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Forums / Supporting family and friends with a mental health condition (carers) / Struggling living with husband with mental illness

Topic: Struggling living with husband with mental illness

20 posts, 0 answered
  1. Sad carer
    Sad carer avatar
    1 posts
    7 September 2017

    My husband & I have been together 36 years, married for 32. I was 16 when we started dating & knew I met my soul mate. Our life was really great, we were best friends, never fought & we were so in love. My husband had a couple of bouts of depression which he recovered from with counselling & medication. Then in late 2010 he suffered severe anxiety & melancholic depression which was treatment resistant. Our wonderful doctor (who specialises in mental health) helped my husband through his previous bouts of illness sent him to a psychologist & psychiatrist. After counselling & changes in medication failed to work he was admitted to hospital for ECT. After 10 rounds we decided to stop as he was hallucinating which was distressing. He spent 7 weeks in hospital having the ECT, counselling & medication changes but was still very unwell when he came home. I went to hospital every day, went to almost all of his counselling sessions & psychiatrist visits for 5 1/2 years & during this time I had him on suicide watch twice. My life changed so much & then he finally started to come back. We took a trip overseas which was amazing but when we returned things started to change. It was gradual so it took me until things became really bad that I went to our doctor & explained everything to her. She advised me to go to the psychiatrist again with him who diagnosed bipolar. Once again my husband was not the man he used to be & I struggled to come to terms with another mental illness, more medical visits & more changes in medication. It's now been about 9 months & although he has improved a lot, things between us have changed. I still care for him but my feelings aren't the same & I don't love him anymore. Our marriage has deteriorated so much that it's close to being over. I never in my wildest dreams ever thought this would happen to us. We were an almost perfect couple. Last Friday I went & had a good talk to our doctor & she has strongly suggested we have some relationship counselling which my husband & I have both decided to do. I feel so bad though because it's his illness that has changed him & therefor causing the issues so it's not his fault. But I have been through so much, I am extremely unhappy & I'm scared about the major change that could happen in my life if we don't get our marriage back on track. I'm feeling very confused & no one I can talk to really understands my situation. Just wondering if anyone has been through something similar & what the outcome was?

    1 person found this helpful
  2. geoff
    Life Member
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    geoff avatar
    15314 posts
    9 September 2017 in reply to Sad carer
    hello Sad carer, I'm terribly sorry that your post has slipped through the cracks, unfortuntely this can happen, especially if the site is very busy, because before you know it your comment has been put onto page 2 or 3 and then can be missed.
    It's a long time being married and I'm sure there were many a happy a time for the two of you, however depression can and will destroy any r/ship as it did for myself.
    You have always been there for him and no it's not his fault, but for whatever reason his depression will slowly begin to create problems, no matter how strong you feel as though you are, it will begin to affect you, that's how strong depression is, it's terrible, horrible and I could use more explicit words but they wouldn't be accepted on the site.
    As scary as it may feel there is life for you on your own, although it's a situation you haven't been in before for such a long time, and that's exactly how I felt after my 25 year marriage ended, but I turned my life around completely, well I had too, I couldn't stay doing what I'd been doing before, simply I didn't want to, nor did I have any desire to do so, I had to find strength some other way, so here I am.
    There will be memories both good and bad, but at the moment it's the latter that has all the strength, but you won't forget the times you enjoyed, and even if the marriage seemed to improve that doesn't mean that you won't be in the same situation you're in now, and don't be afraid to go your own way, trust me it does get better.
    You will always love your husband as he was in the good days, but take a break if that's what you want or decide to separate it seems as though you've been through a great deal, and I hope that you go back to your doctor, just by yourself. Geoff.
    6 people found this helpful
  3. white knight
    Community Champion
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    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    white knight avatar
    9216 posts
    9 September 2017 in reply to geoff

    Hi sad carer, welcome

    Im sorry for your situation

    I agree with Geoffs word. Experience talking there

    just because someone has a mentall condition does not exclude them from responsibilities. Perhaps I'm reading between the lines but we all need live and care and it might have become a one way street.

    You can google a thread I wtote on this topic

    Topic: who cares for the carer- beyondblue

    Any relationship that is one way is often terminal. Geoff said there is a life for you alone and this will provide a period whereby you can clarify your needs and plan a future. Treat it like an exviting new journey, not a failed marriage...because you didnt fail, the odds of it surviving was remote.

    Topic: the balance of your life- beyondblue

    Tony WK

    2 people found this helpful
  4. Winterfell
    Winterfell avatar
    83 posts
    13 September 2017 in reply to Sad carer

    I haven't been in your specific situation but I did want to reach out and acknowledge what a challenging situation you are in. My husband has major depression and we have had probably 2 years of meds and doctors and hospital stays and ECT also. I am at the start of learning to live with mental illness but by the sounds of it you have been living with it for many years now. One thing that was hardest was when my husband seemed to change - he has a mixed state with his depression so he was very irritable with racing thoughts, overwhelming feelings of guilt and suicidal ideation. At one point I felt I had lost my partner and it was just a merry go round of medication and hospital then different medication and hospital then more medication etc etc.

    We had been seeing a relationship counsellor prior to his first hospitalisation so we had some strategies but it was really hard at times. He is doing well right now and we try together to keep the black dog at heel. We have a young family so there is an added incentive to keep our family strong and loving. In your situation you may be able to undergo relationship counselling and rediscover shared values and plans for life or it may be that this isn't repairable. Either way counselling is great as it will help through whichever process is in front of you.

    I hope you find some benefit soon

    1 person found this helpful
  5. ForeverDewDrop
    ForeverDewDrop avatar
    1 posts
    9 January 2018

    Just saw your post and made an account so I could reply to you Sad Carer. I totally understand where you’re coming from and I get that most of the time being married to someone who has a mental illness sucks but I’m slowly getting used to my new normal. Like you, my husband and I have been married forever and have whether 100’s of storms but I gotta say this is the toughest but I’m determined to not let it get the better of us. One thing no one seems to talk about is how hard it is to love someone so much and knowing they have no capacity to express anything back to you but sadness, despair and hopelessness. I’m sick of people telling me it’s not personal, it’s just the illness. I’m sick of telling myself this 100 times a day. It is personal. How can you possibly seperate the personal from the illness when talking about something as intimate as decades of marriage. How do you reconcile the fact that nothing you can do or say is enough. For decades we have been each other’s anchor but his anchor chain is now irreparably broken. 4 years of weekly CBT and a pharmacy of meds with no signs of recovery. 4 years of walking on eggshells, watching every word I say, constantly worried what I will come home to, constantly broke and no sex. It’s been quite a ride but I’m not going to back out. Together forever was what I said and I meant it. My focus now is on letting go of trying to help, accepting this is my new forever, and embracing activities that bring me joy.

    wishing you the very best for 2018

    foreverDewDrop

    1 person found this helpful
  6. Morgsy
    Morgsy avatar
    5 posts
    26 August 2018 in reply to ForeverDewDrop

    Thank you for your honesty, it so gelps rhat we're not alone. I have searched for books to read about marriages surviving depression etc. There aren't any!*# not to say people haven't, they just havent written about it. But each bad day a bit more of you dies. My husband attempted suicide in January and when he's down he often says he wishes I hadn't found him and that he'd been successful. It's a huge rollercoaster and I'm not sure how long I can continue the struggle. You can see them suffering and sometimes I can honestly see why they give up. Would we be better off? It's heartbreaking.

  7. Tired84
    Tired84 avatar
    1 posts
    24 April 2019
    When do you know enough is enough. When is the drinking, the gambling, the lethargy, the accusations enough? I have been with my husband for 40 years we met when I was 15. He has had depression, anxiety, adhd and bipolar since his mid 20’s. How do you distinguish between the disease and the person. I know he is a beautiful man and loves me yet why does he do such hurtful and careless things. I told him once if he started to drink again I was out. Well he is and I’m not. I told him if we stopped our psychologist I am out. I am not. I said if he stopped his retreats I am out. I am not. All these things that helped make life livable he has stopped and he is spiraling. He is an amazing grandfather and father but his illness is all consuming. He tells me I am not perfect and I should “fix” myself. Is it too much to expect him to try to help himself? He says after all these years it amazes me you don’t understand my illness !!! He says it’s not worth trying anymore His latest Is “would you just throw away 40 years” I think I might ... 😢 it all seems way too hard . Tired and fed up .
  8. Missmad
    Missmad avatar
    1 posts
    19 May 2019
    I am not married, I am 25 and I have been with my partner for close to four years. My parnter is 31, over time things have gotten worse and worse. Reading your post, it sounds exactly what has been happening in my relationship ( only obviously a younger version of it ) I totally agree its so so hard becuase its not the person, it is it the illness. but at the same time I feel like there is never going to be an answer to stability.. My parnter suffers from PTSD, anxiety, depression, and the past 6 years it has been diagnosed with bipolar type 1. it use to be an incedent every 6 months, then every three months and now its literally become once a month. episodes include, hallucinations, panic attacks, talking to people who arents there, sleepiness. there has bene times hes been wandering on the streets with no re collection and picked up by police. and admitted to the mental ward in the public hospitals. i could go on and on about all the different things I have seen happen. i guess all i want to know is does it get any better or does it just get even worse? i find it so so hard to focus on me because everything is always about him. our relationship its like 80 him and 20 me. I never ever use to struggle myself with anything at all, no anxiety, no depression nothing. I still shouldn't have anything in my life to have these feelings. I am really stuck and really struggling right now, and I think resentment is starting to build. we have spoken about it numours times but nothing ever seems to change no matter what threats of im done are implemented. I love him more than the world will ever know :( psychiatrists are all the same and so uneducated when it comes to this type of mental health... im sure you all understand where I am coming from with this statement. x
  9. Exhausted Wife
    Exhausted Wife avatar
    1 posts
    19 December 2020
    I found this thread after suffering the same fate as sad carer. I've been married 28 years. My husband has progressively over the last 20 years spiralled down hill into a depressive state on and off medication through out the years. He has never really taken responsibility for his illness. Only saw a psych this year but then stopped. This last year has been the worst. We met when I was 17, married at 21. We have one son, now 25 who moved overseas last year to study. The loss of our son in the home environment was one of a number of catalysts to change our relationship. I've grown a lot as a person also and quite successful in my career whereas my husband has stalled/regressed into exhibiting the same behaviours he did in his 20s. My husband has admitted that he is resentful of my success to the point where I feel I need to diminish myself as a person when I'm at home to make him feel okay. He has always drunk excessively binge drinking to the point where he can't function. He had a heart attack in July this year but that doesn't seem to have stopped him drinking and looking after himself. He is not overweight or unfit, but has suffered from mental health, stress and anxiety for years. His heart attack has knocked him around as he can't understand why it has happened to him. For years I have accommodated his mental health issues and never challenged his behaviours. This last year I have been seeing a psychologist and have realised how much he deflects onto me and I am now pushing back. I am becoming stronger at making sure I look after myself but as a result our relationship is nearly at an end. Last night was another episode of binge drinking and I was told my standards are too high. I am absolutely devastated. I never imagined a life without my husband, now I can't imagine my life with him anymore. So confronting and heartbreaking.
  10. SalC
    SalC avatar
    4 posts
    20 December 2020 in reply to Exhausted Wife
    I too am an exhausted wife having to deal with a husband who refuses to get help and drinks excessively.

    After 14years together l am trying really hard to be strong. I realise now l cant help him until he helps himself.

    I think you get to a point when enough is enough.
    Trust your instincts.

    Maybe get some distance but keep the communication channels open to reconnect but knowing things would need to change.

    It is heartbreaking and l cry myself to sleep most night but friends and exercise seem to help. We have no children. I would love to be with my husband but l also know lm not helping the situation.

    Take Care.
  11. 815
    815 avatar
    207 posts
    22 December 2020

    Hi to everyone who has posted on this thread recently.

    I am sorry to hear you are all in such heartbreaking situations with your loved ones right now. I feel your heartache, your sadness, and your loneliness. I am also one of those tired and exhausted wives trying desperate to support my husband even though he has basically shut me out.

    I think these lines from ForeverDewDrop are so relatable for me right now:
    I’m sick of people telling me it’s not personal, it’s just the illness. I’m sick of telling myself this 100 times a day. It is personal. How can you possibly seperate the personal from the illness when talking about something as intimate as decades of marriage. How do you reconcile the fact that nothing you can do or say is enough.

    I understand it's the illness. And I understand that what they are going through is harder than what we are going through. But I sometimes wish that someone would acknowledge that it is hard for us wives too...without making us feel guilty for admitting that it's hard, or telling us that we are making it about us when it's about them.

    I just wanted to let you all know that you are not alone in this struggle. And that you are all amazingly strong for trying to stand by your husbands.

    3 people found this helpful
  12. quirkywords
    Community Champion
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    quirkywords avatar
    12428 posts
    22 December 2020 in reply to Exhausted Wife

    Exhausted wife, SalC, 815 and everyone reading,

    welcome to this thread,

    It is sad to read so many people affected by their partners mental illness.

    I can understand foreverdews quote that it is so hard when people say it isn’t personal and it’s the illness talking.

    For myself once was back to being stable I could appreciate Kate how much I hurt my loved ones. I apologised but knew it wasn’t enough but I had been ill and I did not have the insight to realise I was hurting and exhausting myself.

    I have also cared for someone with depression so have experienced it from both sides.
    I have said before but you need to care for yourself and get support.

    You are not alone, you are stronger than you feel and there is support here for you.

    Take care

  13. 815
    815 avatar
    207 posts
    23 December 2020 in reply to quirkywords

    Hi quirkywords,

    Your perspective from someone who has been in my husband's situation always gives me hope that there will be better days. I honestly don't expect my husband to apologise. As you said, it is an illness, and he shouldn't have to apologise for that.

    I guess some days, I just have to acknowledge within myself that it is hard, for all of us, in different ways.

    And you are so right. What we can all do now is, take care of ourselves, take care of our children (for those of us who are blessed to have them), while continuing to support our husbands through this illness in whatever way we can, whether it is seen to be enough or not.

  14. Blue Banded Bee
    Blue Banded Bee avatar
    8 posts
    1 January 2021 in reply to quirkywords

    Hi Quirkywords,

    Thank you for sharing, your post has given some hope in my situation. Like everyone here, my partner is also suffering from anxiety disorder. Like 815 , I I don't expect him to apologise.

    He wanted to split up with me, on separate occasions, he told me I am no longer his priority, I worth nothing to him and the latest from him is I am not fun to be with. As hurtful as it can be, I told myself that is anxiety and depression that is talking , not him. I told him in order to be able to have fun, he needs to heal himself and be happy. I told him my way of having fun is to spend time with people I love most that is our little family (him and our child), he just kept quiet and walked away. I was not hurt or angry when he uttered all these nasty remarks, I know my value as main income of the family, I pay bills , mortgage put dinner on table.

    I often wonder if I am in denial that our relationship is over, or just his anxiety. Anxiety has made him a very arrogant man who behaves like a child. Our close friends said he had never been like this, used to be a loving man, doting father, someone with good sense of humour.

    I was about to write him a letter to tell him that I am giving us until end of this year to sort ourselves whether to stay or separate but, after reading your post, I decided to hang in for the sake of the man I love so much, stay strong for my family and educate myself by reading up on mental health illness and look after myself, captain of the ship.

  15. 815
    815 avatar
    207 posts
    4 January 2021 in reply to Blue Banded Bee

    Hi Blue Banded Bee,

    I can relate so much to what you have written in your post here.

    I sometimes think I'm in denial about our relationship also. But I just keep telling myself that his words and actions are a symptom of his depression.

    I have thought to leave, many times. But then I think, he is unwell, and that should not be a reason for me to leave. And then that makes me feel extremely guilty. And so I find determination and strength to stay and hold on for another day.

    2 people found this helpful
  16. Mrslaura311
    Mrslaura311 avatar
    10 posts
    12 April 2021 in reply to quirkywords

    Quirkywords as someone that knows from both sides, can I please ask once you started feeling better; did you appreciate the people that stuck by you? Did you realise who was there for you and who was not?

    hope that makes sense

  17. Mrslaura311
    Mrslaura311 avatar
    10 posts
    12 April 2021 in reply to 815
    All of you are amazing for sticking by for such a long time. I am only on week 3 of trying to support my husband and am really struggling. He has said some hurtful things like he doesn’t love me anymore. He will be happier without me. I have been wondering if it is the illness or actually how he feels now. I guess only time will tell
  18. geoff
    Life Member
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    geoff avatar
    15314 posts
    13 April 2021 in reply to Mrslaura311

    Hello Mrslaura, I'm sorry to intervene in this conversation, my apologies.

    We certainly do appreciate anybody who has supported us throughout our weeks/months/years of being in depression, these people we hold in high esteem to help carry us through this illness, and yes, we quickly know those people who we thought would support us but haven't, straight away, they vanish out of sight with no contact or any interest, and many times its people you never thought it would be, that's so disappointing.

    People can say some awful remarks when suffering from any type of depression, but you have to remember that your husband is not the same person as he was before this started, simply because what was said he may say something to the contrary, that's why we suggest you have counselling yourself where you can become stronger.

    We know it's not easy and know how you are feeling, we are very sorry for you.

    Take care.

    Geoff.

  19. 815
    815 avatar
    207 posts
    13 April 2021 in reply to Mrslaura311

    Hi Mrslaura311,

    Just my thought from the perspective of someone supporting a loved one through depression. I think we have to believe that through their recovery, they will eventually see that we are here, doing our best to love and support them. What hope can we hold onto otherwise?

  20. TWY
    TWY avatar
    1 posts
    15 June 2021
    Your story almost echoes mine. My husband has been suffering depression on and off for the past 25 years, we have been married for 36 years. He managed to go through bowel cancer last year and underwent chemo and suffering a double embolism and then having to have stents and two week before he had his checkup colonoscopy he decided to try and end his life. As a result he ended up in a mental health hospital which seemed to make him more depressed. His colonoscopy showed he is clear of cancer. Two months later, he is home but suffering major depression. I am finding it extremely difficult to understand why he is so depressed and unable to motivate himself to do anything. ECT has been suggested but he is reluctant to try it and it sounds like it is not all that successful. I have suggested to him that he is the only one with the power to heal himself. Paying Psychiatrists and physiologists to do what he know he should be doing seems to be really extravagant. We live in a lovely home with two lovely sons that are taking strain. I can't understand why he is so miserable. I try and be positive and encourage him to exercise, read books, watch TV speak to friends but his most common reply is "I can't" or "no".

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