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Whack-a-mole

Posted Apr 11 2009 1:04am

Did you ever play that game in an arcade, where you have a hammer, and these little moles pop up, and you're supposed to hit them back into their hole, and then another one pops up, and you hit that one too, and then a different one pops up?

Well, the hospital staff also felt like my DH (dear husband) had severe depression and possibly post-traumatic stress disorder from something that had happened in his childhood, so he left the hospital on antidepressants. After a week or two, his depression started to lift and he started doing more than just sleeping all day, which was great, right?

Except that my non-drinking husband suddenly started drinking in bars every night, and lying to me about it. He also, unbeknownst to me, was buying rounds for "the house" and writing checks to cover the tab. He would tell me he was going to work, and instead he would go to a bar. In our entire marriage up to this point, he had been a virtual non-drinker. On New Years Eve, for example, we went to a local bar with the intent of having a "couple of drinks" and after 1/2 glass of champagne, he was done. So this was just another thing that was totally out of character for him.

Along with the drinking, there were the tattoos. My "normal" husband had always had just two tattoos, one on each shoulder. Both of his tattoos were deeply meaningful, and he had put huge amounts of thought into each of them--they each signified aspects of him, one was a bear. He had had his artistically talented brother draw the bear, then they worked together to revise it until it was just right, then he did research to see which tattoo artist could best duplicate it. The other one was a symbol of his heritage, interspersed with a symbol of his profession. This type of thoroughness was very typical before the illness reared its ugly head. After he started drinking, though, he came home with a tattoo that said "In God We Trust, all others pay cash". It was pretty lame, but he thought it was hilarious and was offended that I didn't see it. About a week later, he got a tattoo of scars on his forearm, to signify "scars that don't heal". Then about a week after that, he got a hatchet on one of his forearms "because it was cool". But during our entire marriage he had always said that he would never get a tattoo on his forearm, because it could affect what employers and others think of you, and a person might often have to keep it hidden. But that didn't seem to matter now.

So as he was drinking and getting tattoos, he was spending so much money that he wasn't paying any of his bills, even though he was still working full time. The bill collectors started calling. At first they were pretty polite, like "I'm not sure you realize it, but your payment is late". After a couple of months, though, they graduated to "if you don't send us money today, we are going to hand this over to our attorney". I researched bankruptcy and learned that in our state he could file separately, without affecting my credit. It was May of 2007 when he decided to file bankruptcy. As of today, September 30, he still hasn't done it.

He started to have these WILD mood swings, where he would be normal one minute, sad the next, and then a few minutes later, he would want to go to a bar and get in a fight. His mood was just all over the place. We could be having a normal conversation about our daughter having homework, and suddenly he would stop and venomously say "you know, I really hate her". Way, way out of character for him--we both love her very much. I guess I am lucky, though, that he did see fit to express his mood swings to me only, and that our daughter saw very little of them. He lost his temper a few times when it was out of proportion to what had happened, but I have to say, he never has said hurtful things to her just because he was having a mood swing, he has always had enough control to keep those thoughts to himself. To this day I don't think our daughter actually realizes how bad things are, she just thinks Daddy "sleeps a lot".

One day he told me that his ex-girlfriend had called him and told him that she still loved him, and did he have a happy marriage? He told me that he told her yes, he did have a happy marriage. He told her some lies to make her think he was doing better than he really was, then let her go. I didn't feel threatened about that at all, because I'm not a jealous person, and I have always known that our marriage was strong, very strong.....but when I got our cell phone bill, I discovered that he had been calling her, and she had called him numerous times. I told him flat-out that I was not comfortable with this and that I thought he should put a stop to it. He said he would.

Then one night, I was supposed to stay in the city where my job is, I called DH at about the time when he usually went to bed, and our daughter told me that he wasn't home. I called his cell phone, no answer. I called for three hours steady, could not get a hold of him, and I was really worried about our daughter being alone, so I drove home two hours. When I was 10 minutes away from home, he called my cell phone from his EX-GIRLFRIEND's cell phone to tell me he'd be home in an hour or two. When he got home, I really lit into him. I have never been so angry in my life, and this also was so out of character for him, that I was just beside myself. I don't THINK anything happened, but I'm not 100% sure. He says nothing happened, but there have also been countless times where he said that he wasn't drinking, and he was....

I didn't think I would ever be as close to calling it quits as I was that night. There's just so much a person can take! But I kept on telling myself "in sickness and in health" and that helped a little. Shortly after all this happened, he stopped going to work completely. So now he had no money (supposedly) and all the time in the world. We went to see his therapist together,and his therapist finally thought that maybe there was "some bipolar going on". So it took about a month, but he was put on Seroquel for the bipolar symptoms.

For the first time since it all started, I had a little hope. The Seroquel seemed to really tone down the mood swings, where, instead of having 5-6 mood swings every day, he might have 2-3 a week. Unfortunately, those 2-3 mood swings were always doozies--usually where he would get extremely angry over things that would make a normal person say "oh, bummer".... so I know the Seroquel was working, but it became clearer and clearer that it wasn't enough by any means.

So, to recap, we got rid of the depression, and he started lying and drinking. Then he started getting tattoos. Then the thing with his ex-girlfriend. And all the mood swings. It was just that "whack-a-mole" thing.

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