We arrived back from our trip and although the trip was great in many ways, I wish I had more positive things to say about my husband's behaviour while we were there, but I don't! Before we left, he had been stable on Lithium/Lamictal/Adderall for about 3 months. He seemed unstable the entire time we were gone.
The trip began with us being on the wrong flight, and therefore missing our initial flights. This has never happened to me before, and it was not fun with 4 of us at the airport. As I tried to resolve and book new seats with the ticketing agent, my husband yelled and carried on and insulted the ticket agent who was trying to help me with the situation. She was so nice, and was doing her best to help, when he came up screaming about how he wanted to see "the big kahuna" and stop wasting my time with her. Because I was handling the situation (as he cannot usually handle these type of situations without losing it), she already had her supervisor involved. He came across like the biggest jerk and embarrassed me. He was yelling at me as if I had done something wrong, taking all the stress of the situation out on me and making it worse. People were staring at him and he didn't even notice, or care. Anyway, long story short - we had to book new tickets and pay the difference which was astronomical for last minute fares. So we decided to go home and start looking online for better fares.
I stayed up half the night trying to find the best deals, as my husband ranted on about how he didn't even want to go anymore, and how I should leave him and my daughter here (which I did not want to do since this was our family vacation that we had planned for 6 months). At one point, he told me what cap he didn't want me to spend over and I agreed. I finally found tickets within that range (even better) and booked them. After I booked them, he yelled at me again about how he didn't want to go anymore, how I should have listened to him and left them here, and how I shouldn't have spent one more dime on the trip, when I did exactly what he had agreed to. He went on about this for another day until our next flights out.
When we arrived at our final destination (2 days later), all was well for about a day until he started losing it again. First of all, I already know I have to approach everything with caution with my husband. I try to word things well, state the facts, keep an even tone of voice, etc...but after 24 hrs, he was already in a much more irritable state, snapping at me, raising his voice, cussing, etc...I kept asking him to please stop being unkind, calm down and be happy, and make the best of things. Again, I was trying to explain to the children about Dad's "yelling problem". At one point I told him he was not pleasant to be around, and that it was making everyone around him miserable. He went off on me for that. It was ridiculous, his negative moods were clouding over everything good about the trip. We had a hectic schedule when we arrived because the purpose was for a family wedding with many relatives in from all over the world, and many fun functions and activities/events planned before the wedding. All the events were so fun, except my husband had no patience with our youngest daughter, or with anyone who said anything that rubbed him the wrong way. He would talk to people and crack jokes (he always tells me how "everyone thinks he's so funny, that's why he's always at the center of a party"), but then when we would get back to the hotel room, he would yell and go on with me about how he wanted to go home and how I should have left him there, and how "he wasn't needed there", except as a babysitter, when we were both with our young children the entire time. He was totally unreachable, irrational and irritable again, just like his good old self before the Lamictal seemed to kick in.
Everytime I would try to ask him to calm down or please don't say that, or that he was hurting my feelings, or scaring us with his anger, he would twist everything as if it were my fault. It was nuts.
It was a fun trip, but everytime I felt joy or the children were having a good time, it seemed he was stomping on everything. He was off his sleep schedule and the drinking really wasn't an issue. As a matter of fact, the only night he had several beers, he was the nicest.
When we arrived home, he was still irritable and snapping at everything I said, yelling at the children, etc...the minute I would say something to him about his behaviour, he would launch into a full personal attack on me. I told him overall the stress seemed to be too much for him and that next time if it would be that way, I would leave him at home. Once again, he twisted everything on me ("I made him that way" and "I should have known he would be that way", etc...). He then proceeded to yell at me how I was "trying to find fault with him to tell the therapist", "just looking for a reason", "love to tell him what's wrong with him", "making things up"......) Then he started his rant about how I was "throwing BP in his face" (when I never mentioned the word BP), I was simply telling him the facts, that he was highly irritable and not pleasant to be around. How "his BP dx is BS", etc...blaming HIS behaviour problems on me again, which he has always been good at. Each time I would talk to him, I would stay calm and stick to the facts ("you seemed to be very stressed out, were just very irritable and it hurt my feelings"), this would provoke a response like this - "oh yeah, you're God Almighty, you think you can tell a person what they are" or "you're the one with the problem", or "you should have known not to bring me" (when the trip was always planned as a family vacation), or "this is what you get for not listening to me".
On the trip and on the way home, my husband would say such negative things and if I would ask him why or for clarification on something he said (he often says things that don't make a lot of sense to others at the time), he would light into me about how "something was wrong with my thinking", how "I was trying to play mind games with him" and tell me that "It's easy to understand what I meant" when anyone rationally thinking would have interpreted his comments the way I did.
In addition to just being a jerk, he is so ungrateful for this time away for our family. It took a lot of time, effort and $ to plan this trip, and he made the worst out of everything. He would put on this happy face around the family, but then let me have it at the hotel at least 4 out of the 6 nights. We would arrive back after having a good time (sometimes stressful with my little girl sleep-deprivated and tired), and he would yell and leave us feeling empty.
So I guess I'll end with this - what is the POINT of all the time, energy, patience, life adjustments, money, meds, therapy visits, etc....when you finally get time away from the hectic schedule of life to ENJOY yourself, and your husband acts like THIS towards you and your children?
I'm really confused now. I honestly had hope that this would be the first somewhat normal vacation with him, since he has been so stable. He went from being kind, loving, easy to be around, receptive, positive - to this again.
All the efforts he has been showing, the trip, our comfort levels with him - - everything feels invalidated or clouded over now.
4support, I am so sorry to hear about how your vacation went, i know that had to be devastating to you as a mom as we want to make good memories for our children to look back on of happy family outings and vacation.
I am bipolar2, hubby is not, but he sounds alot like yours with the irritability, sarcasm, etc, so I can definently relate.
The only thing I can think of is that perhaps the "change" is what caused this problem with his behavior. I have read that stability and routine are very very important, and that a deviation from routine can trigger a bipolar episode. I don't know if this is what happened, am only guessing based on what I've read so far.
Regardless, you have my utmost respect for being such a caring and patient wife and mother, and I hope that your husband finds balance soon so that he can appreciate what you do for him.
I'm just wondering what is the point of all of his therapy if he is going to act this way everytime there is change, a different routine, or stress? I thought he was working on learning to control this behaviour. I am assuming this was an 'episode', sometimes it is very confusing. I mean, change/stress/shift in routine - these are everyday occurences in life. People deal with it. I really thought he was growing with his self awareness, but when I tell him the way he is behaving is hurtful or whatever, he still personally attacks ME, which is wrong and makes everything worse. He is not taking responsibility for his own behaviour.
I am sorry to hear that you deal with the irritability and sarcasm as well with your hubbie, it is not fun, and I do consider it verbal abuse.
There were many great highlights of this trip too. What upsets me next to hubbie's behaviour is that these occasions and opportunities are way too rare to be spoiled by someone's behaviour. Now, when I reflect upon the wonderful times, I think of the way my husband behaved afterwards. I am very angry with him for doing this. My children see him act this way and I do not want them thinking it is normal! We work way too hard to not be able to enjoy and absorb the memories of our vacations. Is this what we have to look forward to everytime we have the chance to get away?
4, I am so sorry you had to go through more of this especially at a family vacation. I can relate to your feelings so well. I barely remember any special occasions that were not spoiled by an "episode." It breaks my heart your children have to witness this abuse and it is abuse. I hope that things can change for your family soon before you are broken down and empty. Sorry to be so blunt.
You know, I just don't get it. My husband is on meds, in therapy, and was so stable before we left. He was like this on/off the whole trip. There were times he was OK and I could tell he was controlling himself more, but the rest of the time he just let it loose. Before we went, he finally seemed to have some acceptance of the disorder, and much more self awareness, but now I'm seeing the denial and distortions pop out again. I am going to talk with the therapist. I just don't get it.
4......I don't post much, but I read a lot and keep up with all of you. I'm so sorry you're going through this but IMHO I think you need to put your kids and yourself first and think about moving on. It's very noble to "stick it out" and try to help your husband but when you've done everything you can what's there to try? Your children are being damaged no matter how many times you explain that "Daddy is sick". They hear the screaming and ranting and Mommy being verbally abused. I know all these decisions are difficult but I just had to give you my opinion. I'll say a prayer for you to help you make the right decision no matter what it is.
I'm so sorry you had such a difficult time. I know how much you have struggled with your husband's behavior and how much you love him when he is "himself." I have read your eloquent posts and know that there is still so much between the two of you and that this out-of-control behavior is difficult to understand, to manage, and to live with. I also know that making the final decision to leave is a big one and one that will not come easily.
The only thing I can recommend to you is that you make some agreements before hand about how you will respond to his behavior. Your husband is still an adult, bipolar or not, and you have young children who deserve better than to see you verbally abused. So, if he really can't control his anger, then you may have to take yourself out of the situation and not try to reason with him, explain to him, or even communicate with him.
I would not have let him off the hook from going on the family vacation because it's a bad precedence to set, but you can tell him you will detach yourself and the children from him if he's verbally abusive.
4 Support, you have been unbelievably supportive and you have your limits. You have supported him in every possible way to get the help he needs. If his meds are off, or if he needs a change, you will continue to be supportive, but you cannot let yourself be the brunt of his ill-will. It's not healthy for you or your children.
I don't know if this helps or not, but please know that I'm thinking about you and hope tomorrow is better.
I just saw your post and read through everything. Yikes! What a nightmare. Just about as bad as you had feared.
While you were gone someone on the board wrote about what it was like in the midst of any episode. I can't remember who it was, but it was MOST instructive. In it she explained the extreme pressure she was under when anywhere other than "at home." She was trying so hard to appear "normal" and it took just about all her energy. So when she got home she would have a meltdown and take it all out on those she loved the most, and felt the most comfortable with. She was aware of doing this and yet, seemingly powerless to stop it from happening. Then she would be consumed with guilt because she didn't want to hurt the people she cared most for. I wish I could remember who wrote that, as it was a description I had never read anywhere previously.
I think this is exactly what happened with your husband. The meds had him stable, and it all worked as long as he was on familiar turf -- but look at all the stress you went through, even before you actually got to Canada. This is enough to make "normal" people lose their cool. A manic episode can be like a hurricane gathering speed as it goes through temperature changes, picking up velocity as it goes. By the time you got to Canada he was probaly starting an episode and probably needed more medication. He was trying so hard to hold it together when he was with the various relatives that he would just have a meltdown when it was safe (i.e., being around you and the kids).
Before you went on the trip, you knew that change is one of the most difficult things for a bipolar person. Going off schedule, going into a different time zone etc. upsets his already screwed up seratonin. It was a risk and unfortunately, you found out he isn't as stable as you had thought.
I am really sorry things turned out this way, 4. As to the rest of your questions, I'm afraid I don't have any advice. Talk to the therapist. Perhaps he can shed some light.
4 ~ I don't know what to offer you in terms of advice....my heart breaks for you because I KNOW, as many know here, how much you love your husband. I do agree that the change in environment seems to have triggered a relapse in your husband and would be interested in knowing how he has been since he got home.
I agree with Hope in the sense of disengaging yourself as much as possible from your husband when he gets this way. Allow your children to see that you don't have to take his verbal abuse and just walk away.
I would suggest that when your husband is calm and able to hold a discussion sit down with him and tell him that while you understand BP behavior it isn't acceptable for your children to see him saying nasty things or being verbally abusive towards their mother. And that you have come up with a plan such as making a "T" with your hands as a signal that you have had enough and that you are removing yourself from the room. If he continues to badger you tell him your plan is to give him a verbal warning to go to another room and if he doesn't that you will leave with the kids to go somewhere where they do not have to witness this. Your plan can have a "three strikes your out" rule in the sense that the second time you will spend the night with a friend or family member and that the third time you will be forced to ask him to leave for an indefinite period of time until he can get his act together.
Something has to be done so that your husband realizes that although he is BP he still has to find a way to cope with setbacks by identifying his triggers and coming up with a plan to refrain from abusing his family.
I hope that you can come up with something that will spare you and your kids the pain of having to take the pain of your hubby's words and actions.
Take care of yourself and your children. It is time for your hubby to learn how to take care of himself.
I like to hear everyone's advice and insight, keep in mind that my husband was doing much better on his meds and in therapy before this trip. The stress and change triggered him and obviously that is not good. Outside of that, his rants aren't going on all the time anymore. I can't believe I got thru the times when they were going on all the time (pre-meds). It just seems that every episode is a setback. I am not a submissive woman, and I do stand up to him when he verbally attacks. I also tell the children that Daddy's behaviour is unacceptable, that he has a "problem", and that it is not normal or kind, and that I do not expect them to ever behave that way. I have told him that no matter how much we love him, there is no license for verbal abuse, and that if he does not work harder on controlling it, we're going to have a problem. He goes to therapy tomorrow and I'm going to talk with therapist in the AM as well...
You are all wonderful friends! Thanks SO much for your support, advice and kind words...
My husband is settling back into himself since we arrived back it seems. He is acting OK and much more calm. I was able to sit down and talk with him last night, about our trip, about when his behaviour seemed to begin and how it affected us, and about what I felt was happening with him. He admitted that he was stressed and therefore p****d off for most of the trip, although he still said he had a good time, we could have had a much better time without his rants. I reiterated again that I have always tried to be very understanding, that I accept him for who he is, that I know how stress can affect him, but that he still does not have the right to say hurtful things or yell at our family. I told him he has to work harder to control this from now on, that I know he struggles sometimes and that it's hard, but that he never has the right to take it out on us. I also brought up his statement a couple of days ago about how "his BP dx is BS" and said I was tired of hearing him deny that there is a problem after all the effort, time, $ and progress that has been put into his pdocs, evaluations, therapy, meds, etc...and that if he really thought this was all BS, then just stop everything right now and we would see what happens (I was testing him). He said he didn't mean it that way. He said that because he has the condition and is on a meds regimen and in therapy, if he is affected by the disorder when he is under stress/change, why would I be so surprised. This is a point, but another HUGE reason he is in therapy and on meds, to learn how to control it better. This wasn't just a bad day, he was 'off' for the entire week we were out of town. He didn't push back much this time, an indicator that he is somewhat stable again.
Anyway, he is going to therapy tonight. I have talked with the therapist already and hopefully he can help him understand what happened, and help him to prevent it from happening in the future. I feel very blessed that we have such an excellent therapist and my husband finally seems to be going to see him willingly.
I can handle his mood swings when he has them, but it's the turning on me with his words and the anger toward our family that I can't handle. This has always been the struggle for me.
I try to focus on the many things I am thankful for, which includes all of you! I wish you could meet my children, they are the ones who keep me strong.
The good news, 4 Support, is how far your husband has come! You are so lucky to have an excellent therapist and hopefully, over time, your husband will learn how to handle the triggers that unsettle him.
You sound like you are doing everything you can - you are patient, supportive, but not wishy-washy. Your children have an excellent role model and will learn patience and love and empathy from this experience.
Well, I'm doing the best I can. It's disheartening to always have that slight nervousness which I described pre-vacation about - will he be OK? will he not be OK? will this be a good time? will he make it miserable? I'm not sure I can ever be prepared enough, it's still hard to deal with when it's going on. It upsets me when I think about not being able to fully enjoy the time away because of his episodes, vacations are so important for rejuvenation and fun!
In a word, no, the therapist wasn't too surprised based on the stress involved early on. He had also hoped that hubbie would be more in control, especially because he has been doing so well lately. Won't know much else until after his session, so I'll post more soon.....