During one of my last individual sessions prior to my therapist’s departure, my therapist and I addressed my fears about the possibility of a replay of Dave making an attempt like the one that occurred just after my therapist returned from vacation last year. This time we agreed that I could call my therapist as soon as any of Dave’s red flags made an appearance vs. waiting until Dave needed hospitalization.
I really hoped that I wouldn’t have to call.
Thursday night (7/26) Dave overreacted to our daughter’s behavior and acted out in anger. The timeline of events–Dave woke from a long evening nap (one red flag). He went to Beth’s room. He asked her to put away her DS, she didn’t respond and he acted out in anger (second red flag). She came to me, and told me what happened and I said I would talk to Dave.
In exploring with him what went on I asked him to get curious about why he was so upset. I said that his reaction was unusual for him and wondered if he took his medication. He said he had not for two days. That really concerned me–in both of his attempts, he stopped taking his meds just prior to the attempts.
On Friday morning (7/27) I texted our therapist to let him know Dave’s red flags were making an appearance.
Our therapist texted me back to check on Dave’s suicidal intent–if he had plans and intentions to carry out a plan; and asked if Dave took his meds. I responded that Dave did not have intent and that he took his meds the previous night and that Dave said that he was going to take one now.
This was not the interaction I had pictured with my therapist. My fantasies was that there would be an actual phone check in with Dave. I’m sure our therapist would do this if I asked, but I couldn’t.
Thinking about it now, the check in was actually more for me. I was hoping that this vacation, I would be proved wrong. That Dave would pass through it without a hitch. But no–and I was now thinking “here we go again.”
In the past when Dave appeared edgy I would say, “Please, don’t leave me!” and I’d worry and walk on eggshells around him. This time, I’m PISSED! I mean REALLY?!
Dave said he would take his medication every day. To tell me that he forgot or was too exhausted seemed to show a flippant attitude about going down this path again. I said to him “when you are exhausted do you remember to take a bath?” He said “yes.” I said, “Just as a bath to him is not optional, taking his meds is not optional either.” I explained that “just because things are going well doesn’t mean you can get lax. Things are going well because of the meds and for you it is critical to stay on it.”
Without censoring I asked him”Do you understood why I am so mad? Do you get that not taking your meds, talking about suicide and acting out, has made me uneasy once again? Can you empathize that your choices impact us?”
Beth started calling Dave stupid. I asked Dave “did you talk to Beth about what happened?” Since she wasn’t calling you stupid before you overreacted to her, this might be her way of telling you that she is mad at you. Maybe you can talk to her and explain that what you did was “stupid,” not well thought out and apologize.”
Dave said “I don’t get why Beth doesn’t listen to us like we listened to our parents.” I explained that our dads used fear-based parenting. I listened because I feared my dad. Same with Dave. I asked Dave “Do you want to be that kind of parent?” Dave said, “no.”
I said the way I handle Beth is to let her know she has 5 minutes to turn the game off, and if she doesn’t her phone will be taken, or the DS or both. She listens to that.
Dave complained this morning that I was distant. He wanted to cuddle. But at the same time he said he understood why I was distant.
I explained, “Right now I am mad. I don’t trust you. I can’t come close when you might end it all.” He said he understood. He said he could hear me. I asked, “Are you thinking that you are a failure?” He said “No.” He said, “I feel sad when I think that what I’ve done affects you and Beth, and I want to remember this feeling so I think before I make another attempt”.
I explain that I get that he might go to “I want to end it all.” But then he needs to disconfirm that and say, “No, no I don’t have to end it all. Things are going to get better. I have a wife that loves me. I have a daughter that loves me.” And even if we are mad at him, that he needs to remember the good times too. He is very black and white, all good and all bad thinking and he understands this.
He says that he is not having thoughts right now at all. So that’s hopeful.
Dave said that he will make an appointment with our therapist for an individual session as soon as our therapist comes back from vacation. This is hopeful, since he usually does not initiate an appointment without my prompting.
But I’m still mad.