Hello forum, (hope it is the right one)
I am at wit’s end trying to handle and understand my situation so I thought I would get some input from a community that experiences mental illness regularly. I appreciate any insight given.
Summary - My wife of almost 10 years went missing last Thanksgiving (11/24/16).
Backstory - (I apologize for long post, just feel like details are necessary)
Prior to any of this, no evidence of mental illness. Everything legally has been done but all leads dried up.
Jan. 1st, 2015, her dad died and she took it pretty hard. She always liked reading random news posts online. Then, about 6 months after her father passed, she found a book that intrigued her. She told me about it and I read it. It was interesting but that was about it to me. For her, she became obsessed. The author was anonymous and talked about the beginning of Silicon Valley in the 70’s. She started researching to try and find the author.
I didn’t think much of it. To me, it was something she liked doing and it kept her mind off stress/work/etc. About a year later, June 2016, she was now very nervous about security and started putting tape on the camera of our phones, unplugging devices, putting sheets over the TV (non-smart TVs). Ill admit, there is SOME validity to being cautious but it was getting a bit overwhelming.
In late July and into August, she started telling me that there were people/hackers purposefully putting pictures on Pinterest and Instagram that were directed for her. She said they were doing it because she must have stumbled on something she wasnt supposed to. She would show me things all the time and I would engage in the conversation but I would try and redirect her and ask for reasons why. Never anything valid but she was 100% certain.
From August until October, she only used her phone a few times, stayed away from the computer, and (as far as I was aware) hadn’t talked/thought much about these hackers. Then on Oct. 14th, out of nowhere, came home and said we needed a divorce. There was no arguing the day before, or even the week before, she just randomly came home and said that. I was of course shocked and couldn’t believe it. When I asked why, there was no answer. She was almost angry with me. She showed zero emotion. Trust me, there was no infidelity on my part or no big screw ups that I knew of.
I had recently become a stay at home dad that was more of her idea than mine. Even though I didnt have a job, she said she thought 30 days was enough time for me to leave the house. Well, I thought, why am I leaving? She is the one that wants the divorce. But then, her strange behavior escalated quickly.
About a week later, she came home from work and had forgotten her password to online banking. Online, it told her she needed to visit a branch office to get it changed. She left, and when she came back was in a panic when she walked in. She had told me she saw people watching her from outside the bank and when she was on her way home, saw a suspicious license plate with something like “catchmeifucan”. Then she told me that we needed to go pull our daughter out of school because she felt like these people could abduct her. Before we left, she unplugged everything and said to keep our phones in the console of the truck. On the way there, she leaned over and whispered to me “I know a doctor and his name that I need to see”. I asked her who in a normal voice and she shushed me. I said well do you want me to make an appointment? She said, No, they will know about it and get to him before I go. We need to show up unannounced. I said ok but she never brought it up again. When we pulled up to the school, she asked me to wait in the truck and watch for anything suspicious. Of course nothing happened and we went home.
When we got there, she came up to me and said, “Listen and just do as I say” At that point, I looked into her eyes and had never seen her so extremely frightened since I had met her. After that, I just went along with anything she said. She said I needed to sweep the entire house and see if anyone had been there since we left. So I did and there was no one. Then I could’t believe the next part…she wanted me to cover the AC vents in the home because they could be poisoning us. I stood there for a second trying to comprehend what I just heard, then asked with what exactly? She didn’t know so I cut up trash bags and taped around the vents.
For the next 4 days we lived like this. No technology, slept downstairs, together, left the house as one, came home as one. She slept most of the time our daughter was in school. Then, when she had to go back to work, I drove her the first day because she was scared. The next day she drove and everything started going back to normal. Removed the bags, no more searching. During these four days, the divorce idea was non existent, she expressed how much she loved me, and wouldn’t let me leave her side. The third day after when went back to work, it was like it never happened and wanted to know when I was moving out.
A week after that, we argued about something and she said, I am staying at (my stepmoms house). It was literally a block away. 4 days of that and she calls me at midnight saying that she needed to come home because the “people” had gotten into my stepmoms house and moved things around and possibly put things in there. That is when she said something interesting. “I need to leave her house because me being here puts her at risk”.
A week after that, I finally move to my brother’s. This is when even more things started to go downhill and not make sense. I was, the entire time, trying to resolve our marriage (forgot to mention it had become a trial separation shortly after wanting the divorce).
I went over on 11/21/16 with a comprehensive list of things I was changing/working on after much self reflection. She insisted on listening to music while we talked because it helped her concentrate. Never heard that before from her. Afterwards, she came up to me, hugged me tight for a long time, and told me “I am liking what I am hearing … you sound like you have been working on this a lot. I am proud of you”
On 11/23/16, I went to our home and she was acting erratic, like super nervous, and the dishes had not been done in a week. There was random things moved around all over the house. She said she was making Christmas presents for the kids. I asked her about Thanksgiving and she didn’t know what she was doing. Later that night she called and asked what she should bring, I told her 2 bags of ice and she said ok.
11/24/16 - I mentioned to her to be there between noon and 2:30pm, so our daughter could play with family etc. She said ok. I texted her at 1pm and mentioned if she wanted to come now, my niece was waiting to play. No answer. I waited 10 minutes and called, she ignored it. I called again, ignored it. I texted and said to please answer the phone…nothing. My ex-wife went by there at around 2pm to get my other daughters guinea pig. My wife wouldnt let them in the house and asked them to wait while she went and got it. My ex asked, What time are you going to Thanksgiving? My wife said she didn’t know, they were making Christmas presents.
My ex called and said my wife was acting odd, so I called her…ignored. Then I texted her saying that I was coming to pick up our daughter since she wouldnt answer. When I got there, her and my daughter were gone. My daughter was playing a video game and it was still going, like she had literally picked her up and walked out.
Skipping thru some details for the sake of this being a novel already, I called again, no answer, texted more, no answer. Went back to my brothers for thanksgiving and after the meal, some people there were getting friend requests from my wife on facebook under a fake name and a selfie she took in the care with my daughter asleep in the backseat. I went back to the house and discovered 15+ notebooks of her journaling. Some coherent, some things looked as if she was writing things down for a camera to see. Like asking questions to no one.
At 4:30am, I get a call from the PD. My daughter had been purposefully left, on the opposite side of town. Like the part of town you don’t want to be in at night. My wife gave her medicine to make her sleep and left her. She then walked away, leaving her car a few blocks away, with all her ID, clothes, pretty much everything. No one has seen her since.
My daughter says, they were going to a “friends” house that did not exist. They pulled up to a house and never got out of the car. Then left and started walking around this bad part of town. She said my wife was asking people where a payphone was because she was trying to get her daughter home for thanksgiving. When they stopped and got out, she took my daughters shirt off and put hers on her. Then my wife found an shirt, apron, and boots by the dumpster. My wife also supposedly threw her phone in the dumpster. She had also chopped all her hair off to about ear length (few days earlier), and wore no makeup or jewelry.
My wife is 42 years old, been a nurse for over 20 years, devout Christian, cared about everyone, gentle soul, 100% in love with our daughter. She has never been diagnosed with a mental illness so I just don’t know if it can be onset at her age.
My questions are:
Does this sound like schizophrenia to you?
If not, what?
Was this just a mental break that became psychosis?
If it is psychosis, should I expect for her to have some moment of clarity and contact us?
In this mental state, do you think she would travel out of state or would she still be near here? (currently in Texas, born in Florida and a possible lead in San Francisco, nothing confirmed yet)
Would she just go homeless and never return?
I know the scenarios are vast and I am sure I have thought of most. My issue is location. She is obviously paranoid but I just don’t know what the possibilities are for distance. I really do not believe this was premeditated as it looks like she was going to go to Florida with my daughter and changed her mind. Then just walked away?
Any input would be appreciated.
I have experience with schizophrenia before but have never witnessed the beginning of it so I am not sure what I am dealing with here.