Bipolar disorder related incidents:
As many do who are afflicted with BD Lisa felt a deep self-loathing. I often heard her through the bathroom door talking to someone. At first, I thought she was having a private conversation with someone she didn’t want me to hear. In fact, she would say the following, with various permutations: “I hate myself. I hate myself. I wish I were dead.”
Several times a week Lisa would have disturbing and very physical nightmares that would wake both of us up. Often she would kick and scream, sometimes striking me, or even her daughter, with whom she sometimes slept during a thunderstorm.
She had an extreme desire not to have to take her prescribed drugs. She felt it made her less of a person and it infuriated and embarrassed her. I could always tell when she forgot to take her pills (either purposefully or through forgetful behavior) because after twelve hours she would start to exhibit symptoms and behavior that made her appear drunk (my nightmare scenario) like wobbling, clumsiness, lack of focus, slurred speech, and the like. At first, I accused her of drinking because it so obviously looked like that and it caused huge fights with us when she’d vehemently deny it. After some time I became attuned to the difference and would make her take her pills. But, as I would find out later, the damage was done. Lisa resented me for not believing and it was an issue she threw in my face toward the end. Yet, her ex, her daughter and her parents all felt the same way I did, originally, when she would forget her medications.
Taking this medication surely has helped Lisa deal with the real world, but at the same time it has taken a physical and emotional toll on her. Her meds aided immeasurably in allowing her to work a very stressful job with tremendous responsibilities. She would focus so hard during her work hours that when she came home all she had the emotional and sometimes physical energy to do was sleep or veg out in front of the TV. She rarely did anything with her daughter and was so spent she did not want to really even talk. She could easily sleep for twelve to fourteen hours if you let her. It left little or no time for the bonding and precious little “quality time” both I and her daughter craved and needed from her. After a while our home was just a weigh station for her. We just were “there,” and occasionally when we did do something together, it had to be exactly what she wanted to do or she was bored or openly uninterested.
Lisa always drank during our relationship, though she would go decently long stretches between drinking bouts. When she or her daughter, more likely me since her daughter began to pay less attention to her mother because of the neglect, questioned her about the drinking, and eventually got angry about it, she denied it was a problem and resented me for bringing it up. But when she was drunk her behavior was shockingly violent and rancorous. She would yell and scream, say the most awful things, very emasculating and hurtful, fall over everything that was in her way, and generally just present an appalling sight. Then she would pass out, sometimes vomiting before doing so, wherever she laid down. Early on I would clean her up and put her to bed. She never remembered anything she said or did. But, of course, whoever had been present, did. This happened dozens of times in five years.
She hid liquor all the time—in her purse, her vehicle, around the house. I soon knew all the signs, knew when she was lying to me, which was often, about anything and everything and not just with me but her ex, her child and her parents. I knew all her moves and machinations. One experience among many I’ll relate to you is the time she came home from work late. I sensed she’d been drinking based on a phone call she made to me about being late. I waited in our condo’s parking lot for her to arrive. I was surprised to see her still drinking a Tall Boy out of a paper bag before she came in. I always knew when she was drinking because she could absolutely NOT handle her liquor, especially in tandem with her meds. I was pissed, yet again, and yelled at her. She suggested we go get a movie and just watch and calm down. I could think of nothing better to do, and really was not interested in remaining angry. So, off to the video store we went. She was drunk so I didn’t want her in the store. After looking for a video for a few minutes I got suspicious and went to check on her. Sure enough, she had walked down to a gas station and bought a beer. She was standing around the corner of the video store drinking. I grabbed the beer out of her hand and threw in a trash can next to the store. I told her to get back in the car and went to rent a video. As I came out, video in hand, Lisa was rummaging around in the trash can trying to retrieve the beer. I was speechless and finally, heartbroken. My lovely fiancée was drunk and handling filthy trash just to continue drinking. There were many more drinking incidents, but this one will suffice to make the point.
This is a little thing, perhaps, but it bothered me nonetheless, and was yet another red flag. As I stated before, I worked out of the house. My office looked like Air Traffic Control with all the computers and servers there. Often times, I was so busy I was not able to get out of the house to do certain errands, go shopping, or visit my cigar buddies at a local shop. Typically, I did most of the grocery shopping since I did all the cooking. But on these days when I was too busy to get out, I would ask Lisa to get me a USA Today newspaper on her way home. You would have thought I’d asked her to murder someone. She would get pissed off and ask me why I hadn’t gotten one myself. It didn’t matter that I was busy, only that she was. It was my first real glimpse, early on, of her self-centered, selfish behavior. A short parable for those of you who saw actor/writer Chazz Palmintieri’s film, A Bronx Tale, there was a story his mob character told the young protagonist of the movie about how to recognize a truly caring, nice girl, especially on the first date. When you unlock and open the passenger side door for your young lady and help her into the seat, that’s expected of the man. But you can really tell a lot about a woman if she reaches over and unlocks the door as you walk around to the drivers’ side. If she unlocks it for you, you know you’ve got an unselfish, caring woman on your hands. If not, the chances are she’s probably self-centered. Not a good thing. Now, of course, there’s no scientific principle at work here, but surely it is as good a sign as any of someone’s character at a snapshot. I can assure you here that Lisa never did that unless I asked her to.
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