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Parenting Issues This forum is for discussing any of the parenting issues involved in your divorce, including parenting of step-children.

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  #1  
Old 03-17-2010, 09:41 PM
Nadia Nadia is offline
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Unhappy Co-Parenting with someone who has Mental Instability

After over four years of knowing my ex, I am convinced that he has some serious mental health issues. During our marriage, my ex would go through periods of high activity (I mean 48 hours straight with no sleep) and then go through bouts of depression where he was convinced that everyone was against him. He would get so depressed that he would sleep during the day, refuse to take a shower or even change his clothes. He saw a conspiracy in everything. For example, his three day baby is crying at night because the mom has deliberately allowed him to sleep during the day.

During the marriage I tried to get him help, but he refused to see a doctor. I tried to get his parents to help. They said the best way to deal with him was to simply go along with what he was thinking and not to "challenge him in any way."

My baby was five days old and my daughter two and half, when I decided that I couldn't take it anymore and left the marriage. Soon after the separation we had a lengthy Custody Assessment, where I raised my concerns about his mental health. Unfortunately, my concerns were brushed aside because they were seen as coming from a bitter ex-wife.

Long and short of it, I got sole custody of the two children and he has access. I felt the children would be OK given that the grandparents would always be there when the father saw them. (He lives with his parents).

However, his mental health issues have continued. For example just this past week. On Monday we were at the Hospital for Sick Children. He had to accompany the children because he had them during the weekend. So, we are sitting in the waiting area, and he starts singing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes with the Children at the top of his lungs. I mean yelling. He is completely off the scale. He encourages our three year old to race around the waiting room with him, knocking down toys and chairs. There is no hostility towards me, in fact he offers to buy me coffee.

Today (four days later) I went to drop off the children for his mid-week visit, and he starts yelling at me in front of the children because I am 13 minutes late. I ask him not to yell at me in front of the kids, and he simply continues his rant about what time we arrived. He doesn't want to hear anything about the medication that my son needs to take. I end up leaving a voice mail in the hope that he will listen to it when he is calmer.

My questions is this, is there anyone else out there who has had to co-parent with someone who swings from one end of the mental health spectrum to the other in such a short space of time. Or have I simply got the wrong end of the stick here?
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Old 03-17-2010, 11:03 PM
Nadia Nadia is offline
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Actually, there were many reasons why the marriage came to an end. Whilst the other issues have resolved with separation, I believe my ex's mental health has remained unstable and has continued to impact everything since.
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Old 03-17-2010, 11:44 PM
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tugofwar tugofwar is offline
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I can sympathize. My ex has mental issues, clinical anxiety/panic attacks diagnosed by his doctor and weened himself off his medication (sure his doctor unaware of this) and a self diagnosed other mental illness but claims he's cured since I left. I don't see it, I actually see him worse right now and it's like Im dealing with three people- a nice guy, a guy directed by others such as a lawyer and his family and his crazy side. Never know what I will get with each visit.
I totally sympathize with you. Im glad you got sole custody, the above is one of the reasons Im going for sole. I know he loves our child but is unable to actually show her any feelings, emotions etc. Can I use this against him?

I dont think I will focus on that, I will focus on why Im the better parent.

I understand it's very difficult in dealing with the ex when there is a history of mental health, he almost had me convinced I was the messed up one and for years thought this way.

I will never understand him or his way of thinking. And it's sad.
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Old 03-17-2010, 11:47 PM
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I don't know about the mental health issues, but all that yelling around the kids doesn't sound that healthy. Kids need to feel like both their mom and their dad are mature, responsible and stable. Are you able to connect with his mature, adult side and talk about his behaviour in a constructive way and how the kids perception of it might affect their sense of security (ie. that he's the adult and able to protect them)?

If you really think he might have mental health issues, you might want to get a second professional opinion (wise family member, family doctor, etc).
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Old 03-17-2010, 11:54 PM
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Thank you for posting Tug of War. I'm relieved that I am not the only one dealing with this situation.
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Old 03-18-2010, 12:00 AM
Nadia Nadia is offline
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"Are you able to connect with his mature, adult side and talk about his behaviour in a constructive way and how the kids perception of it might affect their sense of security (ie. that he's the adult and able to protect them)?"

Unfortunately not. He doesn't see how his behavior is affecting the children.

"If you really think he might have mental health issues, you might want to get a second professional opinion (wise family member, family doctor, etc)."[/QUOTE]

As his ex-wife, I didn't think I had any legal right to approach his family doctor for an opinion? Or do you mean approach any family doctor?
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Old 03-18-2010, 12:19 AM
bayleaf bayleaf is offline
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I'm sure you're right -- his family doctor would not be willing to talk to you. I thought perhaps you and he might still have the same family doctor. My suggestion is simply that you need to find someone who knows him well (his parents) and who also knows children, and can help you assess whether your concerns about his mental health are valid.

Splitting up makes us all a bit crazy since it brings out such strong, unhappy feelings (loss, frustration, anger, depression). And sometimes men especially express those feelings by acting a bit weird. I hope that you will be able to be kind and gracious in your dealings with him during this period -- that will also demonstrate to your children that they have at least one parent who is mature and solid. They love and need both of you and the luckiest kids are those who have parents that understand that and who support them in having loving relationships with the other parent.
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Old 03-18-2010, 12:24 AM
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Oops, I missed a question mark. Meant to say "(his parents?)".
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Old 03-18-2010, 12:34 AM
Nadia Nadia is offline
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His parents have unfortunately not been much help. Mental illness is such a taboo subject in certain communities, that it is rarely spoken about outside the family. To seek medical treatment would be admitting publicly that one needed help.

But you are right, the best thing I can do is to continue to provide a level of stability for the children and to encourage them to have a positive relationship with him.
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Old 03-18-2010, 01:12 AM
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My soon to be ex is like that, too. He already is under the care of a mental health person, but the amount of people they have to see regularly is so huge that my ex only gets an appointment once a month. I'm sure that can't be enough for the doctor/therapist to see what's really going on.

My ex's cycle is two weeks of high and two weeks of low. I am so close to putting a restraining order on him as he constantly interferes in my life and we've already been separated 11 months. A matter of weeks until I can file for my divorce!! I know that won't stop my ex's behaviour, though.
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