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comment by flac
flac  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: October 7, 2020

Hey. I've been wanting to do a proper update for a while, but don't even know where to begin. This is not a fun story.

It's been a remarkably shitty 6 months. Right around the time COVID became really serious, my wife had a major manic episode - something her doctor warned her about because of the antidepressant she was on, so we at least were able to recognize what was happening after the first 3 days of no sleep. My wife studied psychology in school, and knew what to look out for, even in her heightened state. We talked, and agreed to go to the nearest good hospital, and I was able to help and check her in. Due to COVID, I wasn't able to visit her while she was there, but I brought fresh clothes and books everyday.

About 5 days into her stay there, I get a call at around 5 AM from my wife, telling me I need to come get her immediately because "they're trying to kill me". I had no idea what to do - I had gotten one call from her doctor early in the week telling me what meds she was on and that things were going well, but otherwise radio silence. I had no experience talking to someone who was experiencing hallucinations, and I just knew my wife sounded terrified and I reacted based on fear. I got in the car and started driving, and because she checked herself in voluntarily, she was able to leave.

Things were OK at home for a few days, but got a lot worse very quickly. The symptoms of mania started ramping up, but my wife brushed them off as just a response to the trauma she went through at the hospital.

Then she started going out driving. For 14 hours a day, every day. No texts, no responding to calls, no sign of where she was going. It became abundantly clear that she was still manic, and I started calling the hospital she went to, 5 or 6 times a day. I left messages, tried to reach her doctor, and never heard back. My wife was beginning to get aggressive, and very paranoid. I was later told that my wife was in a schizoaffective state, and was becoming increasingly detached from reality.

I called in backup in the form of my Mother-in-law, who is a really remarkable woman - she is a pastor, and has seemingly endless compassion. After an especially nerve-wracking 18 hour driving session, my wife finally came home, and through some miracle was willing to go with my mother-in-law back to her house.

Long story short, we tried and failed to care for my wife at home for 2 weeks as she became increasingly delusional, paranoid, and aggressive. Eventually, she finally crashed the car on her way to Maine to visit her abusive ex, who she was convinced was sending her telepathic messages. We found her at his house, high on shrooms and freaking the fuck out. Every conceivable local resource for emergency mental health care was shut down due to COVID, and literally the only option left was involuntary admission. It was the hardest decision I've ever made, but I was able to get my wife to get into the car with her mother and I, and we went to the hospital. As soon as she realized what was going on, she started freaking out.

The rest is sort of a blur. I know we made it to the hospital, and there were police. The last time I saw my wife before the police told us to leave, they were surrounding her while she was hyperventilating on the floor. I remember they told her to calm down, or they would have to sedate and restrain her - shockingly, that didn't help.

My wife was in the hospital for around 2 weeks this time, and was discharged and returned to her mother. She became VERY angry with me. We tried, again, to care for her at home, but she stopped attending the virtual outpatient program, and we weren't able to talk to any of her doctors because she had removed us from her contact list. She started missing the meds again, and quickly became disconnected from reality. Same paranoia, same delusions. It took us threatening to bring her to the hospital again for her to start complying, and even then it was shaky.

During all this, I was still working as a full time teacher in VT. So I was driving the 2 hours to her mom's after work most nights, and driving back in the morning before teaching. Once the school year ended, I decided I couldn't do it anymore, and started getting ready to move back in with my parents.

In the middle of all this were such joys as losing our insurance, my wife filing for divorce (not especially successfully, thankfully), and having one of my wife's friends trying to convince people online that we were gaslighting my wife and holding her hostage. Fun stuff, right?

Things finally started settling down in August, after my wife found a new psychiatrist and a better medication. She finally started coming back to reality, and became stable again. She's still coming to terms with her Bipolar diagnosis, but she trusts the doctors she's been seeing. She just finished up her outpatient program last week, and finally seems like herself again. I am so thankful that she was able to get through all this, and so immensely proud that she has been so diligent about sticking to her meds. Things are far from normal still, but we are happy to be safe and relatively stable again.

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Job hunting during COVID is pretty miserable. I've been working part time as a canvasser for a local State Rep, and have been sending out applications to 2-3 different employers a day. Despite having worked 4 different jobs for 2+ years, and having spent the last three years as a lead preschool teacher, I have not received a single call back from any of the places I have applied to. I started with schools, then daycares, and now I'm just trying to hear back from a fucking grocery store. I really don't know how much longer I can deal with this. The two places I haven't applied in town are an Amazon warehouse and weapons manufacturing plant, but I am really holding off as long as I can on those.

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The one positive of the past few months is, before I had to move back in with my parents in CT, I was starting to get involved in my local music scene in VT. I had a radio show that I was really proud of. I started making some music friends, and doing these improv synth shows. And I'm hoping that within a year or two I can move back up and try to pick up where I left off. I'm trying to make the most of where I am right now, but it's hard not to feel depressed here. But at least I've started meeting back up with an old friend of mine and making music every weekend. Hoping to record something soon, maybe.

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I miss you guys, and I mostly haven't been active because I just don't know what to say. There's been so much weighing on me these past few months that I'm finding it really hard just to be a normal person. I hope everyone is faring well.





mk  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I am humbled by your compassion and fortitude.

I am not religious, but the phrase "There but for the grace of God, go I." has been on my mind lately. Life can throw more than enough at us without a recession and pandemic to strip away resources and options. It makes me glad to see that you have managed to find constructive outlets for yourself. It's important that you hold onto that.

We've missed you too. Take care of yourself, and good luck.

flac  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thank you mk - I'm always happy to come back to this lovely place you've made.

I am incredibly grateful that I am easily distractable by my many hobbies. Been learning trumpet the past few months - it's been really useful to have some clear benchmarks of "getting better through hard work and routine", and being able to reach a new part of the harmonic series every few weeks of practicing has been good for my mental health, in a weird way.

OftenBen  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The light in me recognizes and bows to the light in you.

Be well.

flac  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thank you, friend. I hope you've been well.

OftenBen  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Hanging in there. Grateful for what I can be. Trying to make things with my hands and thoughtful intention more than run in circles.

flac  ·  21 days ago  ·  link  ·  

What have you been making, if you don't mind my asking?

OftenBen  ·  19 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Bandwagon bread, although something killed my sourdough starter. I can now comfortably say that I make good bread and better desserts.

Some pieces of woodworking. A towel holder for the bathroom, a chainsaw mill for ripping logs into boards.

Unfortunately most non-survival related tasks are on hold for the moment because it turns out the house im renting and was planning on buying isn't in condition to be worth the price. (Needs new roof, new septic EVERYTHING, possibly a new well, and the mechanicals are ancient and forming an oxidative weld to their surroundings)

So we are house hunting.

cgod  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The times you are going through are some of the hardest times.

My family has been cursed to have to endure really horrible amounts of mental illness. It's super difficult and I hope the best for you I believe you are the kind of man that can make this type of trouble resolve better than it would have if you had not been there.

Good luck to you and your wife.

flac  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thank you, I really appreciate that. I honestly have no idea how I made it through all this, but I am glad we are on the other side of the worst of it - at least for now.

I've been thinking of you, I hope you're doing OK in your neck of the woods.

ecib  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·  

As hard as everything still is, I'm glad for your wife's improved state. That was an emotionally terrifying read. Hope things keep incrementally (or more) improving.

flac  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thank you - if incremental progress is the best I get, I will gladly take it!

kleinbl00  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I know that antidepressant. It pushed my cousin into catatonia, had her dad involuntarily committed and made my aunt go voluntary for two weeks. When she wrote this in a letter to my mother because my mother was on it, my mother responded by refusing to talk to her for a year and a half. Oh and leaving her husband of 30 years and driving cross-country to land on her high school ex-boyfriend's doorstep without telling anyone. We had an APB out on her.

A therapist I am friends with but not a client of told me that I need to get over my mother's selfishness because selfishness is a hallmark of bipolar disorder. And also the meds take away all the fun. Sure, maybe but I've got a scar on my forehead from being bodily picked up and thrown across the room at the age of six for fighting with my sister about couch cushions at 9am on a Saturday and waking her up so... yeah that was 40 years ago and she'd try to do it again today if similarly provoked.

But my mother is not your wife.

The tricky part is compliance. If your wife is willing to play along you can have a life. It sounds like she is. I sincerely hope that continues. I've seen healthy bipolar relationships. What they seem to have in common is the non-bipolar person can't let their life be subsumed by the bipolar person. The happy equilibrium my mother's husband has reached is "she does what she wants and I pick up the pieces" and I can watch him convincing himself this is what he really wanted every time I see him.

Hang in there. And no matter what, take care of you. You've just become accessory to a family tragedy and it will not be anyone's first instinct to consider you as a person, rather than the sidecar on the motorcycle.

flac  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Man, I don't know what to say but that you are able to get a bit of distance from all of that.

Figuring out how to take care of myself has honestly been the hardest part of all this. I've got a good therapist now who has a ton of experience with Bipolar, and she's been really helpful in figuring out what reasonable expectations are, both for myself and my wife.

I think the scariest part in all this has been realizing that no amount of care, or love, or fear is going to reach through and convince my wife to take her meds once she becomes delusional. So pretty much our whole lives right now are built around making sure that never happens, and to get her to the hospital if it does. We have an Advance Directive Plan filled out now, which I hope will help.

kantos  ·  14 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My heart goes out to you, flac. You’ve been missed, and personally glad you popped in for an update. “You drank some darkness” is perpetually on my summertime playlist.

You’re pretty damn resilient through those past months. Hope to here from you soon here, with some good distance from the misery godwilling.

uhsguy  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Have you tried any of the pod websites? It a bit late in the year but people are probably still organizing pods because schools are either shut down or failing online or both.

flac  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I've looked into them a bit - it seems like a pretty good way to go, but I haven't seen any listings recently. I expect there will be a second wave of them after winter break.

g5w  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I am happy for you that your wife has stabilized. Loving someone with bipolar is not easy. I hope for both of you that you are able find stable employment and can get back to enjoying your music.

flac  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thank you. In some ways I feel like we're starting from square one again in figuring out how our relationships functions, which has been incredibly hard work. But also refreshing, in some ways.

steve  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·  

flac - I don't know what I can say. So many hugs and so much love from me to you. This is a testament to the deeply connected and loving person and partner that you are. I hope and pray for your wife's continued improvement. Thanks for sharing this, and thanks for your strength.

flac  ·  21 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thank you Steve, hugs and love gladly accepted.