Dear Dr. Archer,
My husband is 74 and I'm 64. Four years ago he started acting strange. He started imagining things like me cheating on him. He swore he saw me with other men in the street. Meanwhile, I was at work!
He got so obsessed that I forced him to see our doctor. The doctor saw for himself how he was acting and gave him a shot of Seroquel to calm him down. I then took him for a brain scan, thinking perhaps he had a tumor. Those test returned negative.
He will not take any medication, insisting that there's nothing wrong with him. He has calmed down somewhat, but these thoughts are still there. He also has distanced himself from me, in the sense of helping me around the house. When it comes to sleeping, he sleeps totally opposite of me, giving me his back!
If we are driving somewhere, which is a rarity these days, he will swear the guy in the car next to us gave me a signal, or the bus driver flashed his lights to me! I can't take much more, but this is so difficult. We've been married for 40 years! Is this dementia or is he mental?
I've even suggested I take a lie detector test to prove myself! He refused that offer, saying because my son is on the police force it would be fixed. My children have tried talking to him, but HE'S RIGHT, and that's it.
I think the only happiness left for me is to leave him. That said, I still feel sorry for him. I am so confused, but I'm tired of getting mentally beaten.
Do you have any ideas?
This could be early onset dementia, depression or even a type of psychosis. He definitely needs treatment and probably meds.
Unfortunately, you say he refuses to take medication because he thinks he is seeing reality, nothing's wrong with him and you're really having affairs. So, he’s clearly delusional. The question is what is the cause and a doctor will be needed for that.
However, there are choices to be made here. Your options are:
1. You can continue to live miserably, dodging accusation after accusation, probably for the rest of your life. Chances of this getting better without treatment are slim to none. In fact, if your husband doesn't get help for his delusional thinking, things could not only get worse, they could eventually get physical.
2. Tell him if he does not receive the help he needs, meaning a psychiatrist to find out why he's convinced men are giving you signals, there will be a separation. You can do this on your own or make it legal.
The purpose is to put the pressure on him to seek professional help. We can only hope if you threaten to leave, he will give the doctor a chance. If medication is prescribed, he must take it, or you're out for good.
I can understand that this is very, very difficult, Rosemarie. If you choose #1, understand your life will progressively get worse. If you choose #2, then be prepared to back up your words with actions.
He must take you seriously, or it's all in vain. You must mean what you say and say what you mean if you have any hope of him getting him help.
The only way to get an accurate diagnosis is for him to have a one-on-one evaluation by a psychiatrist, not his family doctor. Best case scenario is that he’s experiencing depression which is totally treatable; worse case is that he is in the early stages of dementia which is irreversible, not easily treated, and there could be many other explanations between the two.
This will give you good insight as to how different medications can affect symptoms, and how different strengths of the same medication can bring drastic results, be they good or bad.
I realize you are going through a very difficult time, Rosemarie, but this is no way to live. As Sir Girad said, "Make decisions from the heart and use your head to make it work out."
I sincerely wish you much luck and success. Please check back with us and let us know how you're doing.