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  1. #1
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    Oct. 8, 2011
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    Unhappy Husband PTSD and Bipolar.

    Created an alter just to vent a bit. This summer my husband was diagnosed with PTSD, Bipolar and Major Depressive Disorder. He was hospitalized for seven weeks. Suicidal at times, and it has been rough.

    He has been out of the hospital for about 5 weeks now, and I thought everything was going okay, meds seemed to be working. However, in the last week things have really started to go downhill. He isn't sleeping well, lots of nightmares, tired during the day, ect. He is starting to get agitated and anxious again.

    I am about at my wit's end. In addition to all of his medical issues there has been unfaithfulness on his end, which was devastating, and I am still trying to deal with it. On top of all of that, my mom passed away this summer.

    We have 2 young children, and I am a full time college student. We have talked about separation, but beneath it all he is a good guy, and a great father. I don't want to go that route. That being said, it has been very hard to take care of him. Between appointments, medication, the anxiety, lack of sleep and just the emotional pain I am utterly exhausted.

    I am not even sure why I am whining here. Just have to vent a bit I guess. The past few days have been bad, and I am worried we are headed to another low point. His medications have been working well up until the last week. He is active duty military, in the process of retiring and the Behavioral Health Department is 2 hours away, and I feel like we have tried just about everything there is to try through them.

    I am so scared. I just want my "normal" husband back. I want him to be the strong one. I want him to take care of me. I am so tired of feeling like I am policing his every move, watching him constantly, worried he is going to kill himself. I just want our old life back.




  2. #2
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    Dec. 12, 2004
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    Get him back to his doctors immediately. The medications are there to help, and if something isn't working properly, then it's time to try a new one. With emotional issues in particular, there are always different drugs and different combos to try....what works for one person doesn't work for another.

    But more importantly....you should be seeing someone. If you're a full time college student, there are free services on campus that are run by trained professionals. You should be talking this out....even just a neutral place to cry and get some of your anger/frustrations out is healthy. Friends are great but sometimes you just need that neutral third party. Your therapist will help you with some coping mechanisms, and hopefully help you through this rough period. It wouldn't be a bad idea for your husband to go with you for a few sessions, but I think just you going is most important.

    ((((HUGS!))))



  3. #3
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    Jun. 16, 2008
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    I don't have any advice. I'm just offering sympathy. That sounds like a truly rough and horrible summer you've had I hope things turn around for you soon.



  4. #4
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    Dec. 29, 2007
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    Vent away-sometimes you need to! Agree with KitKat. Hang in there and take care of yourself too.
    "Those who know the least often know it the loudest."



  5. #5
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    Oct. 8, 2011
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    I am seeing someone on my own...have been for a year and it's probably the only thing besides riding keeping me sane.

    Ironically, I am a Psychology major, so I guess I can look at this as hands on experience?

    On the up side he woke up and seemed a bit better this morning. I was pretty worried last night. Just don't want a major relapse.

    Anyone out there with good mental health recovery stories? I need inspiration.



  6. #6
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    Jan. 4, 2007
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    Maybe not what you want to hear, but such problems are generally just part of who he is and both of you will have to learn to live with them, the highs and normals and lows.

    As a professional in the field of mental health, you will learn that some problems are chronic and you work along with however they are presented in the moment.

    You will have to think thru and some of it with his input if you both want to make this work or not.

    Infidelity is not part of this, learn where not to enable unacceptable excuses for bad behavior.

    If he really is someone you want to spend the rest of your life with and he with you, you both will have to decide to keep trying.
    Would you both work at his problems if they were, say, diabetes?

    If not, if this seems to drag you down more than is acceptable to you, look for alternatives now.



  7. #7
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    Oct. 21, 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluey View Post
    Maybe not what you want to hear, but such problems are generally just part of who he is and both of you will have to learn to live with them, the highs and normals and lows.
    This is not necessarily true, the OP has not said why exactly he has been diagnosed. He is active military, why exactly is he suffering from PTSD? Was he deployed overseas? What exactly happened?

    I suffered from what was most likely PTSD from things that happened to me in childhood, some pretty horrific. The person I was when dealing with those issues was not just "who I was", and I am no longer the same person I was then after going through years of dealing with those problems.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perfect Pony View Post
    This is not necessarily true, the OP has not said why exactly he has been diagnosed. He is active military, why exactly is he suffering from PTSD? Was he deployed overseas? What exactly happened?

    I suffered from what was most likely PTSD from things that happened to me in childhood, some pretty horrific. The person I was when dealing with those issues was not just "who I was", and I am no longer the same person I was then after going through years of dealing with those problems.
    Well, the title reads bi-polar.
    I assume that is a diagnosis of a generally chronic condition.



  9. #9
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    Apr. 17, 2002
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    I am so sorry that anyone has to manage PTSD and/or BP, either as the patient or the family member.

    Only you know if you want to pursue a future with him, and my heart breaks for you at the thought that perhaps you'll never have the old husband back: Those PTSD scars run deep and may not ever fully fade. One person may have success, while others in the same scenario are more damaged. I met a wonderful, funny couple a few years back- he was involved in what we know as Black Hawk Down. His nightmares are powerful and real enough that more than once his wife reported awakening to find him choking her down. Just so sad and heart breaking.

    I wish you only the very best and hope that you'll find a pattern to his cycles and help him stay with his meds: When one gets to feeling ok the meds seem irrrelevant...but going off them often means spiralling down again.



  10. #10
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    Oct. 8, 2011
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    The PTSD is related to an Iraq deployment. He has talked a bit about it, but I don't think he has told me everything. The bipolar I believe is related, or perhaps always been very mild and worsened by the PTSD.

    I do want to stay with him and make it work. It is just so hard to see him like this.

    His nightmares are bad too. Never woke to him choking me, but I did get punched once trying to wake him.

    He has actually been out today, and sounds really good. Praying he just had an anxious couple of days.

    Thanks for letting me vent.



  11. #11
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    Oct. 21, 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by 237 View Post
    The PTSD is related to an Iraq deployment. He has talked a bit about it, but I don't think he has told me everything. The bipolar I believe is related, or perhaps always been very mild and worsened by the PTSD.
    Bi-Polor and "Depression" are wildly popular diagnosis that IMO don't always mean a whole hell of a lot, most especially when put upon someone who clearly is suffering from extreme anxiety, depression, and probably terrible mood swings trying to deal with what he experienced. I had doctors try to diagnose me with all sorts of things, in reality I was dealing with post-traumatic stress and hormonal problems during my teen years.

    I cannot imagine what he could have faced and dealt with. I would think the best thing would be to tell him he's not crazy, having stress and anxiety and mood swings and all the other symptoms your describe sound totally normal given the circumstances.



  12. #12
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    Nov. 12, 2006
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    237, I'm really sorry for what's going on with your husband.

    With everything that's happened, including the readjustment to life at home plus the stress of facing eminent retirement (I think that's what you indicated) and figuring out his next career move, he's got to be coping with monumental levels of stress. I'd venture that his stress levels are off the charts. And stress will simply put a brain out of whack.

    It's just going to take time, is all. A lot longer than a few months.

    Part of PTSD is that you get sort of stuck. You simply don't process particular event/events very well. It's like a skipping CD or (oldie reference here) a scratched LP - you tend to replay things over and over without processing them and moving on appropriately. Usually a combination of cognitive therapy and medications help get you "unstuck." It takes time.

    The very good news and a real blessing for you is that he and thus you and the whole family are in the military, and you can take advantage of the plethora of resources available to him - and you through family services.

    You are doing the right things for yourself as well at this time - therapy is good for you too. Eat right and exercise and for heaven's sakes you're not a terrible human being if you get a baby sitter now and again so you can have some down time from the kids if you need it.



  13. #13
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    Sep. 6, 2000
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    I see a lot of clients in the same boat as your husband. I see the bipolar diagnosis given out too with the ptsd. If you guys can afford it I would dump the VA or use them to get the drugs you can refilled by them but pay for private psychiatric care. VA doctors pile on the drugs (not all I am sure but this is my experience) and then there is little care other than medications. I feel that the most important part of recovery from PTSD is therapy for your husband. He can sort through those memories and get a level of comfort with them. He can live with the memories and have a "workable" life where he no longer struggles with pushing the memories away. It is possible. But it does not come in a pill. The pills help with the healing but they don't make anything better. I would second what the above poster stated when she said to keep a healthy life with a routine and exercise and no alcohol and drugs. Low stress, boring life with lots of fun in it. Actively seeking out non depressive activities and seeking out pleasurable things to do. Seek out the best therapist you can get to and if you can't afford them, ask them to lower their prices for a veteran. They should do it, it is the right thing to do.
    “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”
    ? Rumi



  14. #14
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    May. 15, 2006
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    DH has a friend who was diagnosed with bipolar over three decades ago. Normally he hangs out here with DH's other "groupies" (they work on the cars, motorcycles, guns, etc) every weekend.

    About once every 6-12 months we won't see him for a while because things have changed, he's getting his meds adjusted, and (his words) he's not fit to live with during that time. Nothing he can do about it, but after 30 years he's learned to recognize the signs that somethings NQR and he goes to the doc. FWIW he said sometimes dosages go up, and sometimes they need to go down. And no, I don't know exactly what meds he takes.

    With the OP's husband fighting both PTSD and bipolar, I expect it will take longer than just a few months to get him stable, and he'll have to learn the signs that something is changed and he needs to go to the doc.



  15. #15
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    Jan. 4, 2007
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    A good friend, he spent his teenager years helping in the race training barn and became a veterinarian, had Tourette's syndrome and a bi-polar diagnosis.

    He used to come treat our horses by running the 20+ miles here, we had our own vet supplies and then run back to the clinic.

    He battled his problems and was on and off medication, until at turning 40 he killed himself.

    You mention your husband has already had suicide thoughts.
    If so, it is very important to be sure he gets the best help you can find, his life may literally depend on it.



  16. #16
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    To be honest I'm very surprised to see a diagnosis of PTSD, and MDD, and Bipolar, and in the context of his mom dying, all given in what sounds like roughly the same time.

    It sounds like they threw everything they could at him and are seeing what'll stick. These diagnoses have a lot of overlapping symptoms, and it would be very difficult and time-consuming to tease out what is what.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coanteen View Post
    To be honest I'm very surprised to see a diagnosis of PTSD, and MDD, and Bipolar, and in the context of his mom dying, all given in what sounds like roughly the same time.

    It sounds like they threw everything they could at him and are seeing what'll stick. These diagnoses have a lot of overlapping symptoms, and it would be very difficult and time-consuming to tease out what is what.
    The VA is not great with this kind of stuff. But I think it matters to be careful with diagnosis as people really take them to heart. PTSD pretty much covers it all, why add the rest in? I hope that the new DSM covers the real symptoms of PTSD which look like so many other things.
    “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”
    ? Rumi



  18. #18
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    I'll share...back in 1995-96 my husband, now retired Army, was also diagnosed with Bi Polar and had extreme anxiety to the point of not being functional...and then started up with cluster headaches so bad he could hardly stay concious. They never said it was PTSD but he had come back from the First Gulf War a few years before and was told by an official letter from the Gov't that he'd been in the area of chemical weapons being destroyed and "oh by the way" was he suffering from health issues....if so please report them. A few months later another letter came that said the it was a false alarm and not to worry. This when he was so messed up he could hardly get out of bed. Now of course they deny there is any Gulf War Syndrome...

    He was in a masters program at the time and the amount of time he lost from class meant he would not finish and then he lost his assignment to teach at West Point after that. Talk about devastating for a career adn for his ego...although he still got his promotion to Major before he retired.

    Anyway, the next several years through say about 2001 were very hard. I truly know how you feel. It was hard to stick with him and he could be so hurtful to me also. I think the fact that you are getting help also is a great idea. I wish I had as well.

    He was finally put on Lithium and that was the drug that managed to help him come back to full function and stabilize his mood swings. He retired with honor in 2003 and now works an intense gov't contract support job. He no longer has to take Lithium but is on other meds still and will be for life. 2011 was our 25th year of marriage. He is pretty even keel these days and for the most part you'd never know he is BiPolar.

    So to the OP, try and stick with him if you can if he has a good heart and you love him. I can tell you that it will not be easy but in time, it should pass or at least get easier. (((hugs)))



  19. #19
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    TX
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    One more story.
    While it takes a good mental health Dr to get someone with serious, multiple problems stable, a diagnosis of bipolar is relatively easy and straight forward to make.
    I would not assume they are missing that, just because there may be other co-morbidities like PSTD involved.

    One of the ranch owners, that was raised right here and was in the Korean War, was diagnosed bipolar and put on lithium, was on it most of his life, became an architect after the war and died of heart disease in his late 70's.
    You could not tell that he had any mental problems, the medication kept him functional.

    Good luck finding a great Dr that can help him and to you with your studies.



  20. #20
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    Oct. 8, 2011
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    Thank you all for sharing your stories and ideas. A bit of history...he has been "not quite right" since coming back from Iraq 2 years ago. He finally admitted to me 6 months post return he was depressed, after losing his temper at me over something very minor. He started seeing someone on a therapy basis, and taking depression meds.

    Last summer he became very depressed and suicidal. He was started on Lithium and did very well, rapid recovery. After about 6 months he stopped the lithium as he was feeling better and concerned about the side effects.

    This May he started the retirement process (22 years) and would be evasive every time I asked what he was planning on doing for work once he retires. He started acting really depressed and was placed on clonazepam, which made him very erratic, drugged and weird. Strangely it was like a "truth serum" as well. He started talking, and broke down saying "Don't you see my life is over? I want to die? I have a plan..." He would alternate between crying and giggling, talking to the dog, all sorts of strange behavior. Then he admitted he had a plan to kill himself, a date, and a way to do it. That was his retirement plan.

    I took him to the nearest ER, and he spent a week inpatient there, and was transferred to a PTSD clinic in Colorado where he stayed for 5 weeks. While in CO he spent a startling amount of money on the credit cards.

    He was released, and home for 3 of the worst weeks of our lives. Near daily panic attacks, anxiety, didn't sleep, doing things like washing his car over and over again, sometimes 3 times in one day.

    He started talking about taking all his sleeping pills at once, and so back to inpatient he went. There his psychiatrist, after talking to me for a while about some of the symptoms, started him on depakote...a bipolar medication, which is supposed to be a great mood stabilizer. When the doctor brought up bipolar, some of his odd behaviors (even previous to Iraq) made a bit more sense.

    He improved dramatically, but went back to Colorado for 2 weeks to make sure he leveled out his medication quite a bit. He has been home for a month, and has been much better. In the last week I am starting to see some of the anxiety coming back, and that scares me. He also is sleeping very poorly despite taking enough medication to tranquilize my horse. One night, while trying to wake him from a nightmare while still asleep he punched the crap out of me.

    He is on so many medications it worries me. Celexa, depacote, valium, ambien, minipress, blood pressure, cholesterol, heartburn and allergy meds. He has gained about 15# this summer.

    I don't know for sure if he is both PTSD and Bipolar. I think the two can have some similar symptoms. He is not currently seeing a therapist, which worries me. Until he is officially retired he has to drive up to the military base, which is 2 1/2 hours each way for therapy. In 2 months he will be an official retiree and can see someone privately through our insurance. We are seeing a therapist together to deal with some of the marital issues we are having, but I would like to see him seeing his own therapist and getting stuff off his chest.

    Thank you all for listening, and sharing your stories. I know I am just in the beginning stages of this with him. It is going to be a long road, and it just feels overwhelming at times to me. It helps to just be able to vent and get it out there.



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