Hey there! Was reading this thread and wanted to chime in with what someone else said about the irritability. I'm 42 years old and I've been misdiagnosed for years (decades) with depression and generalized anxiety disorder and taken virtually every anti-depressant and anti-anxiety med out there with no real relief. about a month ago my pdoc put me, for the first time in my life, on a mood stabilizer. Within 3 hours of my first dose the cloud that had choked me my whole life lifted. Pretty telling.
As the mood stabilizer began to work and my mind gradually, over days became clearer and clearer, I began to wonder why it took 42 years for someone to finally hit upon the right med and possibly the right diagnosis (cyclothymia). I never EVER experienced the "euphoric" highs generally associated with BP. For me, it's been a lifetime of moderate depression with dips into severe depression and periods of EXTREME irritability and racing thoughts. I've seen countless therapists and psychiatrists throughout my adulthood and even been hospitalized for 14 days during a severe bout of depression, and no one EVER mentioned BP (or cyclothymia) as a possible diagnosis. I think it may be easier to diagnose BP (and milder forms of it) when the "euphoria" component is there. When irritability is the issue, I think it is much more easy for it to be attributed to other diagnoses (ie- GAD). It was not until I was speaking with my therapist about a week into taking this mood stabilizer that she told me that extreme irritability is also considered one of those BP "highs." I never EVER knew that. What I never realized was that the major difference between irritability associated with an anxiety disorder and irritability associated with forms of BP is the severity/extremity of the irritability (not that anxiety does not cause severe irritability... but the extremity of the BP irritability is almost irrationally extreme). So I just wanted to share with you that I'm one of those that never ever has had the "euphoria," but rather, extreme extreme irritability.
Also, medications are such a personal thing... since no two humans have the exact same chemistry, each person has to spend time (in my case, decades) trying to hit upon a combination of medications that works for them. I consider myself lucky to have finally found that for myself. Having been through such a long journey and having finally hit upon a medication that seems to finally have provided some relief, I also had to stop and think about this whole situation and its impact on the rest of my life. For me, I have come to terms that I very well may be BPII or Cyclothymic. I cannot overlook the fact that my mood stabilizer worked, so there obviously is a mood-impacting chemical imbalance that my med is, indeed, correcting. I'm not ashamed that I may have a condition with a name to it. Hell, I'm GLAD it might finally have a name! I also realize that I have a condition that must (MUST) be managed for the rest of my life. Part of managing it is staying on medications and being careful to notice any changes in the effects of the meds. I, too, was one of those who ditched my anti-depressants out of disgust when they didn't really work. This situation is different. I'm dealing with a medication that DOES work, so I have accepted the fact that now that I feel "better" (relatively speaking), this does not mean CURED. In other words, my brain chemicals were obviously out of whack for 42 years, so now that they are more balanced, I CANNOT EVER discontinue medications that are correcting this imbalance. I guess it's just an acceptance thing.
From what I've gathered from your postings, you wife is not in the same place that I am at. I'm not going to promise that she'll ever get to this place of acceptance that I have, but what I wanted to tell you is that there IS hope. It is obvious that she probably hasn't hit upon the meds combo that would bring her to a place where she could most effectively manage this condition. Every person has a threshold for emotional pain, and I'm definitely not telling you to hang in there to endure endless amounts of emotional abuse... not at all. But I DO want to convey that, as a person with the disorder, that it is a long and arduous battle. I'm SO happy that I've found relief and at the same time, so sad for what I've put loved ones through. Thoughts of what they endured with my emotional swings makes me cringe. But I'm grateful to the small handful of loved ones that hung in there for me and strive to, each day, be a positive, not draining, presence in their lives now.
Whether you decide to hang in there for the duration is a personal decision. You DO need to think of yourself, too, and ensure that you are taking care of yourself. I've really had to come to terms with the fact that I did drive some out of my life. I don't fault them for wanting or needing to go... it was probably for the best, as I wasn't the same person I am today.
I'm sorry if this is a bit rambling, and maybe my points are a bit cloudy. Just wanted to share my own experience with you so that you could hear the words of a person who has been in a place where your wife currently is, and had people in my life who probably felt very much as you do right now.
I wish you all the best in this difficult journey... my heart really goes out to you.
Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall. - Confucius