Friday, December 24, 2010

Antidepressants and domestic abuse

Republished December 29 after publishing Christmas Day and removing late that evening.

Two weeks ago my husband started weaning off of one anti-depressant and increasing the dose of another. I sent an email last Sunday to his therapist "for your info and my permanent record, as I will be keeping a copy of this email."

Just wanted to let [name] know that [my husband] was doing a medication change, and it has not gone without affect on his personality. He was more aggressive in driving, compulsively eating again, withdrawn, and antagonistic when any of these issues were brought up as a problem. This is a change back to old ways of thinking and behaving. After weeks of no time-outs at all, there were three days of time-outs last week, with Friday night requiring more than one time out that evening alone. He went ahead and took another dose of the med he was quitting (I don't why the doc didn't choose to taper him off) Friday night and he is better, but not fully happy and participating in life with joy like he was before.

I'm posting it here because I know women in other bad marriage situations read here, and it would be duplicitous to hide problems. He is still not "fully happy and participating in life with joy like he was before."

He is returning to the old husband, the one who pleasantly enough ignored everything I said until I was frustrated, and then responds to me as if my normal human frustration at being stone-walled is characteristic of "a bitch". My efforts to talk to him about how his personality and behavior have changed are called "mean and hateful". I can not account for this return to his old ways other than the changes in medication.

Last night, as we went to bed he read from one of the marriage books we have found helpful, apologized for not helping me as I had asked earlier that night, and promised he would help today. We got into bed and were both almost asleep. My cell phone rang.

It was my daughter with an unexpected crisis (no one's hurt). My husband's response was to turn his back to me. When the phone call continued, he let out an exasperated sigh. He did this a few times.

Wow. Total abandonment of both me and my daughter in one grand gesture. She is shivering in a parking lot afraid and worried about this fender-bender, and he has NO COMPASSION. He hears me comfort her and offer advice and he HAS NO DESIRE TO COMFORT HER OR SUPPORT ME.

Instead, he feels put out and has no problem passive-aggressively broadcasting his self-centered disorder as self-righteously as he can. Unbelievable.

When I do finally take a break from my phone call to tell him to get up (my job as ezer, and he has agreed repeatedly he wants that kind of relationship) he grudgingly does so. He is very kind to my daughter on the phone, but not to me. When the crisis is past and I try to talk to him, he is not at all interested in bringing healing to our relationship.

Unbelievably, he denies that he abandoned me to deal with this myself and was a self-centered jerk, because in his mind once he did get up, then the facts, that he laid there for five minutes sighing in irritation and never did man up and do anything motivated by love, but ONLY took any action in the form of REACTING to my frustration and rebuke, were magically erased from accountability.

All attempts to address the real issue- his self-centered return to PAPD- are being met with classic PAPD behavior. Trite apologies with right words and no emotion. Self-righteous withdrawal into himself when I point out the reality that in human relationships, this is not enough. One must do more than apologize, one must repair the damage done. He knows this. PAPD counts on it. That way the original offense can multiply and cause more pain and damage in the relationship while allowing the PAPD to pity himself as the victim here.

(Religion teaches this constantly. Anyone who brings up a problem "needs to forgive" i.e. suck it up and accept the mistreatment. I hate what the church has done to the words of Christ.)

Well, I had hoped that after a full night's sleep, he would be reasonable again. Nope. Full blown PAPD this morning, complete with physical, verbal and emotional symptoms. When I tried to talk to him this morning (yes, in a calm rational voice, though we are discussing a problem that an apology alone won't solve) he first withdrew his arms, next crossed his arms over his chest, and then actually started to walk out of the room.

I thought his conscience must be scratching his heart somewhere, because then he did come over and lay beside me and put his arm around me, though his arm was now across my neck. I noticed he could have hurt me badly, but chose to assume it was not intentionally intimidating. But then he started repeating, "poor baby" and I then I knew for sure this man was not in his right mind.

This "poor baby" crooning is a personal symptom of his when he is in a PAPD episode/domestic abuse. It's physically manifesting that in his thoughts he is belittling and infantilizing my concerns. Another term for is is misogyny. He is not an adult having a conversation with another adult; he is a god managing an inferior being. His patronizing behavoir is intended to make him look good and reveal his contempt for me at the same time.

The literature about PAPD points out that this is (subconsciously?) intentional and that this thinking about oneself and others is the bedrock on which all the passive-aggressive behaviors are built. Heck, it is the bedrock upon which all domestic abuse and violence is built.

So silly me, I tried having a rational conversation about this too. Why do I think he will hear me with a heart of good will when he is like this? That is about as likely as snowfall in July.

So he turned that around to say I was saying hateful, cruel things about him (pointing out his PAPD behaviors) but he loves me anyway. O. M. G. The therapist calls this the reptile brain and I see why. I might as well be talking to a reptile.

So, he is in a "time-out" right now, but barring some miracle of God all it really is a free pass to avoid dealing with his very real personality problems that are causing distress, pain and frustration to those he loves while indulging his ego. There was absolutely NOTHING humble or honest about his going to this "time out". He is attempting to use it as just another weapon that keeps intimacy and love from invading his life. Ugh.

Well, good news on my front. I am frustrated, but I have a plan. Go back on full dose of the anti-depressant immediately and make an appointment with the doctor next week to discuss the persistent personality problems that are accompanying these changes. That's my bottom line.

And if he chooses not to? At the very least, he will be sleeping on the couch. As to further consequences if he persists in misogyny/self-absorption/resentment? I don't know, but I know that God will be my strength and deliverance.

Peace and good will, SS


  1. {{ss}}

    I am so sorry.
    You are such an encouragement to many, and I am sad that you have such a heavy load to bear.

  2. Well, he came out of his time-out in his right mind. I was not expecting that, seeing his attitude going into it, but I am happy for it.

    He has agreed to go back to full dosage the rest of the weekend and make another appointment on Monday. We talked and snuggled on the couch for over an hour without him returning to a bad state. He truly sees what's happening and is diligent in making amends and getting back on the right course. I do believe him and though I will be wary about any potential relapse, so will he! I am not in this alone, happy day. n_n

    It's so hard to live with this unpredictability but it is entirely likely that it is a medication issue, so it is something that can be fixed.

    I'll leave this up for a while longer, as an honest record of the journey. Life is not for the faint of heart, but the rewards are worth the struggles. Always.

    Peace and good will, SS

  3. Much as I don't want to give your husband the benefit of the doubt... medication changes can be HARD. There is definitely withdrawal, no matter what the literature says, and some are worse than others. If he really wants to decrease, he may have to go much more slowly (I know someone who shaved off slivers at a time of her Paxil, one more every few days. Rough stuff).

    Hope things stabilize enough to enjoy the holiday.

  4. ARGH! What therapist in her right mind would wean psych meds during the holidays, which are big emotional triggers even for the healthiest among us? That was irresponsible, IM-not-so-HO!

    But I am very happy that your daughter is fine, hubby kept himself from physical abusiveness, and did manage to follow his plan for when things fall apart. I'm really sorry for you all that this happened but so glad it didn't spiral out of control as has happened in the past.

    Two steps forward and one step back--the rhythm of the healing dance.

    Much love and prayers for you all this weekend. (are you seeing his family?)

  5. It wasn't the therapist, it was the psychiatrist aka the pill pusher. The therapist was none too excited about the idea, and encouraged my dh to modify much more slowly. The psychiatrist wanted it done cold turkey. Not a good plan....

    Final, please want to give good will. It is Christmas after all, and the man is putting more effort into getting well than any man I know. =)

    Sandra, thanks for your support too. You are all gems. Hope you see this before I take it down. Love to you all: Hillary, Final and Sandra. The rest of the day is going fantastic.

  6. oooh, that really makes me want to slap someone! The psychiatrist of all people should know NEVER, EVER go cold turkey from mood levelers or any other brain chemistry meds! You might even want to send a copy of that letter to your state's licensing board. Seriously.

    ... inhaling deeply through nose... exhaling love and goodwill....

    Muchos kudos to you and your hubby both for staying as calm as possible and making accommodations for this chemistry aberration. I find your comments about how hard Hubby tries to make his program work (time-outs, etc) even if he did try to use it as a weapon earlier today. It is soooo great that he is manifestly working hard to retrain his brain pathways and that you are so aware of how hard he is working.

    Merry Christmas. May it be a blessed day for all of you.

  7. My prayers are with you.

    As someone who was formerly on anti-depressants (Effexor), I can say that coming down can be extreme. I quit cold turkey and wasn't in my right mind for about six months. Very distressing.

    I hope you have a blessed Christmas.

  8. Oh boy can I relate to the attitude you speak of. You are blessed that he will acknowledge it once he comes down, but in the meantime it hurts.

    Medicines I agree can be very tricky things. I remember my father's doctor was weaning him off anti depression meds, and his mother died during that period. He behavior was beyond odd, and it worried us. He went back on them, and he was fine and grieved as he should.

    Its good that you saw the red flag, and contacted the doctor. Spring I don't think some people realize we are talking about 'quality of life' here. We aren't talking 'perfect' - just quality!

    In some cases its like insulin needed for the diabetic. The quality of life wouldn't be there for the diabetic without it. Its for everyone's benefit here.

    I realize some in the faith circles have issues with certain medicines. They will even hint if you got right in your faith, and your relationship with God all would be right in your life. God made us all custom, and a diabetic would still need insulin - right or not with their relationship. Their theory made work for some, but for others? They need to sprinkle their spiritual pixie dust elsewhere!

    The facts are if your quality of life in circumstances like this are good? Your more capable of working towards those closer relationships in life - with everyone and God. I know when my father went downhill - he was a good Christian man - no one could reach him. When he found the right levels of meds? He could handle life's happenings in a more healthy way - especially the not so good stuff.

    There is no shame that should be attached to this. You are using tools to make the quality of life better. In time the tools may change, but we are still looking for quality of life.

    Why would people think his qualify of life would be better knowing his attitude goes in the dumps when he come down? That doctor is thinking more highly of his opinions than his patient. It should be the other way around!

    It sounds like he feels better about himself, and everyone else around him when he has the proper meds. That is called 'normal'. lol its a good thing! Why people RUSH to change that doesn't make any sense at all. Why people claim any type of med that makes quality of life better as BAD? They need to think of the person, and not themselves.

    I hope and pray he continues to heal, and grow within himself. I pray he finds that healthy balance so that quality of life stays permanently. I mean he can't feel good either when they are hurting others, and indirectly hurting themselves as well.

  9. Oh my. I have no idea how that comment got miscommunicated. I didn't mean ill will toward anyone at all; in fact, I was sympathizing with the man. I have been thru med changes myself and with family members, and it really can cause symptoms and behaviors that are not at all intended.

    My "benefit of the doubt" comment was only to let you, the "victim" in the latest episode, know that I wasn't dismissing your feelings or taking his side in something that was obviously painful to you.

    My apologies for my rotten communication skills.

  10. ????

    Your communication skills are just fine. I appreciate your desire to give honor to both sides of the issue.

    Now *I* will apologize:

    I'm sorry that my encouragement (that I think a presumption of good will is the right thing in this situation) caused you distress.

    Lolz. We recovering types get into these kinds of situations. Pretty much everyone has a heart of good will towards everyone else, so let's all hug and move on, shall we? ;-)