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Bill, LCSW, Consultant, Expert Witness
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 3707
Experience:  35 years treating individuals, couples, families with mental health and substance abuse prob's
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I apologize for the length of this inquiry. My concerns have

Resolved Question:

I apologize for the length of this inquiry. My concerns have to do with my life partner. I am looking for anything else I might be able to do to help her struggle less and be more content. I am 65, she is 61, and we have been together for almost 20 years (married legally under NYS law last year!). I will state up front that I have accommodated myself to almost all of the issues I am about to describe. Also I personally have benefited greatly from talk therapy and SSRIs in dealing with my problems. Now to my partner: Despite what I would describe as a thicket of related issues, she has consistently refused to accept talk therapy, although I was able to convince her a few years ago to begin taking Welbutrin and Xanax (prescribed by our internist). I can see that she is somewhat less depressed and anxious since being on these meds. Nonetheless, she still suffers in ways I think could be helped. I am going to detail what is good in her and for our relationship: She is incredibly creative – painting, drawing, etching – just about anything related to the graphic or visual arts, and it seems to run in her family. She is funny, usually kind, we share very similar values and interests, and we have a good rhythm to our life together. We rarely argue, but settling conflicts is definitely my job. I am a trained mediator, and have a lot of experience in conflict resolution, so I generally defuse tense situations enough so that we can resolve things without fireworks. But when she does get angry, it’s 0 to 60 in about 10 seconds, and then I have to walk away until she cools off. Now to the ways she suffers: (1) She is emotional labile, and can conjure up a past injury or trauma– some parental abuse, a gang rape in her teens, a business partner who embezzled and nearly bankrupted her design studio 20 years ago, the loss of a home we built together 10 years ago, or deaths of friends (which happen more frequently now due to our age) with grief and anger that are as large and immediate as if those events happened yesterday. She just cries and refuses to continue talking. (2) Her immediate reaction to any setback is that it is catastrophic and the world will never be the same. We are going to die of starvation in a refrigerator box under an overpass. It takes me days or weeks to “talk her down” and get her to put the setback in perspective. (3) She has an extreme fear of being observed – all of the window shades in our house must always be closed even though I have demonstrated how little anyone can see from the street due to our position on a small cul-de-sac and large plantings I have added to obscure the house. (4) She nearly panics before social events – she won’t know anyone, no one will talk to her, she will be bored, someone she doesn’t like might be there, etc. The tactic I have developed is letting her drive her own car so she can leave when she wants. But she never does. She ALWAYS has a good time and thanks me later for making her go. Note: I frequently go to events alone or with friends, however, because the anxiety involved in the run-up is so exhausting that unless it is a must, I let her stay home. Still, she does not seem to be able to extrapolate from the pleasant social experiences to the impending ones. (5) For want of a better way to describe it, I will say that her brain is wired oddly. She is not dyslexic exactly, but commonly transposes letters and numbers. She has NO sense of direction or geographical orientation. She has lived in our city her entire life, a city with a lake on the northern border, and a series of expressways that run almost exactly east to west and north to south. Still she asks me if we are going the right way every time we drive someplace local, and sometimes when we are just blocks from home she will suddenly ask where we are. Her sister lives southeast of us, and her parents live in a north western suburb. I had to show her a map to convince her that it was not out of her sister’s way to pick us up for a picnic at her parents’ house – the house she grew up in. (6) She is also the physically clumsiest person I have ever encountered. If she can bang into it, trip over it, or set it on fire, she is likely to do so. How many times does a person have to bang her head on her own car roof getting in or out before some kinesthetic “learning” kicks in? She has laser-like focus on her work, but otherwise seems largely oblivious to her surroundings, and is therefore always banged up, burned, cut, or all of those at once. (7) Also her short term memory has been terrible the whole time I have known her. I don’t even know if the last 3 points have anything to do with the first four. I just thought they might be relevant. Advice?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Camille-Mod replied 5 years ago.

Hi, I’m a moderator for this topic and I wonder whether you’re still waiting for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will do my best to find a Professional to assist you right away. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you. Thank you!

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
No answer yet. Thanks for following up.
Expert:  Camille-Mod replied 5 years ago.
Thank you. Sometimes, finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected and we thank you greatly for your understanding. We’ll be in touch again shortly:-)
Expert:  Bill replied 5 years ago.
Hello- Thank you for asking the question. I have over 30 years of experience working with individuals, couples and families & am happy to reply.
I am sorry that you have had to wait for a response-
In reading what you have written about your partner, and without the benefit of know her, it sounds like a Neuro developmental issues is the predominant factor here.
Have you ever thought of the possibility that she may have an Autistic Spectrum disorder such as Aspergers Syndrome?
Take the following quiz as if you were answering based on her experience.
Asperger syndrome in adults has some common characteristics such as:
• Lack of managing appropriate social conduct
• High intelligence
• Anger management problems
• Controlling feelings such as depression, fear or anxiety
• Lack of empathy
• Inability to listen to others
• Inflexible thinking
• Repetitive routines provides feelings of security
Stress when their routine suddenly changes
• Inability to think in abstract ways
• Specialised fields of interest
• Visual thinking
Let me know what the results are and I will respond.
Best, Bill
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I neglected to mention in my first post what I see as another connected set of behaviors: My partner is a packrat/hoarder who does not like change. That manifests in many ways, from hating to delete shows we have watched from our dvr through junk drawers full of odds 'n' ends we MIGHT need some day, and includes not liking new objects or furniture rearrangements. By the way, I should also point out that neither of us drinks or does drugs. I filled out the test as best I could. I am pretty sure I know her better than anyone, but I do not assume that I am privy to all her innermost thoughts, etc. I came up with an Aspie score of 67 of 200 with a neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 151 of 200. I am not surprised, as I see little in her behavior that is parallel to a few adults I have known who actually are high functioning people diagnosed with Asperger's. As I have previously stated, I feel that we have reached accommodation on many of the issues which can cause friction in a marriage, even if I have had to bend more than she does. I am not concerned about that. It just hurts me to see what seem to me to be such raw psychic wounds, as if no healing or perspective has been gained over time. Also, it is exhausting for me sometimes to have to be the calm rational super-adult. (FYI I am sort of a super adult, as the eldest of 6 siblings from an alcoholic family. Still, I have done LOTS of therapy and consider my SSRI to be a life-saver.) I also acknowledge that I have a greater than average need to solve problems and fix things. So maybe I have not managed our situation in the optimal way by making so many accommodations. But I would not know where to start now with making changes. I feel like I would be happier if she were more resilient and less needy.
Expert:  Bill replied 5 years ago.
Thanks for the additional feedback.
Regardless of diagnosis, there are many issues you write about that present your partner as someone who is not likely to change much and although you may have all kinds of ideas/ideals for what might be, the reality is at this age, you are not going to see much change.......people do not change unless they want to, regardless of what their partner sees in them.
You are the classic co-dependent- the focus should be on you figuring out why me with her vs what can she do to make me will only find that this leads no where.
See it as -she is never going to what do I do.
I wish you the very best.
Have a great day.
Bill, LCSW, Consultant, Expert Witness
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 3707
Experience: 35 years treating individuals, couples, families with mental health and substance abuse prob's
Bill and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for reading my very lengthy comments. I do appreciate your insight, and I feel clearer having taken the time to put my thoughts into words. I do not anticipate great changes, and did not mean to indicate that I might. One of my chief concerns is that in many ways aging is a process of loss, and she has demonstrated such poor ability to handle loss. Aging has brought me peace and perspective, but the same is not true for her. I agree that you have earned your rating and your very modest fee. Thanks again.