My boyfriend is about to go off the deep end.
May 3, 2007 4:01 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend is on the verge of a psychotic breakdown and I don't know how to help him.

I started to write this question much differently and not anonymously. The question at first was how to help a worrier, but really the problem is much more than that. I have been dating my boyfriend “John” for almost four years. We bought a house together, bought vehicles together and everything is going pretty well. That is when he is not crazy.

Long story short: He thinks he is going to lose his job, thus we are going to lose the house, thus he must kill himself.

Long version below:

He has always been a little crazy and had some issues, but it was the kind of crazy that was endearing and the kind of issues that seemed that a good solid relationship would fix. He had abandonment issues, was depressed, would sabotage good things before they could go bad on him. But we were working through those things. He was a severe alcoholic and would go on crazy rages, breaking things. He has been sober for about 6 months now and its not getting better, its getting worse.

He landed a job in which he is earning a whole lot more than he has ever made and he doesn’t think he deserves it. So he set about trying to make sure he did well and that’s where the problem started. He tried one of my brother’s Adderalls and like what it did for him. He went to a couple of doctors seeking it out. The first told him that he sounded depressed and wanted to start him on antidepressants first. John, stood up and screamed “Fuck You!” and stormed out. Not exactly, productive. He has managed to get a prescription, he tells his doc he needs more, they prescribe a higher dosage, he tells them he lost his prescription they give him more. He routinely takes 5-10x his prescribed dosage. Routinely. The last two months he has been working 100+ hours work weeks. He works from home, as do I for the most part, so I see it.

He does not eat, he does not sleep, I don’t know how he’s not dead. He will work for 36 hours straight and sleep for three. I make him food, he takes a couple of bites and ignores it. He will smoke 3 packs a day and drink a case of Dr. Pepper. That with the insane amount of Adderall is really really going to kill him.

Then, something goes wrong at work. Inevitably, after working those kinds of hours, a part of his code will be wonky. Then he gets crazy. Starts sweating, shaking, hyperventilating, calling his bosses foul, foul names, saying they are out to get him, punching holes in the wall, destroying his laptop, his monitors, knocking the door off the hinges, asking what we have in the house that he can just take and not wake up. In the last month we have bought three keyboards, two mice, two monitors, and one laptop after he destroyed them in rages.

Then he will seemingly calm down, only to do something like go find where it is you get gun permits around here. It is absolutely insane. He does not get even in moments of lucidity that having to sell the house or the trucks and move into an apartment is not the last thing in the world. Ok, here is another weird part. I know this is long, but since I can’t respond, I want to be as detailed as possible. We share a computer, so I know what goes on for the most part. Every year or so, I would see evidence that he looked at a little porn while I was asleep. I don’t have a problem with it, but lately, he is looking at it almost every night and since he is so unhealthy now that he is not getting an erection, but he will still sit there at masturbate for up to 16 hours that he told me to once. The porn itself is getting kinkier and kinkier. I am no prude, so for me to think something is kinky, its pretty intense. It might be just another aspect of addictive behavior.

Ok, question time, how much adderall would it take to die? Male/31. How do I help him cope with the worry about his job? When do you take suicidal threats as an immediate threat and call the police/fire department/EMT? I just don’t know how to handle the practical (how to get him to eat enough calories/stop taking so much speed) to the more intense of what to do if does have heart attack or hurts himself. Any anecdotal experience would be great.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (74 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Stop trying to save this person, and save yourself.
posted by scrump at 4:11 PM on May 3, 2007 [20 favorites]

Go to al-anon or narc-anon. Today.

Although there will be tons of good advice here, they (being present human beings rather than ones represented by pixels on a screen) will be able to help you much more than we can here.
posted by milarepa at 4:11 PM on May 3, 2007

IANAD, TINMA. Medically supervised detox and inpatient rehab. Soon. Like, now. And get help for yourself, too. On preview, what milarepa said.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:14 PM on May 3, 2007

+1 scrump

+1 milarepa

Al-Anon website. (I know you've said he's stopped drinking, but trust me, it will still help you.)
posted by granted at 4:15 PM on May 3, 2007

Wow. Heavy stuff. Let me be the first of many (on preview, the fourth) to suggest that taking care of yourself should be your first priority.

As someone once told me "if someone is falling off a cliff, one thing you have to think about is 'how tightly do I want to be tied to this person?'" Your concern about him is generous, but you can't help anyone if your situation is not sustainable for you.

Do you have a backup plan if this whole gun thing goes in an even more scary direction? Is worrying about him taking too much energy away from the rest of your life? How will you know when it is?
posted by salvia at 4:17 PM on May 3, 2007

Your boyfriend is not "about to go off the deep end". Your boyfriend is a meth addict. That he gets his drugs from a prescription rather than a dealer doesn't matter; he is clearly spun constantly. Your boyfriend needs to go to rehab. Now. If he doesn't, you need to leave. Now.
posted by Justinian at 4:19 PM on May 3, 2007 [6 favorites]

Ok, question time, how much adderall would it take to die? Male/31

In rats, the oral LD50 of dextroamphetamine sulfate is 96.8 mg/kg. 96.8 (mg / kg) = 43.9077414 mg / pound. He is more likely to die from self-injury or accident due to the effects of sleep deprivation than from this kind of concentration of adderal. Sleep-deprivation effects, AFAIK, are additive, so they will only get worse over time.

You are in far more danger from the effects of Adderal than the person formerly known as your husband is. Please isolate yourself from this situation, because you can only help him if you are safe.
posted by fake at 4:20 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Amphetamine induced paranoia. In fact the heavy, heavy amphetamine use pretty much accounts for a lot of his behavior.
posted by geoff. at 4:23 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

FWIW, I believe the LD50 of dextroamphetamine is like 100mg/kg. So it would take something like 8 grams of Adderall for a 50% chance of death in a 180 pound male. But he is doing damage to to his brain and his cardiovascular system even if he doesn't keel over.

But THAT DOESN'T MATTER. You're asking the wrong question. If someone is a dangerous cocaine addict, you don't go trying to find out "how much cocaine does it take to kill someone". If they're hooked on heroin you don't spend your time trying to figure out how much junk they can shoot up with before they die.

Your boyfriend is self-destructing. He needs to get help. If he refuses to do so, you need to get out before you get destroyed with him.
posted by Justinian at 4:25 PM on May 3, 2007

Your actual questions are hard ones, but I can tell you that all his symptoms sound like those of an adult child of (an) alcoholic(s), so I wonder if that's the case with him. Resources intended for ACOAs could be very helpful for him. In my case it was very helpful just to know that some of my behaviors were pretty normal considering my background.

It might also help for you to know that often when a person stops abusing a substance it's normal for things to get worse before they get better. I watched my own father go through this when I was a teenager, and was given this rule of thumb: when a person stops, say, drinking, they go back to the age they were at when they started drinking--the age at which they started using a substance to help them deal with the world and basically stopped learning new life skills. They do age emotionally much more rapidly than normal so long as they stay clean, but it can seem like forever.

In this case, though, it sounds like your boyfriend really just substance-hopped--changed from one substance to another in an effort to get clean--instead of truly getting clean, which is also common. It also sounds like he's trying to self-medicate and self-destruct all at once.

I can't give you a definite answer to your hard questions, but all these things together would seem to be giant neon signs pointing you toward getting him whatever help is available; I don't see things ending well without some external help, though I hope it's possible to introduce outside help in a gentle way that he doesn't resent. On the other hand, it's easy to turn small problems into large ones when they seem overwhelming. Step back, pretend he's a co-worker or third cousin twice removed, and assess the situation from that viewpoint. Then fill in the blank: Wow, poor guy. If I were him, I'd hope someone close to me would _________________. Then see if that's something you can do and are willing to do.

I see the responses so far are pretty much 'run, run like the wind' and I don't disagree, but I know that's hard to do when you're so intertwined with someone. Just know this isn't something should shoulder by yourself, and know that it's true you should help yourself first if you're even thinking of helping him. If he has siblings he is close to, maybe you could involve them in the hunt for a plan, but whatever the case, and however you protect yourself in all of this, don't think that it all has to fall to you; especially considering the rage element, it doesn't have to, and doesn't need to--there are tons of resources available, all of which others will probably be better at pointing you toward.
posted by littlegreenlights at 4:26 PM on May 3, 2007 [5 favorites]

He sounds severely mentally ill. I would talk to him about volunteering to check himself in to some kind of facility at the very least for an observation period. Also, from how you describe his ability to sleep barely at all and work for that long, it sounds like he's abusing something, possibly cocaine, possibly some kind of pills. Definitely Narc and Al Anon for starters for you. If he has friends and family around, I would try to get them to help you help him.
posted by sneakin at 4:26 PM on May 3, 2007

Er... sneakin, did you read the question? The "something" he's abusing is right in the question; prescription amphetamines.
posted by Justinian at 4:27 PM on May 3, 2007

Do not go to Narconon, it is a front for Scientology. Got to Narcotics Anonymous (which I think is what milarepa meant, but "narc-anon" and "Narconon" sound a lot alike) if you're gonna go to a 12-step program. I'm not sure if they'll be much help for him, though; I don't think there's much you can do if you've confronted him and he won't admit that his problem is the speed addiction.

Unless you can get him to agree that he needs to get off the speed, you should probably just follow scrump's advice and get out before he hurts you. It sounds like things will be getting worse (and more dangerous) before they get better, if they ever do. Hopefully, your walking out the door of the house he's so desperate to keep will force him to reevaluate his priorities.

I know speed's not particularly hard to come by, but maybe you could talk to the doctor who's prescribing the stuff? If he won't listen to you, perhaps being told by a medical professional will help. The doc wouldn't even have to mention that you'd called.
posted by contraption at 4:29 PM on May 3, 2007

Someone should call his doctor. If it's going to be you, you might want to have a safe, alternative place to live for awhile.
posted by availablelight at 4:29 PM on May 3, 2007

I didn't know Adderall was a stimulant. Sue me. Good call, contraption, I didn't realize that about Narcanon. Scary shit.
posted by sneakin at 4:33 PM on May 3, 2007

RE: Calling the doctor: But he might tell him, so get out before you do that. The last thing you want is him thinking you're out to get him.
posted by IronLizard at 4:34 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Got to Narcotics Anonymous (which I think is what milarepa meant, but "narc-anon" and "Narconon" sound a lot alike) if you're gonna go to a 12-step program. I'm not sure if they'll be much help for him, though; I don't think there's much you can do if you've confronted him and he won't admit that his problem is the speed addiction.

Narc-anon (not Narconon, not Narcotics Anonymous) would be for her - it's for family and friends of drug abusers. Narcotics Anonymous is for the abusers themselves.
posted by granted at 4:34 PM on May 3, 2007

Sorry - would be for the poster (I didn't mean to be heterosexist)
posted by granted at 4:34 PM on May 3, 2007

If/when you decided to suggest a course of action to him, it might behoove you to have someone at hand who can help extricate you from the situation in case he turns on you.

"John" wouldn't have to know, you could work out some cell phone signal, an "all clear" if you will, assuming he doesn't snap.

And, if not for yourself, think of "innocent bystanders".
posted by subajestad at 4:35 PM on May 3, 2007

Sorry sneakin, I didn't mean to be bitch when I pointed out about the Adderall. My bad.
posted by Justinian at 4:44 PM on May 3, 2007

He may be worried, above all, that you will leave him. Of course his behaviour is increasing the probability of this very event, but he may be thinking that he must be superman in order to keep the house and keep you.

I mention this because you must be prepared for him to really flip out if you do anything that looks or sounds like you are leaving him. I wonder if people at narc-anon or some similar experts might be able to help you know how to reassure him. I wouldn't leave without having some kind of plan to handle this, in any case.

Just saying you're not leaving him may not be enough; it sounds like he will have difficulty trusting. Even if you really did want to leave him (which isn't the impression I get from your question), you'd have to do so carefully.

Also: Taking care of yourself is not only a selfish act - you can't help anyone if your life is messed up.
posted by amtho at 4:46 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

"When do you take suicidal threats as an immediate threat"

Right away. If he's talking about it, he's thinking about it. I'm not sure about the most appropriate next step, but someone at a Suicide Hotline can give you some advice on this front.

Unless this guy decides to detox right away, things are only going to get worse. Start doing what it takes to extricate yourself from inevitable disaster right now. I second the recommendation to seek out "Al-Anon", for some advice and support.
posted by Manjusri at 4:50 PM on May 3, 2007

He needs help, if he refuses help, you need to not be with him. His 6 month "sobriety" is meaningless if he hasn't solved (or tried to solve) the root of his addictions. I understand that leaving - or making him leave - isn't as easy as it sounds. I don't have any suggestions for how to make it easier, other than to contact the services others have linked to.

I don't know if this will help or make the situation worse, but next time he goes into a destructive rage and/or next time he indicates an interest in hurting himself or someone else, call 911. In the best case scenario, this will result in him being taken to a facility (other than jail) where he can dry out a bit, realize he's hit rock bottom and learn about his substance abuse/emotional issues treatment options. In the worst case scenario, it will buy you some time and space to figure out how to safely extricate yourself from this situation.
posted by necessitas at 4:52 PM on May 3, 2007

...the kind of crazy that was endearing and the kind of issues that seemed that a good solid relationship would fix...

I just don’t know how to handle the practical (how to get him to eat enough calories/stop taking so much speed)

You sound like a caring person who is willing to go to great lengths to help your boyfriend, but you need to realize that you cannot fix him alone. You are taking a great first step by asking for help here but the questions you ask are all about how YOU can help him by yourself. You cannot. All the love in the world cannot see him through this without intervention. I'm sorry. It is not an act of weakness to admit that you alone cannot do this. Allow friends and family to help you, allow professionals to help you. Seek assistance. Please.
posted by hindmost at 4:53 PM on May 3, 2007

It sounds like you're talking about two kinds of 'crazy': 1) his substance abuse [alcohol and stimulants] and 2) his underlying psychological problems [worrying, and what you call endearing and fixable-by-relationship issues].

For all your good intentions, you personally can't fix either of those. What you can do is get him to people who can. I'm not sure of the specifics, but maybe someone else here would know... Perhaps the constant lack of sleep and constant lack of eating could qualify as the 'harm to themselves' part of an involuntarily psych hospitalization?

When do you take suicidal threats as an immediate threat and call the police/fire department/EMT?

Generally speaking, when there's an articulated and imminently executable plan. As in, he says he's going to hang himself; or cut himself with the kitchen knife; or take all of the pills that are in the house. However, people who commit suicide don't always mention their plans to anyone. He needs help, don't take the 'articulated plan' thing as an excuse to think "Oh, no problem then".
posted by CKmtl at 4:54 PM on May 3, 2007

You sound so smart and observant and together in your post; it's jaw-dropping to contrast that with the actual content of this post. I'm so sorry this is happening to you. But I really think your (and his) situation, as described here, qualifies as 'emergency', not a 'go to therapy or Al-Anon next week' kind of thing at all.

You have just typed a literal example of the famous phrase 'He is a danger to himself and others.' He is clearly mentally ill, he is an addict on a spiraling meth binge, he has a history of violent behavior, and oh yeah, he casually mentions he wants to graduate to armed homicide. And your post implies it's getting to a breaking point very very soon. His behavior is getting more and more erratic, and his mind is becoming damaged.

Which only leaves one question: why are you still in the house with this crazy fucker? Either you leave RIGHT NOW before you become his next wall/keyboard/monitor or before he really snaps and hallucinates that you're his boss, or you call 911 -- from somewhere outside the house -- and get him committed for psychiatric evaluation and detox.

Smaller steps you could take towards resolving the situation would include:
- calling his doctors and informing them of his behavior and his huge overuse of their prescriptions -- which should put any good doctor on 'OMG, liability' alert
- getting a restraining order against him
- going to Al-Anon regularly to deal with your own emotions and enabling behavior.

But first? You're in danger right now; get the fuck out of there, or get him the fuck out of there, your choice. Tell him you're just going to the grocery store and then don't come back. Call 911 from outside the house and tell them all the details you put in this post. Stay with a friend. Talk to his doctors and tell them everything so they know what hell they've unleashed. Once he's safely in a hospital setting, find him a really good psychiatrist and tell the shrink everything in this thread.

(Disclaimer: I am the niece of a long-time meth addict -- her drugs were also prescribed by doctors! -- who eventually died from her usage...but not before she became violent towards her own very young kids and husband, and then went un-fixably batshitinsane in very horrible ways. I'm sure that's coloring my 'Danger! Danger!' response here, which looks odd compared to the other, calmer replies. But please, if you want to save your boyfriend, you need to help him NOW.)
posted by Asparagirl at 4:55 PM on May 3, 2007 [8 favorites]

No prob, Justinian. Sorry I was a bitch back. anonymous-- you don't mention if he was already affiliated with AA. If so, calling his sponsor is a good first step for sure.

And by the way, I just re-read your question and oh my god does he sound violent and out of control. I want to add an addendum to my earlier advice-- get yourself someplace safe. Jesus.
posted by sneakin at 5:00 PM on May 3, 2007

His rages sound scary. If you aren't going to follow the "get out now" advice, at least pack a suitcase with some cash, vital papers, whatever you would need if you decide to leave in hurry. Have a plan where to go - preferably where you would be hard to find (a friend he doesn't know, a motel).

Don't let him bring a gun into the house. That really increase the risk for both you and him.

If he is actively suicidal (you think he might kill himself today) call 911 and he will end up in a hospital emergency psych ward. They will do an evaluation and if he is a danger to himself, they can do an involuntary commitment for 72 hours - hopefully enough time to figure out that he needs help and agree to get it.
posted by metahawk at 5:03 PM on May 3, 2007

Violent, paranoid, self-destructive... and you regularly go to sleep without a locked door or twelve between you and this man?

Seriously, if you read this from anyone else you'd say GET OUT. That's what I'm saying to you. You need to put some physical distance between you and this man, who - however much you love him - is behaving in an unstable and reckless way.

Maybe he'd never touch you - maybe it's just monitors and keyboards that need to fear him - but how can you know that? A man who lashes out violently has discussed getting a gun. Because the mice are putting up too much of a fight?

Find another place to stay. Take someone with you and tell him you're leaving and he needs to get help. Then go, and hope he decides to take a positive step rather than a negative one.
posted by phearlez at 5:08 PM on May 3, 2007

Asparagirl - and others - have given you some really good advice. I would like to add that getting someone into detox/rehab/psychiatric evaluation is not as easy as it sounds. The insurance companies that do cover treatment make it almost impossible to get treatment. If they do authorize treatment, you'll probably find that there is a gross shortage of beds to provide such treatment at any of the facilities covered by his insurance. If his insurance does not cover treatment, the waiting list for a public facility will probably span several lifetimes. The only other option would be private facilities that are not covered by insurance at all and require a hollywood heavyweight's bank account to cover the expenses. At least this was the experience I encountered 6 years ago while trying to get my father admitted for addiction treatment. I have no reason to believe the situation has improved any. I'm guessing that it is easier to be admitted to a psychiatric facility than a rehab/detox facility, but that would only be a guess.

My point is not to discourage you, but to encourage you to put a support network in place for him (separate from the one you'll need for yourself). Solicit assistance from others who have a great interest in his well being (like his family). These are the people who will be able to provide him with a place to stay to get out of his present environment until a bed becomes available (for your own sanity and well being, that place to stay can not be with you until he is healthy). These are the people who can help shoulder the costs of his treatment. These are the people who will be able to support him while you are taking care of cleaning up the mess this will leave (has already left) in your own life. If at all possible, do not do this alone.
posted by necessitas at 5:18 PM on May 3, 2007

Your boyfriend is addicted to amphetamines. That's what Adderall is. Makes no difference that it is from the doctor, same stuff. Basically, you are living with a meth addict, and he is acting just like any other meth addict. See amphetamine psychosis.

He needs treatment now, now, now. If you take his Adderall away, it probably won't be long before he starts hocking your possessions to buy drugs.

He has been sober for about 6 months now

Uh - NO. He hasn't been sober since he started taking Adderall. Adderall is absolutly unsuitable for a recovering alcoholic, since it is an addictive drug.

how to get him to eat enough calories/stop taking so much speed

I'm glad you realize he's taking speed. This is the source of all the other problems.

You are living with an amphetamine addict, this is a VERY unsafe situation for you. You have pointed out how he has violently destroyed things in your home - YOU could be the next target of his rage. This is a difficult situation for you to walk away from, since you have bought a house and cars together -- but these things can be replaced. Your life, your health -- these are not replaceable. Get yourself to a safe place, and then decide what you are going to do next. Even if you get him treatment, it won't help unless he wants to change.
posted by yohko at 5:22 PM on May 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

nthing the very first thing that you do is get the fuck out of your house, like, yesterday.

From there, you can work with his doctors, cops, whatever, but the guy is about to go around the bend, and you do not need to be there when it happens. Get out. Preferably to somewhere he doesn't know.
posted by mckenney at 5:32 PM on May 3, 2007

granted: As far as I can tell, there is no such organization as "Narc-Anon" (google cache since is apparently down.) There's NA (for people addicted to drugs other than or in addition to alcohol), there's AA (for alcoholics), there's Al-Anon (for those close to addicts of all types), and then there's Scientology, exploiting the convenient hole in the naming convention with their own Narconon. As others have suggested, Al-anon would probably be the most helpful for anonymous, since "John" sounds disinterested in getting help.
posted by contraption at 5:34 PM on May 3, 2007

Also, now we're all really worried about you. I bet you could email anyone in the thread to post a follow-up. What are you planning to do?
posted by salvia at 5:39 PM on May 3, 2007

OMG get your butt out and call 911. HE IS A CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER.

I was gonna say he sounded pretty bipolar till I realized what others were saying about the adderal. I still think my theory is a distinct possibility but with the extra added drug abuse?

posted by konolia at 5:40 PM on May 3, 2007

I've done a lot of meth in my life, and I've known a lot of tweakers, both the kind who can handle what they're doing, and those who go off the deep end like your boyfriend. So I'm serious when I say you have two choices: 1) start doing speed with him, so you won't care what he's doing to himself or to you, especially once he does lose his job and the real fun begins, or 2) wait until he's out of the house for a few hours, pack your important belongings, and leave. Then you can worry about what to do next.

Your boyfriend trying to masturbate for 16 hours is nothing compared to what you'll see if this keeps up for another year.
posted by cmonkey at 5:41 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

If, in a fit of rage, I took a door of it's hinges, I'd really hope my partner would leave, there and then. For her own safety.

I'm guessing there is a lot of love in your relationship or you wouldn't be there. Assuming he cares for you he would want you to be safe. You are not safe. Get out immediately and then find him help. Take care, I hope things go as best they can for you.
posted by twistedonion at 5:45 PM on May 3, 2007

Oh, and if you've disinclined to listen to the "leave now" answers because he loves you and wouldn't hurt you or whatever: the hallucinations one sees during serious amphetamine abuse are very real at the time. If he ever does start hallucinating, you have no idea if he'll put more faith in those hallucinations than in the safe, non-threatening, concerned and caring girlfriend reality.

Be careful.
posted by cmonkey at 5:56 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Seconding asparagirl and necessitas' posts.

1. Get out of the house, now; go somewhere you are safe, somewhere your partner does not know.

2. Attempt to have your partner committed to a residential psychiatric hospital. IANAD but it appears he is past the point where out-patient/ therapy/ or even rehab care would be sufficient; your partner is an imminent danger to himself and others.

These are the first steps on a long road that might lead to cessation and recovery for your partner.

Good luck; be safe.
posted by docgonzo at 5:57 PM on May 3, 2007

He has always been a little crazy and had some issues, but it was the kind of crazy that was endearing and the kind of issues that seemed that a good solid relationship would fix. [...] He was a severe alcoholic and would go on crazy rages, breaking things. He has been sober for about 6 months now and its not getting better, its getting worse.

You've been with him for four years; for 3.5 of those years he was a severe alchoholic and would go on crazy rages. Now he's a meth addict, and goes on crazy rages. After four years, it might seem to you a reasonable thing to do to describe your relationship in this way: "We bought a house together, bought vehicles together and everything is going pretty well. That is when he is not crazy." But what you describe is not "going well". It sounds hellish... and you have been living like this for four years. Please take the advice in this thread and get away from this situation-- it might seem almost normative to you, but it's a bad and dangerous one. Get somewhere safe, and call 911, as Asparagirl suggested. He needs institutionalized care, and he needs it now.

Please update us (you can email Jessamyn, who can convey the message). This is seriously one of the most disturbing Askme questions I've ever seen. I'll be thinking of you.
posted by jokeefe at 6:01 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

On top of alll the good advice above (which I 100% agree with - get the fuck out yesterday)....he surely isn't fulfilling one single need of yours. There's no way you can feel loved or, frankly, be loved by this person right now. You deserve love, and so does he, but he cannot give that to you right now. Please, please get safe right now.
posted by tristeza at 6:10 PM on May 3, 2007

I know it sounds heartless, but from one who has been there: get out. He is choosing this behavior, and he has to un-choose it. If you think he is in danger, call 911. If he threatens suicide, even for sympathy, call 911. You really can't do more than you have done. I'm sorry, but better 1 unhealthy person than 2.
posted by The Deej at 6:11 PM on May 3, 2007

To echo everyone else:

Your boyfriend is a meth addict. A crazy, crazy meth addict. Adderall is basically meth, in a slightly altered and toned down form. Meth addicts crush it and snort it to get the same effect as hard speed.

First, call Al-Anon or find a local detox place. Explain to them your boyfriend's situation and say you want to get the fuck out of there without him freaking out on you. I don't know whether you should be calling the police to try to get protection or something; they can help you better with that. Then get the fuck out of there and go somewhere safe. Please. Get yourself a new computer, get yourself an apartment or safe place, copy your things onto the new computer, and when he is at his job for a long time move your shit out and do not tell him where you are going. Call his doctor, talk to his family and/or very close friends. Get ready for shit to go down.

Your questions about getting him to eat enough, getting him to not hurt himself? That is what hospital employees ask themselves. Do you have straightjackets and big burly assistants to control him? No? Then leave this one to the professionals.
posted by schroedinger at 6:14 PM on May 3, 2007

I'm not bothering to read the other responses, although I expect they are going to say exactly what I am about to say.

Leave. Now.

Turn off the computer, grab whatever you can carry, and disappear. If you have friends or relatives out of town, out of state, all the better.

When you are in a safe place, call the authorities, he will clearly freak out when they show up, so they'll have him committed. This may save his life, it may not. Determined people usually succeed regardless of the circumstances.

Alert his family if he has any and wash your hands of the situation.

I'm going to play Vegas oddsmaker and say your boyfriend has approximately 30 days to live.

You want to insure you outlive him.

To be crystal clear: you are in a house with a dangerous, unstable, paranoid, demonstrably violent addict who is likely bigger than you, and if he's tweaked, he will certainly be stronger than you. And he's wanting to arm himself.

Leave. Now. Right now.
posted by Ynoxas at 6:26 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

(PS - the poster could also be a guy, of course. Just wanted to say...)
posted by tristeza at 6:33 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Since we are all advising anon to get out of the situation yesterday, in the interest of providing the most practical, well-rounded advice possible, can someone shed some light on how to deal with the financial/property logistics issues? I've dealt with a similar situation before and the logistics were enough to drive me mental, yet, unlike anon, I had the benefit of power of attorney and a clearly defined next-of-kin role. I'm no expert on these matters, so all I can say is that there will be issues and hope that someone else here has enough experience to point anon in the right direction.

Their lives are financially intertwined to such an extent that anon might find herself in a pretty tight situation if/when the addiction takes greater control or he is institutionalized/jailed/elsewhere. While I know everyone here is either not a lawyer or not HER lawyer, can anyone offer suggestions about how she can protect her assets and/or go about selling jointly owned property if the co-owner is out of the picture? Or, at the very least, suggestions for how she can go about getting the proper advisement in an affordable way (anon, to get the most accurate answers, it would be helpful to know which state you live in. If you are comfortable doing so, email anyone following the thread and/or jessamyn/matthowie/cortex to let us know which state you live in)?

I know her safety is the most important thing here, but once she gets to a safe, stable place and starts to clean up her life, the last thing she needs is the financial issues crashing down on her.
posted by necessitas at 6:38 PM on May 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

Oh darn, he works from home and you only have one computer? Start making trips to the library or another place with open computer access to make your plans.
posted by schroedinger at 6:40 PM on May 3, 2007

* hers, his . . . either way. Sorry for making assumptions.
posted by necessitas at 6:47 PM on May 3, 2007

This is bad news. The insanity you're describing is probably amphetamine psychosis.

Amphetamine addiction ruins lives. You're watching it happen. Along with the other posters to this thread, I would suggest you watch it from a safe distance.

Unless he decides that he wants to clean himself up and get sober from this substance that is ruining his life, you're not going to be able to effect any meaningful change, nor will you have medical or legal recourse that could be helpful to him. I tend to feel, from my experience treating patients, that amphetamine and cocaine addicts, above and beyond addicts to other substances, really sacrifice their humanity on the altar of the drug. Your boyfriend's way, way over that line and the best thing you can do is cut your losses and get out while you're still relatively unharmed.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:08 PM on May 3, 2007 [4 favorites]

Just in case it helps, I'll add my voice to the chorus telling you to leave. Now.

Some addicts are able to keep it together and don't become the raving lunatic monsters that one associates with severe speed addiction. Your boyfriend is not one of them. He is one of those scary, violent, unpredictable, in-way-over-his-head addicts that no one in his or her right mind wants to ever cross paths with. It doesn't matter that he has a professional job and co-owns a house -- he's prone to violent rages and is interested in buying a gun.

If you're afraid of hurting him or still feel too attached to leave, you have to accept that he's not himself anymore. He's just a fraction of himself -- the rest has been eaten away by severe sleep deprivation and the cumulative effects of all that speed. At this point, the only part of his brain that's really working right is the reptilian fight-or-flight part -- and that's because the speed keeps feeding it.

You are in danger and you need to leave. You can grieve what you've lost once you're at a safe distance.
posted by treepour at 7:40 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

nthing that, from what you've written, it sounds like things have already gotten to the point where you need to get out and get away to somewhere safe. You wanted anecdotal experience: I was similarly involved with someone who was emotionally disturbed as opposed to having a drug problem (though there was drug use too), but was similarly out of control and nearly kid themselves (and me) on more than one occasion. Based on that I'd say that by the time you've gotten to the point where you're considering fleeing the whole situation, you've actually gone past the point where you should have already done so. You need to bang it into your head that it is neither your responsibility to fix him, nor is i probably within your ability. You need to ask yourself what you would advise your best friend or sibling what they should do if they were in your situation and then slap yourself as soon as you start to say/think "but this is different."

You need to prepare for the likely possibility that the police or local mental health authorities will fail you. That is, that if you call them in a real emergency situation (he's turned violent against himself or you) and they take him away that they will say 24-48 hours later "I'm sorry, we understand the situation but legally based on X-Y-Z we can't legally hold him or compel him to do ABC. Call us when it happens again." And he'll be back in your house and within a few hours turn just as psychotic as before with a full glass of venom for you since, in his mind, you turned on him.

If you don't leave immediately but choose to endure this awhile longer, you can try to sneakily get an audio recording of his rage. This may help when your boss does not appreciate the gravity of the situation and the fact that you have to hide for awhile--that it's not just another domestic argument. Written records of emergency services being called in may serve the same purpose. Ideally your boss would take you at your word that this is a three alarm fire and be supportive, but some bosses are shits. This is along the same lines of being prepared that the support network you'd like to rely on may fail you.

If you take his talk of obtaining a gun at all seriously, you need to speak to the police, a lawyer, or local firearms instructor. If you live in a place where you need a permit to even buy a gun, you might be able to block him on this.

You need to realize that since you have been so close to him for so long and have been supporting or enabling his irrational thinking and behaviour that (quirky eccentricity or outright scary--it's all in the same basket for him) that he also knows you very well and knows exactly what buttons of yours to push to manipulate you. (When you leave this situation this may well include harassing you at work or trying to turn your friends/coworkers/family against you.) And so when you try to set boundaries, enforce them, or leave he will exactly how to emotionally blackmail you or scare you away from doing what has to be done. And you will have to stand firm against the madness that has taken him over and not worry about the lovable bit of him that you can see just beyond that.

You need to think seriously about physically protecting yourself. If you're willing to carry and use a gun and live in a state where you can get a CCW permit, do it. If you're not willing or legally able, an electric stun gun. If you can't do that, pick up a few things you can do with your hands via Google.

You should read what's available at BPD.central. Personality disorders and amphetamine psychosis might be miles apart to the person treating the afflicted person. But the advice for dealing with someone who is completely irrational and potentially violent is still applicable to you. Specifically the advice about setting boundaries, enforcing them, dealing with manipulative/violent behaviour, putting your own physical and mental/emotional safety first and extracting yourself from a sticky situation.

You need to realize this is a fucked up situation--there is no easy fix, band-aid, or smooth solution that won't create waves. And it's going to require a large dose of strength and initiative on your part to get out of it. And some parts of your safety net (police, mental health establishment, friends, family, coworkers, boss) are going to fail you. Some won't and you'll have to figure out how to get through it and not fall into the trap of self-medicating with booze/valium. And when everybody and their uncle is saying "get out now" slap yourself when you say "but this is different."
posted by Martin E. at 7:42 PM on May 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

Your boyfriend has become addicted to ampthetamine, and uses an enormous amount of it daily. His addiction has spiraled from bad to horrendous over the last few months. He has crossed over into paranoia, delusions, and iminent psychosis. He is a clear and present physical threat to your safety and life.

Please leave now so that I don't have to post a dot in a blue thread next week.
posted by Netzapper at 7:50 PM on May 3, 2007

It is absolutely insane.

Yeah, no shit.

From some less involved experience with something somewhat similar: it is not going to get any better anytime soon. There're so-so odds that things will turn around apropos of a major 'wake-up call,' like jail (not at all unlikely for anybody acting like that) or hospitalization (psych reasons or overdose). Without said 'wake-up call' -- eh.

That said, I think he's at least sort of unlikely to die; certainly if it was as easy as all that, junkies would be a rarity, a rarely encountered novelty rather than something readily visible in any downtown.

I'm going to assume that you at least sort of already know you need to leave. Okay. You haven't, so. Can you spend a couple of weeks visiting a relative or friend? Make it a low-key-sounding vacation/visit; just two sisters (or whatever) hanging out, or, you know, your father's pretty lonely these days, and... "Will you miss me, my sweetheart? I love you, too."

The week or two away will provide the badly needed perspective. You've been living with a jerk for years; you need it at this point -- it sounds like the drunken-rage John is actually a fond memory for you. Not good. You need to realise how bad this has all been sucking, and re-connect with normal life where people don't smash things up.

I'm going to throw out a guess that you have few close friends these days; no way do you and John have people over to visit with him being unpredictable and -- admit it -- the sort of person any friend of yours would probably want to take a punch at if they saw him raging out of control. In which case, money will have to be your friend for a bit; try to save as much as you can -- though a bit of it would be well spent on a lawyer to sort out how to disentangle yourself from the house &c.

Seriously -- week or two out of the house, as soon as possible.

Oh: his diet should be the least of your concerns. You sound like a very nice person, but when it comes to addicts, sometimes, it's just not worth being nice. If you must, stock up on some of that meal-in-a-can drink stuff; Ensure or similar.

And, please update... My e-mail's in my profile and I'm on-line with nothing better to do than post something here for you, if you want something posted here in response.
posted by kmennie at 7:52 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

And when everybody and their uncle is saying "get out now" slap yourself when you say "but this is different."

Quoted for truth. I helped a freind of mine leave her husband (mentally ill) and take their kids. He had stripped her of almost every resource, and she had reached a point of paralysis and when she described his latest thing (I don't even remember what it was any more) to her sister. The sister said "We're coming for you on Friday. Pack your stuff." This is what I would say to you if you called me up and told me this.

Obviously we can't do that for you, not knowing who you are, but you have resources. Adult Protective Services, Women's Protective Services, etc, besides your various friends and family.

I know the pull of love and investment of time and money and everything, but it's lost, really lost now. You're holding on to something that doesn't exist except in your heart, and if you keep holding on, you'll be destroyed as well.

He's already gone.
posted by lysdexic at 8:02 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wow, echo the myriad other voices to GET OUT NOW. The situation isn't fixable as it stands now. Get yourself to a safe distance and then see what you can do to save him because you do nobody any good if he kills you in a rage. And he is very likely to rage if he is forced to confront his addiction.
posted by fenriq at 8:03 PM on May 3, 2007

I'm so glad you posted. I agree 100% with the overwhelming response in this thread to remove yourself from this seriously dangerous situation. And I'm guessing the response may be exactly that: overwhelming. You post asking how to help the person you love, and what you get is a throng of people vehemently telling you GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT....

I want to say I've seen this happen in person, to a good friend who spent 6+ years taking care of a charming and brilliant but gradually more crazy/aggressive addict, and losing herself so much -- falling so naturally into the idea that this was what her life was now -- that she couldn't hear our pleas to get out. He did physically attack her before she managed to remove herself (did not permanently injure her, thank all the gods, but easily could have given the situation/weapon).

I think people are being very blunt in this thread because they care very much about you hearing them. It's a strong, even aggressive, reaction, but that's because people know sometimes that's what it takes to be heard in a critical situation. Even if it's shocking to read this flood of GET OUT commands, even if it feels in a way like an attack against you -- please, please listen.

(Also remember...
The moderators are also glad to post any questions or follow-up you may have -- they say "email mathowie or jessamyn to add anything additional.")
posted by sparrows at 8:08 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

MeTa, for a variety of reasons.
posted by nevercalm at 8:20 PM on May 3, 2007

Resources related to meth. (The site is aimed at gay/bi men, but obviously applies to all sexual orientations.)

Here's an anecdote for you. I dated this one guy from about 2000-2004. He had been an alcoholic and quit cold-turkey without treatment. Kinda angry, paranoid guy. But never really did anything I considered outright hostile to me. One night, I was out late on a research project, and he snapped on me, much more than ever before. Just yelling and swearing at me, but our situation was much more mild than yours. It happened really quick. Just one thing I did, and what he imagined it to be. This is why people are worried about you.

A year later, he showed up asking about "memories" that had been "surfacing" about us having been attacked, and about some guy that was "out to get him." He thought he'd seen me with the guy. He didn't want the guy to get me too. The crazy parts -- 1) everything he was saying was so imagined, 2) if his imagination had tweaked itself one step further, he might've thought I was part of the plot against him.

Paranoia and rages are major danger signs. This stuff only gets worse. His mind is like a kaleidescope. You need to leave before his perception shifts such that he suddenly sees you as part of the problem.
posted by salvia at 8:21 PM on May 3, 2007

I've said my bit above, but wanted to add that if you are waiting until he's out of the house to get out, be sure that you get rid of your browser history. He can't know you've been here.

If you are a woman, google for women's shelters in your area and take down the number. In most places the police can take you to a shelter if you don't know the number. If you are a man, go ahead and check, but sorry to say there are not many domestic violence shelters for gay men in a lot of areas.
posted by yohko at 8:36 PM on May 3, 2007

I'm not sure anybody who isn't a professional counselor should be giving this person any advise seeing as this is some serious shit.
posted by tkchrist at 8:58 PM on May 3, 2007

If this person is smart and resists authority naturally I wouldn't hold high hopes for any institutional or cult style help to do anything but make things worse, especially if it's not completely voluntary on his part. On the other hand, if it seems like he doesn't understand whats happening to him, and that the kind of things a social worker would say to him would be any kind of groundbreaking news, SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY.

If it's a middle ground, the fact that he's taking a legal form of meth thats marketed for kids goes a long way toward helping him avoiding jail time if the government gets involved, so that's a plus. If he were taking normal amphetamines you'd be quite possibly looking at mandatory minimum sentence stuff, which is sobering to have to face if you thought you were just trying to help a loved one and all the sudden they go to prison. On the other hand I can tell you from experience that amphetamines do some crazy shit to a person and a situation like you describe is not stable, and not much different that if he was messing with crystal meth, and some of the propaganda about that stuff is true, and seriously scary.

You need to protect yourself, and be smarter than a whip, and there are absolutely no easy answers and this is dead serious.
posted by 31d1 at 9:08 PM on May 3, 2007

Go back and read your own post and ask yourself what that woman should do. It seems pretty obvious that she needs to get away fast and far. Normally I would suggest interventions and professional help but it looks like you are in danger. Make sure when you leave that you have what you need and he can't screw that up (financial ties mostly) and that he can't find you. You can contact him in the future if you really want to know what happened.

I sure hope you're posting fiction just to mess with us.
posted by chairface at 9:09 PM on May 3, 2007

I'm not sure anybody who isn't a professional counselor should be giving this person any advise seeing as this is some serious shit.

Well, the essentials are pretty basic. He's a) a speed addict, b) unable to control his behavior, and c) increasingly violent.

It doesn't take a professional counselor to correctly advise that a) anonymous cannot help the boyfriend alone, b) that this is a very emotionally destructive situation for anonymous to be in, and c) that anonymous is clearly in some non-trivial degree of danger.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:09 PM on May 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

I think the "get out" idea is covered well enough.
The next step would be to find out where to go next. As somebody else mentioned already, I'm going to assume you have few if any close friends, as this happens in relationships like yours (if I'm wrong, then easy solution). What about family you can stay with? I hope they can be understanding and help you out.

If you don't know anybody, the next step is to contact a woman's shelter. By and large, they exist largely for people in your situation- psychotic SOs. If you don't know how to find a place to stay, I would seriously look at contacting a local church. I've been involved in a lot of various Catholic churches over the year, and love or hate religion, they tend to have people knowledgeable about how to deal with situations exactly like yours or who to get in contact with. Priests tend to be a magnet for people with issues and the hope is they learn how to help those in need. This goes doubly if you live in a metropolitan area. Try to find a large mega-church, if possible. The larger the congregation, the better the chance they have more money and somebody on staff to help out.

Lastly, don't let him know you're leaving or where you're heading, lest he arrives on your new doorstep in a fit of rage.
posted by jmd82 at 9:11 PM on May 3, 2007

Then, something goes wrong at work. Inevitably, after working those kinds of hours, a part of his code will be wonky. Then he gets crazy. Starts sweating, shaking, hyperventilating, calling his bosses foul, foul names, saying they are out to get him, punching holes in the wall, destroying his laptop, his monitors, knocking the door off the hinges, asking what we have in the house that he can just take and not wake up. In the last month we have bought three keyboards, two mice, two monitors, and one laptop after he destroyed them in rage

Just to reiterate: any single one of those incidents would be very troubling in an average relationship; two would be a deal-breaker, at least for me. This is not normal, healthy behaviour, and I'm sure part of you knows that already. Don't sacrifice yourself to his illness, and please get help, for yourself, tonight, tomorrow, as soon as you can.
posted by jokeefe at 9:14 PM on May 3, 2007

After you get out, and I'm adding my voice to all those above, you have to get out, please email someone Jessamyn or Matt to let us know you're safe.

Good luck in all this, you're in my thoughts.
posted by SuzySmith at 9:18 PM on May 3, 2007

Honestly, the compassionate response is to tell him clearly that he is experiencing the very bad side effects of his Adderall use/addiction. Then you have to detach. You could call a psychiatrist and talk to them about involuntary commitment. He is, in fact, a danger to himself, and likely to you.

You love him; you've been with him through good and bad, and it's gotten this bad so incrementally that you may not be able to see that you are in danger.
posted by theora55 at 9:24 PM on May 3, 2007

Martin E. gives lots of good advice here, but I'm a little concerned about bringing a weapon of any kind into the situation. It seems like it would be far too easy for him, in a tweaked-out, computer-destroying rage, to take the weapon (gun or stun gun) away and turn it on OP. I would suggest keeping weapons out of it entirely, although learning some self-defense techniques you can do with your body/bare hands might be good. But know that a hopped-up person is a strong and violent person, and it's better to get out than risk having to use self-defense of any kind.
posted by katemonster at 10:00 PM on May 3, 2007

Of course, ikkyu2 has the likely diagnosis. It's worth reading his comment again, as it highlights that this is neither simply a case of mental illness newly coming to the fore in your boyfriend, nor simply a case of the use of too much drugs. It's a combination of the two that can be pretty hard to treat effectively.
posted by OmieWise at 4:40 AM on May 4, 2007

To clarify, I would not suggest getting a gun now certainly. That is for after the OP has left and John has started stalking the OP.

An electric stun gun should be fine, even now. I'm assuming the OP is a woman and that she and John are average sized. A typical man already has the strength to easily physically overpower a typical woman, and the typical house already has plenty of knives and blunt objects if John should decide to pick up a weapon. Adding one more to the mix shouldn't endanger the OP more and frankly if I were going to be assaulted with a weapon I'd much rather it were an electric stungun instead of a kitchen knife or a random heavy object.

Back to the OP, take all suicide talk seriously. If John talks about it, dial your hotline of choice and hand him the phone and if he won't talk to them, you talk to them. If he says he's going to do it nowish, call 911/999. If he's not serious and only doing it for attention or to manipulate you, he should stop. If he's serious, you're doing the right thing. But you are not a trained psychiatric worker who can tell the difference so treat it all serious and pass the buck to the professionals.

Document as much as you can. Keep a journal, and go ahead and make entries for the past as best you can remember. Photograph the house now and then photograph whatever damage he does. Document how many pills he has and how many he takes when.

If you aren't getting out ASAP but insist on sticking around trying to fix things, be prepared for a lot of resistance from John. If you confront him verbally, speak to his boss or doctor, leave when he rages instead of just hiding in another room, hide or destroy his pills, etc....well, his reactions to other people are one thing, because he expects them to be against him. But you have been his loyal companion in his me-versus-the-world wildride. If you switch sides (and you already know how very little it takes to set him off) you won't just be one of Them to him, you'll be The Great Betrayer and his reaction will likely be magnified. You need to get your brain around that and be prepared for it. Anything of yours you don't want destroyed should be removed from the house.

Do not get in the car with him if he is raging.
posted by Martin E. at 4:52 AM on May 4, 2007

I don't know how much it's worth adding my voice to the chorus, but I just wanted to say that I volunteer with a women's shelter, and you are exactly the kind of person these shelters exist to help. I hope that you have a support network of friends and family to turn to, but if not please look up your local shelter or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE for info and a referral (if you are in the US, which from your talk about his wanting a gun permit it sounds like you are). If you are not a woman, call a shelter anyway -- in the very least, they can help you find the resources you need.

It's still a pervasive misconception that domestic violence must involve physical abuse -- that is frequently not the case. If your partner is making your living situation dangerous for any reason (and from what you've told us here, it seems clear that yours is), a shelter can help.

I can't imagine how hard it must be to decide to leave your relationship and your home, but there are people who care about you and will help you. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Good luck, and if at all possible please update us to let us know that you're safe.
posted by AV at 5:31 AM on May 4, 2007

Oh, and if you need information on getting things in order from a financial/legal standpoint, call your local Bar Association for a referral to a lawyer. A divorce/family law attorney will probably know what to do (you might be considered a common law marriage in your jurisdiction), but every situation is different and most Bar Associations have low-cost consultation services that will help you find the right kind of lawyer and get a handle on what you need to do. (Frequently women's shelters also have legal services departments that help with this kind of thing as well.)
posted by AV at 5:41 AM on May 4, 2007

He has always been a little crazy and had some issues, but it was the kind of crazy that was endearing and the kind of issues that seemed that a good solid relationship would fix.

I'd just like to point out that this never works. No one gets magically non-insane due to the love of a good woman (or man). Having been raised by a very crazy father who was in and out of hospitals for years, I can tell you that no amount of love and caring from his two wives and family and friends made him not crazy. What made him (almost) sane was AA and Prozac and similar treatments from his doctor.
posted by octothorpe at 6:25 AM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

As far as you're concerned, you're enabling this behavior. How much I don't know, but you have to stop doing so. Ever see that show "Intervention" on A&E? The interventionist put it really well to one family. He said (and I paraphrase): You have all been helping (name) with his addiction, and it's now I'm here to tell you you're all fired. You haven't been doing a good job, and (name) needs to be around people who can do a good job of getting him clean (that is, the rehab folks). From this point on, if (name) refuses to get help, you will do nothing. You will not interact with (name) unless it is to make arrangements to go to rehab. From now you can go back to your real role of husband, wife, friend, etc.

Sounds like your bf needs rehab, now. As in now. And you have to stop letting him get away with it. Tough love, and all that.
posted by zardoz at 7:20 AM on May 4, 2007

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