Friday, November 30, 2007

Spenders Anonymous

Sometimes there's just so much to write about, I just can't type fast enough, you know?

Last Saturday morning, before I found out about all the gun-pawning and all, DH went to his first Spenders Anonymous meeting. I really wasn't sure he was going to, especially after his flat-out refusal the previous week, but he did get up and go, and he went without me. He called me when he got there.

Anyhow, I think he was impressed. He said that there were several people there that had problems similar to his--not necessarily bipolar, but blind, uncontrollable, overspending. He said it made him think. It also made him feel bad because of all the people he has "screwed over" in the last couple of years. (Apparently it didn't help him draw a parallel from his recent spending behavior to that of others, or even to his past behavior, but I suppose that comes later).

When he got home, he said, "I have a lot of thinking to do." And he seemed sincere in that he wants to go back. So that is hopeful, isn't it???

Anyhow, so the meetings are on Saturday mornings, and its about an hour's drive to get there. Tomorrow "afternoon" is supposed to bring us a foot of snow. So I am hoping with all my heart and soul that it is not snowing tomorrow when it comes time for him to go--it's so important, I just NEED to know that he is working on the spending issues, you know?
If you were to ask me, and if you can't tell from my posts here, the biggest problem affecting our marriage is not necessarily the bipolar illness, it's the overspending. It seems like he is never happy with what he has, not even for a day. And he has to find SOMETHING to buy all the time. And a lot of forgiveness is going to have to happen. Both in our marriage and between DH and his friends, and DH and our community, too. The bipolar is small beans compared to all the spending issues, so if he could get that REALLY under control, I know our marriage would undoubtedly be stronger....

Something happy brings new worries

DH got a job. Apparently he interviewed for this job before the worst of the bipolar showed up, they hired someone else, that person didn't work out, so DH got the call. He is very excited.

It's a type of work he's done in the past, so he's confident that he can do a good job. Me? I'm very excited in one way, as this job, if it works out, could double our income. And it's so nice to see DH looking so excited and acting confident again.

But I'm terrified for about a zillion "overprotective wife" reasons:
1) What if his memory problems cause issues at his job?
2) How is he going to be able to go to all of his appointments? The new job is an hour and a half away from home...
3) What if he just "can't handle" it, and ends up losing this job, too? Will that put him "over the edge"? Will it make his illness worse? Will he try to kill himself?
4) What if he starts spending again?
5) He still hasn't filled out the bankruptcy forms--how is DH having an income going to affect that? And they will probably garnish his wages (whoever gets there first, I imagine...)

In short, I'm worried that while this is something potentially wonderful, if it doesn't turn out as planned, it could be worse than DH never having gotten a job in the first place. I hope that's not the case, of course, but I always try to "plan for the worst, hope for the best."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

He's still really down

Sometimes I just feel so defeated. I know that the choice(s) he has made are his, and I shouldn't feel so upset about that, but I'm really worried that he is going to alienate everyone that cares about him, and he isn't going to have a clue what happened--like Jason, who seems to be "not quite as eager to hang out" as he once was....after DH basically spent him dry, and then joked about it...

Let's see....he's stolen from me, lied to me....mooched huge amounts of money from every person who has mentioned they have access to some....spent the money his mom gave him for filing bankruptcy--and it didn't get spent on bankruptcy-- lied about that....he pawned his brother's deer rifle, and today I found out that he did pawn his own $1300 deer rifle (the one that I urged him not to pawn) too. I have said before that him not having that gun isn't that big of a deal to me; if he doesn't have any guns, then he will have a harder time shooting himself....but I know he won't get it back, and also, his mom had told him that she wanted to use the gun for collateral for the bankruptcy money that doesn't exist any more, to assure that he would pay her back. I just think that once everyone really starts to realize what is up, things are going to hit the fan, and more people besides Jason are going to throw their hands up and say "I can't do this any more".

And when I try to say anything about that to DH, I am the "bad guy". The "meanie" who won't give him any money. Even though I have a credit card (rolling my eyes)....I just wish I knew how to handle this better. He is so sure that he is making good decisions. So sure, that he is absolutely offended that I would even consider the possibility that his decisions aren't the best ones. I absolutely hate watching him do this. And it's so hard to not be able to just say to him, "Look. Most people can survive without pop." No matter how I word it, it turns out that he just can't. (survive).

Tonight I feel like it's all so hopeless. I wish he'd just get so mad at me for not giving him money that he'd go and move in with his mom or his brother or someone....I don't want a divorce, not really....I just want him to go away and be someone else's problem for a few days.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Well, I found out

And he's right, I'm not happy.

Remember that five bucks I wouldn't give him?

Well, apparently he "needed" pop so bad, he pawned his brother's deer rifle.

And then he blamed me. "You've been getting so mad when I ask you for money, I just wanted to be able to buy my own pop for once." "And I was almost out of gas too." I have absolutely no idea where all that gas went that I bought three days ago went. I don't go through that much gas on all my commuting, even allowing that his car doesn't get as good of mileage as mine. I really wonder what on earth he did with all that gas.

But his brother's gun???? Isn't that stealing??? Again???? I didn't point that out to him, but I thought it, loud and clear.

I asked him how on earth he was going to get it back. First he said his brother wouldn't notice, then he said that Jim was going to give him money when he gets his taxes back (which is going to be three months from now, or somewhere along those lines....)

Then I tried to gently explain to DH that he "needs" a lot of things that most people can live without. Of course everything I said, he had an excuse for, and I am a big meanie. Because I am the one who gets so mad. I really really really wanted to say "maybe you should ask Jim about these differing points of view", but I knew it would be unfair to get Jim involved. Jim has never said anything directly to me about DH's spending, but sometimes when DH asks for money for stupid stuff, Jim catches my eye and I know he sees it for what it is....

Then in this sobby voice, DH says "I'm trying to look for a job..." and I had to bite my tongue in order to not say, "all you had to do was call the casino lady. You turned that down. And you haven't exactly been pounding the pavement, either." In the last two weeks he has applied for exactly three jobs. One of them he for sure didn't get. One was the casino job that he didn't want. And one was supposed to call him today to let him know, but they didn't call back. He was so sure that he had that one, that he had already spent his entire first paycheck in his mind. And that's the extent of the job search. I didn't say anything, because I am sure that in his mind, he has been working super-hard to find a job and I'm just not being understanding enough.

So ultimately, DH is suicidal again, because I am mad about the spending, and I am mean and selfish.

I made him promise not to hurt himself. He really didn't want to promise that, but he did. I will call back in about 15 minutes for an update. (just to ease my mind).

I am finding, that I am falling into his guilt trip thing a lot less than I used to. My expectations are reasonable, I am pretty sure. If you are reading this, and you think I am not being reasonable, please comment or email me, because maybe I haven't considered everything, or maybe I'm being more selfish than I realize....but I don't think I am.

The suspense is killing me.

DH just called, he sounded really down. So I said, "What's wrong?" "Nothing."

"Did therapy go ok?" "Well, it was a little troubling".

"What happened?" "I'll tell you later when I'm alone."

"Is there anything else wrong?" "Not really."

"Not really???" "Well, there's something I need to tell you. You're not going to like it."

"What's going on?" "I'll tell you later when I'm alone." "It's nothing that directly affects you, and don't worry, I didn't steal anything from you." "But I'm afraid you're going to leave me."

But he wouldn't tell me what is going on. I hope it's just more drama and whatever it is, isn't that bad. I have no idea how worried I should be.

I'll keep you posted.

Scary economic stuff from the econ geek in me

The story below is one that I read couple of days ago, but the statements made in it, coming from mainstream media, make me want to share this with everyone, even though most people who know me just end up rolling their eyes and saying "Oh, there she goes again with all that financial mumbo-jumbo"....so if you're not interested in economic stuff, I'm very sorry!!!


New wave of mortgage failures could create a nightmare economic scenario
AP Business Writer
The Associated Press

NEW YORK - When Domenico Colombo saw that his monthly mortgage payment was about to balloon by 30 percent, he had a clear picture of how bad it could get.
His payment was scheduled to surge by an extra $1,500 in December. With his daughter headed to college next fall and tuition to be paid, he feared ending up like so many neighbors in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., who defaulted on their mortgages and whose homes are now in foreclosure and sporting "For Sale" signs.

Colombo did manage to renegotiate a new fixed interest rate loan with his bank, and now believes he'll be OK _ but the future is less certain for the rest of us.

In the months ahead, millions of other adjustable-rate mortgages like Colombo's will reset, giving them a higher interest rate as required by the loan agreements and leaving many homeowners unable to make their payments. Soaring mortgage default rates this year already have shaken major financial institutions and the fallout from more of them, some experts say, could spread from those already battered banks into the general economy.

The worst-case scenario is anyone's guess, but some believe it could become very bad.
"We haven't faced a downturn like this since the Depression," said Bill Gross, chief investment officer of PIMCO, the world's biggest bond fund. He's not suggesting anything like those terrible times _ but, as an expert on the global credit crisis, he speaks with authority.

"Its effect on consumption, its effect on future lending attitudes, could bring us close to the zero line in terms of economic growth," he said. "It does keep me up at night."

Some 2 million homeowners hold $600 billion of subprime adjustable-rate mortgage loans, known as ARMs, that are due to reset at higher amounts during the next eight months. Subprime loans are those made to people with poor credit. Not all these mortgages are in trouble, but homeowners who default or fall behind on payments could cause an economic shock of a type never seen before.

Some of the nation's leading economic minds lay out a scenario that is frightening. Not only would the next wave of the mortgage crisis force people out of their homes, it might also spiral throughout the economy.

The already severe housing slump would be exacerbated by even more empty homes on the market, causing prices to plunge by up to 40 percent in once-hot real estate spots such as California, Nevada and Florida. Builders like Chicago's Neumann Homes, which filed for bankruptcy protection this month, could go under. The top 10 global banks, which repackage loans into exotic securities such as collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, could suffer far greater write-offs than the $75 billion already taken this year.

Massive job losses would curtail consumer spending that makes up two-thirds of the economy. The Labor Department estimates almost 100,000 financial services jobs related to credit and lending in the U.S. have already been lost, from local bank loan officers to traders dealing in mortgage-backed securities. Thousands of Americans who work in the housing industry could find themselves on the dole. And there's no telling how that would affect car dealers, retailers and others dependent on consumer paychecks.

Based on historical models, zero growth in the U.S. gross domestic product would take the current unemployment rate to 6.4 percent. That would wipe out about 3 million jobs from the economy, according to the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute.
By comparison, in the last big downturn between 2001-03 some 2 million jobs were lost, according to the Labor Department. The dot-com bust early this decade decimated the technology sector, while the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks hurt the transportation and allied industries. Economists said the country was officially in recession from March to November of 2001, but the aftermath stretched to 2003.

There is increasing evidence that another downturn has begun.
Borrowers who took out loans in the first six months of this year are already falling behind on their payments faster than those who took out loans in 2006, according to a report from Arlington, Va.-based investment bank Friedman, Billings Ramsey. That's making it even harder for would-be buyers to get new mortgages _ a frightening prospect for home builders with projects going begging on the market, and for homeowners desperate to unload property to avoid defaulting on their loans.

Meanwhile, the number of U.S. homes in foreclosure is expected to keep soaring after more than doubling during the third quarter from a year earlier, to 446,726 homes nationwide, according to Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac Inc. That's one foreclosure filing for every 196 households in the nation, a 34 percent jump from just three months earlier.

Such data suggests more Americans could lose their homes than ever before, and those in peril are people who never thought they'd welsh on a mortgage payment. They come from a broad swath _ teachers, pharmacists, and civil servants who were lured by enticing mortgage terms.
Some homebuyers gambled on interest-only loans. The mortgages, which allowed buyers to pay just interest at a low rate for two years, were too good to pass up. But with that initial term now expiring, many homeowners find they can't make the payments. The hopes that went along with those mortgages _ that they'd be able to refinance because the equity in their homes would appreciate _ have been dashed as home prices skidded across the country.

"It's been said a lot of people have been using their homes as ATM machines," said Thomas Lawler, a former official at mortgage lender Fannie Mae who is now a private housing and finance consultant. "The risk has a lot of tentacles."

This example illustrates the distress many homeowners are in or will find themselves in: A subprime adjustable-rate mortgage on a $400,000 home could have payments of about $2,200 a month, with borrowers paying 6.5 percent, interest only. When the teaser period expires, that payment becomes $4,000, with the homeowner paying 12 percent and now having to come up with principal as well as interest.

Minneapolis resident Chad Raskovich found himself in a such a situation. He hoped _ it turned out, in vain _ to gain more equity in his home and that a strong record of payments would enable him to secure a better loan later on.

"It's not just me, it's a lot of people I know. The housing market in the Twin Cities has dramatically changed for the worse in the years since I purchased my home. Now we're just looking for a solution," he said.

Colombo, who lives in the planned community of Weston just outside Ft. Lauderdale, said the reset on his home would have "destroyed' his financial situation. He went to Mortgage Repair Center, one of hundreds of debt counselors trying to bail out desperate homeowners, to work with his lender.

"But many people in my neighborhood didn't get help, and some have literally just walked away from their homes," said Colombo. "There are over 133,000 homes on the market in Broward-Miami-Dade counties, and some of them were actually abandoned. People in this situation don't like to talk about it, and end up getting hurt because they don't."

Many Americans are unaware that a borrower defaulting on a loan can have an impact on everyone else's well-being and that of the nation. After all, the amount of mortgages due to reset is just a fraction of the United States' $14 trillion economy.

But the series of plunges that Wall Street has suffered in past months prove that no one is immune when mortgages turn sour.

Today's financial system is interconnected: Mortgages are sold to investment firms, which then slice them up and package them as securities based on risk. Then hedge and pension funds buy up such investments.

When home prices kept rising, these were lucrative assets to own. But the ongoing collapse in housing prices has set off a chain reaction: Lenders are tightening their standards, borrowers are having a harder time refinancing loans and the securities that underpin them are in jeopardy.

This has resulted in more than $500 billion of potentially worthless paper on the balance sheets of the biggest global banks _ losses that could spill into the huge pension and mutual funds that also invest in these securities and that the average worker or investor expects to depend on.
There's more pain left for Wall Street: "We're nowhere close to the end of the collapse," said Mark Patterson, chairman and co-founder of MatlinPatterson Global Advisors, a hedge fund that specializes in distressed funds.

"I just assumed banks could stomach these kind of losses," said Wendy Talbot, an advertising executive when asked about the subprime crisis outside of a Charles Schwab branch in New York. "I guess you don't really pay attention to things until your forced to. ... You put out of your mind the worst things that can happen."

The subprime wreckage could dwarf the nation's last big banking crisis _ the failure of more than 1,000 savings and loans in the 1980s. The biggest difference is that problems with S&Ls were largely contained, and the government was able to rescue them through a $125 billion bailout.

But this situation is far more widespread, which some experts say makes it more difficult to rein in.

"What really makes this a doomsday scenario is where would you even start with a bailout?" housing consultant Lawler asked.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a key member of Senate finance and banking committees, said borrowers are the ones who need relief. The playbook to bail out the economy would not be applied to the banks and mortgage originators, but money could be funneled through non-profit organizations to homeowners that need help, he said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"There is a worst-case scenario because housing is the linchpin of our economy, and more foreclosures make prices go down, that creates more foreclosures, and creates a vicious cycle," Schumer said. "You add that to the other weakness in the economy _ on one end is the home sector and the other is the financial sector _ and it could create a real problem."

He also believes Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke should do more to help the economy. Bernanke said in recent comments he has no direct plans to bail out the mortgage industry, but to instead offer relief through cheap interest rates and further liquidity injections into the banking system.

There's also been talk of letting government-backed lenders like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buy mortgages of as much as $1 million from lenders, pay the government a fee for guaranteeing them and then turn them into securities to be sold to investors. This would extend the government's support, and its exposure, to the mortgage market to help alleviate stress.
Either way, the impact of a fresh round of subprime losses remains of paramount concern to economists _ especially since there's little certainty about how it would ripple through the U.S. economy.

"We all know that more hits from these subprime loans are coming, but are having a devil of a time figuring out how it will happen or how to stop it," said Lawler, who was once chief economist for Fannie Mae.

"We've never been in this situation before."
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Giant Money-Sucking Machine!

I just re-read the post about me charging $137 at the convenience store...I forgot to add that DD's bio mom had asked DH to haul a TV for her, so I also gave DH the $20 in cash that I had in my pocket, so he could put gas in his truck (he has a car and a truck, because the truck really uses a lot of gas--and yes, I pay the insurance for both, plus my own car)--so Friday I gassed up his car, then Saturday I gave him $20 to gas up his truck....do you know...last night, DH was grabbing a can of pop out of one of his 12-packs that he had gotten that night, and he says "Oh. I've only got three cans left." I said, "YOU DRANK TWO ENTIRE TWELVE PACKS IN TWO DAYS?????" and he said "no, it was three days." Then he did the math and said "well, Jim had one can, I think....."

Then he looked at me and in the context of this same conversation, said (with three cans still available, along with two 2-liter bottles left over from Thanksgiving), "do you have five bucks? I'm going to need it for pop for tomorrow."

I thought he was kidding. It was so absurd, I honestly thought he was kidding. How on earth could he be serious???? But he was. He acted like I don't love him at all, when I said "NO!". I told him to take one of the 2-liters to therapy if he needed pop that bad. He said, "I can't go into therapy with a big bottle!", so then I said, "Well, maybe you should save your three cans until tomorrow then...?" He didn't answer and just did that "never mind" thing, you know, the one that makes a person feel guilty....?

I thought that was it. But then this morning when he was getting ready for therapy, once again, he said, "Can I have five bucks?" I got irritated and snapped at him "No!!! I don't have five bucks!!! I have given you all the money I had." And he got offended again and left.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Luxuries...and Carol makes some bad choices

Hi, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

What I did was brought all the food and such over to my mom's apartment and cooked it there, then I went over to the nursing home and wheeled her over for dinner. DH and Jim came too. It was a really nice day. I hope yours was spent with people you care about, too.

The day after Thanksgiving, that was another story. The cell phones got shut off because I hadn't paid the bill. In the grand scheme of my impossible budget, "cell phones" are the last bill that gets paid, and apparently during the last two months that bill did not get paid at all. Ok, I was the one who was supposed to pay that (who else?), but like I said, there is usually only a finite supply of money, and the cell phones were on the short end.

Realistically, in a normal family, cell phones are a huge LUXURY. People did without them for many years and I was one of those. I would not much miss my cell phone, for the most part. But our family isn't normal for a few reasons. The most important one is DH's fragile mental health. If he is suicidal, or otherwise having some kind of crisis, I feel that it is very important for me to be able to get a hold of him, no matter what. In fact, we even have a deal with each other, made in the therapist's office, that if I call DH's cell phone in a crisis, and am unable to reach him for 10 minutes, I am to call the police. I've only come close to doing that once since we've had the agreement, but it sure gives me peace of mind.

Another reason the cell phones are important is that I work 90 miles away from home, and a lot of my drive is rural and desolate. I feel like I am safer when I have a cell phone.

And lastly, DD has some behavior issues. On occasion, her behavior at school has escalated to her being out of control, and the school has called for advice.

Now granted, I think that for the most part, if we really had to, we could all live without the cell phones. It's not like we really use them all that much. I'm not a tech junkie or anything--the cell phones we have were bought "used" and are probably considered "obsolete" by any cell phone provider, but they do what we need them to do. So anyhow, I held off on paying the cell phone bill and the cell phones got shut off. My fault totally.

But it did really bother me, not having them, so I decided to do something that ultimately makes matters worse (I've been mentally kicking myself for this, but there's no paycheck in sight that could've paid the bill): I dug out a credit card that I hadn't used for over 2 years and used it to pay the bill. In the process of "digging out" the card, though, I made the mistake of telling DH what I was looking for, and that I couldn't remember where I had put the card. He said something like "If I find the card, will you take us out to eat?" and I was feeling kind of desperate, so I said "sure". So he told me where to look for the card and he was right.

So we (DH, Jim, and I) went out to eat. On the way back, DH asked me if there was any way I could "top off' his gas tank on his car, and buy him some cigarettes. I asked him how empty his tank was, and he said he had almost 3/4 of a tank, which meant that "topping it off" would probably cost about $10.00.
So we went to the gas station. I was going to buy DH and Jim each a pack of cigs. Then DH ordered a CARTON for each of them, and grabbed 2 12-packs of pop for each of them and said, in front of the checkout people, "You don't mind, do you?" The total, when it was all said and done? $137.00. At a convenience store!!!! And of course I did mind. Very much. I made up my mind then and there that I would do it for him this time, but never ever again. I was so angry. I said something to him like "You are really high-maintenance, you know that?" and that upset him. He got that cold sound in his voice and told me to "never talk to him like that again, it embarrassed him."

I determined, but didn't share with him, that based on the fact that I married him forever, it's probably fair for me to be expected to keep a roof over his head, make sure he has some food, and make sure there is some kind of heat. Beyond that, not my problem, right???? Beyond that, it's all luxuries. I am aware that there is a possibility that he could steal from me again, in an effort to have his "needs" met, but you know, sometimes I just wish he would decide I'm that "bully" that he always says I am, and that he no longer wants to live with me.....fat chance, I know, but that's how I feel pretty often....not very Christian of me, and certainly not very wifely either....

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I just wanted to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving....I won't be online again until Saturday. If you haven't figured it out yet, the Internet isn't in our family budget, so I only blog at my one job, where they don't mind if you spend a lot of time on the web as long as you get your work done.

Anyhow, since I am going to have some time off, you won't be hearing from me for the next few days. So stay out of trouble and eat hearty!

It's all about him (or maybe I'm wrong)

Today was another crazy day. I got home from work at 6:45 am, then I let the dogs out, woke up dd and got her on the bus, tumbled into bed at 7:30am. I had to get up at 10:30 though, because DD had an orthodontist appointment--she got braces today--and her orthodontist is an hour and a half away. So we drove there and back, got home around 3:30.

As soon as we got home, I tried to go back to bed, but the bill collectors kept calling and it bothers DH to take the phone off the hook, so I really didn't sleep much, although I did get some good snuggles with the kitties :-)

At 5:30 I had to get up again to go and pick up some of DD's prescriptions from the pharmacy. As soon as I got up, DH asked what we were going to have for dinner. "Mac-n-cheese and Spam", I said. He asked if I could make another Caesar salad, I said ok. Then he asked if I could make a double batch, but I didn't have enough ingredients, so I said no. So then he said, "We need paper napkins." "Oh--and we need light bulbs." I told him that I did not have money for those things and he got kind of offended. I got more offended than him, though, because it seems like he ALWAYS ALWAYS "needs" something.

So....I went to the pharmacy, then I had to stop by the nursing home to visit with my mom. She was really excited because one of the therapists had said that they are looking at my mom going home to her assisted living apartment "maybe next week." So my mom was all smiles, and that was fun. She told me that the therapist was going to bring her to her apartment tomorrow (the nursing home and the assisted living apartments are attached to each other) to see how she would do with things like getting out of bed and going to the bathroom. So right away I went "uh-oh...." and after bidding my mom ":adieu", I ran down to her apartment to make sure it was ok...changed the litter box, and cleaned up a hairball.

Then I ran home to make supper, knowing full well that DH wasn't going to be satisfied....

I started cooking...DD was showing off her new braces in the living room, and all of a sudden, DH came out into the kitchen. I guess I just assumed he was going to ask for something more, like homemade cheesecake for dessert or something (that's kind of a joke--I was already running really tight on time just making Mac-n-Cheese)....and he just looked at me and said "How can I help you?" For a second I wasn't sure if I'd heard him right. I stopped and looked at him, and then I realized he was serious. I was so surprised I just started to cry right there. I had no idea how wound up I was until that moment. DH clearly was surprised by my reaction, at first, too, but then I think he must've kind of realized that he hasn't "helped" for so very long....Having him offer to help meant so very much to me....he used to help me all the time, before the bipolar; but the bipolar has made him take me so much for granted sometimes I just forget what it's like to have willing help.

He probably won't remember much about it the next time I'm frazzled and not meeting his "needs", but I'll just take today and hold it close to my heart....

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Busy, busy, busy!!!

Well, today, DH's friend Jim repaired the steps leading to our deck, cleaned the yard, put new rafters and loft floor in DH's shed, and took Molly McMutt outside to play. I got off work at 6am and went from there to WalMart, because a) 6am is a GREAT time to shop at WalMart, and b) WalMart is the cheapest place between work and home for me to buy dog food and fixin's for Thanksgiving dinner. Because I wasn't going to make it home in time to wake DD up for school at 6:50, I called DH and asked him if he would do it for me. "Sure. I'm already up." And he didn't even sound like he minded, which was unusual and very pleasant.

When I got home from WalMart, the first thing I had to do was let out 5 dogs. Two of them have to be on chains (Megan and Frosty) and then Molly can be out wherever...Sarah needs to be watched, because she will chase a car if one goes by...and Kirby is completely deaf and kind of blind, so I have to keep an eye on him too....then I started to unload the car, put everything perishable into the fridge, locked the door and went in to bed. I wasn't surprised that DH was sleeping, he sleeps a LOT. But as I closed the door, he woke up and said "Hi honey," and then he opened his eyes with surprise and told he that he hadn't woken DD up after all, he'd fallen back asleep. ARGH.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised....last year dd was tardy to school seven times because he "fell back asleep", even if I called him two or three times to remind him, to the point where he got mad at me, he'd still fall back asleep. But he hadn't done it yet this year, so I had been thinking that we were making "progress." I know I feel a lot better about things when I am there every morning to make sure things go like they're supposed to, but WalMart is 30 miles away from home, so I don't want to waste the gas going home and back, of course, and the store closest to our house has much higher prices...

I have to give DH credit, though, he did get out of bed and drive dd to school, where in the past I have had to do it...so I guess we still have progress, it'd just be nice if I could really really depend on him.

And now, here it is 3am, I'm at work. DH told me (like he has a zillion times) that he will call me to say "Hi". But I'm pretty sure he won't. That is something I've grieved since the bipolar started--he used to call me all the time to just say Hi and hear how I was doing--whether I was at work, or he was at work, or both...I would always be able to count on hearing his voice. But when the bipolar crept in, the phone calls were some of the first things to go. I still get my hopes up when he says he'll call. I've told him how much I look forward to his calls. But he usually "falls asleep" without calling me.

I know this is the bipolar illness, not my DH's true sentiments. Dave, on his "Blog for Supporters of Loved Ones with Bipolar Disorder", says:

"I find that by making a list of the good
things that happen with your loved one,
not only does it help you get through the
tough times but it also helps you remember
that bipolar disorder is not your loved one.

Remember the thing that you are angry at is
bipolar disorder NOT your loved one. I know that
sounds crazy so to speak and I will probably
get a whole lot of emails from people saying
that I am confusing bipolar disorder with
other disorders like dissociative identity
disorder. I am NOT.

This is just a technique to help you overcome
a very difficult time. Try thinking of your loved
one's bipolar disorder completely separate from
him/her and you will see how much easier your
life becomes."

Sometimes it feels like all I do is complain about DH's behaviors or lack thereof. And it does help to remind myself that I am really complaining about the bipolar illness, not my DH. My DH, in his healthy state, is not like this.
But sometimes it's so hard to keep that all straight.....

Sunday, November 18, 2007

"That Guy" came over today :-(

Well, I've kind of skipped over a few events lately, I'll try to catch you up so you aren't stuck asking questions because I assumed you were all mind readers.....

Thursday was "free food" day, and I was able to convince DH to go with me and there was a LOT of food. Plus they gave away shampoo and cold medicine too. It will all really help a lot, and I think DH was rather impressed. Plus, I thought, it was a good way for him to help "provide" without spending money.

On Saturday, we were supposed to go to Spenders Anonymous, but DH wouldn't get out of bed. No matter how I tried. I was so angry!!! Just the night before, he had been talking about how much he thought it would help him and all that....but when it came right down to going, he just couldn't. I tried to be understanding.

Then we had a talk about how the organization that finds mentally ill people a job had found him a job at our local casino, doing janitorial work. And the benefits were going to be amazing. Way better than we've got through my work. The lady had said all he had to do was call her up and he would be hired. But he won't call her up because he doesn't want anyone to recognize him doing that kind of work. This is the bipolar logic again, because I just can't believe that DH, when in his right mind, would choose not to have a job, for fear of "being seen", but still I'm stretching every little penny, working 2 jobs and so on....anyhow, so he still isn't working and doesn't want a job where someone might see him.

Then last night, we went to a Keith Urban concert. I like Keith Urban, but there was no way I could have afforded tickets to go see him, but my friend at work had won a couple of them and she had already bought tickets, so we got free tickets to the concert. DH was complaining before we left about how he didn't have any cigs or chew or pop or gas for his car (we were driving my car to the concert) and could I please buy him some chew? So we got to the concert and paid for parking and I gave him all the money I had left, $9. Enought for chew AND generic cigs too.

So we got into the arena for the concert, and DH realized he needed a pill to calm down. I started looking for a drinking fountain for him, and he took off before I found one, and he came back with a regular 20 oz bottle of Coke. HE SPENT $4 ON A LITTLE BOTTLE OF COKE. I took a deep breath and just let it go, because I had given him the money, it was his to do whatever with. So we saw the concert and then headed home. Regarding what happened after the concert, well, that's another post, probably a long one.

Anyhow, today (mind you it is only the day after I gave him the $9), he told me that he has no money for cigs, no money for chew, no money for pop, and no gas. I told him that I gave him everything I had yesterday. He got all offended like, because "he wasn't asking for money". Then he decided that he was going to sell his $1300 gun at the pawn shop so that he could get money for cigs. That really bothered me, not because I like the gun or anything, if anything, I'd like it to be gone. But he might get a couple of hundred dollars at the pawn shop on a really good day. And with deer season over with, there probably won't be a really good day for quite a while. And with him not working and not wanting to work, I am not going to be able to help him get that gun back, and he is probably not going to have the money to get it back either. Anyhow, I tried to point out that the gun is too valuable to get rid of for some cigs and he got all mad because I'm wrong.

What I really wanted to say was "You need to cut down on your vices." "you need to smoke cheaper cigs and not gripe about it" "Maybe when someone gives you money, you should carefully consider what your needs are before you go and spend half of it on a bottle of pop." "Especially when water is free." But of course I didn't.

Jim was there too, and I could tell from the expression on his face that he was thinking the same things, but he didn't say anything either.

Anyhow, so DH was mad about not having his "needs" met, and DD didn't put her clean laundry away fast enough and DH cursed at her and made her cry. Then DH got even more angry and came out in the living room and told me he was going to go for a ride in his car (yes, the one that doesn't have any gas). I recommended that he take a Lorazepam to calm down and he told me he'd take it after the drive. So he stormed out of the house, and got in the car and drove off. He must've realized he was out of gas, though, because he came home almost right away and sat in the driveway sulking.

So then I was making supper. We had gotten some restaurant quality Alfredo sauce from the free food thing, so I was making fettuccine alfredo. He asked me what we were going to have for meat. I said there would be enough to fill us up without meat and he got upset at that and wanted me to use some chicken breasts. I told him that if we saved the chicken breasts, then we'd have another filling meal at a different time. He wasn't satisfied, of course. Then he asked what we were having with the fettuccine and I told him I was going to make a little salad. He didn't want that either and started making me feel like I don't love him because I'm not making a Caesar salad instead. So because I knew he was already really unreasonable, I made the stupid salad that he wanted, then when it came time to eat, he wasn't happy because I hadn't made enough salad. (Never mind the fact that there were lots of other foods on the table).

Then before I left for work he came out to the kitchen and told me he had taken a Lorazepam, and he felt better. And that he was sorry. I'm still kind of angry. I didn't get married to be treated like this!!! I just hate days like this, there's just no way you can argue with someone who's mentally ill, things that make sense to me don't make sense to him, and things that make sense to him are not very sensible. Is my frustration showing?

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Lord only gives us.....how much????

Apparently the Lord thinks I'm really Wonder Woman or something--just kidding, of course, I'm sure there's a reason for it all...but last night I stopped by my Mom's assisted living apartment to check on her cat (she is still in the nursing home recovering from her broken hip).

Anyhow, it looked to me like they had shampooed her carpet, which they've done before. But her fridge was pulled out from the wall, some of her furniture was moved, and there was an electric fan running in her hallway that wasn't hers. Then I noticed that the kitty litter box had been moved from its regular spot, and the plastic tablecloth that we keep under the litter box had been thrown into the bathtub. At this point I got concerned.

So I went and tracked down the night shift gal, and she told me that a pipe had broken and flooded my mom's apartment. I don't have a problem believing this, because her apartment is right next to the laundry room....apparently they had to "pump all the water out".

So, knowing that, I went back into the apartment and realized that on the floor of her closet were a number of cardboard boxes that were full of clothes and other things, and of course they were just soaked. Basically everything that was sitting on the floor in her bedroom, bathroom or closet was soaked. It was midnight and I was overwhelmed...a common feeling for me lately...

Anyhow, what I opted to do was empty the boxes, throw away anything that didn't look important or wearable, and now tonite I am going to do a ton of laundry and organizing, so that when my mom comes back to her apartment to visit her kitty, she won't be able to tell much has changed at all. I hope, anyhow.

Not a very good day for DH

DH called me at work (again on a Friday) and first asked me if there was any money in the house because he needed his Marlboros. I had bought him some generic smokes, I just can't see me, a non-smoker, spending $4.50 a pack for a pack-a-day habit that isn't even mine....anyhow, DH was upset because he had no cigs and no money. Actually, he did have cigs, they just weren't the kind he likes. Too bad for him, I say (but not to his face, that would make matters a LOT worse, LOL)....beggars can't be choosers....I wasn't much help, I told him "not a lot of people die from lack of cigs." That didn't make him too happy, LOL...

Then he called me a couple of hours later and told me that a) he had called Jason and Jason hadn't called back, b) his brother had invited a friend that we barely know to go hunting on our land, but his brother wasn't even going to be there and c) dd was being snotty.

To a non-bipolar person, these things seem so easy to handle: a) maybe Jason's busy, b) really rude, just say no... and c) send her to bed--it's her bedtime anyhow...

But to DH, these are end-of-the world crises. He can't tell his brother not to invite his friend to our land, because his brother will just guilt trip him and he'll feel bad. So he calls me and talks for a half hour about how awful it is instead (I say too bad, no reasonable person would be happy about this, especially since we aren't going to be home tomorrow!) So he mopes around and feels bad. And DD, well, kids are snotty sometimes. It's not the end of the world, and it doesn't mean she doesn't love him or whatever, she's just being a 14 year old. Send her to bed and you don't have to deal with her for the rest of the night and maybe she won't be so snotty tomorrow. But to DH he takes it personally, and not only that, but he gets way way more angry than her behavior merits. Thank goodness he doesn't take it out on her. Most of the time he calls me up to tell me how angry he is. And then he feels angry and depressed about it, because he's a terrible person (according to him). And the thing with Jason. Well, maybe Jason is sick of being used for money. I don't know. I don't think I would want to hang out with DH if I wasn't married to him, especially the way he constantly "needs" to spend money....he "needs" to spend money, but he can't do a damn thing about getting himself in a better money situation, so he'd better just get used to humble pie and learn how to do without like a normal person...sorry....but I'm so sick of him "needing" this and "needing" that...cigs, pop, ice cream, candy bars....these are NOT things that most people "NEED". So basically, these things were causing DH to feel miserable and angry and powerless.

Well, anyhow, we will be attending our very first "Spenders Anonymous" meeting tomorrow. I hope it's good. I am allowed to go the first meeting, then spouses aren't allowed unless they also have spending problems. It sounds like it's exactly what DH needs (more than pop or cigs). I will keep you posted on how this all goes....I am hoping that somehow DH will see that the spending and the "needing" is out of control....

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tiny update on my brother in law

Remember my brother in law discovered his wife had been cheating on him for the duration of the 2 1/2 year marriage? He told us yesterday that he found pictures posted on the internet of his wife and the "other man" and, um, well, apparently they were rated XXX, if you know what I mean....

Can you believe that?????

Other than that, though, I think my brother in law is doing reasonably well, although he does seem to be spending a lot of money, I guess he has to do SOMETHING to get over it....I did instruct DH to mention the spending thing though, I don't know what DH's mom would do if another son ended up with huge debts and mental illness....

Another player in the bipolar game

Today DH went to see a neuropsychologist. The reason that he went dates back to the three weeks when he was hospitalized about a year and a half ago. At that time, they did some kind of scan, I think it was an MRI, of his brain, and were rather shocked by the fact that it appeared that the left temporal lobe of his brain was severely damaged. Nobody ever followed up on that possibility, though, until now. We've been so busy just trying to keep the bipolar under control, that we had pretty much forgotten about the brain damage thing.

Anyhow, so today he finally went in for some tests. Even though the actual test results won't be available for a couple of weeks, DH was shocked by his inability to answer some pretty simple questions, and his inability to think logically.

He told me that they asked him questions like "what is the difference between a cat and a dog?" and he said, "It was the strangest feeling. I knew the answer, but there were no words for it, and no way for me to explain it. I have never felt that way before. It was very strange."

He also described a test where there were two decks of cards. The person administering the test was to show him one card at a time, and when DH had figured out the pattern, they would put that deck away. He said that the girl who was administering the test seemed very surprised, as DH went through both decks completely and never saw a pattern at all.

Apparently the neuropsychologist mentioned that the tests that DH didn't do well on were all related to the left temporal lobe, so the connection has been made.

A lot of this is not news to me. I've known for at least a year and a half that there was something wrong with his thinking, but I thought it was the bipolar. I'm not sure if its good or bad that it could be a brain injury instead. I have a lot of questions: How is it that the symptoms seemed to get so bad all of a sudden? Is there some kind of therapy that can help retrain other parts of the brain to do things the left temporal lobe usually does? Is it going to get worse? I guess we'll find out in a couple of weeks. So is the bipolar something entirely different, or is it related to the brain damage? It seems like the added meds in the last couple of weeks have made a difference, so maybe its some of both.

And something else the doctor told DH: About a year and a half ago, DH was still functioning normally, and went to the eye doctor. He learned that the glaucoma test had come out "positive" and he was supposed to make an appointment to get rechecked and come up with a plan of action. But it wasn't too long after that that everything fell apart, and he never went. Today the Dr. told him that his left eye is getting progressively worse, and DH can expect that he will probably be blind in that eye within 2 years.

So, even though the glaucoma thing is very upsetting to me, DH is more concerned about the fact that he "flunked" at the neuropsychologist's. He keeps saying "I don't want to be disabled." I said to him "well, you haven't exactly been "abled" in the last few months", and he agreed with me and then we both talked about how things are better now than they were 6 months ago, so whether its the bipolar or the brain damage, we both know things could be worse.

I think for me it will be very helpful to know exactly what the brain damage means. It'll be easier for me to plan, easier for me to accept some things, like his problems with his memory. Instead of me getting disgusted by the fact that he can't remember anything from 5 minutes ago, knowing that there is a brain injury will make it easier for me to accept. To me, knowledge is power. And he's truly no worse off mentally or physically than he was yesterday, he just has more knowledge. I'll keep you updated on what we find out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A "counting my blessings" post

I was reading through my recent posts and I have been doing a lot of whining and a lot of "poor me". But I know that I have it good compared to many, and even though I sometimes feel like there is nothing to be happy about, well, I'm wrong. So this post is going to remind me that even when things get yucky, I still have things that many people would be grateful for.

1) I have my mom. I have learned so much from her, especially as she ages. I hope I can be as graceful as I get older. I love her so much. I am lucky, so very lucky, to still have her in my life.

2) I have my DH. Now for those of you who have read mostly of the problems that I have had while dealing with his illness, it might be surprising to hear that I am so incredibly grateful to have him in my life. But before the bipolar really took hold, I could not imagine a more perfect mate for me. He's kind, gentle, considerate, intelligent, creative, I could go on and on. And even though the bipolar gets me down, and I get angry and sad, my DH is still the same guy (unless he's "That Guy", of course). Even though on a lot of days all he wants to do is lay in bed and watch TV, I have someone to go home to. I have someone who is very special. And I know that a huge number of people would willingly go through the bipolar stuff, if they could have the 5 years of amazing, breathtaking love that we had before that. Not only that, but I can dream of the day when his meds are right, his therapy is right, and I get him back. All back. Of course, it may never happen. But I know there are a lot of widows out there who would love that chance to hope once more.

3) I have DD. I'm so proud of the young woman she is becoming. I know she still has many issues, and some of her actions are so upsetting to me. But she tries so hard, and really has a good heart, and even though she is a teenager now, she still wants to be like me, and I just want to teach her so much!!! I am very lucky to have seen an "incorrigible" child who could barely read or write, change into a "good student", a "reader", a child who has absolutely blossomed, to the amazement of all who knew her before...with love and attention.

4) Our house. We have a small house. Too small by almost any standard. Its run-down and not pretty by any means. But we have 15 acres of land too. And we are living a "lifestyle" that most people in the cities aren't able or aren't willing to live until retirement.

5) The animals. I love every one of our animals, from the chickens to the dogs, cats, goldfish....they bring me so much joy and laughter and they ask for so little.

6) The jobs I have. I have two jobs. Some people aren't even fortunate enough to have one. One job pays pretty good, and the other one, well, it's pretty easy and pays well for what I do.

7) My zest for learning. If I wasn't so eager to learn, I never would have learned how to live on so little. I was never taught how to be frugal. I was taught to live within my means, but I never learned any tricks as to how to do that easily. I'm still learning and I will til the day I die.

8) And I'm grateful for the troubles I've been through. And for the mistakes I've made. I know that sounds weird, but I would be so naive if I hadn't been forced not to be....I have wisdom that I never would have if I hadn't struggled....I can teach DD how to be a better manager of her money because of the mistakes I've made. I could make a salad out of things that grow in our yard, if I had to. I know the value of a good laying hen. So many things that I never would have learned if I hadn't had to. So I need to keep reminding myself that the "bad things" don't necessarily happen "to punish me or DH" or because we have "bad luck" or whatever, but more likely, to teach me things that I never would have learned otherwise. Even though I'm married to DH, I've never been as independent as I have been since he became ill. And that's something I never would have learned without the bipolar. So even the bad stuff is all about learning, and I need to hang on to that perspective!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Deja Vu all over again

About three months ago, I was going through my "change jar", pulling out all the "real silver" coins before I turned in the change to the bank. DD was very interested in what I was doing, and, as I think there are a lot of learning opportunities to be found by examining coins, I decided to show her the various foreign coins I have been collecting over the years. Some of them I have had since I was 8 or 9 years old, some of them showed up in the till when I was working at a convenience store, and some of them, I just don't know where they came from. But I have some coins from all over the world--England, Scotland, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Israel...you get the picture.

One of my favorite coins of all was/is a coin from the Philippines. It is/was square, with four distinct sides. I've had it since I was about DD's age, and I really like that coin. I remember specifically showing her that one.

Well, yesterday Jim gave me some paper money from Egypt (they apparently no longer use coins there) and so I went to show him all my other coins.

And, you guessed it, the square one was gone. And boy am I angry. I know that she did not have a large window of opportunity to help herself. But I think she did have a chance, as I trusted her briefly (my bad).

I realized that I have no evidence. I doubt that DH took it, because if he was taking that money, he would've taken all of the coins, not just a "cool" one. He has never been interested in "cool" coins except in spending them. Nobody else except DD knew I had those coins. And, as with the gold dollars, the foreign coins were locked in our bedroom except for that brief time when I showed them to DD.

I keep trying to think of some other explanation. I don't want to believe that she would do that. But she has done it before--she was the first person to steal from me (before DH did), but I had thought that she had grown up since then.

I don't want to make false accusations. I really really want to be wrong about this. I have looked in all the places where I could have mistakenly put it, like the change jar, the bucket of gold dollars, etc., it's just not there. It's possible that I could have maybe dropped it or something, but in 20 years I have never lost it, I've always been very careful to keep those coins safe.

I also know that chances are, if confronted, DD will deny it, even if she's guilty. And since I don't have the coin as evidence, I'm not even sure if confronting her is the right thing to do. It is possible that the coin is somewhere in her room. We'll see.

Anyhow, I, figuring that there was no chance that I'd ever see that coin again, decided to find one on Ebay. While I was perusing Ebay, I saw some pictures of other coins and I realized that there are more coins missing than just the one I noticed right away. Now I'm beyond angry. But I'm in a parenting quandary, because I can't prove she took them. I hate this. I hate this. I hate this. Right now it feels like I can't trust anyone at all. And it makes me want to cry.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Stressed out

I have some very mixed feelings lately about our living situation. As you know, Jim is now staying with us for probably the next three months. That's specifically what I have the mixed feelings about.

Jim is a great guy. I like him a lot. He's polite and super-helpful. He eats whatever I cook and he is appreciative. He's done a LOT for us in the last few weeks. Probably the most important thing he's done is get DH off his duff and participating more in life. And for that, both DH and I are grateful. He also built our new chicken/duck digs and fixed Frosty's dog house and also fixed our deck, which was sinking into the ground like the Titanic. Just yesterday he started to gather firewood, he's got about 2 cords gathered now. That's wonderful, because I was thinking I was going to have to buy some to make it through the winter. I really appreciate everything he's done. He's stepped in to do a lot of the things that DH used to do, but isn't able to right now. I can't explain how grateful I am.

On the other hand, we have a 2-bedroom house. 2 baths. 7 (or is it 8) indoor cats, 5 dogs. Frosty used to live outside until the neighbors complained about her barking--that's another post....anyhow....

I absolutely hate having company. Even for a day or two. I hate the lack of privacy. I hate the fact that I can't talk about husband-wife stuff anyplace but our bedroom. (Not like we talk about anything risque, but sometimes I like to talk to DH without anyone else being there). Even when DH wasn't having problems with bipolar, I hated company. I really get stressed out. Now that DH is having problems with the bipolar, I get more stressed out than ever. I go into the bedroom, there's DH, as usual, lying on the bed, no room for me, watching TV. It doesn't matter what time of day it is, that's what our bedroom looks like. So no privacy there. And Jim is sleeping on the couch in the living room, no privacy there. And I used to really enjoy building up a hot fire and falling asleep on the couch, so that bugs me too. I could still fall asleep on the loveseat, but since Jim is sleeping in the same room, it kind of weirds me out.

The other bedroom is DD's. So when I need "alone time", there's absolutely no place to go. I walked in from work this morning and I was so angry about it all. I WANT MY HOUSE BACK. But then I feel bad, because Jim does so much, I don't want him to go, necessarily, I just want our house to grow a bedroom so that I can have some time to myself.

I'm kind of worried about how I'm going to make it through three months of this, holidays included.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thought-provoking article regarding housing and mortgages

I was afraid to do the math on this one, it seems so common-sense, but I'm nervous about finding out exactly how little I actually "own". I'll let you know when I actually work the numbers.


From The Wall Street Journal Online
If you look carefully at the staircase banister of the Elephant Hotel in Somers, N.Y., you will notice a small cameo embedded there. Legend has it that it was placed on the handrail by the building's 19th-century owner, Hachaliah Bailey, of Barnum and Bailey fame, as a subtle indication to all visitors that the building was paid for.

Paying off a mortgage was no small feat then, especially if you weren't a wealthy farmer and cattle merchant like Mr. Bailey. In fact, the word "mortgage" comes from French common law. Meaning "dead pledge," it was a fixed and absolute debt and put home ownership out of reach for most people. Though it was easier to accomplish here in the U.S. than in Europe -- Americans had homesteading programs and did not have to contend with noble landowners loath to relinquish their holdings -- only 46.5% of Americans owned their homes in 1900, and that number declined a bit during the Depression. Today, according to the Census Bureau, about 66% of us could put a cameo on our handrail.

These days, when people have sent that last payment to the bank they celebrate by going on a long-put-off vacation or, most commonly, throwing a mortgage-burning party. Having just bought our house in Somers (about six miles from the Elephant Hotel) this year, my husband and I are a long way from the cameo or any sort of celebration. How long? Well, I'm afraid I needed to pay better attention in high-school algebra to figure that out, because we have both a fixed-rate term mortgage and a variable-rate equity loan.

If your house costs X and it is Y square feet in size, what is your cost per square foot (F)? You make a downpayment of 10%. Your monthly mortgage payment is Z, but of that payment Q is interest. How much are you paying in principal (P)? And how many square feet do you actually own at the end of each payment?

It's enough to make me wake up in a cold sweat, especially during this volatile credit market when that Q number is all over the place. I never know what the bill will say when I open it.
I used to believe that since we made a 10% down payment at closing, we own 10% of the house outright -- for argument's sake, let's say that's the dining room. So, when we wrote and mailed the monthly check, I would take a moment to appreciate the roughly 1.6 more square feet of home that actually belonged to us -- say, a bit of the floor underneath the refrigerator.
But it's recently become clear that my theory has a few holes in it. Should we default on our mortgage (which please, nice people at Chase, take note, we have no intention of doing), we don't get to keep the dining room and 1.6 feet of kitchen. The bank will take the whole kitchen and caboodle.

It was something of a shock the first time I actually worked out the math. I knew we'd be paying interest; I just had no real conception that interest would constitute the vast majority of every payment we made. I was blithely figuring that with our regular payments and a few extra when we could afford them we'd have this mortgage thing done with well before our 30-year term. I have since been disabused of that notion.

But, for all the uncertainty about payments, we relish each of the additional square feet of home we seem to own each month. And, of course, we appreciate that the bank allows us to act as if we already own the place, letting us redecorate or make as much of a mess as we want to. The house with the white picket fence is a part of the American Dream for a reason -- having your own space, even bought in increments, is nothing short of bliss.

Thirty years from now, when we've mailed that last check and can safely occupy the last 1.6 square feet of the attic, I think we'll go a bit more dramatic than the banister cameo. The bank-note bonfire in the back yard is much more our speed.

Friday, November 9, 2007


I've mentioned a little bit about how I try to hide DH's illness. There are a million reasons for this, I'll try to explain some of them--if you are dealing with a mentally ill person, you might have some of the same thoughts and feelings.

First, DH wasn't always like this. Three years ago, he was a regular guy who went to work every day, did lots of chores around the house, fixed things, was very romantic, very responsible, very conscientious. So the part of me that hopes says "So what's to say that he won't be that way again???"

If that is the case, if he does recover back to the point of being a responsible human being again, I don't want people to judge him for what has been happening with his mental illness. Say, for example, the bills he has rung up in town. I know DH's therapist doesn't want me to "fix" them, but its really hard, because not only did DH "used to be" responsible, but I hope with all my heart that he will be again "someday", and I don't want people to think that he is anything but that. I mean, I don't want them to say to themselves, "there goes Carol's DH, he had some mental problems,". And have that color their opinions of him. Or when he doesn't follow through on things he used to do with great joy, I don't want people to say, "he's got some mental problems"--I'd much rather have them say "he didn't get around to it"....somehow in my mind, he can redeem himself for "not getting around to it", but he can't fix the "mental problems" stigma.

And along those lines, I'd also rather have them think that we are lazy (our lawn hasn't been cut all summer) than to tell people that "DH has been ill and I've been working 2 jobs and there just hasn't been time to do stuff like that".

Don't get me wrong, I'm not really very afraid of being known as the "woman with the mentally ill DH". (Being honest with myself, though, maybe I am a little.) There are a lot of times I really wish I could tell everyone that "my DH is having mental problems and I'm having a tough time handling it all, so please forgive me." It would be so nice to have someone say (or think) "well no wonder things don't seem quite right over there" or whatever. Or "do you need any help?" But it's just not right for me to do that, of course. I feel strongly that if the people in our town knew what was going on with DH, he would be labeled for life, and I would do anything to avoid that.

It's a very tough place to be in. If he had cancer, or a heart attack, people would be having benefits for him to help pay the bills and to show their support.

Come to think of it, you never do see "Benefit" posters that say something like this: "In October, John Doe was diagnosed with bipolar illness. He has been rendered unable to work and faces several months of therapy. The bills related to this illness are piling up, and his wife can't keep up. Please join us for a spaghetti dinner to help out." It's almost funny, isn't it?

When the psychologist doesn't like you

I have posted before about how DH says that lately his psychologist seems to ask him a lot of questions about me and not too much about DH. Well, today, DH went to his psychiatrist who basically told him, "the medicines are doing what they're supposed to, but you're flunking in the therapy department." She gave him a list of things he is supposed to work on with his therapist.

DH told me that he feels as if ever since he talked to his therapist about how he stole the gold dollars from me, his therapist's attitude towards him has changed. He feels that his therapist doesn't like him any more, and he feels that there is no longer a bond between them. He also still thinks that the therapist has the "hots" for me, which to DH, explains all the questions that the therapist asks about me. I'm pretty sure that's not the case, but I suppose its possible. I tend to kind of think that there's just more to it than DH is picking up on, maybe there's a therapeutic reason for the questions, but maybe not. Regardless, DH has been coming home from therapy saying that the therapist cut the visit short by a half hour, or that all they did was talk about me, and nothing about DH. I'm not sure what to advise here, but I guess that no matter what the real truth is about the situation, DH needs to have a therapist that he feels comfortable with, who doesn't "have the hots" for his wife, and who wants to spend time tackling the real issues, so that he isn't "flunking" therapy any more.

It's kind of a weird situation though, because we don't know what the psychologist is actually doing and maybe he has good reasons for what he is doing. But I kind of think that if DH or I questioned him, that if he truly doesn't like DH, then he would probably get defensive.

The trick is, getting DH to take the initiative to make a change. It's been months since he's decided to file for bankruptcy, and that's not going anywhere...I hope he makes a change soon, because if he doesn't feel like he's getting much out of therapy any more, then something needs to change for sure.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Bipolar priorities

One of the ways I know DH is still not back to "normal", even on his "good" days is that he has absolutely no idea what his priorities should be. And even when he does know that something's important, usually its not important enough to end up on his radar screen.

Take those bankruptcy forms. They make me want to scream. He has been "gonna" file bankruptcy since May of this year. I've probably mentioned that before. The first attorney he talked to instructed him to use a Credit Counseling service (you have to do that before you file bankruptcy) and that would cost $75. I did have the money at the time, but I felt (mind you, this was back in May, when he still had a job) that it was his responsibility to take care of that. (Yayy for me not enabling him, right?) Well, he never did it.

So in August, he called a different attorney, who sent him a bunch of forms to fill out, with questions like "do you own your own home?" "List your debts and the addresses of those companies". You know, stuff you would expect for filing bankruptcy. (By the way, in MN he is allowed to file bankruptcy without me, so presumably, if he ever did it, my credit would be relatively unscathed)...Anyhow, at least once a week there is some kind of drama at our house involving a bill collector. Lately they've been calling him and telling him that they're going to put a lien on our house. Now based on what I've been able to find out, they can't do that without going to court. But I have been wrong before and would very much hate to be wrong here. Every time this one company calls our house, DH gets all upset about it, then he gets depressed about it, because he is "such a piece of sh**" and then he gets suicidal. At least once a week.

And that's not even mentioning the people who call regarding the bad checks he's written. And the bank accounts that have been closed due to the bad checks. We get a lot of calls. He owes a lot of people a lot of money.

I am also aware that by filing bankruptcy, the calls from the bill collectors would stop. Not only that, but if things work out like I'm thinking they probably will, they won't be able to put a lien on the house, either.

So it would seem to me, as a rational thinking person, that those forms should take top priority, right? It would end a lot of worry and pain for all involved. But I have been "reminding" him to fill out the forms since August. And they still aren't done. A couple of months ago, he promised me he would do them. Tonite, he told me "it's gonna take a while, there's a lot of pages."

I told him, "It should be your job. It is going to pay off. If you can have a reasonable expectation that you will eventually be working for 8 hours a day, and you are physically capable of doing that so that you can get paid, then spending an hour or two filling out forms that are ultimately going to save you $40,000-$50,000 should really be a no-brainer."

So then he pretended like he was suddenly drowsy, you know, with that groggy, half-asleep voice, so I told him I'd just talk to him some other time. Yes, I'm angry, but I don't know how much is "lazy" and how much is "bipolar" and how to tell the difference.

I fear I am going to have to give him an ultimatum, because if he can't fill those damn forms out, well, I sure can, but if I have to fill them out, I'll probably have to be appointed his guardian or power of attorney or whatever....and that won't go over well either. This is the kind of logic (or lack thereof) that I encounter daily. And I struggle with "should I do what I probably should be doing, at risk of making him hugely hurt and angry?" or "should I just hope he gets well enough or is well enough to take care of these things himself...." It's very easy to select the second option, the easy way out. After all, that's how it used to be...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

How much bipolar can be a joke?

I just wanted to make a brief statement about something that happened earlier. DH and Jim and Jason had finished hunting, and DH's friends were sitting in the living room. DH had retreated to his (our) room for a while, then he came out to the living room. I was there too.

He gives me a hug and says this: "Sweetie, you can tell Jim now that we won't be his friends until he comes up with more money. So when he gets paid again, we'll be his friends."

I said "speak for yourself". I didn't even want to joke about it, because it was too close to what I perceive as DH's truth--he is still desperately seeking ways to spend money, whether it's his or not.

Then he said, "and Jason doesn't get paid until Friday, so he'll have to wait until then, too."

Jim and Jason just kind of laughed it off uncomfortably. I got kind of scared, though, because it was one of those things, you know, where people joke about something, then say "just kidding" but you know there's some truth in what they said??? I know his friends aren't idiots, they've GOT TO feel taken advantage of. They've both spent huge amounts "helping" DH out. And he always "needs" more.

So then I said, "Well its a good thing you don't have a clue when I get paid, then". And his friends started giving him crap about that, how his own wife won't tell him when she gets paid, but I honestly said it to point out to them that DH right now will just take advantage of anyone, and I am not excluded from that group, and I am trying hard not to be a part of the "taking advantage" thing. The chicken/duck house, that Jim is building, I never asked for that, and every time he asked me for specifics, like "how big do you want this or that", I keep telling him he doesn't have to do anything at all, because it's not his responsibility.

I told Jim that I wouldn't care if he just showed up and slept on the couch for a month, he's a good friend and I have no expectations. I'm rather honored that he wants to spend his "time off" at our place. I sure wouldn't! I didn't tell him that, I never say anything snide about DH behind his back, although sometimes I really really want to...sometimes I just want everyone to know that I'm not enjoying this, that although I'm still in the marriage and although I still love DH, I don't approve of things any more than the next person. Sometimes I just want to gripe. LOL, I guess that's why I started this blog!!!

Did I tell you that Jim spent ALL of the money he had saved??? And he spent most of it on DH and some of it on the chicken house. DH's shoes, boots, cigarettes, snacks, pop, gas, all sorts of stuff I can't afford to do in the way DH
"needs". (DH 'needs' to drink at least a 12 pack of Coke a day. Generic won't do. And he needs at least a pack of Marlboro Lights every day. Generic won't do. Too bad for him, if I have to support these "needs", he'll deal with generic. I just wondered in passing about what he'd do if I didn't buy him any pop or cigs. (because that's enabling him) Probably steal something else from me. Sigh.)

Anyhow, so basically, DH (and I, apparently, by way of the chicken house that I didn't ask for but am excited about), have bled Jim dry. Jim does have a substantial tax refund coming, at least $10,000. But he has been told that it won't arrive for 10-12 weeks. In the meantime, Jim has no money for rent anyplace else, or anything like that. So now Jim has to get a job and stay with us for another THREE MONTHS. (that's a whole 'nother post, of course--I told you that I abhor having company, right?) The prospect of having company for THREE MORE MONTHS is daunting. But Jim has done so much for me and DH that there is no way I can do anything but welcome him with open arms....at the very least, I know with Jim around, SOMEONE will do the manly stuff.

Anyhow, the point of this post was that I'm scared that DH's joking is too close to the truth, and he will end up losing both Jim and Jason for spending all the money they have and making light of it. And they are both good friends. And good friends are hard to find and more painful to lose.

I wish there was some way I could explain to DH that humility is better. And if Jason goes to the store, it would be better to just say "I'll make do with what we have at home" than to throw things in the cart, same with Jim. And then if they still want to buy him something, well, so be it, but I know that most of the time that isn't the case. But it's the bipolar, I guess, as DH used to know these things and now he seems to have forgotten them for the most part.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A tangent about my brother.

By the way, nobody got a deer yet...DH really didn't do a lot of hunting, he kept coming in to take a nap and watch TV...but even Jason, who is pretty dedicated and will sit out in the stand all day didn't get one yet. But the season's still young....Last year he got two and so we got a deer and a half from him--he lives in a small apartment and only had room for a little meat....

My brother was up visiting my mom (she's now in the rehab unit of the nursing home here in town) and he said he just could not understand why people eat venison when they work so hard to make it not taste "wild" or "gamey". I tried to explain to him that beef can cost $2 or $3 a pound unless you find a sale and stock up, and venison is almost free, although you do pay for the hunting license and the freezer paper and such...it's very comforting to know that we have a freezer full of meat, even if I have to be a little more creative in how I use it.

My brother has lived a very very "sheltered" life, where everything has gone right for him, and he has never had a reason to struggle. That is changing, though, because while he and his wife make over $140,000 (not a typo) a year, they are currently spending over $2000 a month (again not a typo) on daycare for their two little boys. That in itself has been an adjustment, because it pretty much eats up my sister in law's entire income. (I know you're saying, if that's the case, wouldn't it be better to stay home with the kids? But with them that's not how it works, apparently--at least yet) My brother has complained about suddenly not having all the "fun money" they used to have. And my brother, who is an IT professional, is probably going to lose his job in the next month or two, the writing is on the wall. His company has been bought out, and all of the people he supports and works with have already received their pink slips and the new company is discontinuing the system that he is the expert on. And you can't just walk down to WalMart and fill out an application for a $100,000 a year job.....there aren't too many of them, and I can imagine the competition is very high!

I did find him a job via the Internet that sounded exactly like what he told me he did. He opted not to send them a resume because the job was 40 miles away. He doesn't want to drive that far. (Keep in mind that my commute to a job I hate is 90 miles one way!). I am very different from my brother in that way. I learned early the things that he won't be learning until probably next year. Today I made a pot of chili, it fed 6 people, including 4 hungry men, there was a little left over. And the total cost was about $4.00 for the whole meal (yes I used venison and a little ground beef, too), including corn bread. That is not something my brother or his wife has learned to do yet (challenge themselves to see how cheaply they can still eat well). And it will be painful, because he has farther to fall....after all, if I lost both of my jobs and had to work for $10 an hour, well, I could probably make up the difference in the gas I spend on my commute. But if he ends up having to work for $10 an hour, it's going to be a major lifestyle change. Not just an adjustment, but a complete change.

I do like my brother. I also like his wife, for the most part, although sometimes she acts like she's "all that", deep down, she's pretty nice. I'm finding out more every day how alike we (my brother and I) really are in a lot of ways. Sometimes it seems like we think the same thoughts even. But he got the "easy road" for the years out of school, and I didn't quite turn on the right street. That's not a complaint, just the way things happened. Sometimes I hear him talk and I just think to myself "boy, have you got a lot to learn!". It feels kind of weird to me, because he's done so much better than me by all standards that society looks at, but when it comes to dealing with troubles, it's been pretty easy for him so far. But that is what life's all about, right? We all have different things to learn.

(I probably would have a lot to learn about living on $140,000 a year, too!) (I'd sure like to find out!) You know, for all the struggles, I am grateful for them because I am much wiser -- I had to be. Necessity is the mother of invention, they say....? Brokeness is the mother of frugality!!!!

The spending continues

Well, tomorrow is deer hunting opener, there's way too many people at my house right now, and I'm not even there but I'm extremely stressed out. It's bad enough to have a ton of people there when DH is well, I hate it even then, but now it's kind of morphed into this "how much work can I do to make DH's friends forget that something's wrong, or maybe they just won't notice".....I'm trying to plan meals and keep things clean and of course the animals aren't getting fed because it's Friday, so who knows what they think about that, but realistically I just try to make sure everyone has extra "Friday food" because I know that even if I called him and asked him twenty times to feed the animals, they wouldn't get fed.

Anyhow, DH drove to get Jason tonite, and Jason gave him $20 for gas. DH promptly went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of stuff we didn't need, including Pop Tarts(!) and cookies.
When he told me that, I didn't know what to say, because if I say something like " you shouldn't have spent that money" then I'm bringing him down. And he gets all down on himself "I'm a piece of crap, you'd be better off without me" etc. But I sure as heck can't say anything like "Oh wow!!! We were running low on Pop Tarts!!!!" I wish I knew how to deal with this spending. You knwo what he said when I didn't seem all that excited about all the stuff he bought???

"It's free money anyhow".

From a guy with no job, no bank account, no money. Can you see that something's wrong here? I sure can. But I don't know what to do about it. I think I need to bring this up with DH's therapist.

Or maybe we need marriage counseling or something. Maybe I just complain too much and should just shut up.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Tragedy in the chicken house

This is my favorite rooster, Bill. He thinks that I am his personal "human" and follows me everywhere. He loves to be picked up and carried around, too. Sometimes if he doesn't think he's getting enough attention from me, he bites the back of my leg!

Right now we have about 40 chickens. All of them sleep on roosts in their house except 6 "babies" who actually don't look like babies any more, just smaller versions of chickens, they "roost" on the floor still. I love them all, they're so entertaining....and of course the "free" eggs are nice, too (we don't slaughter the chickens, I love them too much!)....I think I mentioned that DH's friend Jim is building new quarters for the chickens....but right now they are staying in a rather small tool shed (think large outhouse) where their door is a little hatch that I open when I get up and close before I go to bed. When I close up for the night, I always do a "beak count" to make sure nothing's out of sorts...

Anyhow, last night Jim mentioned that he saw some of the babies "out and about" well after dark. That's unusual, because they usually go to bed when the sun goes down. But I didn't think much of it, because it seems like the young ones really do sometimes like to stay out late...anyhow, when I went to close up the chicken house, one of the babies was sitting half in and half out of the chicken house door. Weird. And when I opened the door, one of the "babies" was on the floor, all mangled, virtually unrecognizable, and except for the baby that was "half in and half out", all the other babies were missing. I went in to get DH, because when things like this happen, I absolutely hate dealing with the carnage, and he and Jim came out and got rid of the dead chicken and set a trap. Whatever it was must've just walked right in and helped themself to chicken dinner. The door was open...

I was lucky, though, because all of the older chickens that roost up high were fine. Later on in the night, Jim saw an opossum nosing around the trap, I'm sure that's the culprit. That would explain why the birds that were higher up were spared. DH tried to be interested, but he went inside.

I was really worried about the three chickens that live in a cage by themselves out there. I've called DH twice today to make sure they are ok, and he acts like it is such an imposition. He's laying in bed watching TV while his friend goes out and tries to protect my chickens. Something's still not right for sure.....I just hope that by the time the "new digs" are ready for the chickens, that we still have some to put in there.....

Epilogue: The rest of the babies apparently ran away when the opossum showed up (that is why Jim saw them "out and about" well after dark), so it appears that we have one dead chicken and one possibly seriously injured hen, but no other casualties as of this time. All the other missing babies were waiting at the door of the chicken house in the morning. DH said he would call me to let me know that all of the chickens are fine, but as usual, he hasn't called, and he is getting so angry with me for calling him, that I don't dare call again....

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Is George Bush mentally ill? (Warning: Democratic slant)

Hmmm.... an interesting thought, isn't it??? And one that has been apparently considered by a number of people. It never really entered my frame of reference, despite my current life revolving around mental illness. I mean, how did he get to be president, if he's "not quite right"???

The thing that got me wondering about this was this article from CNN: Kucinich Questions Bush's mental health state over Iran. I happened to notice that, and questions started to pop into my mind.

I need to explain that while I tend to vote Democrat, I have never been someone to criticize the President. When Reagan was president, and even George W.'s father, I accepted that while their core beliefs probably weren't the same as mine, they would do their best to help the country and its citizens succeed. I have consistently tried to view the current administration in the same light and have found it impossible. I could go on a long rant about the things I vehemently disagree with, but I assume that after all this time, most of you have already formed your own opinions as to this issue. In a nutshell, when an educated (and presumedly powerful) person cannot pronounce the word "nuclear" correctly, it casts a shadow on everything else they do! (By the way, I strongly support the troops, just not the "reason" they are there. I don't think we can just up and end the war, there are too many things that are "half done", but I do think we should not have gone there in the first place, if you're wondering where I stand on that).

Anyhow, I started to try to examine Mr. Bush in terms of bipolar, and it just didn't fit. He doesn't seem to have the right symptoms. And I am not one to accept the fact that "Mr. Kucinich thinks he's crazy, so he must be, right?" I don't know much about Mr. Kucinich, truth be told. But it seemed like a logical explanation for a lot of things I don't understand. So I started to look into others who have been questioning Mr. Bush's mental state, and I found this:
Is George Bush insane?

And you know, it did make sense, even if it is a slightly outdated article.

And then I found this:
The neuropsychology of George W. Bush

And suddenly the whole "noo-kee-lar" thing was clear to me.

The only thing that doesn't make sense to me is why is he our president???? A person who won't or can't read??? Or write??? Who has all these things done for him so that he can have power???? I am postively flabbergasted. I don't know what to say. Like I said above, it had never even occurred to me that maybe there was more than just a person I don't particularly like, whose ideas I find repugnant. After reading a little, I am just stuck wondering what has become of our country, that enough people could vote for him, that he could be our leader? But then I didn't know either.

And who is really running the show, anyhow, if he isn't reading and isn't writing, and can't speak well?

Oh, and just for fun, and in case you still have doubt.....
Famous Bush Quotes