Could Mental Illness be the Cause of your Divorce?

We now live in a world where divorces are a common event, and unfortunately, it occurs more now than it ever has before. You might think that your divorce was only caused by falling out of love or some conflict between the two of you that could never be resolved, and while these are common causes for divorce, you might be interested to hear that it could have all been influenced by you or your partner’s mental health state.

 

At some point in our lives, we all face difficult times. Stress can cause lots of problems in all areas of your life, and that includes your marriage. It can bring on mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more. Any one of those things can make you foggy-headed and irritable, making it more difficult to communicate the issues that you’re facing. When this happens, you might find yourself getting upset and arguing with your spouse more and more often. Regardless of whether it is you, your spouse, or both that is struggling, it’s no doubt that when stress levels are high, the tension between others grows more too.

 

Sometimes though, we later find out that the mental health issues were not caused by stress or trauma alone, but by a personality disorder such as narcissism or borderline personality disorder. Being married to someone with those kinds of mental health issues can be a real and constant challenge.

 

If you are the one suffering from any sort of mental health issues, the best thing to do is to try to get some professional help. It can be hard for your spouse to have to handle everything all on their own, and they shouldn’t have to.

 

If you are the one supporting a spouse that is struggling, just remember to be calm, patient, and understanding with them, but do not accept any sort of abuse. Your partner is likely going through some difficult stuff and could use all the support that they can get. Give them your shoulder to lean on, but don’t let them drag you down either.

 

If both of you are dealing with stressful situations or have experienced trauma together, you might want to consider getting couples therapy or marriage counseling. It can be difficult to be a support for someone else when you need lots of support too, and marriage counseling can go a long way in ensuring that there is proper communication going on about each other’s needs.

 

If you have suffered through a divorce that was caused by mental illness, regardless of whether it was you, them, or the both of you that were going through a rough time, just know that it is not your fault.

 

A lot of things can happen to you in this life that you have no control over. But you can control how you deal with it. There are a lot of things that you alone simply cannot fix, and it is important that you don’t dwell on those things. Instead, focus on yourself. Your only responsibility now is to focus on growing stronger and getting better. You are strong and capable of achieving anything you set your mind to!

Could Psychopathy be Causing Divorces?

In these blogs, we tend to focus on narcissistic personality disorder. Having a narcissist in your life can be really difficult, especially when you’re in an intimate relationship with them. Staying in the relationship can also prove to be quite a challenge, given their selfish personality and constant belittling. Because of this, narcissists have a hard time maintaining relationships, and the few that make it to marriage usually end in divorce.

 

But narcissists aren’t the only kinds of people that fuel divorces. People with antisocial disorder, also known as psychopaths, have very similar behavior patterns as narcissists, but they are much more extreme. Not only are psychopaths selfish, but they also feel no guilt or remorse for doing anything wrong. A narcissist might be able to recognize their actions and apologize or make changes. They might even have limitations for how far they will go to try to get their way. But not a psychopath. Without those nagging negative emotions, psychopaths have nothing that will stop them.

 

Psychopaths are much more manipulative than narcissists, and you likely won’t even know that they have the disorder until they have you wrapped around your finger and there’s no way to escape. They are very convincing and lie way too easily because they are incapable of feeling bad about anything. If they do show feelings, it is only to fool you. Don’t fall for this trickery.

 

As if simply lacking emotions isn’t bad enough, psychopaths also have a complete disregard for the feelings of others, and they don’t logically think of the consequences of their actions. Because of this, not all, but many psychopaths can quickly become angry and turn violent out of nowhere. They can have explosive and unpredictable personalities, but you might not find this out until it’s too late and you have become the victim.

 

So how common is antisocial disorder, anyway? Psychopathy is more common in men, occurring in 3% of the male population. It only affects about 1% of the women though. Despite the small percentages, 1 out of every 17 divorce cases deals with a psychopath. Antisocial disorder can cause a lot of issues, especially when it comes to close relationships. And this number proves it.

 

If you have found yourself married to a psychopath, it can be a difficult situation. It may have taken you a long time to put all the puzzle pieces together to find out the truth, especially with them right there in your ear, telling you everything you need to hear. Psychopaths, after all, and very manipulative, and will do anything they need to do in order to have their way, regardless of what the consequences might be.

 

When you take a psychopath to court for a divorce, they will lie flawlessly, and likely have no problem getting away with it. They will tear you down in every way they know how because they don’t care about your feelings. Be prepared for this, and don’t let them have their way. Stay strong and fight through it, and you will come out better by the end of it.

The Dangers of Parental Alienation

Anytime a couple is going through a divorce, things can get nasty. This is even more true when there are children involved and both parents want custody.  Custody battles are hard on everyone involved and can cause lasting stress and emotional scars. But it can also turn abusive.

 

Parental alienation syndrome is a form of manipulation and abuse of the child or children in order to turn them against the other parent. It attacks the children mentally and emotionally, often using false allegations, blame, and negative comments in order to cause an estrangement between the child and the other parent.  It is a poisoning of a child’s natural and healthy attachment to their parents in order to gain emotional control over the child and to punish the other parent.

 

Edward Kurk, PhD put it clearly:  

 

For the child, the biopsychosocial-spiritual effects of parental alienation are devastating. For both the alienated parent and child, the removal and denial of contact in the absence of neglect or abuse constitute cruel and unusual treatment. … . As a form of child maltreatment, parental alienation is a serious child protection matter as it undermines a basic principle of social justice for children: the right to know and be cared for by both of one’s parents.

 

It is difficult to imagine how a parent who claims to love their children can do something so abusive and damaging to them. It’s important to realize that a parent who does this usually shows signs of other disorders – especially narcissism and borderline personality disorder.

 

Narcissism means that a person sees themselves as the center and the most important person in the world. They cannot understand or do not care about other perspectives or the feelings of other people. They will use any weapon they can, including their children, to hurt the other parent.

 

People with borderline personality disorder have difficulty dealing with their emotions. They are emotionally hyper-reactive and cannot process their emotions. They tend to blame others for anything bad in their lives and see themselves as victims.  This often turns into them victimizing others with the justification that since they were hurt, they can hurt others. They will twist reality, make up false allegations, and try to turn friends and love ones against their target. They can be dangerous and lash out, even trumping up criminal charges in order to punish their ex-spouse.

 

Parental alienation is intentional manipulation and abuse. It harms the long term mental and emotional well-being of the children and the targeted parent. It is an indication of serious pathological mental illness in the alienating parent.

 

If you are experiencing parental alienation, you need to make your voice heard. This serious issue is not well understood in our courts and many victims of parental alienation struggle to find justice. One of the best resources for parental alienation victims is the National Association of Parental Alienation Specialists. It is an organization made up of legal and mental health professionals who specialize in parental alienation. They have many great resources and may be able to help you too.

 

My PTSD Storyline

Growing up in a small town in upstate South Carolina, I was living the perfect southern dream when I found a handsome young man who fell head over heels for me.  It wasn’t long after I moved to Asheville, North Carolina that we decided to get married.  We knew we were young, but we were in love and life seemed like it was one long happy summer as we took our first steps into the world as adults together.

For 25 years we lived that dream together. We had two beautiful daughters and built successful businesses together. We had everything anyone could want – a big house, good friends, and a nice family. I still can’t believe how fast all of that changed.

As his parents got older and needed more help, I took on the role of a caregiver.  I would spend hours every day making sure that his mother and father were clean and fed and had their medicine. They had both been my parents for 25 years too!  I wanted to make sure his mother was comfortable and taken care of as she lay dying from a tumor in her brain.  That’s where my mind was. That’s how I was spending my days.  I had no idea that my husband had different ideas going through his mind.

This is where the story of my PTSD starts. In one night, I lost my entire world – my family, my friends, my home and everything I’d worked for. But worst of all, I lost my children.

Even now, when I think back to that night, it feels so surreal. When he came home for dinner that evening, I wasn’t greeted with a kiss or warm conversation.  No.  Instead, I was pulled from my home and shoved into the back of a police cruiser.  My husband, the man I had loved and supported for most of my life, had turned on me.  He told the police that I was crazy, that I was abusive, that I was a danger.  And so they took me to a hospital to be evaluated.

Of course, I was released – there was nothing wrong with me.  But by that time my husband had already put his plan into action.  He had filed a restraining order, preventing me from seeing him or my children, from going to any of my businesses I had helped build, and from getting my personal belongings.  I was homeless, penniless, on the street, and I had no one to turn to.  Shortly after the separation, he moved a new woman into my home and they were engaged. As soon as the divorce was final, he married her.  I was left with nothing but the shirt on my back.

My reputation was ruined too. He told everyone that I was a raging alcoholic.  For over two years now, I have been screened twice a week for alcohol use – and I’ve passed every single test.  But how can I tell people that when I have been banned from my own community?

It’s now been over two years since my life was taken from me. Over two years, and I still haven’t been able to defend myself in court.  In the months that followed that horrible night, I knew something wasn’t right.  I could never shake the constant anxiety and depression. Finally, it was the nightmares that forced me to get help.  I would wake up at the same time every night, screaming in terror as I relived the ordeal of being taken away in a police car. It was just too much.

When I saw the doctor, he diagnosed me with PTSD from the trauma of my husband’s manipulative and abusive behavior. It’s been a terrible journey, but I really feel that I could handle it if I could just see my children.

I refuse to give up.  I know that my story is terrible. I also know I’m not the only one out there suffering from trauma and PTSD.  The only way we will get through this is to stand together. So now, I want to give back and help others get through their suffering.

I am a fighter. I am a warrior. And I will not be defeated.  I offer this blog as a resource and a community for others who are struggling each and every day with PTSD and trauma.  Together we will overcome!