For several years, I have suspected that my wife may have high-functioning Borderline Personality Disorder. She has an official diagnosis of Bipolar II and is taking mood stabilizers--but not at the dosage that the psychiatrist recommends.
Recently, our daughter was diagnosed with ADHD. I started reading some information on ADHD in marriages and suspected that some of the negative behavior might be ADHD rather than BPD.
Here are some types of behavior:
- Making promises that she can't keep (offering to pay for things, for example) or does not keep. Or perhaps could keep but they make things difficult for other people. For example, she invited her friend's mother to stay in our hotel room during a recent family vacation--without asking me or the kids!
- Sabotaging plans that she has made--Saying she wants to have sex, for example, and then declaring that it is "family movie night" so we stay up late and do not have sex. Or she just gets wrapped up on the internet, tv, phone, etc. and does not follow through. This is extremely frustrating for me because it often causes me to waste a Cialis pill--insurance only covers 4 each month.
- Blurting out hurtful things and then claiming she is not inconsiderate--she just does not think about my feelings! "That's just the way I am." At a bar mitzvah, for example, she asked how my diet was going when they lifted the kid's son up on the chair. Then she had the nerve to ask me how she could express concern over the mother's health without offending her for being overweight! Or waking me up to tell me her mother thought I looked "bloated." Or telling me that I needed to lose weight--in the middle of sex, while I was having trouble breathing because she was lying on top of me.
- Blurting out awkward things--I was warned her that a colleague's dog was known to bite and she should careful around the dog with our then infant son. She then blurted this out to the colleague--someone who helped get me the job and could have had influence on whether I continued in the position.
- Volunteering me for things, particularly with our kids. One time, she told her friends that "we" (mostly me) would make a whole batch of homebrew for them--without asking me! Then they assumed I would do a second batch for them. (I know, I should have drawn boundaries.)
- Being unable to end an argument. It may be getting the last word in. Or she may lose sight of the reason we are arguing (OK, I know that you want me to clean the bathroom. Just stop arguing so I can clean it and I will do it now! You are preventing me from doing the bathroom.) Or she may just not accept victory as an option. She told me to stop reading a comic to our daughter because it was "innappropriate." I stopped and said I was sorry. She kept hammering on me in front of the kids--"I don't want you to say you are sorry. We have to be on the same page."
- Claiming that I do not "back her up" with the kids, but I do not know which "her" to back up. She decides (without asking me) that our son can't play video games the rest of the day. I spend several hours saying "no" as he pesters me to play. And then, without asking me, she decides to let him play.
- Rapid escalation of punishments for the kids, often unrelated to the problems. Then back-pedaling.
- Redirecting anger from the kids or others onto me. The kids got into a fight at a rest stop while I was getting coffee. She took over driving and started yelling at me about how I wanted to go to a restaurant we could not afford--but she is the one who suggested the restaurant. I had merely said, "OK" This was a horrendous fight that led me to make a marriage counseling or divorce ultimatum.
- Lots of interruptions. I do human rights volunteer work, for example, and it involves reading a lot of Spanish-language material. I will stop to talk with her and then resume reading when I think she is done. But then she starts again. And again. And again. 20 minutes later, I am rereading the same paragraph. This was really bad when I was doing my dissertation research.
- Also interrupting me when I try to talk. The subjects change so frequently, that what I want to say is no longer relevant by the time I get a chance to say it. When I raise my finger in an "I have a point to make" signal, she takes it as me "wagging my finger at her." She once complained that I should not treat her like one of my college students--which I found really hurtful. She never saw me teach, but there she was saying that I was disrespectful toward my students.
- Forgetting I am there. We could be standing in line at an amusement park, for example, and she will start conversations with strangers and not involve me at all. I may need to talk to her about the kids, but she blames me for being rude for trying to tell her something important. Everyone else seems so much more interesting than me.
- Lots of blame shifting. As in the case of blaming me for wanting to go to the "too expensive" restaurant that she picked out. She demanded that I needed to apologize for "getting defensive" when she started screaming at me for no reason and would not listen to logic (As in "I did not say I wanted to go there. I don't even recall the name of the place. You looked it up on your phone and got directions. I just said, 'OK.'")
- Double standards--she will act like I am a horrible child abuser when I raise my voice to the kids, but she gets much more angry at them, for example.
- Not accepting consequences for her actions--She once made fun of me for bringing my jacket because I would be too hot. That night, however, she demanded that I should give her the jacket because she was cold. I should be cold because she did not want to bring her jacket.
- Lying--denying that she just said something, for example.
- Damned-if-I-do, Damned-if-I-Don't behavior. She started yelling at the kids, and I stayed quiet because 1) I was afraid that she would apply the double standard and accuse me of being abusive to the kids and 2) because she was already going overboard on the kids, so more yelling is the last thing we need. She then accused me of not backing her up. The following day, however, I do yell at the kids because I am afraid that she will start a fight over me not backing her up. Voila! Once again, she accuses me of being abusive. Or yelling at me because I did not do dishes--when I had spent the evening working on laundry and she had thanked me for that at the time. Or even yelling at me for not doing the dishes when I did as many as would fit in the dish drain.
- She used to "encourage" me to go on amusement park rides by saying that they were "not too high" or "not too steep," which had the affect of making me feel like I was being called chicken. (I have actually developed a liking for roller coasters--once she laid off of this and I started on really tame rides and played around with computer simulators.) We recently climbed a light house. I overcame my fear of heights enough to take a few steps out of the doorway. Another couple came up. The man was really giving the woman a hard time about her fear of heights. My wife blurted out that even I was able to go out, so wasn't that bad. I called her on this, and she said she was just "trying ot be encouraging." I pointed out that the woman did not want to be encouraged.
- Answering questions that have nothing to do with the question I actually asked her--possibly the questions she thinks I "should" have asked. "Which train line do we want?" "The train that leaves at 12:05." Gee, I wanted to make sure that we were going to the right place instead of departing at a certain time and winding up God-knows-where. Or maybe two trains leave at 12:05? Or maybe the 12:05 has been delayed to 12:10? Which train will get us where we want to go?
- Completing my sentences for me, often in ways that make me look bad and have very little to do with what I was about to say.
- She once got a parking ticket with my car and repeatedly told me I she was going to pay it. Next thing I know, I get a letter stating that my license has been suspended.
- Discounting/invalidating. She ignores my warnings that we need to find time to mow or the neighbors will complain, and then argues that the town was wrong to complain. Or ridiculing me in front of people with the excuse of "I was teasing. That's what couples do" when I tell her how embarrassed I felt. Or sometimes she discounts my opinion repeatedly, then all of a sudden says that someone else told her the same thing I did without acknowledging that I had already said that repeatedly--as if it is new to me.
- We aren't meeting our goals--let's set higher goals! She puts off her turn to clean the cat boxes to the point where the basement smells and the cats start peeing outside of the boxes. Instead of saying that we (she) need to stick to the schedule we have in place, she should change the schedule so we are supposed to clean them daily!
- Buying Marge the bowling ball. She once surprised me with a trip to the Renaissance Fair for my birthday--even though I had repeatedly told her over several years that I was not interested in going to the Renaissance Fair. But she wanted to go.
Sorry for venting about so much. But it seems like a lot of this could be ADHD or BPD.
Some things that are more BPD and not really ADHD:
- All or nothing thinking. We were camping at a music festival once. We spend hours driving around in circles trying to camp at the "right" section--thus missing the music we were there to hear. Our son doesn't do his homework, so she tells him that she "knows" he can get straight As. Then he says he might as well not do the homework because it won't be good enough.
- Black and white thinking. Women who have c-sections are bad. Ok, she had a C-section. It was the midwife's fault. But she is going to V-back next time. I can promise her that she is going to be able to have a vaginal birth, right? Why don't I believe in her? Good mothers stay home. Her friend got to stay home, why couldn't she? (I was proud of having my first real job out of grad school, so this was really hard to hear. Her friend married a CPA who could support a stay-at-home mother. My teaching salary was not enough.) Good mothers can stop their babies from crying. Why couldn't she get our son to stop crying? She has failed as a mother! I tried to support her that babies cry and sometimes you can't do anything about it. She keeps yelling and sobbing about it and I am left resenting that I have have to listen to her on top of our son's crying. Often, her attempts to be the perfect mother wind up preventing her from doing what is actually best for our kids. Good mother's use cloth diapers. Bad mothers use disposables. Our daughter went through several months of severe rashes before she gave in and heeded the pediatrician's advice that we switch to disposables. Then the rashes went away.
- Alienating coworkers whom she says have called her angry--she's not angry (just like she is not angry when yelling at me.) Then she lost the job--several times.
- Jekyll & Hyde anger. It comes out of nowhere and then seems to disappear abruptly. She expects everything to be fine. Why am I still hurt?
- Irrational fear of abandonment--If I decide to sleep on the couch because I can't get any sleep after a fight, that must mean we are getting a divorce! So I have to come back to bed, or we are going to get a divorce.