Dear Dr. Archer,
I am seeing some behavior from my wife that is very troubling. I have been pushed to the limits and am ready to leave her. I believe she is a danger to others and to herself.
My wife is naturally depressive and quiet and we had a pretty good relationship before, but she won't ever let me touch her and she is very moody. I never know what I will face each day now.
I have posted some detail below about what she is doing. This is a letter I wrote to her son, my stepson:
I wanted to write to you and explain what is happening with some examples. I know I have called you a couple of times with a real desire for your help with your mother.
God knows that your mother is usually soft and gentle; a very understanding woman. But man, I have to tell you, she is doing some terribly strange things, and she is very violent and aggressive with me lately.
I seem to manage ways to calm her, then one word she does not understand or takes the wrong way and she goes into her wild thing, hitting herself in the face and then she breaks things.
About a week ago, the apartment had to turn the water off. I wanted to do the dishes before then, but your mom was still sleeping and I did not want to wake her. By the time she got up and I got to the dishes, the water was gone.
She went crazy, I mean it, totally out of her mind. She screamed at me and called me lazy and took a chair and pounded it on the floor until it broke. She got down on the floor and crawled on her stomach and screamed like the devil. That was over a two-hour break in water.
The night before we left for Indiana, we were packing and I stepped outside and saw my friend Nick. His grandmother is the manager here. I told him I was going to see my daughter and was all excited. When I came in, Jenny screamed at me, "Are you stupid? Why you tell them we leaving?"
I actually told her, you are right, not good. And she then got angrier and took the glass cover for the frying pan and smashed it repeatedly on the carpet floor screaming until it shattered into a million pieces. That was after I had AGREED with her.
After we returned from Indiana, my friend Nick asked me if everything was okay, and I asked him why. He said several people had heard your mom's crazy sounds and screaming and almost called 911. He said he heard me asking her to calm down and your mom screaming loudly.
Today, after church, we were going to the buffet in our car. We had to make some copies, and she wanted to make the copies first and then meet at the buffet. I told her that it was not nice to make you wait and we had time after eating to print and copy at the library.
She started screaming at me in the car that we are wasting gas and she wanted to do that first. She tried to jump out of the moving car. I told her it would take about 30 minutes and that I was going to the buffet first, but, God knows, I was not upset, but made a decision that was best for the whole family.
She started screaming and yelling and that was why when she did not want to eat at the buffet, after her car craziness, that I wanted to go home. It was about her, not you.
I think the buffet or anywhere else would have been fine. Your mother has some kind of hormonal problem or has just become mentally ill, but she is out of control so often now. I am the most patient I have ever been with her, but I will not continue like this.
Three times she has tried to jump out of the car while I was driving and she was angry, every time after leaving church! She could kill herself very easily, I think, and maybe kill me.
I feel broken and helpless in this situation. She is full of rage and acts like a wild animal. I just do not want to finish my life like this. God has blessed us in so many ways, why all the anger and sadness and aggression?
I am with her every day and I make sure to spend time with her and watch movies and try to talk, but she almost seems to hate me. This is going to get worse if she does not get help soon, but by then, I will be gone.
I care about your mother, but I left a marriage that was not as bad as this one. I am only still here because I care about her, only because of that. But, I will not say I am going to continue to live her nightmare. It will kill us both.
I am trying to be honest with you. It is very sad and difficult to remain living with her. She must get help, or she will be alone. We do not have children together, no homes, only some cash, which she can just keep. I have NOT given up, but it is becoming way too crazy for me.
Dr. Archer, I hope this can help you to give me some psychological advice. I am ready to leave but so worried about her. Thank you so much!
Hold on a little longer before you make the move to leave. There are a few things that could be going on that need to be evaluated.
First, she could have suffered a series of small strokes with no other symptoms except behavioral change. These are called TIA’s. Unprovoked or random anger often occur among stroke patients, due to neurological impairment.
Her outbursts could very well be hormonal, due to menopause. Anger and mood swings can be caused by fluctuations in her hormones. During menopause women, and the men who love them, very often must deal with anger.
Heart disease or a thyroid problem could also be the culprit. In fact there are many medical and neurological possibilities here. Any time there is a sudden change in personality or behavior, Steven, you must look beyond the symptoms and seek out the cause.
My advice: Your wife needs a full evaluation – medical, neurological and gynecological – including blood work and brain scans (CT and MRI). If everything comes back negative, then a psychiatric evaluation would be next, but I suspect something medical is going on here.
Also, Steven, has she had a fall or automobile accident lately? Brain injuries can cause such behavior outbursts. You can read "My Son Had A Traumatic Brain Injury - TBI"
to get more information. The key is to leave no stone unturned, because there's a reason behind this shift in behavior.
It's evident something is terribly wrong with your wife, Steven, and I urge you to do everything you can to find the cause. Your wife, whether she knows it or not, is counting on you. So get these evals set up soon. If you are not sure how to do this, start with your family doctor. Best of luck to you both.