Am I a carer? Is it him or just me?

My boss keeps calling me a carer - but I find this hard to believe. And right now I don’t even know what help I or even we need, I just know I need to write this and get some sort of feedback because I think I’m going insane.

I’m in my 40s, my husband in his 50s with GAD and depression since a breakdown (possibly due to an illness at the time) in his 30’s. We have been together 13yrs, married for 8yrs, and have a 7yr old son.

Before marriage he said he did want to get married and have kids, then a family member of his committed suicide and he changed. He wouldn’t commit we separated a few times and then I fell pregnant. We come from different backgrounds and despite the times I couldn’t be an unmarried mother - he stepped up, married me, and once said sorry for not doing it sooner.

After our child I had a desperate need to have more kids - we come from big families I didn’t want our child to be lonely - he steadfastly refused. For a few years I couldn’t handle this emotionally (I lost my sister and father in this time) thought I need to leave and be with someone that did, I finally convinced him of marriage counselling. He attended the joint sessions ‘for me’. He refused the 1-1s as he didn’t like the therapist. I asked him to find one he got on with - he kept saying he would - he never tried.

He is practically normal functioning, is currently working but only part time hrs, so I’m almost the breadwinner as he covers only the house costs, I take care of household shopping, kids clothes, joint finances, arranging things etc because leaving it to him just stresses him out. He is a good father to our son which I knew he would be, and he is a nice person when he’s in a good mood, but when he is not it is me -no one else- that gets it in the neck. He is not violent and never has been and has never swore at me. But the way he looks at me, speaks to me, and twists things looks and feels like it is full of hate – it hurts my soul. Sometimes what he says isn’t even logical and when I try to say this, he just fly’s off the handle and says I’m doing my usual ‘he is wrong, and I am right’ starts slamming doors storms out or comes across as menacing.

He is on meds, which he did well on (he was able to take a flight by himself!! from not being able to leave his local town a few years before) after I convinced him to change doctor and change his meds. Then about 1.5 years ago, a doctor in the practice decided they should wean him off his meds and reduced them by 50% - he went downhill and had to take time off work, then never returned and was made redundant. It took him months to find more work that ‘suited’ him as he refused to work full time hrs or only days he wants to work. Meanwhile I had to carry the finances when this happened (twice). He was put back on his usual dose, which didn’t work now he’s on double and he says they are still not working.

We argue all the time over petty stuff I don’t know if this marriage related or his condition related. I think we can’t communicate effectively we accuse each other of not caring about the others feelings. I need someone to tell me if I’m going wrong, talking in the wrong way to him (he accused me of making him worse, even deliberately sometimes.) I feel I can’t talk to him, because he will always turn it around on me, blame me. Any time I say anything to him he says I’m criticising him or the things he does or says and making him feel small and stupid. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells constantly not knowing what I should or shouldn’t say, I try to measure and over think what I want to say just in case I get it wrong - it never works it gets twisted anyway. he says I’m always blaming him, and he feels guilty about it all already and then says I’m making his health worse and he needs to think about himself. Which right now I feel he does anyway, and always has. If I get to the point when I’m having a hard time and really need his support even to the point, I’m crying my eyes out in front of him, he doesn’t respond. He doesn’t emotionally engage - which I’ve come to understand because he just simply can’t.

I’m sitting here writing this as I’ve just cried through two days after another petty argument, I’m having trouble at work so I’ve added stress, but I can’t bring myself to talk to him, I feel selfish but also like I can’t take this anymore, I feel like I need to keep tell myself to hate him so that I can then walk away. But I can’t… I’m even wondering if I’m being over emotional. I feel like I’m thinking about myself, but all I’ve done for the past 13 yrs. is think about him, arrange things, cancel things, do things on my own, not say things because he can’t or won’t or doesn’t like it. I stopped myself from wanting more kids because I was told by a good friend once that I have to think about how he is coping. That it probably took a lot of effort for him to get where is his now, and if I add more kids in the mix, he could fail, and failure is something he would not be able to handle. And all the while I don’t even know if he really loves me judging by the way he looks at me, and if he would actually be better off without me. He never wants to fix the argument or apologise for things he’s said, it’s me that has to go to him as I can’t stand living like this just to make like easier in the house. I have no idea how much of this my 7yrs old is even picking up and if it is actually affecting him. I feel my opinions on matters don’t count or aren’t valued. Raising our child is one. He’s a very good child but petty things like screen time, food I would prefer to be more disciplined to make his future better, but my husband just gives in lets him have what he wants for a quieter life. I then feel like a bad mom. Part of me wants to leave him, even with our child so he can be happy, but I selfishly can’t because I still love him and promised him, I would always be here for him even during the tough times (he had emotional abuse from previous partners before we met and before his first breakdown). He refuses any further counselling as he has had it all before and it didn’t work - he wants to do it his own way. After convincing him to speak to a GP about this, the GP told him it was marriage problems not his mental health causing our issues.

Because he’s working, able to look after our child, I feel he does his fair share the majority of the time that I don’t know if this is anything to do with how he operates according to his condition or these are just marriage issues. So, after all I’ve written I’m still not sure if I’m a carer or if I should even be on this forum. I don’t talk to anyone about it, all my friends and family like him (he really is a good man) but they all warned me not to stay or marry him as I would have a life of pain. I walked into it with my eyes open yes, but I also said at the time I promised to be there for him, that it was only as long as he did not give up and sought the help he needed.

I had depression myself due to a bad break up (20 years ago) I was unwell for a year or two (took a while to realise I was), lost weight couldn’t work was also on meds. It was a black hole that I never wanted to find myself in again. I took myself off these meds as I didn’t like how they made me numb - I forced myself better, if anything just to show people (ex) I was better without them. I had a near episode (at time of wanting more kids) a few years ago saw a GP was given meds again. Again, took myself off as I didn’t like the side effects. I now don’t want to go to the GP because I fear if we do end up splitting up, it will look like I’m an unfit mother and I just simply cannot lose my child.

Hello, S and welcome to the Forum. Your boss is right - you are a carer for sure. Your husband is a sick man and relies on support, even though he can provide some things from his own account, which is good.

It is also good that your boss has cottoned on to the situation. This means that he is aware and can make allowances if things get really tough.

I suggest that you also have a few words with your GP practice manager and register yourself as a carer. Practices often have useful links to organisations that can help.

He refuses any further counselling as he has had it all before and it didn’t work - he wants to do it his own way. After convincing him to speak to a GP about this, the GP told him it was marriage problems not his mental health causing our issues.

I find this difficult to understand. The GP says it is a marriage problem - in spite of all the medication he is on. Anyway, marriage guidance seems to be out at the moment, so maybe you would be advised to seek another opinion.

I recommend you don’t feel you would like another child just for the purpose of giving your only son some company. Another child would probably add to your problems at present, though hopefully you will find an end to your problems and be able to consider another child then. Many only-children are quite happy that way.

Try not to feel guilty about things; guilt is the biggest driving force towards a miserable life where problems do not get sorted. You have not done anything to feel guilty about.

Do stay on this forum. I am sure others will respond with their own ideas.

Hello again, S. I have been thinking further on this. I am not happy that you feel your are “treading on eggshells”. It’s not working, is it! I know that deep down you have sympathy towards your husband but maybe you should be a bit more forthright with your feelings and make sure the message gets across.

Most married couples have quarrels now and then. The best marriages have their ups and downs. Don’t dwell too much if you have an argument; put it behind you.

Marriage guidance has been mentioned and I know you tried this once before. Don’t let this put you off trying again. Your husband won’t attend but that does not stop you attending a counsellor for a one-to-one. Even without your husband present you could get a lot out of an hour-long session. Contact Relate and see what can be set up. Hopefully the COVID-19 restrictions will ease next month.

And keep in touch with how things are going, good or bad.

Ultimately we are all responsible for our own happiness. That applies to him , and you. I spent too long trying to make others happy, realising their dreams, doing what they needed. Put yourself first sometimes.