In April/May last year, my husband had a full mental breakdown. We’ve been together for 10yrs and he has always had anger problems, which I’ve attributed to a rather traumatic, abusive childhood and toxic parents who are still in his life but are major triggers and cause him a lot of anxiety.
My husband hadn’t been feeling cheery for a while but in March last year still seemed OK - he was running his business and we had a nice holiday abroad. In April, things deteriorated but didn’t look totally doomed. We picked up a puppy in mid-May - something we’d planned to do for 10yrs and due to lockdown were finally able to commit to training one.
The day after we brought our puppy home, my husband came downstairs white faced, dark eyed, looking so sad, and told me how he had been feeling. He said he didn’t want to get out of bed and found no joy in anything and couldn’t look forward to raising the dog. I wish he’d told me a day earlier - I would never have gotten into that car to bring our boy home.
So, since then I have been raising the puppy by myself (days starting around 5.30am, lasting til 10pm), working full time in a very senior role involving long hours, and also looking after my husband… After a really bad incident where I thought he was going to kill both of us by driving dangerously, he contacted a GP and went onto medication. After a further, similar incident in December he arranged to have weekly therapy sessions over Zoom, but our mental health benefit (under a policy through work) is about to run out so we will need to start funding that ourselves.
Life at the moment is very, very difficult. At first I took on the challenge and was happy to look after him as best as I could. But, almost a year on, it is very, very hard. Some days I can’t bear the thought of logging onto work as I don’t feel I have the mental capacity to do so. I feel sad, snappy, impatient, intolerant and so, so tired. I have taken a day off here and there but it makes no difference.
My husband doesn’t want to eat, he struggles to sleep, he has no energy, he believes the world is doomed and he can see no future, he runs his own business and can no longer bear to answer the phone so has asked me to deal with customers, he bursts into a fit of rage without warning (sometimes punching furniture - he never directs it at me), he spends most of the day in our bedroom upstairs and has taken to smoking drugs 3-4 times a day (previously he was a non-smoker and didn’t do drugs). He has become thinner and thinner. He is weak, unable to make simple decisions (e.g. what he might like to eat for dinner). He is manic and hyper in the morning for about an hour and then crashes into darkness and disappears. He doesn’t like to talk about pretty much anything, as everything stresses him out - so we barely talk. He tells me almost daily that he wants to kill himself and I honestly believe it is just a matter of time.
A small number of friends and family know he is unwell, but no one really gets it. My family live a few hundred miles away and his are an hour away. We also have no friends within a 2hr radius of our home. His family profess to be tight knit and loving and caring, yet none of them ask how he is / we are (we get a dodge-the-bullet “hope you are well” instead, at the best of times). When it first happened, he told me to ask them to just contact me about him, but they took that the wrong way and said he is their family and they want to speak to him, not me. So they’re not respecting his wishes and probably think I’m trying to be difficult or manipulative. It’s actually just disrespectful to him and his feelings that they refuse to listen or do as he wishes.
I suppose I have only just come to the realisation/acceptance that I have become his carer. I make him food (even if he won’t eat it), I walk on eggshells around him, I count to 10, I close my eyes and pray (even though I’m not religious), I take the dog out and talk to him about my feelings as if he is human, I try not to take things personally (he often says nasty things, which I know he doesn’t really mean), I exercise a lot of patience, I try to take one day at a time, I listen to his worries and concerns, I don’t try to dismiss his feelings, I try not to give him tips or advice, etc, etc. But I am just about out of energy myself and close to cracking, which is not helpful for either of us.
I would really like to hear just that people understand, and any tips or advice people have about how to cope, how to look after yourself, and how to be resilient.
Thank you for reading.