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Penny Rayas, MFT
Penny Rayas, MFT, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  I have 20 years experience in the mental health field
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I wanted to get your professional opinion OKMH525211

Resolved Question:

I wanted to get your professional opinion based on my previous consult with you and further to this additional point. Like most marriages that I am aware of, couple have arguments, and some of those arguments include raised and/or aggressive voices. In 7 years of marriage and 3 years of courtship, I have never hit her, nor given her any reason (in my opinion) to be physically threatened. However, whenever we get into a verbal disagreement she equates my raised voice to "Threatening Roars". I can assure you, my New Jersey upbringing may make inflections passionate and/or sarcastic, but a "threatening roar" is certainly not happening. Please note, that my Wife and I are going through a strange divorce (as in we still live together, sleep in different rooms, and keep secrets regarding the divorce process). So, my question is...could her (possible) undiagnosed bi-polar and/or previously diagnosed Dysthymia cause her to see things in an exaggerated state? I'm just trying to make sense of this bizarre behavior across the board. I'm happy to provide specifics if you need them.

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Penny Rayas, MFT replied 1 year ago.
Hello there, and thanks for asking JA. I read many of your previous postings and I can see that you really tried to keep your cool and stay friendly with your ex wife. I think there are many reasons why your wife can see your passionate communication as theatning. I noticed sometimes that when people have grown up in a household where they experience a lot of arguments and abuse that the person is more likely to feel hurt when someone raises their voice. i am not sure what type of childhood your wife had. Maybe in addition to her bi-polar her experience had been that when someone raised they voice they would strike her. Even you were loving and not violent her mind would go to high alert and she would respond with anxiety to you expressing yourself. I have to say that I am Greek and we are a very passionate expressive culture and I had to learn how to tune it down, as I got the feedback from friends that I was intiminating. I am still passionate but I have asked my husband to tell me if my voice tone bothers him. Leaving with a bi-polar person is not easy because her behavior of responce to your behavior changed from hour to hour. I bet it was confusing because she would be ok with you being passionate one day and not the next. I think you have to know that you did your best. If your ex wife brings things from the past do not take it personaly. Sometimes people need to make their spouse sound bad so they can move on. She is probably angry and is saying things she does not mean. I think she will calm down and after a while she will see that she is not fair to you. Do you have a good support system? I think spending time with relatives or friends to get there point of view and vent about all this can help you. Divorce is very painful and sometimes our ex spouces are hurtful because they are in pain. Yes the answer to your question is that bi-polar can cause someone to see things from a very exaggerated point fo view. I also know from doing couples therapy that if the person is angry at her spouce maybe she still have some love in her heart. Maybe seeing a couples therapy even if you are divorcing is a good healthy way to let go with love. Let me know if you have any other questions.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for responding. I find that some questions I can research just by 'googling', but questions like this are a bit tougher to search for...so your response is helpful. A couple comments you've made, I'd like to get clarification on...


 


"Maybe in addition to her bi-polar her experience had been that when someone raised they voice they would strike her"...First, she was never officially diagnosed (as far as I know with bipolar). I did learn recently and by accident (i.e. she doesn't know that I know) that she was diagnosed with dysthymia and another JA person suggested that she is bipolar. Since this 'unofficial' diagnosed, I have been doing quite a bit more research on bipolar, and albeit more complex for me, who's not a mental health professional, to diagnose...it certainly is tempting to label her with this. So, I'm not clear if you presumed she is bipolar or have made a professional conclusion based on what you read in my profile? However, you hit the second part of the statement on the head. My wife (and her siblings) complained for years well into adulthood how their mother was 'crazy' and used to beat them a lot...I also have heard horror stories about her mother in her younger years both as a mother and wife. If I brought this up with my wife right now, she would deny it, paranoid that I will bring up in divorce court, or equate it to her own mental instability.


 


"Maybe seeing a couples therapy even if you are divorcing is a good healthy way to let go with love." We are technically still married and live together with our two girls...I have tried to go to couples therapy, but each of the 3 difference counselors we went to, she would quit when the counselor told her she was wrong...and then would site I was manipulating the counselor and it is me and my family (my mother in particular) that needs the counseling. She has recently started to become extremely pro-Mormon (LDS) and has suggested that she is 'considering' making arrangements for us to see an LDS counselor...but this sudden escalation in her commitment to the church is beginning to worry me more.


 


By the way, I'll happily rate your response as is as you did answer the question I was looking for, but would appreciate if you can address this comment...For some reason, this question was directed at the other JA member I consulted with, but it ended up with you (which is fine with me), but I'd like to keep dealing with one person, so I do not have to keep repeating the history.

Expert:  Penny Rayas, MFT replied 1 year ago.

Hello there, and thanks for letting me know. I do understand your origional question, you wander if bi-polar disorder would make your wife over-react. My answer is yes if someone is bi-polar they over-react but I also feel that someone with dysthimia and the past history of abuse your named would also overeact and be very afraid when somone is passionate. As if your wife has bi-polar I would say that she has many of the symptoms of what we call bipolar II. In bi-polar II the person can be hypomanic, not sleeping much and not being tired, talking alot, be a bit paranoid, or very very happy and she may think that she has special talents such as communicating with God. The depressed part of bi-polar II can be sad and tearful, negative thoughts, feeling that life is not worth it, and thinking of commiting suicide.

I think you should feel deep in your heart that you tried your best to make this marriage work. You went to couples therapy but your ex was not responding. It sounds that your ex is very afraid of feedback and worries that if she is wrong something terrible will happen. It is hard to relate to someone who is afraid to be wrong and needs to be right all the time. I would say some of this behavior is part of her experience as a kid of a "crazy" mother. I also wonder what her mother's diagnosis was mental health issues are inhereted. I am not sure that you can reason with your ex, if she is not willing to reason. I am glad your wife sees a doctor, because maybe a good therapist will help her heal. Now I think you are also healing and I would like to ask if you getting any support from friends or relatives. Living with a partner who has a mental health problem is very hard, and divorce is one of the most stressful experience anyone can deal with. I think a group for divorced men would help you start the healing. I hope I have communicated that I believed that you have done all you can do to save this marriage. You seam like a nice loving man, but love does not concer all. I see so many loving people try hard and think only if I understand my husband, wife I can fix that and they will be happy. Sometimes even you do understand it, it will take 2 to fix it. I can't imagine the pain you are going through. It may be time to take care of yourself and your kids only. Be kind to yourself and start doing things that you wanted to do and did not get the chance to do them. I hope this answered your question. If not please let me know and I will answer any question you have.

Penny Rayas, MFT, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 394
Experience: I have 20 years experience in the mental health field
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