Mormons and Mental Illness: Spousal Support

This guest post, “Spousal Support for the Mentally Ill: What Not to Do,” was submitted by Tom.

I want to share some of the things that I’ve learned from my experience as the husband of somebody who suffers from mental illness. I’m not a model husband or a model anything, but I’ve made some mistakes that might be instructive.

First of all, some context. My wife has been dealing with depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) for most of her life, including the five years that we’ve been married. Her mental/emotional problems have manifest themselves to varying extents at various times in the following ways: intrusive, repetitive thoughts of violence and suicide that she can’t let go of; intense, irrational fear of losing control and doing something against her will; panic attacks; intense fear of damnation; extended periods of depression. She knows that her feelings and fears are irrational. When she has panic attacks she knows there is no reason to be upset. She has no desire to hurt herself or others. She has never acted against her will. But the thoughts and fears persist and often lead to depression and despair.

I am a very rational, even-keeled person. I don’t experience a lot of emotional highs or lows. I am pretty well able to roll with the punches. So I have no personal experience to draw on to help me understand my wife’s problems.

Some of the things I have done wrong:

I thought that what worked for me should work for everybody. Early in our marriage I was attached to the idea that happiness is a choice. Unhappiness, I thought, could be cured by adjusting attitude and seeking the Spirit. This way of thinking worked for me (and it mostly still does) and I saw no reason that it shouldn’t work for my wife. So when she had problems I explained to her the way that I thought and expected her to just choose to be better. When she didn’t I saw it as a character flaw (I blamed her). I don’t think I ever told her this, but she sensed it. This attitude of mine made her feel worse. Rather than being understanding and compassionate I ended up being obtuse and accusatory. Also unhelpful was pointing out to her that her feelings were irrational. She already knew that.

I blamed myself. Any time my wife broke down and told me about the kinds of thoughts she was having it made me feel like a complete failure. She told me many times that I wasn’t the source of her problems. But when she told me that she had suicidal thoughts, it was difficult not to think that it was because I was making her life miserable. I resented her sometimes for telling me these things because it made me feel like I couldn’t make any mistakes without sending her over the edge, like I had to constantly walk on eggshells.

Rather than listen and be supportive, I tried to fix things. When my wife had breakdowns and told me everything she was thinking and feeling, she just wanted me to listen, try to understand, and express sympathy. She didn’t want lectures and she didn’t want me to try to fix her. This is not to say that nothing I said was ever helpful, but my first goal should have been to let her know that I felt for her and that I cared.

I denied that my wife needed help and discouraged her from getting treatment. I thought that since she was functioning reasonably well as a mother and otherwise, she didn’t have a serious problem. And I didn’t like the idea of her taking antidepressants. I thought of them as a crutch that would impede her ability to overcome her problems by herself and thereby grow from the experience.

I was insensitive and selfish. The worst episode we have had was this past summer when my wife decided to get back on a medicine that had helped her before. Two hours after she took the first dose she went into a panic attack that lasted for the better part of the next five days and left her unable to take care of our two young sons (she and the boys ended up having to spend most of the summer at her parents house in Utah while she recovered). This happened the day after I accepted an invitation to write my first article in an academic journal and the deadline was one week ahead, so I had a lot of work to do and not much time to do it. On the second or third morning as I was getting ready to go to school she told me that I couldn’t leave her alone. I assured her that she would be just fine and told her I needed to go. She insisted that I couldn’t leave her alone. I could see in her eyes and hear in her voice that she was terrified. But I had to get that article done. I wasn’t going to budge. Finally, after more back and forth, I threw down the paper I was trying to read and said, “I’m going to fail!” Bad, dumb, stupid idea. What I was really saying and what I’m sure my wife heard was, “I’m going to fail because of you.” Needless to say, that made things worse.

What is LDS-specific in our experience? Well, I think that my misconception of mental illness as something that can be corrected by simple choice has roots in the idea that the Gospel promises peace and happiness to its adherents. All we have to do is learn the truth and choose to live a certain way and we’ll have peace. While discontentment, turmoil, and unhappiness are the wages of sin. Depression and despair caused, not by choice, but by biology don’t fit very well into this stark, black-and-white conception of the Gospel. This conception is, I think, very prevalent.

Additionally, fear of damnation has been a major source of anxiety for my wife. She often feels very guilty for having the kinds of thoughts and feelings that she has. We are taught in the Church, mostly in the context of sexual morality, that we are responsible for our thoughts and that we can sin in our minds. So it’s understandable that my wife would worry that her thoughts are sinful. She sometimes thinks that her unhappiness and inner turmoil are punishments, signs that she is somehow unworthy of the Spirit. Together, we are trying to better understand the nature of God and of life, which is alleviating some of the grief caused by undeserved guilt, I think.

These aren’t all of the mistakes that I’ve made and I’m certainly not done making mistakes, but for my family’s sake I hope that I can avoid the ones that I’ve already made. And I hope that whoever is reading this can also avoid these mistakes. Let’s not pile on, but instead lift up.

Comments

  1. Tom:

    Thanks for posting this- it is very important information. I appreciate that you discussed some of your own personal shortcomings in dealing with these issues so that we can profit and learn from them.

    If I may ask, how did you eventually deal with these issues? How does one even go about seeking help for something like this? Talk to your doctor (not a mental health professional)? Talk to your bishop (not a mental health professional?) How do you even go about getting hooked up with someone who cann help?

  2. Wow, thanks for your insightful essay. I think it brings to light some important issues. Particularly the idea that happiness is exclusively a function of choice. I think to some extent we have to believe that happiness is impacted by our choices, but that doesn’t mean every moment will be happy. We hear examples of those in pain, poverty etc who are still happy. I think they still feel the pain, hunger, cold, etc but that their situation is improved from where it was.

    The idea that mental health is not just a function of our will, but as complicated as physical health is, needs to be more pervasive in our society.

  3. Thanks for this topic.

    I have good LDS friends where the wife is seriously mentally ill.

    Her husband is a saint. Our ward is there for them. I am thankful for modern medicine that can treat to a degree my friends mental illness. I see our more modern understanding of mental illness to be a gift from God. She can function to a degree as a result of modern medicine and I am thankful for that. Her husband has confided to me that he is so so thankful for the Atonement and Jesus. He knows that when they are dead that his wife will be healed from her mental illness.

    I have not encountered the idea that somehow mentally ill people are making bad choices that led to their ailments. If I ever did I think I would know what to say….

  4. Steve McIntyre says:

    What is LDS-specific in our experience? Well, I think that my misconception of mental illness as something that can be corrected by simple choice has roots in the idea that the Gospel promises peace and happiness to its adherents. All we have to do is learn the truth and choose to live a certain way and we’ll have peace. While discontentment, turmoil, and unhappiness are the wages of sin. Depression and despair caused, not by choice, but by biology don’t fit very well into this stark, black-and-white conception of the Gospel. This conception is, I think, very prevalent.

    Thank you, Tom, for saying this. You hit the nail right on the head.

    In my own struggles with depression/anxiety, I have had to overcome these notions myself. When you say that they are “very prevalent,” I think you’re absolutely correct.

  5. Jordan (#1) If I may ask, how did you eventually deal with these issues?

    It’s a continuing process. I still haven’t figured it all out. But I’ve noticed the consequences of some of my mistakes and wrong-headed attitudes. Finding out that other people that I love and respect have had serious mental health problems helped me to stop seeing depression as a character flaw and prescription medication as a sign of weakness.

    This past summer while my wife and kids were away was a valuable (though not pleasant) opportunity for self-examination and reflection, which helped me resolve to correct some mistakes.

    How does one even go about seeking help for something like this?

    Most general practitioners have some experience with mental illness. They can prescribe antidepressants and they can give referrals to mental health professionals. The professional that my wife most trusts is a nurse practitioner.

    General practitioners, though, don’t do talk therapy, which many people find helpful. My wife’s best experience with talk therapy was a couple of informal talks with a family friend who was a bishop at the time. She met with a psychologist at the Church Social Services office in American Fork, Utah, and that was helpful (and relatively inexpensive, which is unfortunately a very important consideration for us right now). Recently, our Bishop referred her to an LDS Social Services therapist that visits our ward meetinghouse weekly. She hasn’t made a visit yet so I don’t know helpful it will be. So even though bishops aren’t mental health professionals, they can put members in touch with LDS Social Services.

  6. Tom,

    I know several women who suffer from similar symptoms. It sounds as if you are learning how to help your wife along the same learning curve that the other husbands have taken. I do hope things improve, both for you and your wife; I believe they will, since I’ve seen others improve in similar ways.

    Your friends are anxious to help you, too!

    Rob

  7. Bishops should never really seek to treat mental illness. Do you call the bishop when you broke your leg?

  8. bbell (#3): I have not encountered the idea that somehow mentally ill people are making bad choices that led to their ailments.

    I’ve never heard this taught, either. And neither has my wife, I think. But it’s a logical extension of the idea that peace is the consequence of living the Gospel and unhappiness is the consequence of not living the Gospel. When people feel miserable despite their best efforts to make the right choices they can feel like they must not be good enough, like they’re not worthy of God’s love no matter what they do.

    I believe it is mostly true that peace is the consequence of living the gospel and unhappiness is the consequence of not living the gospel. But it’s not so black-and-white. Sometimes the idea of a gray area is unsettling.

  9. Tom,

    I know another mentally ill woman that I home taught who also thinks that her ailments are the result of her own bad choices. If she would just do her VT or fulfill her callings she would be OK.

    We had a Psych nurse in our ward who gently tried to explain that her mental illness was not the result of sin or bad choices. But her mental illness is in my opinion making her feel this way. For the record she was a wonderful person and a committed LDS saint. Her husband was very supportive and did the best he could to help her. I used to tell her to believe in Jesus and the power of the resurection. That one day she would be made whole. It was all I had but its powerful stuff.

  10. Tom,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. They are an uplifting reminder of the way we ought to treat each other constantly – with unconditional love and compassion. It’s always a good reminder, and unfortunately always a needed reminder. We would do well to not judge any of our brothers and sisters, and to maintain charity in the utmost degree towards all people at all times.

    Another point, not directed specifically towards Tom but to all, is exactly the same: that we ought to extend that same non-judgmentalism and understanding towards all – including those with whom we disagree. To suggest that those who hold opinions that differ from our own do so because of ignorance is, well, kind of ignorant.

    The fact is that science is far from ascertaining a biological relationship with unhappiness. We actually have no evidence that any part of our biology can compel us to be unhappy. If you had such evidence, you’d be a billionaire. There was a time when many psychologists were convinced of the strong cords that our environment held on the creation of who we are – that is, until Viktor Frankl proved them all wrong with his experience of men in Auschwitz who, in spite of everything, managed to maintain their humanity and a semblance of happiness. Point being, the potential that the human heart has in creating who we are is very much unexplored country. It might be in our best interest not to assume that there is nothing to be found there.

  11. Anon for this thread says:

    bbell,

    Your description of how you helped the woman you home taught, by reassuring her that Christ can make her whole, is exactly what bishops can do for persons suffering from mental illness.

    My wife has a severe mental illness, much of it the result of terrible mental, physical, and sexual abuse through her growing years, and at least during time we have been married, the times she has done the best has been when there has been a bishop or branch president who has been willing to counsel her, together with competent and caring professionals. Her abusers telling her that God didn’t love her and that she deserved what she got led her to believe those lies. Having an authorized respresentative of Christ remind her of His love sometimes is exactly what she needs.

    Many years ago when I took a counseling class in college, the professor told us the result of a study of what made counselors effective. It turns out, it wasn’t so much what counsling approach the mental health professional used–the difference was the relationship between the counselor and the patient. Maybe that’s why the willing bishops/branch presidents were so effective.

    The other church-related point I want to make is this: the rest of the ward will follow the lead of the bishop. If the bishop cares and is willing to devote some of his precious time, then the rest of the ward will, too. If the bishop can’t be bothered, then with rare exceptions, neither can anyone else in the ward. I’ve seen it both ways. In three separate instances, we have had our records in wards other than the ones in which we lived because of the relative attitudes of the bishops.

  12. I had a lot of comments about this, and at the risk of “poaching,” decided they were worth their own thread. Particularly since I have been wondering about this lately.

  13. Anon said, “It turns out, it wasn’t so much what counseling approach the mental health professional used–the difference was the relationship between the counselor and the patient.”

    Yes, this is true! And I think it’s important. If you flesh out some of the implications of this fact, well, I’m not going to here, but they’re really quite fascinating.

  14. Anon for this thread says:

    Tom,

    Thanks for sharing your insights. When things first started really going south for us, I got what I believe is the best advice for any caregiver–spouse, friend, priesthood leader, anyone. That was to not let my wife’s struggles destroy my life. Do everything I can to make my personal life as normal as I can. Keep my same interests, hobbies, etc. The better shape I am in, the better I can help my wife.

    The advantage to that is, when it works, it helps my wife keep her morale up. She tells me often that she thinks she is ruining my life. If I can point out to her all that good things that I have held on to, I can talk her out of that notion. On the other hand, when I let it get to me, she takes full blame for my bad days.

  15. Eric (#10) . . . we ought to extend that same non-judgmentalism and understanding towards all – including those with whom we disagree. To suggest that those who hold opinions that differ from our own do so because of ignorance is, well, kind of ignorant.

    When we encounter people that we disagree with, I think we have a tendency to want to figure out why they come to a different conclusion than we do. I agree that we should resist this tendency. Or at least, we should keep our diagnosis to ourselves.

    That said, attributing someone else’s perceived misunderstanding to ignorance is relatively charitable. It doesn’t imply any moral or intellectual deficiency, just lack of exposure or experience. I would much rather be called ignorant than dumb, mean, or insensitive.

    The fact is that science is far from ascertaining a biological relationship with unhappiness. We actually have no evidence that any part of our biology can compel us to be unhappy.

    Is it true that no biological relationship with unhappiness has been ascertained? Have there not been fMRI studies that associate certain patterns of brain activity with happy feelings and other patterns with unhappy feelings? This wouldn’t constitute proof that physiological mechanisms alone underlie happiness and unhappiness, but it might constitute a “biological relationsip with unhappiness,” no?

    In the absence of conclusive scientific evidence of a physiological basis for unhappiness, we are left to our own perceptions and life experiences to try and understand how happiness is achieved and how unhappiness is avoided. Most of us don’t wait for conclusive scientific evidence before we try to form some sort of understanding of the nature of our experience in this life. We seek understanding from the scriptures, we pray for guidance, and we observe life as we live it. Based on what I have seen and experienced, I don’t believe that all of us are in complete control of our feelings or that all of us can always choose to be happy by choosing righteousness.

    If you disagree, don’t hold back. I’m always open to respectful disagreement.

  16. Anon (#14),
    That is great advice. If you’re visibly miserable you’ll have a hard time convincing your depressed loved one that it’s not their fault.

  17. When I am in the midst of an anxiety attack, I can’t feel the Spirit. I feel abandoned by God. Now, I know that it is merely a symptom of the attack, and that I haven’t been abandoned by God, but the feeling is very real indeed. Because we have been taught that when we sin the Spirit leaves, it is no wonder that many of us feel that we are suffering because of something we’ve done wrong.

    And I can’t say enough about professional help. You wouldn’t expect someone to treat his/her diabetes without medical assistance, and that should be our attitude about mental illness as well.

  18. I often hear that the spouses of those who are mentally ill are the saints, and I think there is some validity to that. However, I don’t think there are really saints, I think there are just people who make decisions based on how their life plays out. You could say that all those who make good decisions are saints, you could say that Tom’s wife is a saint, to keep on trying to live amidst all her struggles. We are human, and many of us try to do the best we can with what we have. I believe we can be misconceived by thinking that someone is a saint because he stays with his spouse who is mentally handicapped, because it sets him up to not be human and to not make human mistakes.
    I also think sometimes that we are so anti- mental illness and physical handicap that we say that Heaven is where all will be healed from their infirmities. What if Heaven is just where we “normal” people are healed from our infirmities and no longer care that mentally ill and physically handicapped people are different. I sometimes think our social norms are what cause so much of the depression in our societies.

  19. I’d just like to throw out that unhappiness depression. Yeesh.

  20. middle child says:

    I am so thankful, Tom, for your message. I am in the same boat, although I am the wife loving the husband through it, and that comes with a whole different set of dynamics, as I have become the breadwinner because of the severity of my husband’s mental disabilities (his were caused by an athletic accident resulting in a brain injury) same symptoms, just a different cause.

    Because I am a woman, and my divine nature is one of compassion, I was able to intuitively avoid some of the ‘mistakes’ that you made. I have made others, though, believe me.

    The common ‘mistake’ that we share was the assumption that depression or anxiety or whatever is like a ‘bad day’….and…then prescribing OUR solution to a bad day, based on our own experience.

    Mental illness is neither a bad day nor anything like what any of us have been through…unless we’ve experienced this kind of despair coming uniquely from mental disorders. I have watched my husband suffer and decided that I have never seen anything more excruciating than being trapped inside of depression… .

    Tom, I am curious about how the Holy Ghost has sustained you through the marital lonliness that there are no words to describe…the lonliness that comes from lying next to a person, night after night, that you can not reach. Perhaps it is worse for me, being an emotional female…but, I miss having a partner so much…and, when my husband appears for sometimes an hour, sometimes half a day, completely normal…it is a huge gift, but then when the depression takes him again, the pain is so overwhelming for me, as well as for him. Do you relate? It is a loneliness that is like a death, but can have no closure, because there he is, lying beside me and I can do nothing to bring him out of his darkness. Just wait in pure and uncondtional love, a love that can expect nothing in return, because there is really nothing to give at that point.

    Do you find that Heavenly Father fills the voids? For me, He does at times, and others, I beg and He comforts me in His own time. I feel that mental illness IS a team trial. We endure it together, yet, alone…we are next to each other, enduring.

    I hate to sound so dismal, from all appearances, I am a very happy and successful woman. The Spirit does sustain me, but it is as Manna, and I have to return to beg for more as I am only sustained for a short time.

    I look forward, very much, to my husband’s wholeness…whether it comes in this life or the hereafter. When we were sealed together, I not only promised my husband that I would remain with him…as his helper and friend and champion…but I also promised Heavenly Father that I would do the same…that I would care for this one of His sons, and that this son would care for me, His daughter. I know that our union will be blessed for keeping that promise, and that someday we will not only understand, but our joy will be great because of all that we have learned through this trial, we become more like the Savior through our suffering.

    Tom, thanks again for sharing.

  21. Tom, I prefer to hold back. But I would point out that I’ve read a great deal that suggests that our brain activity is affected by choices we make. So while there is a relationship between brain activity and happiness, it doesn’t really mean anything substantial. One of the first rules of psychology, after all, is that correlation does not mean causation.

  22. middle child (#20),
    I can relate. There have been many times when I’ve felt that we were out of the woods and that our worst troubles were behind us. The disappointment when the turmoil inexplicably returns is disheartening to be sure.

    One thing that’s different between your experience and mine is that I’ve been more likely to be the one to retreat into emotional isolation when things get difficult and it’s my wife that has most often suffered “marital loneliness,” as you put it. This is another area where I have improved.

    I have to tell you that your comments on this thread and Ronan’s thread have been a source of inspiration for me. I don’t feel like our situation is as much of an ordeal as yours. The woman I fell in love with is the woman I’m married to. She’s always had her problems, though they’ve fluctuated in intensity, and she has been able to function very well most of the time. Your commitment to your husband is admirable, and your faith is inspiring. Knowing of your experience and how you’ve sought the Spirit for strength has been a reminder to me that I need to seek more persistently and consistently.

  23. Eric (#21),
    I can think of many reasons why you might prefer to hold back, and most of them are admirable. So I think it’s probably to your credit that you are holding back. But I mean it when I say that I personally welcome respectful disagreement.

    I agree that the existence of a biological mechanism associated with happiness doesn’t prove that happiness is solely, or even partially, biologically determined. But I do think that it means something substantial. Namely, that it is reasonable to hypothesize that biological processes play some role in determining state of mind.

  24. Tom,
    I just wanted to say that I think it’s wonderful that you are learning so much and willing to share your mistakes.

    Like you, I’ve always considered myself a very even keeled (sp?) type of person, not very emotional and of a positive bent. I never did understand mental illness, and I’m afraid I was pretty judgemental about it.

    Then I had kids, and post partum depression/anxiety. I now know what it’s like to have no control over my thoughts, to know that the fears are irrational, but be unable to stop. Even the memories of being in that place makes my stomach hurt as I write this.

    You’re wife is lucky to have you. Best wishes to you both.

  25. Well, you are all very lucky to be the strong spouse/have a spouse without a mental illness. I’m not sure if my case is special or not, but my husband and I both have depression/anxiety disorders. I was diagnosed while I was a missionary and simply couldn’t take the lifestyle stress anymore (about nine months out) and did medication and talk therapy – I consider it one of the great blessing of my mission that I was sent to one of three countries outside of North America with LDS Family Services.
    My husband did not exhibit the full spectrum of his illness until a few months after our marriage. He was like me- both of us exhibited symptoms as children, but no one ever took the time to find out what was really wrong. (Not to say that we didn’t have great parents who loved us- mine were inexperienced with the issue and my husband’s parents, well, one of them was dealing with her own mental illness and my father-in-law doesn’t understand.)
    Luckily, and I’m sure through no design of our own, we both go through phases. When my illness waxes, his seems to wane, and vice versa. One mistake I’ve made is that I’ve tried to help him often with what helped me. I talked him into going to the LDS Family Services, because my counselor was marvelous, only to have this counselor tell him that he couldn’t help. My husband felt that he had wasted our money and it made him feel even worse. He went to LDS Family services over the Bishop’s head because he didn’t feel comfortable talking to our Bishop to get a referral. Luckily, after three years of prodding, and finally getting health insurance through my job that covers mental illness, he’s finally talked to a legit mental health professional. He fighted it for a long time because he thought it would never help, even though he admitted to sometimes suicidal thoughts. I hope that it helps, because if it doesn’t, I’m not sure where to turn. Based on my experiences, medication and therapy helped immensly, but this might not be the case for him. For the time being, we have to push and pull at each other, and somehow we’re making it work. I do wish there was more out there, though, on how to help men dealing with mental illness, because in my experience they are much less willing to be diagnosed and treated. Any advice?
    (Sorry for the length of my post. I hope it did not come off that I was complaining.)

  26. middle child says:

    I also would love to hear if anyone has any specific advice on helping men through it. They are much more stubborn when it comes to getting help, going to therapy, etc. (a least in my experience)

  27. A relative of mine suffers from bipolar disorder and a few other conditions. At one point in time, he started getting counseling from some LDS quack in St. George whose whole theory was that mental illness was caused by sin, and that only through repentance could people be “cured” of their conditions. This relative was convinced, dropped all meds, and somehow made it through. He then started taking “lessons” from said quack, so that he could teach others what had been taught to him. He then began spreading this information around in the family – writing letters to people in the family who had been known to suffer depression, trying to counsel them. It was so damaging – DH and I were horrified when we heard about it.

    After being really hard-core about this concept for a few months (even deciding that all illness, including colds, hayfever, etc., were caused by sin and throwing out all the cold medication in his house), the relative finally seemed to chill out about it for a while. I was so glad to see the article in the Ensign a few months ago, setting the record straight that mental illness was not caused by sin. Finally, an official source we could point out to him.

    I think there is a lot of damaging folk doctrine like this in the church, and I was glad to see the brethren address it.

  28. hi, i really don’t know where to begin? my wife also has depression/bipolar, i’m at my ends whitts. so i really need some help in getting her to understand she has a problem and to get help.
    first, i like to inform a little about her! last year around Febuary she has a real downfall where she couldn’t remember her name or what day it was, along with servere anger. so i rushed her to the hospital and they had to put restraints on her, do to her dislussions of thinking the nurses was Vampiers, plus her temper. she was dionosed with bipolar and given meds. she went for about a week of beating me, then the meds started to take hold and she started to come around.
    so i involved her mother into this to help get her better! but long to be told this change that it was my fault and treated stoped from her mother involvement. now even though her own mom was at the doctor’s office and was told to her that her daughter had biopolar she claims to my wife i made it up and now i have been living wife a monster.

    i try to be understanding and i know she can’t help what going on. its just my mother inlaw wont tell my wife the truth to control her.
    her systoms are that everyone talks behind her back.
    she always telling me to kill her. (which won’t never happen!!!)
    she has no disire to be attend to our daughter.
    i half to do it. which just lets be closer towards our daughter.
    she always result to assults by slashing at my face with her finger nails. which has made me bleed.
    her comprehension leval has dropped along with responcabilty.
    i could go on and on but i just need help. i’m a point that i want to leave and break are wedding values. which goes against every belief i had about marriage til death do us part.
    but enough is enough and i need help? for i’m a disable veteran and would have no place to go for my daughter and i? does anyone know any legal advice and how to get her to understand she need to get help and to get her mother to stop lieing to her?
    ———–

  29. Anon for this thread says:

    james,

    There comes a point where there is nothing you can do for her without serious intervention. My wife has been hospitalized several times, and twice because the police took her there. It was very ugly at the time, but it was the only thing that kept her alive and that also gave me a little time to gather myself and think.

    We still struggle, and with our history, we still keep open the idea that she may need to spend time again as an inpatient. Every person is different, and so is every situation. Just remember that sometimes you have to do very difficult things to keep your wife and your marriage alive.

  30. Floyd the Wonderdog says:

    When serving as a bishop, I found that several of the people in the ward were suffering from depression and other mental illnesses. One sister came in for a temple recommend interview and as we were talking, she unburdened herself with respect to her thoughts. I asked several questions related to her feeling and thoughts. I then told her that she was not sinful, just depressed. I then told her that I was taking medication for my depression. She recognized her depression when I put a name to it. But she was outright shocked that the bishop would (or could) be depressed. I gave her a referral to LDS Family Services and told her to talk to her family doctor about medication. She’s much better now.

    Get to know your LDS Family Services workers so that you don’t end up with a problem like sue (post #27). Ours here in Detroit are fantastic!!! The St. George LDSFS worker needs to realize that many people who need counseling may sin in an attempt to fill a void caused by mental illness or abuse. We can have mental illness and not be sinful. The St. George LDSFS worker in post #27 reminds me of Job’s (so called) friends. Their philosophy was- Problem in your life? Must be due to some hidden sin. A complaint to the regional director or SLC is warranted.

    Or the sin may be a result of the illness. One sister in our ward lost her husband. Because she felt that there was no one in the church she could turn to for comfort, she turned to alcohol. The bishop, rather than seeing her WoW problem as a cry for help, castigated her. I convinced the bishop to assign me to be her HT. Having lost my son, she knew that I understood what she was feeling. But she still has hard feelings toward the church because of the bishop. She was recently assigned a new HT, but I’m still the only one she will allow in her home. Whoops! I got carried away there. Her WoW problem was caused by her depression, not the other way around.

    Our Stake President feels so strongly about proper treatment of those with mental illnesses that he had a physician give a talk at the adult session of a recent stake conference. I was an unnamed example that it is possible to be a faithful member of the church and still have mental illness.

  31. James,

    My heart goes out to you. I don’t really know how to help you, but I might suggest that next time your wife is violent towards you to call the police. If she could be readmitted to a psychiatric hospital and stabilized, perhaps she might be more reasonable about seeing her problem.

    You mentioned you are a disabled veteran. Can you get services for yourself through a VA? Perhaps there is a support group or a social worker you could speak to at the VA that might have some suggestions.

  32. thanks for your comments.
    i don’t know i just don’t know how to keep my marrage. it hurts me so much to even consider devorce for being a baptist, and good old fashion values taught to me threw the lord jesus christ.
    i pray to god every nigh to give me strenth to endure this.
    and to make matters even worst for me, is i was dionosed with Chondrosarcoma ( cancer ) in my left leg in September. so i not even half to deal with her problems but mine is to me worst. i have a 50/50 chance of keeping my leg. and to top it all off my wife doesn’t believe me i have this problem. even though my leg is double in size than my right she doesn’t believe me. and i been to several visits in Cinnciatte oh Va Hospital that treats cancer.
    i can understand that maybe she is haveing trouble in acceptance as i am to. but i dont believe that to be the case. for she still yells at me about getting a job. even though the VA is Paying me to go to college which in turn might be a lot but it stills pays the mortgage. i’m not some dead beat just sitting around doing nothing. i’m trying my best to be a provider for my family.
    i tried to get her closer towards god by being a axample, without any success. i know you can’t force god on anyone they half to welcome him into there own hearts.
    i can’t get her to understand anything, i mean nothing. she always states i’m lieing towards her and nothing i say can make a differance. i’m in so much in fear when i can’t see her around my daughter, for every time she is my daughter comes running to me asking me to kiss her hand in tears. i confront her about this issue and it just starts a fight.
    you look around and you always see women shelters for batter women, but wheres a man to go?
    i also found out after we were married she had two other children and the state took them away because of her own doing. ( don’t know all the specifics ) but when i confronted her she straight out told me i was use as a pawn to try to get her kids back. go figure? so i went digging and found she had mental problems and read the court papers and see a lot in common to the here in now.
    which really scares me! she states i won’t get custody for i have no job? other than i’m going back to school to better myself to get past my disabilties i endure during the first gulf war.
    she also states i have no place to go? which i really don’t for i couldn’t survive on my income and take care of my daughter.
    so i have very little income, no place to go, no money for an attorney, and now have cancer.
    i feel like she got me by the ( parden my french ) balls!
    please is there anyone that help me with free legal advice and some options to keep custody of my daughter. could she ever recieve custody over her, with her prior record of child abuse/ endangerment?

  33. James,

    I hear your cry for help loud and clear, but feel helpless to help you. I still think that speaking to a social worker at the VA might help. A social worker’s job is to help get people connected with the services they need. You might also try calling a place like legal aid. If you go to church, you might be able to get help there as well.

    You have real and immediate problems. People in the blogosphere can give you a listening ear, but may have a hard time offering any kind of physical help. I hope you can reach out to someone in your community who can be physically present and give you real help.

    Amy

  34. James, I don’t know if your state has something similar to what my state does, but here there is an association of non-profit legal services providers that offers advice and assistance to low-income people. They maintain a website with the purpose of helping people like you find legal help. I would suggest that you look for something like this from your state on the web.

  35. amy, and tom,
    thanks for lending a ear. well far as legal aid goes, they consider her and mine income as one which puts me out of circle of help for the income limit is to high,

    i have asked my church for help and they said they would talk to her and i as a marrage counsel. but she won’t go! the Va won’t help either for i’m the only vet and they won’t provide services towards her for she is not!

    so i’m left very helpless, for i feel as my world has came apart and i still trust in god that when one or several doors closes, there will be another one that he has opened. i just can’t seem to find it?

    Tom you said your state has a free web-sight for legal help? can you foward the link for some laws might be the same in other state’s. maybe there will be some simialities that will help me find my way here in ohio?

  36. James, here’s the address for the site:

    http://www.peoples-law.org

    On the home page it has links to information about family law and domestic violence.

    Looking around a bit I also saw that there is some information for people who live in other states. Hope that helps.

  37. Tom,

    thanks it did help a little, i did find some info on it.
    also she punched me in the nose busting me open just at the corner of my eye at the store when i was trying to help her out of truck. and the stupid reason was all over a Christmas box, that stater it was cheese and she just refused to admit i didn’t open it to find out it was meat!
    really stupid.huh?

    now i did research on that web sight you provided, and i found out that alimony can be paid if a devorce causes the spouce to be below living standards after the divorce, and if you’ll are in school and with a disabilitie’s.
    she started to suggest the only way it could be paid is only if thier is a agreement between us to do so! for she is from a family of lawyers. ha ha! they are wrong and a divorce isn’t just given over stupid arugments, for the Judge would order marraige counceling. but with her viloetent behavor as it also suggest for she has been order by the court in the past to anger managment classes, and with her desmestic charges. along with several picture of my face, chest, neck, bleeding. who do you think he would believe?
    i know tom i’m might seem to be rembeling a lot with mis-spelling. but as the lord states to turn the other cheek is getting real hard to do. for if a man would do this to me, i would have already laid him out! but i was not raised to hit a women or any body else. i know that this blog can’t allow touching, but boy i sure could use a hug, from anyone, for with the constant abuse and the next big truma of cancer is to much to ask for.
    i prey ever day/night that someone could come and rescue me and my wonderful daughter. and to be very honest i can’t figue out why god has done this to me? all i want to do get have maybe my last days to filled with memories of my family being happy and know i did justis in serving the lord. but as right now i feel he’s abandon me along with forsacin my daughter as well.

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  1. Depression

    I wrote this post a while back in response to someone who was experiencing signs of depression. My wife suffers from depression, and I relayed some of the experiences we’ve had as we have dealt with mental health issues in our home . . .

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