishes me to this day.
I’m not usually one to do stuff like this. I’m the creeper lurking in the corner wanting to make friends but never approaching anyone.
But I have a story, and I need to let it out.
I was your typical Midwest teen in 2006. I was 15, went to the movies with friends, spent all the time I could in the band room or wandering around the pastures surrounding our house. Life was pretty good. Then came that fateful day in February.
My half-brother got arrested for murder. My dad and I always knew he’d end up in an institution somewhere. He wasn’t raised in a good home like me and he had a hard life; we thought he’d get some time for burglary or car theft.
But never this.
After he was arrested, all these issues from the few years when he lived with us surfaced again, all the abuse he put me through before mom came home from work. My school never did Sex Ed, I didn’t know. For years they were buried…he hadn’t lived with us for awhile, but when he was arrested, the memories came back.
But I never told anyone, until now.
I failed my first class ever that year. I just didn’t see the point in doing any work when spring came around and my brother was in court and here I am in school while the people around me are complaining about how the school food sucks or how some teacher took their cells. On the outside I was the same as always, but inside I didn’t know who I was anymore.
I made it through the year, when my mom yelled at me about my D grade, I thought about ending it that night. Just swallowing a bottle of pills, but I was able to get online and talk over all the stresses with my internet. Life was stabilizing again.
Then came the day I can never forget, and I still have trouble talking about.
June 11th 2006, 8 o’clock on a Saturday morning, I got a phone call from my best friend.
She told me that 3 students from our school and our Spanish teacher were lost in the ocean while swimming on a school trip to Costa Rica. The body of one of the students had been recovered already.
Sunday, they recovered the body of one of my closest friends. The third student was recovered Wednesday. Sr. C wasn’t recovered until Friday.
All I remember for those summer days was sitting in front of the computer refreshing news pages, hoping and praying that maybe Andrew, Jessica, and Sr. C were still alive, then it was Jessica and Sr. C, then just Sr. C. Finally it hit me. Four people I knew, went to school with, acted in plays with, sang in the choir with, played in the band with, learned from.
They lived in Kansas and they drowned in the goddamned ocean in Costa Rica.
It was 2 days before my 16th birthday and instead of going to a movie with friends or something on a Friday night I was sitting in a hot crowded auditorium with some friends and Andrew’s brother, crying, wishing it was all just a dream.
Saturday, I didn’t get out of bed. Sunday, my mother prepared all my favorite food for dinner, a beautiful cake, my sister was there, I didn’t eat anything. I got a car. I didn’t care.
Later that week, I was on a bus full of high schoolers heading down to Texas for Andrew’s funeral. Everyone thought I was okay, I acted normal for my friends. But when they played Amazing Grace at his funeral I lost it. Amazing Grace? What’s so amazing about a 17 year old losing his life?
The freshest memory of Andrew is sitting with him on the floor of the band room on the last day of school listening to Good Riddance by Green Day. Any time I hear that song, even now, 4 years later, I cry.
My junior year in high school things were back to a semblance of normal, but band didn’t have Andrew. That spring I started cutting because I was so sick of being numb and the pain let me feel something. It wasn’t deep. There are no physical scars, but it allowed me to feel.
Then I went off to college, started smoking to get away from my crappy roommates, slept any free time I had. I didn’t have a social life outside of band and my dorm room.
Next year in college, I rented a house with a friend of mine, and I started cutting again. One night, I finally left scars. The next morning, I called the schools Mental Health Services, the next day I was talking to a therapist. I told her part of the story, how my brother was a murderer and my best friend drowned in the fucking ocean. How I almost scratched my arm raw on the first day of classes because I’m so nervous in new situations. How I’m always afraid that the worst is going to happen. She didn’t try and give me coping mechanisms or advice, she just gave me pills.
The pills made me feel nothing, I went through that semester feeling like a shadow. I tried to tell her that I didn’t want the pills, she said they were the best option for me. So I stopped. They weren’t helping the depression, the anxiety, or the suicidal thoughts. I was on my own again.
During spring break, my significant other of 4 months cheated on me with another friend. She had the dignity to tell me but it didn’t really help. I started drinking, and picked up smoking again. I failed all my classes.
I am not proud of who I was, or of what I did. I have regrets and I can’t forget those regrets.
But I am stronger now. I switched schools and I’m back to living with my parents. I don’t really see my friends much anymore, but I’m becoming who I need to be. I’m trying to learn to cope with my feelings in a good way instead of just bottling them up inside.
I’m 20 now, an age Andrew will never reach. I haven’t seen my brother in 4 years. I can’t trust anyone farther than I can throw them (read: at all) but I am becoming me. I’m changing the path of my life, some days are bad, some days are good, and some days I wish I could crawl under a rock. I just have to keep telling myself that everyday is worth it, that I am worth it, and that in the end I will be me.
And maybe in years to come when I look back at the last four years of my life I can smile and remember good things that happened instead of seeing this crater left by that summer.
I came home once to find one of my daughter’s most loved fish in the toilet. I was sad for her, and very worried the little fishy might accidentally come back up. I didn’t want that to be traumatic for the kids, so I flushed it again. The fishy wriggled ALIVE and went down with the water. I was horrified!
Abusive Husband was very angry, and demanded to know what the EFF my dumb ass was thinking. I asked, “But why was it in the toilet?” He said it looked like it was going to die, but the cold water must have revived it. He made big deal to my daughter about it, saying that I was careless and killed her pet.
I was so sad I just wanted to slip through the floorboards. I was so confused. I was always messing stuff up. I would never have hurt her.
Thankfully, my daughter doesn’t remember it at all, even though it was just a few years ago. It must have been so awful for her, that she has blocked the memory.
The other kids remember Abusive Husband putting beloved fish in the toilet as a threat to force them to do things, “or else”. Or, he would do it just to terrorize them into a panic, when he was bored while I was at work. I asked them, “Why didn’t you tell me? I would have gone toe to toe with him over one tiny mean comment to any of you kids!!”
“Exactly Mom, he was going to kill you if we told.”
I had a younger aunt that was like a sister to me.
My sophomore year in college, I took her on spring break with me. When I moved out of state, and I would come home to visit, I didn’t stay at my parents, I would stay at her house. We were that close.
Then it all was gone. I got a call from my mother at 1AM one morning and my world stopped.
My aunt had been brutally tortured, murdered.
She was gone.
Murder brings out intense emotional reactions.
The emotional pain and anguish of murder seem unbearable. I feel an overwhelming sense of loss and deep, deep sorrow. I constantly experience thoughts about the circumstances of her death.
I relieve what I think happened and I see her being tortured and killed. I imagine the pleas for her life she was making.
Grieving for a murder victim is unlike any other grief. The murder of a loved one results in the survivors grieving not only the death, but how the person died.
I have intrusive visualizations of the murder and I see her suffering. I have flashbacks of the moment when I was notified of her death. I have flashbacks of the last time I saw her alive.
I dream of her knocking at my door and, when I open it, I see her, and she tells me, “It was a mistake! It wasn’t me.”
I never got to see her dead body, so I think part of me has denial about her gruesome death.
Her life was cut short through an act of sick cruelty. The disregard for human life adds overwhelming feelings of anger, distrust, injustice, and helplessness to the normal sense of loss and sorrow. Sometimes, I cry like I am never going to stop.
I don’t think a person can rebound from this.
I have suffered lots of childhood abuse, both childhood sexual abuse and childhood emotional abuse. I suffer from bipolar disorder and PTSD. My mother has narcissistic personality disorder.
I’ve got my hands full, but dealing with a murder is a baffling head game.
I don’t think I will ever come to terms with it.