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PostPosted: August 8th, 2003, 1:35 pm 
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Joined: January 3rd, 2003, 5:35 pm
Posts: 160
Angela is posting questions arriving anonymously from readers along with her answers. Please share your advice with these women, too! :)


Q. My husband has a mental illness. I feel guilty for wanting to leave, but I don't think I have any other choice to protect my children from his unpredictable behavior and rage. What would you do?

A. For a long time, I considered my husband's alcoholism a disease and pitied him. However, after years of living with the effects of that "disease", I just couldn't do it anymore. At that time, I asked myself if I'd leave him if he had cancer or another disease. I thought about it and determined that I would if: 1. he knew he was sick; 2. he then refused treatment and; 3.if his illness could harm the children physically or emotionally. You must do what you can to protect the young...the ones who can't protect themselves. That's why God made us mommies. :)

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 Post subject: leaving le loco
PostPosted: August 13th, 2003, 10:27 pm 

I have to second Angela. We have such a strong desire to take care of people that we rake ourselves over the coals about doing what is best for ourselves instead.

Regardless of this guy's problems, if he is a danger to your kids, then you owe it to them to get out now. He is an adult and is therefore responsible for himself. You are responsible for your kids.

Move on.


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PostPosted: August 28th, 2003, 12:42 pm 

Joined: August 28th, 2003, 11:56 am
Posts: 1
I agree with the previous two responses, and I have the actual experience to back up what I say here. Please do NOT stay in the marriage out of guilt or because you think you should stay to help your husband.

My own husband became physically ill with a brain disorder that altered his personality and temperment. Despite his erratic behavior, outrageous acts, accusations and abuse, I tried to keep the marriage going out of a sense of responsibility and a willingness to 'do the right thing.' Believe it or not, HE filed for divorce while I was at work (I worked -- he was on disability) and even more unbelievably -- he GOT CUSTODY OF OUR 3-YEAR OLD CHILD. Numerous court-appointed experts and doctors warned the court about his condition and their fears, but in the state where we lived -- Wisconsin -- fathers who actually want custody do get it, regardless of competent, loving mothers. To the court, his ability to be home all day made him an ideal parent. (My being employed made me a "career woman uninterested in bringing up a child.") My daughter endured 8 years of abuse while I tore my hair out trying to rouse publicity and child protection services. The outcome was eventually reversed, but by that time my damaged child needed counseling and infinite amounts of reassurance.

Perhaps your husband is not similarly inclined to actually take the children from you, but being permanently exposed to his "unpredictable behavior and rage" will certainly damage them -- and you. Please help yourself and your children! Act with caution and planning, but act.


Be great in act as you have been in thought. -- W. Shakespeare

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PostPosted: August 28th, 2003, 8:19 pm 

I lived with and was married to a man who was/is a "borderline" paranoid schizophrenic. I use the term 'borderline' not in the same way a psychiatrist or psychologist would use it, but rather to say that he was able to get along fairly well in society - though he had a hard time keeping a job and there were other problems (some of which I didn't know about until afterwards!). I didn't get up the courage to leave until after I was diagnosed with breast cancer - and I won't even try to describe here in this column what it was like to go through a devastating illness while also mourning the recent deaths of both my parents *and* coping with paranoia and manipulative behavior/bullshit that he engaged in to 'protect himself.' What I will say is that *despite* what was happening to me - I felt tremendously guilty about 'abandoning' HIM. So, I understand exactly what you mean about the guilt. It's easy as hell to brainwash yourself into a guilt trip, especially if your husband is using that for his own benefit and you have any sort of feelings for him.

Please understand that your husband will NEVER change. He can't - not because he may not want to, but because the disease he has won't let him. Your children, and you, will be subject to the emotional violence of his rages (and emotional violence can be just as deadly as physical because it doesn't 'show') for the rest of your lives, while also living in fear that the rages will someday become physically violent (which would then place you and your children in peril of your lives)). Your children will grow up in a violent, unpredictable household - and life is tough enough without having to overcome that. You will also be resigning yourself to living in a violent and unpredictable household for the rest of your life, unless all the emotions and feelings and everything else you have to repress in order not to 'set him off' makes you sick to death. That's what letting guilt make the decision for you can get you. And if you think you feel guilty now - it won't be anything like what you will feel like later if anything happens to any of your kids. Now there is real guilt. Your kids have only you to protect them - you need to switch your focus from taking care of your husband to taking care of *them* and *you.*

The hard part of life is that people can be sick in ways that makes them lousy spouses and parents.
That isn't your fault and all the good intentions and guilt on your part won't change that fact - because it is a fact. Lastly, the stress of being a parent may actually be more than your husband can deal with - and it might be to HIS benefit as well if he is not having to be a full-time parent.

Leaving someone who is mentally ill and unpredictable is a touchy task (to say the least!). I've only read part of Angela's book, because my need is past - but I highly recommend that you get as many things in order as you possibly can and MAKE SURE that you have someone with you when you tell him that the marriage is over and you are leaving. I didn't do that and I went through 24 hours of pure hell that included him taking out his .45 , loading it and threatening to shoot himself with it. By that time, I found myself actually hoping that he *would.*

good luck... I hope that whatever you decide it works out for the best,

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