Husband is 1yr into mental health crisis


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.

Hi LilyMay,

welcome to the forum.

You must be emotionally exhausted. Being cooped up with someone with MH issues 24/7 during a pandemic is extraordinarily tough. Very hard to stay positive in your situation. No wonder your are exhausted. Although the puppy has been hard work, I hope he/she brings you some joy - and is a reason to get out of the house on walks etc.

Others will be along with experience of caring for someone with MH issues.


Thank you, Melly.

I forgot to mention that I have epilepsy, my dad is currently being treated for stage 3/4 cancer (in another country), and my mum is in recovery for alcohol dependency… so I have a lot of personal stuff to cope with on top of my husband’s illness. It is very hard and makes it difficult to talk to anyone close to me about how bad things really are, as they have their own stuff to deal with.

Crikey, LilyMay,

you have a lot going on.


Hi LilyMay and welcome.
I know how stressful and exhausting it is caring for a partner with mental health problems.
I’ve read your post several times and it sounds like your husband has given up on just about everything.
What would happen if you were ill or if you weren’t there to see to the dog and answer the phone etc?
I get the feeling that the more you do for him the more ill he becomes.
Try taking a big step back. Stop answering the phone to his customers. If he damages the furniture make sure he takes responsibility for mending/cleaning it.
Do keep talking to him though, even if what you’re saying stresses him out. Talk about his emotions. Say things like ‘I can see that you’re getting upset so we’ll talk about something else.’
Let him know, calmly how you are feeling and see how he reacts.
Also (and perhaps most important) make a fuss of him - lots of cuddles and tell him you love him.
Don’t try to cope with this on your own. Has he any kind and understanding friends you could phone (who could then speak to him)? He needs to talk to others as well as you.
Best wishes,
Karen Dee

I agree with you. It hurts when your partner is mentally ill. He wants some attention because of the pain he feels be you are not responsible for his emotions. And you must build your boundaries. If not, you will end up in the same state as him.

He needs to shake up. I know it looks superficially, but he must try. It might be a parachute flight or new work. It helped me come out of a prolonged depression at one time. I’ve become an employee of an extensive and successful company. It was hard to hide my state from them, and after all, they gave me a number of corporate psychologist. I will thank my employers for it till the end of my life. And I know how it is when you are in a collective where all don’t care about each other. I wish you luck, you are a strong woman, and you can deal with it.

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