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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5437
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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My wife, Ellie (not her real name) has depression, fibromyalgia,

Resolved Question:

My wife, Ellie (not her real name) has depression, fibromyalgia, and social anxiety. Ellie's mother, we believe, has Borderline Personality Disorder. This has not been officially diagnosed, but was the suspicion of a professional counselor based on Ellie's description of her mother's behaviors and attitudes over the years. When Ellie was 19, she came home from work and found her mother after a suicide attempt with sleeping pills. That was her mother's second attempt (the first was in a previous marriage to Ellie's biological father). Ellie's early life was not a stable one.

Things came to a head for us this summer when Ellie (now age 36) had to be hospitalized at an inpatient facility for those with acute mental crises (suicidal tendencies, breakdowns, etc.). Ellie told me that if she didn't go in for treatment, she was going to kill herself. She has often thought of suicide, but this is the first time she came to me and said she was SERIOUSLY considering it, and agreed to be admitted to a medical facility for it. They kept her for a week, then released her with a wellness plan. Unfortunately it hasn't worked.

There were a number of things that Ellie was supposed to do on her wellness plan, and which I tried to help her with. I recently had become unemployed, so I was able to be around the house to help with these things. Her sleep cycles were bad before entering the facility, but were back on track when she left (due to the structure at the facility). For a few weeks after coming home, Ellie kept on a sleep cycle of going to bed at 11pm and getting up at 8am. I helped her with this for a while, and when it looked like she had it under control I stepped back and let her handle it on her own. Eventually she went back to her old habit of staying up til 2 or 3 in the morning and sleeping til 4 or 5 in the afternoon. She won't let me get her up--when I try, she refuses to get up.

Another item on her wellness plan was to go outside for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. Again, she did okay for a few weeks, but eventually reverted back to her old habit of never leaving the house. I try to get her to go outside and she refuses.

And to top it off, she says that I'm not helping her to get better! The parts of her wellness plan that I am supposed to be involved in, I have tried to do, and have only failed to do when she refuses. I am beginning to wonder if Ellie herself has some form of Borderline Personality Disorder. It seems like she's trying to sabotage her own efforts to get better. Also, until recently, we both worked to support our household, and I know she wanted to be able to quit her job, but I have been unable to find work that would support both of us. She has yelled things like "you were supposed to take care of me!" at times due to her frustration at this situation.

I know that Ellie has been unhappy to various degrees for our entire marriage. We had a whirlwind courtship and were married 4 months after we started dating. We had known each other for a while before that, but our contact had been long distance (letters, emails, chat). I believe, based on my own suspicions and on things Ellie has said, that she had some high expectations/ideals for how marriage would be, and when our marriage didn't live up to those ideals she was unable to cope (possibly due to her depression issues) and gradually slid down a slope of disappointment to where she is now, hanging by her fingernails on the cliff of despair. My expectations of marriage were that we would be good friends, companions, lovers, that we would sometimes irritate each other or make each other mad, but that we would work those things out and be stronger for it. We both wanted kids, but a few years into our marriage when her emotional and physical health issues really began to get serious, we decided it was for the best if we didn't bring children into the situation. Actually I had to insist, but eventually she came to agree with me. But I know that it made her sad.

Add to the mix the fact that I have ADHD and things really get interesting. I'm on medication for it but I still have problems with distraction and procrastination. This has caused some issues in our marriage as well.

So I guess the questions I'm trying to answer are:
Is there anything that I can do to make things better, since Ellie is refusing to let me help her--but at the same time BLAMING me for not helping her?

Can our marriage be saved, or is it too late?

Did we simply both marry the wrong person?

I honestly don't know what to do anymore. Soon I'll be working again and won't be at home to monitor her situation. Then what?

We've been to couples counseling and she sees an individual counselor. Our couples therapist says we need to communicate better. How does that work when we live on completely different sleep cycles and see each other maybe for an hour a day?

So, any advice on what I can do to make things better?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

Dr. Z :

Hello

Dr. Z :

I believe I can help you with your concern

Dr. Z :

Give me a couple minutes to read over your entire question, so that I can be able to help you better.

Customer:

Ok. I didn't know how public this would be so I didn't use my wife's real name.

Dr. Z :

Its okay I understand, actually after we are done with the chat, I can hide it for you so that it will not be publicly available as well.

Customer:

Thanks

Dr. Z :

So you are both in couple's therapy, is that right?

Customer:

Every two weeks.

Dr. Z :

And she is seeing an individual therapist, is this someone who specializes in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)?

Customer:

Not sure about that, but our couples therapist has advised it for my wife.

Customer:

A friend of mine said his wife did it and it helped

Dr. Z :

I think you have described a lot of symptoms associated with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Here is a link providing more details on this disorder for you

Dr. Z :

DBT is the best therapy to treat this disorder too

Dr. Z :

Here is a book on it and website too

Dr. Z :

So I think if your wife at least tried DBT therapy, there is a possibility to help your marriage out and strengthen it

Customer:

Ok, I'll check those links out. What can I myself do besides trying to get her into a DBT therapist?

Dr. Z :

Well you can read over the DBT self-help website link and that book to go over techniques with her to help her. Also these books can help you interact with her and help her as well.

Dr. Z :

This disorder is very severe and takes a time to treat, so you and her will have to be patient with the treatment as DBT is very gradual

Customer:

I have the "I hate you..." book, and am aware of the "eggshells" book.

Dr. Z :

That is good, those are two excellent books on this disorder. The DBT book will help provide the right treatment techniques to help "cure" her BPD

Customer:

Her symptoms aren't quite as severe as her mom's, but they're getting worse.

Dr. Z :

Well I think the counseling is helping to lessen her symptoms, but without DBT they will get progressively worse unfortunately

Customer:

So do you think we're treating the wrong thing with the meds? Isn't BPD only resolved by the therapy and not meds?

Dr. Z :

The medications help to lessen her symptoms to a degree, although there are no medications specifically for BPD, but DBT therapy is the only true effective "cure" for BPD established currently

Customer:

I'll look into the DBT method. What should I look for in a good DBT professional, any questions we should ask them?

Dr. Z :

Well I can look around your area and compile a list of good DBT therapists for you if you like? Good questions to ask is how they were trained in DBT, how often they use it, and how often they treat individuals with BPD. Those are the top three I would ask

Customer:

That'd be great! I'm going to write those questions down.

Dr. Z :

What is your zip code, so I can look in your area?

Customer:

As to how they were trained, what am I looking for in their answer?

Customer:

town is Bend, Oregon. It has three zip codes.

Dr. Z :

You want them to be trained at school or at a practice from a supervisor, but if they say they took a weekend course at a workshop that is not sufficient.

Dr. Z :

Okay give me a few minutes to compile a list for you

Customer:

sure. thanks!

Dr. Z :

So I think these three therapists are best for your wife as they are all proven DBT trained

Customer:

Thank you! I'll check them out. Have a good day!

Dr. Z :

You as well, I wish you the best of luck with your wife and that her treatment goes well. My goal is to provide you with excellent service, so if you ever have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me at anytime.

Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5437
Experience: Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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