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Doc@DrIrene.com

My Husband's BPD Diagnoses

My Husband's BPD Diagnosis

January 16, 2000

Dr. Irene,

I just discovered your web site today, and it's wonderful and so helpful.  I left my husband two months ago after just 14 months of marriage.  My dreams are shattered.  He was so incredibly verbally abusive--at least once a day--but the rest of the time was the man of my dreams.  Only someone who has gone through this can understand how this is possible - so there's really no one for me to talk to about it.  Why not join an email support list, or post to the bulletin board? This site is a community   of caring people who know exactly what its all about.  

While we were together, my husband and I realized he had some serious mental problems and began to seek help. First he was diagnosed as obsessive/compulsive, then bipolar.  While he was on medications for these problems, he continued to get worse...the verbal abuse continued, and he also became completely unable to function, work, deal with his daughter, etc.  He totally fell apart and tried to commit suicide three times within about six weeks (prescription drug overdoses).

The last suicide attempt (he nearly succeed that time) was two months ago.  Before he got out of the hospital, his psychiatrist did the most compassionate thing...he told me that he felt he had misdiagnosed my husband...that he now felt the diagnosis was borderline personality disorder.  He told me to read "I Hate You, Don't Leave Me," and said if I want a normal life to get divorced.  This doctor helped me to see that no amount of help will ever change my husband--his problem is pathological (he was severely abused as a child--emotionally, verbally, sexually and physically) and he is not capable of having a healthy relationship.  As a result of that honest conversation, I did not allow my husband to come home after he left the hospital.  I filed for divorce and he moved to a neighboring state to live near family.  I did read that book - it's as if it were written specifically about my husband.  That doctor really, truly saved my life and freed me to get out of the abuse.  Can you love someone, know they are ill, and still leave them?  The answer is yes. Your husband sounds as though he was particularly sick.

But I am so sad and lonely.  As I'm sure you know, one thing that happens when you live with a mentally ill person or a verbally abusive person like this is that your world gets much smaller.  I have friends, but no one that I socialize with on a regular basis.  I have my own business and work out of my home--so I'm really by myself a lot.  I have one child away at college and two elementary school-aged children who live with their dad near by (I had to give up custody of my children in order to deal with my husband's illness, but actually, it has worked out very well and I'm happy with this situation, at least!).  Also, I don't have any family close by (which in a way is good, because my mom is verbally abusive and I think she may be borderline, too).

I'm finding a church, taking classes, joining lots of networking opportunities for my business, and doing about everything I can think of to meet new people.  I'm also reaching out to everyone I know to let them know that this is a very  difficult time for me and trying to schedule times to get together for lunch, etc.  I also have a phenomenal therapist, am journaling regularly, and am looking for an appropriate support group.  I'm reading books like "In the Meantime," and getting in touch with my spirituality--which is so important to me--to help me through this.

So...I feel like I'm doing everything I can to move ahead with my life, get through the divorce, and find happiness just by being me and enjoying every day for what it brings.  The hardest part is not having anyone to talk to on a regular basis (other than my therapist, of course) about what I've been through.  My sister lives half way across the country from me, and she's a therapist, but I can tell that even she is tired of hearing about my sadness.  My family hates my husband for the way he treated me and cannot stand to hear me talk about being sad and lonely, or saying how much I love him and miss the good things we had.  They are so happy I'm getting divorced, and want me to feel happy, too!  I am relieved to be out of the abusive situation, but just so incredibly sad. Every day I feel the need to talk about how sad I am...but who can I talk to?

I know there are no magic words that can whisk me through the grieving process...but I did read so many things on your web site that helped me. I realize that I'm really grieving for what I was hoping for, not for what was.  Since my husband acknowledged that he had a mental illness, I really thought we would find the medication/therapy combination and things would be OK.  We had our business together and were together 24 hours a day.  Most of the time, until he got really bad the last three months, we had so much fun together--we loved doing the same things most of the time and could entertain ourselves just by making popcorn and snuggling together while watching Jeopardy!  I have learned so much about mental illness this past year--I am actually thinking about finding some speaking opportunities where I can tell others about verbal abuse and mental illness...I wish I had known a year ago what I know now...it would have saved me so much pain.  He was so incredibly cruel to me when he wasn't treating me like the love of his life.  The roller coaster created by life with a mentally ill person is so frightening and devastating, isn't it?

Thanks for being there and for your fantastic web site.  I'm going to tell my therapist about it--I think it would be helpful to so many others. 

If you can recommend a way to use your web site that will help me, I would appreciate it so much!  Any other thoughts you have will be so welcomed...I'm struggling, but really determined to learn from this and be a stronger person.

Thanks so much!     Jane 

Dear Jane,

Thank you for all your kind praise. You need information and support to make sense of your experience. I'm glad you are actively seeking out both. Do take a look at the support options above - this site is really chock full of wonderful people who know understand, and you will also find a lot of information. There are also a few more books you may want to check out on the book shelf (or in your local book store), especially those specific to BPD. (Please let me know if you find any books particularly helpful so I can let others know!)

When you are done with the site, check out the links. There are 3 links pages so far, and one is specific to BPD, courtesy of one of the thoughtful members of this community.

My very best wishes to you, Dr. Irene

January 19, 2000

Dr. Irene,
Thank you for your response!  I hope my letter can help others going through something similar.  I'll definitely check out everything. I've already gotten on the support group lists, and hope to find a time when I can participate in the live chat.  I'll definitely let you know if I come  across any books on BPD that are particularly helpful. 

You are right: my husband really is very, very ill.  It's so tragic.  We are so in love with each other.  Every day I have to will myself to not call him -  amazingly, when he's not abusive, he's the most compassionate, loving, comforting person I've ever known.  So when I'm hurting - he is who I want!  But I go back and read my journal, and reread the really cruel emails he has sent me when he is in his "sick" mode - and that gives me strength.  Also, I have regained my relationship with my children - -the most important people in my world - and I would never compromise that again. Good! You owe them!  It's just one day at a time!!

God bless you for all you've done for me and thousands of others who deal with this particular kind of abuse.  I told my therapist about your site, and she was thrilled to hear about it, and was glad it has helped me so much.  I think what really struck me after spending about 2 hours at your site was this:  My husband's abuse toward me was not "different" or "special."  It was completely text book abuse.  I think I kept saying to myself, "Well, he's very abusive, but it's because he's sick.  He is so in love with me--the abuse isn't really him - it's the sickness acting out."  I wanted to think that I was not in a classic abuse situation - it was a "special" abuse situation.  Well - ha ha ha!! All the letters and information on your site helped me see that it was as classic as you can get, and all abusers are sick in one way or another. My husband's mental illness is extreme, no doubt, but he was able to hold his tongue with other people in his life.  He could think bad things about one of our clients, but know better than to say it to their face. So, he had the ability to discern right from wrong and use self control if he wanted to.  He just didn't want to with me. He wanted complete control of me in an attempt to feel safe in a world that is a very scary place to him.

Thank you again for everything.  I hope you realize how many people you are helping.  I'd like to be able to help others in this situation, too. It would be great if someone could benefit from what I've gone through.

A big hug, Jane