My husband is insane.
I know a lot of people say this, but he truly is. He’s not dangerous. He’s not a narcissist. He’s a fundamentally decent person. But he’s insane.
4 years ago, he had an elective surgery that went horribly wrong. It left him with chronic pain, and it left him with crippling depression. Let me just state here that depression does not constitute insanity. I’ve been badly depressed in my life also. A lot of people have.
My husband has Aspberger’s Syndrome, which is a high functioning version of autism. Think of Sheldon Cooper, but fundamentally kinder. This also does not make him insane. It makes him annoying, but it also makes him consistent. He can’t lie, because people on the spectrum generally cannot create fiction – their minds comprehend and process only facts. That means I’ll never have to worry about him having an affair, not that that would be impossible – it can happen to anyone for any number of reasons, but he would announce, “I’m having an affair, and we need to discuss it, because it affects our marriage.” As long as he doesn’t say that, I know he’s not. He always tells his truth. There is no reading between the lines, no “what did he mean by that?”. He says what he means. And he won’t say anything behind your back that he wouldn’t say to your face. At least, that’s how it used to be.
But he has something else. He’s been diagnosed with OCPD. This also does not make him insane, technically, but it makes everyone close to him disastrously broken.
Most people know about OCD, which is a mental illness, a neurotransmitter abnormality, like depression. It involves obsessions about things particular to the person. Common obsessions are germs, things involving numbers, and worrying about bad things that might happen. The compulsive part involves behaviors that the person feels compelled to perform to dispel these worries – washing their hands until they bleed, or having to touch the door frame perfectly, exactly 19 times before they walk through it, or returning to their house multiple times to make sure they’ve unplugged an iron that they already checked on and found unplugged 6 times before already. Society rewards OCD, to a certain degree. The perfectionism, the obsessions with organization and time are well received in the workplace. At some point, if the OCD becomes severe enough, the person begins to fail in life. Their germ obsession is such that they won’t leave their house (this particular thing seems to have become the “new normal”, forgive me for saying that); they don’t make it to work because they checked on the iron so many times. Generally these people feel uncomfortable because they can’t overcome their obsessions or compulsions, and obviously in the extreme, they lose jobs and relationships. These things feel like problems to that person.
OCPD is different. It stands for Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. A personality disorder is typically something inborn, and is not a neurotransmitter problem. This person is the way they are for life. The other, most crucial, most destructive difference from OCD is that the affected person does not see their perfectionism AS A PROBLEM. The person believes that the problem is with the people all around them, who do not meet their high (ridiculous, over the top, rigid) standards, and they are constantly angry with the people around them for failing to meet what they believe should be standards for EVERYONE. This leaves the people in their lives feeling like constant failures. It’s gaslighting. You begin to question your abilities, your standards, your behavior, because the person is so persuasive that you have failed to meet standards again, and they will list reasons why, and those will sound reasonable, after a while, because you’ve heard them for so long, you begin to believe them.
My daughter has had a therapist since she was 7, because my husband’s control issues and perfectionism are so pervasive that in her reality, she has never done ANYTHING right. At least I am an adult, and I have other measuring sticks to assess my abilities. I have good self esteem, and STILL most days, I am left feeling wanting.
But the last three days – THIS is insanity. It seems my husband’s depression has been so crippling that he has done essentially NO WORK and NO BILLING for months. I did not know exactly how bad things were. But he has been asking me repeatedly to check in with him several times a day – text is not acceptable, I must CALL him – to check in with him and (I thought, just to help his depression with contact and support, not that he was literally NOT WORKING), the problem is, there is no such thing as a short conversation with him. When I was away working, I found myself avoiding calling him because I would be stuck on the phone for an hour every time, and believe me, an hour-long conversation about how a database code is not performing well is very boring indeed. He has gotten very angry in the past that I have not contacted him enough during the day. He has been so upset that he has yelled, and called me a horrible person for “not supporting him enough times”, despite maybe 4 lengthy calls a day. I did try to add texts in there as well, but he did not let them count.
My friends have told me that he is insane, my mom has told me that he is insane, that no one should need or demand so many daily calls, that it is unreasonable, but he tells me that “I don’t care enough about him and our marriage” because I am failing to do this simple thing, and I wonder if that is true, and if I really am a horrible, selfish person, and I am gaslit.
3 nights ago, he came to me in a rage, and I found out exactly how bad the not working and not billing is. I retired last summer, and he has always worked from home, so I’ve made an effort to walk into his office multiple times a day. He said I have to demand to know EXACTLY what he is doing, or he may say that he he is working on “something”; I have to be more specific and ask him if it is what he needs to be working on RIGHT NOW. Since our conversation 3 days ago (he knows exactly how many days, of course, probably even hours) I have gone into his office 5 or 6 times a day. Mind you, I have a household to clean and run, he expects me to make nightly meals because I’m not contributing a salary for the family now. (For 25 years, I was a doctor, but apparently that has bought me no credit at all – I’m just doing nothing now).
Last night (after checking on him 7 or 8 times that day, including 11 PM, because he said he had to be made to go to bed at that time), he came to bed in a rage last night because I had selfishly watched a movie for TWO AND A HALF HOURS without checking on him, and I was SUPPOSED to check on him at 10:30, so he can begin winding down for bed. You must understand, he works all the time (or he USED to, apparently he’s pretending now). Our entire marriage, he’s worked on his computer 7 days a week, 365 days a year. He used to be driven; he used to enjoy that. At first, my folks thought he was crazy and rude, because he would work on Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and Easter, and that’s just how he’s always been. Except now, apparently, he’s screwing around on the computer and accomplishing shit-all. How the fuck was I to know? He looks like he’s working.
So this morning, he yelled at me because during his breakdown 3 days ago, he claims he told me that I needed to check on him EVERY HALF HOUR. I know he did not tell me this. Do you know WHY I know he did not say that? It’s because that’s A FUCKING INSANE THING TO SAY, and I’m damn sure I would have remembered it. He told me he will never ask me to help him with anything ever again, in our entire marriage, because he will just “fall apart” if I fail him one more time. That I don’t care about him. Fall apart?!? Excuse me?!? Has he fucking not fallen apart ALREADY?
Why don’t I leave him? If he’s this fucking depressed, he’ll probably kill himself. Failing that, we won’t have any income, because he’s cracked right the fuck up. Also, we have a teenage daughter (who is basically nuts, because of him), but I can’t raise her on my own. I can’t go back to work – 25 fucking years of working at least 80 hours a week – because I’m fucking burned out – and I WON’T go back, because I am NOT throwing myself into working in a pandemic. This virus terrifies me. Don’t worry, I’ll do a fucking post on that.
So, sobbing, I have set an alarm to go off every hour, all day, every day, I suppose, to go down and prove to him that I am NOT too selfish to help him, and because, apparently, if I don’t, we will lose our fucking house if he isn’t working at all. How am I supposed to get anything done? I have my own depression and motivation issues – I’m lucky if I get on a roll and am driven to accomplish a big checklist thing. Do you know what happens to getting into a rhythm and digging into something if you are CONSTANTLY INTERRUPTED? I know you do. You crap out, and you lose momentum. So… every fucking hour. Every goddamn hour. To prove I care about being an active partner in our marriage, to keep him working, I will do this every fucking hour.
He’s not insane. I am.