Jim: Do the best you can with it

About ten years ago, Jim noticed that his wife Monica had frequent changes in moods. She started calling in sick to work on a regular basis. Then one day, she told him that she was feeling suicidal. They went to the hospital together and Monica was admitted. Several additional hospitalizations followed at different hospitals because Monica worried that she would be recognized at their local hospital.

Jim remembers difficulty in finding the right medication for Monica’s symptoms of bipolar disorder, leading to making a change in psychiatrists. Overall, he estimates that Monica has had six hospitalizations. Her last hospitalization was over five years ago and since then, she has experienced more stability in life. During her last hospitalization, she consented to have ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), which helped her manage symptoms. She continued having ECT as an outpatient until three years ago.

Note: ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) may be prescribed when medications do not work. ECT, which produces mild seizures, seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that reverses symptoms of certain mental health conditions. Although much less traumatic than in the past, a side effect could be temporary memory loss.

Several years ago, Monica lost her driver’s license due to a DUI (driving under the influence), which limits what she can do, since they live in a suburban area without good access to public transportation. Jim believes that Monica used alcohol “to hide some of the ups and downs.” When her mother died several years ago, Monica’s drinking increased in response to her emotional stress. Jim wants her to see a therapist again, but it’s hard to find someone near where they live. In addition, it takes two months to get a psychiatric appointment.

More of the Story: Searching for Answers