December 26, 2005

Reviewing year 2005.

So here's a not-so-breif synopsis of the major events that transpired in my life in the past year. I'll tell a little bit more of the story that I couldn't tell before.

January, February, and March were pretty much about money and control in our household. It was all about spending it all before the other person could. It left me in a tight spot. It also left me feeling alone. It felt like I was now in a hole, and I was saddled with the burden of digging us out.

March also marked the beginnings of my wife making friends with one of my daughter's teachers. My wife did her best to keep me away from this teacher. Later, I would discover that my wife was telling this teacher exaggerations about me so as to convince her that my wife was the better parent. It was the beginning of a very tragic downward spiral.

In April, focus turned towards my daughter a lot. There were lots of disagreements over discipline and parenting styles. These arguments continued into May when my wife started threatening me with words like "Divorce", "Custody", and "Alimony".

May also marked the turn of a new leaf for me: I stopped paying off my wife's giant spending habits on her credit cards. She had been spending so much that once I stopped paying the minimum payments on all of her credit cards, I actually had hundreds of dollars extra every month.

June was a month of more parenting woes. Our disagreements about how our daughter should be raised and disciplined increased. Also, the time that my wife would wake up started getting later and later.

In July, everything just fell apart. While my wife was visiting her parents with my daughter, she called me and told me that she had spoken to a social worker and that I was not allowed to see my daughter any more. I had no idea what was going on, and furthermore nobody was allowed to tell me anything. I was just told that if I tried to see my daughter, I would be arrested. On top of that, I was told there was a chance I could be arrested anyway, though nobody would tell me why. I spent several weeks that month just going to work, then coming home and waiting for the doorbell to ring. I was scared out of my mind.

My wife would occasionally call me, but the information she was giving me was useless. Every time she called, she would give me a completely contradictory story. When I caught her in her lies, she would just say "well... I just don't want you to get upset". Something was going on, and she was obviously in the middle of it. With all the threats she had been giving me in previous months, and with her not giving me any straight answers, I was forced to conclude that she had left me, and whatever she had done was some sort of tool to make sure she won custody. I had to file for divorce.

After filing for divorce, answers came more swiftly. It turns out that my wife claims that she had a private conversation with my daughter where she asked her some direct questions about me sexually abusing her to which my daughter answered "yes". With this information, my wife consulted her sister (a rather inexperienced teacher who seems to have a knack for suspecting every man in the world of being a sex abuser, including her own husband), who told my wife that she had to come up to her parents house immediately and call the police. Later I would find out that this sister was on anti-depressants for post-partum depression while giving this advice. When my wife arrived at her parents, she called child and youth services and made the accusation. And legally, C.Y.S. was required to investigate.

A month later, after submitting my daughter to some rather brutal medical tests to look for evidence of penetration, and after talking to my daughter, they decided that the accusation was completely un-founded, and actually recommended that my wife be sent to counseling since she seemed unstable.

After I was cleared, my wife still wouldn't let go of things. Even though C.Y.S. had dropped the restriction from my daughter and declared that nothing had happened, my wife still refused to even let me see my daughter. I had to go to court to get a judge to order her to let me see my daughter.

After the court hearing, my wife started to realize that her siege on my daughter was about to come to an end. She had said some things to the judge that were provable lies, and the judge even called her on a few things right there in the courtroom. So, before the judge issued his order, she started making arrangements for me to see my daughter. However, she still wanted to maintain total control. Everything had to be exactly on her terms. Under the advice of my lawyer, I resisted for a while. My lawyer told me that it could be a trick so that my wife could make more accusations, or make it look like I was agreeable to letting my wife have custody. Eventually, though, I didn't care. I just wanted to see my daughter too much, and so I agreed to spend the day at the park with my wife and my daughter.

The day went well. My wife and I talked a lot. And my wife made a very good case for herself. She explained how she had been pressured into calling CYS, and she told me how her family had been pushing her for months before that to get her daughter to say something about me. I started to feel bad for her, and I started to realize that the events hadn't happened because my wife was out to get me. They happened because my wife was naive and stupid. Things were starting to fit in place and the entire story of what happened started to seem a bit more believable.

Eventually, I took my wife back. Though, not without a good fight. There was even one night when my wife called her parents to tell them that she was staying the night here, and they drove all the way down here to take her back to their house. They did their best to stand in the way of our re-unification. But eventually, my wife and I were back together, and once again I had full access to my daughter.

In September, my wife filed for bankruptcy. This was her solution to all the bills she had accrued. I really did not think that it was fair for her to be able to just walk away from everything just like that. But, as it turns out, I didn't have any say in the matter.

By November, my wife and her family were acting like the entire event never happened. It was as if history was re-written such that the entire abuse accusation was nobody's fault at all. This was just a simple little oops with no harm being done, in their opinion. My wife is upset with me because I'll have nothing more to do with her family. She always wants to argue with me about it. She'll keep asking me "why?" and she'll tell me that I'm being immature. She says things like "they're always asking about you", "you know you're invited to go up their too", or "you know, they've let go of it, you should too". Her viewpoint on the issue is so demented at this point, there's no point in trying to explain myself any more (though I have made about 6 or 7 tries at it anyway).

December has had its problems. My wife has decided to stop going to counseling again. She and I had been going together since we reconciled, but lately she hasn't liked what the counselor has been trying to tell her, so she doesn't go anymore. We're also having more problems with my daughter. She has been missing a lot of school. My daughter puts up a good fight in the morning about going to school, and on the days when my wife is actually out of bed in time to take her, she usually gives in to my daughter and lets her stay home rather than telling her that she has to go.

Well, that's a year in review at my house. Not pretty at all. Just the reality of what's going on. I'd like to believe that there are others out there that can identify with at least some of what we go through. I'm also sticking to the hope that if I keep trying, things will get better. If nothing else, I can be happy that even when things got really bad, we still pulled through. And when things are at their darkest, I just remind myself that at least my daughter is with me.

Posted by ehdonhon at 07:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 01, 2005

What is bipolarism?

I received an email from a student doing some research on bipolarism today. I thought I'd share my response,

> Hi, my name is David. I'm a high school student taking college
> classes on saturdays. I would like to interview you. I'm doing a 
> report on bipolarism for my english 101 class. I would really like 
> if you can help me and  answer this three brief questions.

Hi David,

I'll be glad to help you with your questions, but it is important for me to emphasize up front that I am NOT a medical expert. My only experience with bipolarism comes from the years of dealing with it inside my family. Therefore, I'm probably not a good resource to answer medical questions about the disease. I'm probably a better person to answer questions about how it affects people in their day to day living and how it affects their relationships with other people.

I hope this information is useful to you. If you have anything you want to ask, feel free to write back again.

> 1) What is bipolarism?

Here is the textbook answer to your question: Bipolarism, also known as "Manic Depressive Disorder" is a condition where a person will alternate between periods of mania and depression with periods of stability in between.

So, what is mania? It's a sort of euphoria. When you are manic, you feel like superman. You can do anything. For example, when my wife is manic, she will often go 36 hours without sleep. Sometimes in the middle of the night, she'll just decide that it is time to paint a room in the house. So, she'll stay up all night doing just that.

What is depression? It's the exact opposite of mania. You're stuck in the dumps. You feel just completely drained, and you just want to go somewhere and hide. Often people will become suicidal when they are depressed.

Paranoia (the believe that people are trying to hurt you) is a common trait in people that are bipolar.

This is NOT to say that everybody with bipolarism is the same. There are different degrees of bipolar disorder, and even within each degree of the disorder, there are lots of different ways that it may manifest itself. The most important thing to remember is that every person in the world is both different and special in their own unique ways. People with bipolar disorder are no different. The moment we start making assumptions about a person because they are bipolar, we've taken one step backwards from helping that person.

> 2) how do you treat bipolarism?

It isn't really correct to say that you can "treat" bipolar disorder. A better question would have been "How do you manage bipolar disorder". There is no cure for bipolarism.

To understand this, it is helpful to think of other common ailments. For example, people that have diabetes usually don't ever stop having diabetes. But once the correct dosage of insulin is determined for a person, that person can usually live a long productive life just by monitoring their blood sugar, taking their medicine, and seeing a doctor regularly.

The same is true for a person that is bipolar. Once the proper medication is determined for a person, then they can usually live out their lives very normally. Bipolarism, is a bit more complicated than diabetes however, because there is no one medication that fixes it. There are many different kinds of medications out there, and it usually requires finding the correct combination of medicine and dosages for each individual person.

> 3) Is medicine the best or only answer to it?

For almost all bipolar disorders, I think that medication is one required component of the management of the disorder.

Just like diabetes, bipolarism is the result of your body creating the wrong amount of certain chemicals in your body. Lots of people think that they can beat bipolarism just by trying harder, or pretending it isn't there (just like lots of diabetics think they can pretend they don't have diabetes). But in most cases, this kind of thinking only makes things worse.

The problem is that when we see somebody with diabetes, or say, a broken leg, we don't think any less of that person. However, when we know somebody is bipolar, we often do think less of that person. The truth is that people with bipolarism are just as intelligent, creative, and productive as you and I. But people just don't understand that. As a result, people are ashamed of being bipolar. But just like the diabetic, there's nothing that person did wrong that caused them to be this way.

This shame causes a person to avoid treatment, because once you are getting medical help, you can no longer pretend you don't have the disease.

All of that being said, medicine is not the only component of managing the disease. There are other things that are important as well:

  • Taking care of yourself is an important factor of managing bipolarism. Proper diet and excercise can greatly improve the performance of the medication being taken.
  • Counseling, especially for people new to the disorder is important. There are so many mis-conceptions and negative stigmas about bipolarism out there. Counseling, and perhaps group meetings, are very important in helping a person learn how to deal with their feelings about being bipolar.
  • Friends and family members of people with bipolarism need to be educated. They need to un-learn things that they have been taught about the disease, and then they need to learn how to be there in a supportive and loving way for that person.
Posted by ehdonhon at 10:59 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack