Archive for December, 2011


I have been thinking about this post for awhile.  But, I want to be careful and sensitive to those living with Bipolar; as I in no way want to paint anyone with a mental or emotional disorder in a bad light.  For me, though, it’s important to have a place to write about my experiences without censor.  So – I hope I am able to express this in a way that is honest without appearing to have any discriminatory feelings towards anyone with Bipolar.

I met my fiancé in December 2008.  I had just started going out, trying to meet new friends, a year and a half after I had separated from my abusive husband.  I went to a Christmas themed pub crawl, and I was very nervous.  I don’t make friends easily – and I was still in a very vulnerable place.  This man approached me during the night; full of vibrancy and life.  He was funny, over-the-top, and full of energy.   He accepted me into the group and made me feel like he had known me for my whole life.  He made me feel welcome, and made sure that I never felt alone in any of the group events I attended in the next few months.  Eventually, we started to spend one-on-one time with each other, and he won me over with his extraordinary kindness and generosity.  I felt safe with him.  Like he would never let any harm come to me. 

 He did tell me early on that he was depressed.  But, he tended to make light of it – joking about it and downplaying it.  He did mention that one Doctor had diagnosed him Bipolar, but he discounted this.   He also told me of the medications that he had been on in the past; and the medications he was on at the time.  Now, I understand that these were all typical bipolar medications; but I really knew nothing of the disease at the time.

My first experience with one of his true, intense lows was less than a year after we had met.  We had just decided to exclusively date a few months prior.

We had an argument earlier in the day, and were set to go to a party that night.  He was feeling insecure about the argument, and got upset with me for “flirting” with other people at the party.  He ended up leaving me at the party without telling me.  When I realized he was gone, I tried to call several times but he would not answer.  I was stranded at the party; I had left my car at his house.  I ended up getting a ride from someone else, back to his house.

He was passed out; completely overdosed on his medications.  He finally woke up and came down the stairs; screaming obscenities at me and telling me to leave.  However – the next day he remembered nothing of that night.  He contacted me and blamed me for never coming over.  He starting accusing me of staying the night with someone else; when I had really spent the night on HIS couch. 

He wouldn’t get out of bed for over a week.  He threatened suicide.  He screamed at me, ranted and raved and popped all sorts of pills.    Ambien, vicodin, xanax, seroquel… anything he could get his hands on.  I stayed at his house as much as I could, to try and make sure that he was ok.

 This was completely out of my realm of experience.  I had dealt with an abusive husband; but I had no idea how to handle what was happening with him.  Of course, he blamed the whole episode on me.  I still had enough of the victim’s guilt in me that I believed him and I wanted to “fix” it.

Eventually, he stopped overdosing on the pills (that time), and came out of it.  He didn’t remember any of what had transpired.  He apologized, and said that sometimes he went through “lows”.   He swore that he would keep his medications in check; and that he would stop taking his Ambien – which he blamed for the black-outs.   I cared enough that I stuck around, and hoped that I would be able to prevent it from happening again, by being a better partner.

We had good times and bad times.  Gradually, I began to detect a pattern.  Periods of extreme “hyper-ness”, of wanting to go out and be the life of the party, needing the social experiences and everyone laughing at him and feeling like he was the most popular person on the planet.  During these times, he was calling me numerous times a day, to tell me of the most mundane things – and would talk in this very fast, rambling way.  I was always afraid to tell him I had to get back to work; because I didn’t want to ruin this buoyancy and send him into another depression. 

These were the times he would go to Home Depot on a whim, and come back with a carload of things that he was going to use to improve the house.  He would have to finish it all without taking a break.  One time he tore out all the carpet in the downstairs and installed wood floors.  Another time, he completely redid the bathroom – new tile, new paint, everything.  He would get angry when I wasn’t as exuberant about getting this project done as he was; or if I got in his way… or if I didn’t anticipate his needs and help in the way he needed, at the moment he needed me to.

I came to know that these highs meant that the lows were about to come.  No matter how happy he was during his manic episodes; the lows ALWAYS came after.  Days in bed.  He was barely able to get out of bed to go to work.  Sometimes, he was not even able to do that – and would call in sick or come home early.  He would come home with stories about how his boss was such a “fucking asshole.”  He would tell me about how he had screamed at his boss, and how he didn’t know if he had a job anymore.  He never seemed to think this behavior was out of the ordinary. 

I went days where he wouldn’t call me during the day, and he wouldn’t answer his phone.  The only thing he seemed to want to talk about when he WAS able to communicate is to say how horrible his life was.  How much he wanted to die.  He had a love affair with the idea of dying.  He would talk of the ways it would happen.  About how he would make it look like an accident so that I wouldn’t have to live with the fact that he had committed suicide.  Every time this came up, I told him to stop.  I couldn’t handle all of his talk of suicide, and it scared me.  I would try and make him promise he wouldn’t do anything rash.  His favorite phrase was “Well, I won’t actually commit suicide, but I wouldn’t care if I got hit by a bus.”

 Later, he talked about how he hated me and my children; because we were keeping him from dying – when that is really all he wanted to do.  He would tell me that we were the only things standing between him and blissful death.

When things got bad enough; I would take his gun and hide it.  He would tell me that he would never use a gun to kill himself; that he would find another way.  Every single time he had one of these lows… I had such anxiety.  I had anxiety when he wouldn’t return my texts.  I had anxiety when he seemed down when he DID answer his phone.  I would have anxiety when I was pulling into the complex; wondering if his car would be parked there when he was supposed to be at work.  If I did see his car – I would look up at the windows and start panicking if the lights were out; because that would mean he was in bed; having a depressive episode.  I would open the front door on these days, shaking so badly that  I could not get my key to fit into the lock.  I didn’t know what I would find when I opened the door.  I always wondered – would this be the day I would find him overdosed on his medications?  I would walk up the stairs with dread at the silence, and open the bedroom door to find him completely covered in blankets; and I would come to him to see if he was still breathing.

Then… he would finally come out of his depression, and another manic stage would begin.  He would be loving and kind and funny…. and I would try and tell myself that it was all ok now.  He took more of an interest in the kids than their father ever did.  He cared for them, and he cared for me, deeply.  I knew this.  But, I also knew that a lot of the times he loved the idea of death more; and I was in a constant battle to try and convince him to love me, and life, more than death.

When 2011 started; it signified a very drastic turn in my partner.  I noticed his depressions lasting longer.  His paranoia was increasing to a point where we could not go out together, as he was convinced I would just wander off with another man, or I would so something to hurt him (none of which was substantiated).  He didn’t like my clothes, as he thought they were too sexy.  He didn’t want me to wear makeup, because he saw it as an indication that I was trying to get attention from other men.  He didn’t want me to wear high heels.  We were essentially confined to the house, of which I began to thought of as a prison.  No matter how gently I tried to coax him to get out the house; even just for a small walk; it always ended in a fight.  He became convinced that I hated him.  That I was going to hurt him.  No matter what I did, or how hard I tried – these convictions became more and more real to him every day.

He started counseling.  His counselor again diagnosed him with bipolar.  She said he was going thru a quite common occurrence in people with bipolar, in which their symptoms get very bad during the spring time.  He saw a psychologist who tried to change up his meds.  Nothing became better, and he began to drift farther and farther from me.

One day in early May – he overdosed on Xanax and took his motorcycle for a drive.  He told me later that he was hoping to die that night.  He wanted to wreck the bike and make it look like an accident.  He came home more depressed than ever – because he was “too chicken” to go through with it.

I wish that I could say this story had a happy ending.  But, two weeks after the motorcycle incident – he kicked me out of the house, and after 3 long days of overdosing on his medications – he shot himself in his bed (he broke into my safe and took his gun which I had taken from him during his last suicide threat).  Despite my attempts to get him help – no one would respond.  I finally went over to the house and found him, sometime within a day of the time he had committed suicide.

I know that I will never truly understand what he felt inside, and that I cannot compare my experiences with his.  However, although I was not the one diagnosed Bipolar; in a way – I lived that life with him.  I was a passenger on the roller coaster that he went through on a daily basis.   I experienced it in the 3rd person, and I know how helpless and afraid I felt.  Now, I am here and he is not.  I read somewhere that suicide does not end pain; it just disburses it.  I am living proof of that.  This is now my legacy.

This post is the hardest one that I ever expect to write.  In fact, it has been almost 7 months in the making.  It’s taken me that long be able to put my experience into words to explain my story – especially in a way that would be readable to those who weren’t personally involved.

I would say that many Americans  are wondering if law enforcement is prioritizing what is truly important.  Especially with the “Occupy” movements being publicized around the Nation.  What are they focusing on?  Are they here to truly protect and serve us?  Not in my experience.

If you were like me, growing up you heard stories about how police officers were there to help you.  “If you are ever in trouble- try to find a police officer.”  “Drive to your nearest police department.”  “Call 911!”

How many times have we all heard these phrases?  And we believed them, at least I did.  I believed that police officers where there to help.  That they were on the job, risking their lives each day, in order to keep order.  To HELP those who needed them.

I can think of many circumstances, as I am sure many people can, which have made me question if I can trust the law to keep me and my loved ones safe.  I have had difficulties in having the law uphold my restraining order; in protecting my children; in protecting those I love and THEIR children..  But, the ultimate betrayal and confirmation of how little you can trust “officers of the law”  to hold up their end of the bargain came in the days leading up to my fiance’s death in May.

My fiancé was diagnosed bipolar.  He was taking all the right steps to try and control this disease.  He had started counseling.  He was making med changes on the advice of his doctors.  He was a fighter, and wanted to beat this disease.  But, he was sick.  He was so sick that his disease began to take control of him.  Just as a cancer patient whose deadly cells begin to multiply and take over.

He became suicidal.  He was repeatedly overdosing on his medication.  I personally requested the police to help.  To provide a “welfare check” or, in technical terms – a “5150 – Involuntary psychiatric hold.”   I asked multiple times , over several days – to no avail.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this piece of a police officer’s job, a “5150” is a 72 hour involuntary psychiatric hold – which a police officer can order.  When a police officer has probable cause to believe that “…a person, as a result of a mental disorder, is a danger to himself/herself or others or is gravely disabled, they can place this person into custody and place him or her in a facility for a 72-hour treatment and evaluation.”   In order to do this, the facility into which they are placed will also “require a written application stating the circumstances under which there is probable cause to believe that a person is, as a result of mental disorder, a danger to himself/herself or others or is gravely disabled”   In addition – this probable cause can be based on the statement of a person other than a police officer, or a professional person.  The legal consequence is – this person shall be liable in a civil action if they intentionally give a statement that he or she knows to be false.”

So – what this means is that a police officer can, either based on their own observations, or on another’s observations, commit a person to a psychiatric hold.   Not only did the Police Department refuse to perform this duty; but they actually lied to me about the circumstances in order to help protect themselves, and the bureaucracy they work for.  Why?  My only guess is to avoid possible retribution for not performing the duties that were assigned to them by law.

The beginning of the end happened during a medication change suggested by my partner’s Doctor.  He had always had issues with abusing his medications.  He turned to them when he was feeling sad.  Overwelmed.  Anxious. This time was no different.  His paranoia took over.  No matter what I said, no matter what anyone else said, he wouldn’t/couldn’t stop.   He needed some serious intervention.

I had to leave the house, due to my safety and the safety of my children.  But, I never gave up trying to get him the help he needed.

First, I called the crisis line.    They recommended that his counselor try to talk to him and convince him to go to the hospital.  If that didn’t work or if he seemed to be getting worse – they told me I should get the police involved. They also told me that there is a mobile crisis team that will come out and perform a wellness check.  Since there were weapons involved, they would need to be accompanied by the police, if it came to that.  He stopped answering his phone, stopped answering his door.   The only communication I received (anyone received) was a few incoherent text messages.

So, I called the crisis line back.  They recommended I call the police to get a mobile crisis team out to do a welfare check on him.  I called the police. I also called the mobile crisis line to ask them to come out as well.   The mobile crisis line said that it would be faster to have the cops call them to come out, once they arrived.

The police came out.   I told them I wanted a welfare check.  They told me that they would not call unless they were able to check on him themselves and see if they thought he needed it.  They told me to stay out of sight from the house.  I waited.  And waited.  They came back a few times and told me that they had been calling his number and knocking on the door but he wouldn’t answer.  Therefore, they couldn’t call the crisis unit – as they could not make a visual confirmation that he needed help (which, is not required – they could have called based on my statement!).  They suggested that I stay away from the house.   I asked them to talk to the neighbor as she had seen how desperately he needed help and could testify that he was not ok.  They told me that she was standing at her door when they came up; but that she closed the door on them.  They finally left.

I called the mobile crisis line back later that night.  I begged them to go over and check on him.  They finally agreed – and brought a police escort.  They called me back later that night; and said that they had been to the complex; but did not go up to the door as they deemed it too dangerous (with the police escort).  They told me they had tried to call but did not get ahold of anyone.

The next day came.  He left me one last text message.  Again mostly incoherent but obviously suicidal – a “goodbye”.  After that – his phone was turned off and no one heard from him for the rest of the day. He didn’t even call in sick to work, which he had always made sure to do in the past, and had done the past few days.

I called the police again.  I begged them to go over to the house.  I  told them that I still had a key, and that I could open the door so that they didn’t not have to worry about entering the house without consent (this was my home, as well).  I even offered to go into the house, but I wanted a police escort.  They told me that they would not agree to anything until I came to meet them.  So, I drove 45 minutes into town to meet with the cops.  Four or five officers showed up to speak to me;  even the captain came out.

They continued to refuse to go to the house.  They said it was too dangerous – because they had to walk up stairs to get to the house – and they didn’t have a good escape route.  They urged me not to go to the house either.  They used the excuse that they had already been out twice and couldn’t go again.  They tried calling – even though I told them his phone had been shut off all day.  One officer finally decided to drive by the house.  They came back, said his car was in the driveway and the lights were off, so it was obvious he was home.  I asked them how long we would have to wait before anyone would agree to check on him.  They wouldn’t give me an answer.  One of the officers finally took pity on me and told me that he would be on duty at 5:00 the next evening, so I could call back then and “maybe they would agree at that time.”

The next day, I was finally able to find a phone number for our neighbor.  I called and she confirmed that she had not heard any noise coming from his house since the previous morning.  At that point, I knew I couldn’t wait any longer.  I had to do the job that the police and refused to do; as it was “too dangerous” for them.

I entered the house, and found my fiancé.  Dead; by suicide.  Three days after I initially contacted the police, and the crisis team, for help.  Had they been willing to heed my calls at any time during those 2 or 3 days – my fiancé may have been able to get the help he needed –and he may still be alive today.  Now, dozens of lives have been shattered and the world has lost a wonderful human being.

Eventually, I went to talk to my neighbor.  What I found out is that the first time they came out to the house – she DID talk to them.  She opened her door and tried to tell them he needed help.  With their guns drawn, they told her to go back inside and lock her door.  They also talked to my fiancé.  They asked him if he had threatened me and he said no.  So they left.  And then, came back to where I was waiting and denied that they had been able to talk to either him OR my neighbor.  They were VERY aware that the reason I had called was for a welfare check only.  I had NEVER told them he had threatened me and I had made it very clear that he was suicidal, and that was why I was calling.   And, as anyone who dealt with him at all in those past several days could attest – there is NO way that any police officer would have been able to look at him and decide that he was ok, and that he did not need intervention.  Why would they have had to lie to me, if that was the case?  Why would they continue to lie to me – and in fact later tell me that it was “too dangerous” for them to go to the house; if they felt that he was not a danger to himself or someone else?

I cannot describe the helplessness I felt, when I reached out to the police for help.  But, it pales in comparison with the betrayal I felt when I realized that not only did they refuse to help; but they also lied about their involvement and the fact that they had actually made visual confirmation – which they  had stated was  necessary in order for the crisis team to intervene and save a life.

I wonder, many times, how these police officers feel.  Do they lose sleep at night?  Do they think about all they could have done – and in fact were employed to do – so save a human life?  Do they even CARE?

I understand that there must be good police officers out there.  Ones who truly care and risk their lives to help.  But, I definitely haven’t met any – and I don’t know if I can ever forgive them for refusing to try and save a very precious life.

The Effects on Children due to Exposure to Domestic Violence

If you do a search on Google – you will find plenty of references to the effects on children due to witnessing domestic violence.  However, I can’t stress enough how seriously people need to take this.

One of the tools my husband would use as a way to make me stay in the abusive relationship was to use my children as “bait.”  He would tell me how detrimental it would be for the kids not to have 2 parents.  He would tell me that he was going to take my kids away from me if I tried to leave.  That I would never see them again, and that he would convince everyone I was a bad parent.  After all – I didn’t have any PROOF that he was abusing me, so it would be my story over his – and they would believe him instead of me.    I believed him, and one of the factors that convinced me to stay time after time is my worry that it would I was doing more to keep my kids “safe” by staying with him, then I would if I tried to leave and he was successful in gaining custody.   The kids were scared enough that they would never have told the truth, and both he and I knew it.

Although I understood it couldn’t be healthy for the children to be exposed to that amount of violence – I had no idea at the time, of how truly detrimental it was for them.

Now, I understand that being a witness to such abuse was as damaging to them as it was to me, as the one to whom the violence was directed.  In fact – allowing a child to be a witness – is in and of itself considered child abuse.  Thanks to a lot of therapy for both me and my children, I finally understand the effect that this has on children, and my children are no exception.  Both of my children have special needs and behavioral/emotional struggles.

Of course, I can’t say that the abuse is the ONLY reason that they have these struggles.  After all, I have children who were in a 3rd world orphanage and experienced extreme poverty, the loss of their biological parents, and trans-racial adoption.  However – I absolutely believe that they would have been better prepared to deal with those issues  and to work through them a lot better/faster – if they had grown up in a loving, peaceful home where they had parents who they felt secure and safe with.   Living in fear and a home where violence was the norm has complicated and added to any of the struggles we would have had associated with the adoption.

Both my children deal with stress and anger by lashing out in very unhealthy ways.   My daughter has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and attachment disorder.  She is very violent with everyone except her father (she knows, and has said, that her life would be in danger if she did so). She has spent several years not only struggling with these issues; but also trying her hardest to “take care of” her father and protect him.  She came to believe that was her “job” and that maybe if she did it good enough; her father wouldn’t be violent anymore.  She is only now beginning to trust me and other adults to keep her safe( and to keep myself safe) – and because of that she is starting to open up .

My son is almost a teenager now and displays a very strong view of women being the “weaker” sex and not to be respected.  As he grows older, he takes on more and more of his father’s abusive behavoirs.  It has been 2 1/2 years since he has witnessed any physical violence – and 1 1/2 years since he witnessed verbal threats by his father to me.  However, because of many years of seeing his father act in this way, he now considers this to be a sign of a strong man, and tries to emulate it.

I want to write this post for all the women out there who think that staying with an abusive partner is “better for the children.”  No, it is not.  Divorce is hard on kids.  Living in 2 seperate households is hard on kids – but living in a home with violence is infinitely more so.  And, the longer it is allowed to go on – the more devastating the effects it will have on the children.  There doesn’t have to be physical abuse – verbal/emotional is just as damaging.  We need to stand up for ourselves as well as our children!

Remember – you don’t have to live this way – and your children don’t either.  Many times you can get a restraining order that will also protect your children from your abusive partner.  And, as I said earlier – domestic violence is considered child abuse – even when the child is NOT the one the abuse is being directed towards.  Don’t believe it if your partner is threatening you with taking away your children, and don’t let it be another reason to stay in the relationship.

Why Is Adoption So Often Seen as “The Last Option”?

One of the questions that irritates me the most when people find out that I have adopted is “Oh – couldn’t you have children of your own?”  This statement is supremely frustrating to me for two reasons.  One – these ARE my “real” children.  Two – why do people automatically assume that because you adopted, it was because you couldn’t get pregnant?  Why do so many people assume that adoption is the last option that someone pursues when all else has failed?

I am in no way assuming that adoption is for everyone.  Although personally I do not understand the importance of having biological ties to your family – I know some people do.  What’s more surprising to me is that this view seems to flow over into the adoption community at times as well.

I hear often of families exhausting all of their fertility treatments, and finally making the decision to adopt. I have also heard many times how difficult of a decision it is and how much mourning was involved in accepting infertility.  I suppose I could also understand this to an extent.  But recently I read an article of a woman who continue to mourn her infertility after building her family by adoption. She talks of not being able to attend baby showers, and how she doesn’t think she needs to “find closure”.   I don’t mean to be insensitive – but what message are we sending to our adopted children when we are placing biology in front of our relationship to them?  When we can’t rejoice in another’s growing family, while we are families of our own?

Family is family.  It doesn’t matter how this family is formed – the bond is dependent on the relationships you build with those you love… not blood…not shared DNA.

My kids are my kids.  That’s it to me. End of story.

Abuse: It’s All About Power and Control.  I saw this post which included the “Power and Control” wheel of Domestic Abuse and wanted to share.