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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My 41-year old daughter, a Registered Nurse, has been

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My 41-year old daughter, a Registered Nurse, has been married to her 41-year old husband for 18 years. "Bill" has been diagnosed as "Manic-Depressive" and has Attention Deficit Disorder. He is a hypochondriac, always complaining of ailments (asthsma, allergies, headaches, backaches, breathing problems, kidney stones, Sleep Apnea, etc.). He weighs more than 250 lbs. He has a very poor record of not being able to keep a job - always blaming the employer and finding fault with co-workers. A great part of the problem has been his "calling out sick". He is always going to a "new" doctor or specialist because he has such a "complicated case". He has been seeing the same private psychologist for more than six years and has been taking the maximum strength of Cymbalta for this time period. "Bill" also takes many other medications. He is often sleepy and grumpy. In my view, he is "addicted" to prescription drugs. "Bill" is using the medical insurance that my daughter carries for him. Last year (2010), "Bill" accumulated more than $60,000.00 in medical bills. For the last year he has been unemployed and has decided to be "a Stay at Home Dad" for his 12-year old daughter. He does almost nothing except sleep and cause trouble and stress for my daughter. He is always complaining how "sick" he is. His health problems have been so "severe", that at times, he will go to the Emergency Room on his own, call an ambulance, or have my daughter take him to the hospital in the middle of the night. "Bill" is the biggest "actor" I can imagine. He, evidently, can convince the physicians that he is really ill and they are always prescribing medications for him. It is interesting that "Bill" can be the drummer in a Christian music band and can attend school events for his child - looking strong and well. And yet, "Bill" is constantly phoning my daughter about his "health problems" and "bullying" her when she comes home in the evening. My daughter works two jobs - Ambulatory Surgery Unit at a Medical University complex during the week and 12 hour shifts on Saturdays and Sundays caring for newborns in another hospital. She pays for all the financial resposibilities for the home, 2 cars, private school for the child, gas, food and household expenses. She is emotionally exhausted. She never gets a good night's sleep. I am greatly concerned about her mental wellbeing. In 2006, she moved out of their house and came with her daughter to my home for 11 months. She desperately wanted a divorce. Unfortunately, "Bill" was relentless in his desire to get his family back together. If they had been separated for a year, she could have proceeded with the divorce. However, Bill persuaded her that reconciling would be in the best interest of the child. The decision has been devastating for her. Over the years, my husband and I have given daily support for my daughter and her child.
I will greatly appreciate your response.
Thank you.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like Bill may have a personality disorder. Personality disorders are not a major disorder like Manic Depression is. Rather, they are a secondary disorder that affects a persons ability to relate to others in a normal way. Often, a person with a personality disorder will cause major disruptions in family situations with their many needs and attention seeking. A person with a personality disorder often lacks insight, which is why it is difficult to treat with therapy.

It is good that you are there to support your daughter. She needs someone she can come to to help her. But at this point, unless her husband is willing to see his behavior as a problem, he is not going to get better. So your daughter needs to make a choice about what she wants for her future.

Does your daughter feel that being together as a family is benefiting her daughter? If so, then her reasons for staying are understandable, though it is harmful for her. But if she feels her daughter is worse off, then leaving may be the best option.

Has your daughter considered therapy for herself? I understand that she has little time. But maybe she can talk to a therapist a few times or even her pastor, if she attends church. This will help her gets perspective.

If you can convince her, try to see if she will move back out again. Tell her to give it a try for a month. Her daughter may be better off being in a stable home with you and your husband. Also, hearing her father talk about illnesses on a daily basis is not good for her mental health. She may develop fears around her own health. Also, her ability to choose a partner as an adult can be affected by the type of parenting she receives from her father. So moving out may also be a better choice for your granddaughter as well. You may also want to suggest therapy for your granddaughter as well.

This is not a healthy situation for anyone. Hopefully, your daughter will choose to at least take a break, if not for her own sake, for her daughters.

I hope this helps,


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