Dear Dr. Love,I have been married for 8 years. Our marriage started out to be a very happy one. Then we had children, girls, the wrong gender for my husband. For the last six years my husband has gradually abandoned me emotionaly. I have been doing my best to stay with him for the sake of my children. But, I am not sure how much I can endure. I am rarely spoken too, never touched. I sleep seperately from him, he locks the door. He is highly suspesious of my activities, although I have been loyal and given him no cause.He started seeing a therapist over a year ago. He is on meds for depression. They help with the violent out burst, yelling and such. But, have not helped our relationship. We also tried counsiling, twice, , but he was so resistant to everything said, (and to be fair, the therapist seemed very partial to me), that we stopped going. He is diagnosed as Uni-polar, but I am not clear on what that is.Will these meds ever cure it? Will the man who loved me ever come back? I am beginning to have trouble with depression myself. I forget to eat often, and do not sleep well. While I am staying for the sake of my children, I also worry that it is harmful for them to see me so unhappy. And, will they be able to have normal relationships after growing up this way? I am thinking about leaving, but would appreciate some insight, especialy on my husbands illness. Thank you
It sounds like you are mourning the loss of a man you loved. At one time you were happy with him and then, over the last six years, he has neglected and abandoned you emotionally. I know that this is painful and depressing for you. You asked me to discuss your husband ‘s illness and then determine his prospects for recovery.First of all, when you say that he suffers from a Uni-Polar Disorder, I think you mean, Bi-Polar Disorder. Bi-Polar Disorder is characterized by one or more manic episodes, which are distinct periods of time in which there is an abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive or irritable mood. If the person suffers from an irritable mood (rather than an elevated or expansive mood), then at least 4 additional symtoms from the following list must also exist in order to classify the condition as a Bi-Polar Disorder: inflated self-esteem or grandiosity; decreased need for sleep; pressured speech; flight of ideas, distractibility; increased involvement in goal-directed activities; or psycho-motor agitation; and/or excessive involvement in pleasurable activities with a high potential for painful consequences.With Bi-Polar Disorder a person may experience a Mixed Episode, which is characterized by a period of time (lasting at least 1 week) in which the person experiences Manic Episodes and Major Depressive Episodes nearly every day. In reading your letter, I didn’t find clear evidence that your husband suffers from Bi-Polar Disorder. That is, I didn’t see any indication that he suffers from Manic Episodes. While it is true that your husband is irritable, remember that, in order to be diagnosed with a Bi-Polar Disorder, the person must also exhibit 4 other symptoms from the above list.From the way you described your husband, I am wondering if he is depressed. In fact, increased irritability (e. g. persistent anger or a tendency to respond to events with angry outbursts or blaming others, or an exaggerated sense of frustration over minor matters) is a common symptom of depression. Likewise, social withdrawal is another common symptom. Your husband ‘s locking himself away in his room would be considered social withdrawal.I realize that I haven’t taken a complete case history, and your husband may exhibit many symptoms of Bi-Polar Disorder which you haven’t mentioned. Based upon what I have read, I think your husband may have been misdiagnosed. At this point, he needs to obtain a second opinion from a skilled Psychiatrist specializing in differential diagnosis. If I am correct that your husband suffers from depression, then the medications that he is currently taking are not appropriate for his problem.And, this leads me into your question about his chances for recovery. If he has been misdiagnosed, and is not on the proper medications, his chances of recovery are slim. Whereas, if he is suffering from a depression and is given the proper medications, his chances of recovery are good.So, here’s the plan. Get a second opinion. If his medications are shifted, it will take up to 6 weeks to see an improvement–provided that the new medication works for him. Sometimes several medications must be tried before the right one is found. It would also be good for him to begin therapy in conjunction with the medication. Whatever set him off six years ago, needs to be discussed and worked-through so that he doesn’t carry unresolved emotional material that could impede his recovery. You mentioned that he went downhill when you gave birth to girls. It would be good to explore whether this is related in some way to his emotional downslide.Bottom line, you are correct in saying that you shouldn’t be suffering and sacrificing your life. And, no, your children shouldn’t watch you suffer and put your life on hold forever. So, set an end date, and if he isn’t better, you will need to get on with your life, as painful as it may be. Please let me know the result of your second opinion and what you decide to do.