Post # 1
Good afternoon bees. I’m sorry if this is the wrong spot to post a thread like this. I considered the “military” forum, but it’s not a wedding-related issue so that didn’t seem as appropriate.
My husband’s getting his discharge papers tomorrow morning, and then they’ll put him on the next flight that has room available. About a month ago, he had a psychological episode on the ship, he just snapped. Then he spent two weeks in a Naval mental health facility where he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Then he went back to his ship for about five days to finalize things about his discharge, and now for the past week and a half, he’s just been running around taking care of stuff in preparation for coming home (shipping his things, dealing with the bank, etc.) I visited him for a few days the weekend after his release from the hospital, and he was really tightly wound.
The nature of his discharge is honorable, so he’ll get the VA benefits and the GI BIll since he’s been in the Navy for 3.5 years. I think he should wait until September to go back to school, at soonest, possibly even January. He should even hold off for a few months to start working because he needs time to decompress.
He doesn’t have combat PTSD, he never saw combat. He never even deployed. But he does have PTSD from other traumatic events that happened in his life before he joined the military.
I guess I just… Don’t know how to be supportive besides lending an ear when he wants to talk and giving him space when he wants space… I know he’s not going to follow up with therapy unless someone gets on his case to do that. Should I do that? Or should I just leave him alone about it?
Post # 3
Bipolar disorder is extremely difficult to deal with, I’m sorry it had to come out this way and effect his job as well as his personal life. I would just make sure he stays tightly on schedule for his meds (if he’s getting them) and/or therapy. What usually happens is they hit rock bottom, get treatement, get on medication, then things start to get better or maybe they have a manic period and they decide that they’re “fixed” and go off their medication. Of course, this plunges them right back to square one, and the cycle continues. Make sure he’s continually getting help. You don’t know how he’s going to react to this; maybe he’ll decide you’re the bad guy and refuse treatment every step of the way. I think you need to go to therapy or counseling sessions with him so the doctor can talk to both of you about how to continue treatment, so if or when he decides to forego his meds or sessions, you can be the voice of reason.
I dated a guy with bipolar disorder, and it was truly heartwrenching. When things are good, it’s so good and you feel like you have “them” back and everything’s getting better. Then something changes or snaps, and you don’t even recognize them. My heart goes out to you.
Post # 4
I think you yourself should possibly seek out therapy with someone who is specialized in this disorder. I have several family members with it, and it can be very difficult to deal with. Even more so when it is effecting the person you base your life around. The most important thing you can do is educate yourself, and learn how to set appropriate boundaries with emotions, finances, legalities, etc.
Yes. You do need to follow up on him getting therapy. This is a serious condition and he will likely need medication. Again, this is where you getting educated about the condition comes in. If you truly understand the scope of what is happening, you will understand that he needs help. Regardless of what he is telling you. This is one of those times where his condition will be telling you one thing (“I’m fine!” “I love my manic phases, so I don’t want to go on meds to get rid of them!” etc etc. It’s a denial not unlike an emotional addiction, and since you are his wife and you want to believe that he is ok, you go along with it).
You both need help. I suggest that you get it!
Post # 5
Have you checked into support for yourself on how to handle a loved one with a mental diagnosis? Is he on meds?
You cannot make him go to therapy. Consider couples therapy and see how he treats that.
This sounds like a tough place for you both. Wishing you the best.
Post # 6
@CorvusCorax: He doesn’t have combat PTSD, he never saw combat. He never even deployed. But he has schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type, and is classified as 100% disabled.
Sorry, but even never seeing combat, you can have PTSD from being in the military. My XH was on a sub – he never was in a combat zone. But he saw a buddy die from electrocution.
I have dealt with the VA for two years now with XH (soon to be XH). Make sure that you get as many contacts as you can, and stay on top of them with regard to processing the disability paperwork. There is a huge backlog right now, but using the advocates can really help. Also, the VA will schedule him for appointments and mail you a letter – they won’t call to work with your schedule. You are expected to work to what they need/want.
Good luck – PM me if you need questions answered or just for support.
Post # 7
- Wedding: August 2013 - Rocky Mountains USA
@CorvusCorax: Yes you NEED to get him into therapy and onto BPD drugs. I know several people very closely who have BPD – including my Fiance -, and the difference between no action and treatment is night and day. If he really has it (you should definitely get a second opinion!), he needs medication. Even if he seems ok now or in the future without it, there is a constant risk of his condition manifesting and torpedoing his (and your) life. With medication, he can be fully functional and happy. Furthermore, there is a LOT of new research coming out about the severe and permanent damage that these conditions, when untreated, do to one’s brain.
PM me if you ever want to talk more about this!
Post # 8
FH was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a few years before we started dating. My advise to you is to be supportive and be there for him no matter what. I was not with FH when he was diagnosed but he told me that it was devastating. He didn’t want to accept that he had a mental disorder and he just wanted to die. This is an incurable disorder and it will be tough for him to come to terms with it. It is manageable though. From personal experience, there is a time when pressure is appropriate. I don’t think right now is a good time.
Post # 9
I think you need to give him some time because he has been to a doctor and has his medication so give him time to get use to being home. I wouldnt start telling him what he should do because that is what he has been subjected to for 3.5 years. He should not be trying to attend school until he has had some serious time in therapy.
The best thing you can do is lend an ear to listen, give him hugs and kisses which provide him with a safe place to land emotionally, try not to walk on egg shells because this will make him think that you are nervous and cant be yourself. Of course allow him some space so he can think and accept his diagnosis.
It might be hard or it could be easy if you ask him what does he need from you? This will provide you with insight you will need to get past this and at some point see this as his new normal.
GREAT BIG HUG
Post # 10
@lolot: I definitely agree on getting a second opinion too! Sometimes emergency psych wards will jump to diagnoses in order to get them on stabilizing drugs and get the ball rolling on treatment ASAP, but this also means they can make a lot of mistakes. If he is on meds, or is going to be on meds, you want to be as sure as possible that he has BPD, as the meds are really heavy and he will be on them probably for the rest of his life.
Post # 11
I agree with getting a second opinion. I’m not even sure we should do it through the VA because they are notoriously backed up in the NYC area. A close friend of mine who’s a former Marine told me about a small VA clinic near Philly (which isn’t too far and we could make a whole Philly trip out of it), but they may not deal with mental health. I’ll have to ask.
Thanks for all the words of support, everyone!
We have a long road ahead of us. When the initial event happened, he got worked up about something and threw a couple people across the room, and then sequestered himself somewhere on the ship where he started cutting himself. Everyone said they didn’t see it coming.
When I visited him a week ago, he had another episode and burned himself purposefully with a searing hot knifeblade, the flat part. I tried to take the knife away form him but he’s stronger than me. I know the meds take time to start working, but I feel so damn helpless. We woke up the next morning and we were lying in bed. He just said really softly, “I’m sorry for scaring you. I love you.” For the rest of the day, he seemed fine and we didn’t talk about what had happened at all. I didn’t know what to say. Whenever something upsets or confuses me, I just sweep it under the rug. I know I need to stop that.