I have wanted to reach out for some time now but things are getting tougher to deal with each day. I am a carer for my husband who has complex PTSD, I was totally unaware that he had any mental health problems as for the first 15 years of our marriage there was no indication at all. Two years ago, after a serious operation and a reaction to psychoactive painkiller, my husband had his first ‘episode’ of PTSD. I didn’t know what was going on, he disassociated, became paranoid, behaved very strangely, couldn’t sleep for days , it was almost like he had left his own mind. When I reached out to his sister, she told me that he had been in a psychiatric hospital twice during his twenties. I felt completely shocked and betrayed that he had kept all this from me. The second episode happened last November and coincided with my son being kicked out of college due to missing so much learning time, we later found out he was suffering from extreme social anxiety and hearing voices. I was running my own cafe and was so stressed and distressed on a daily basis that I couldn’t function, started getting orders wrong, making mistakes etc, to cut a long story short, I gave up the business and a couple of weeks later out of the blue my husband was made redundant.
A year on, we tried to pick ourselves up and just keep things low key at home, despite lockdown , we had a lovely, calm summer in the garden and things started to feel like they were getting back to normal…then…in November again, out of the blue, my husband had and episode, no idea what triggered it, this time it was extreme, terrifying and very traumatic, we went to A&E twice, after a 7 hr wait, we were sent home both times. My husband was hallucinating, thinking people were going to kill him, didn’t recognise me, it was terrifying, the worst part was that our children witnessed it.
Since then, I’ve sunken deeper and deeper into depression, withdrawing from friends, feeling like I’ve lost myself and my life, I can’t stop thinking about what I heard and saw.
I have referred myself for counselling but there’s a 3 month wait.
Sorry for blurting all of this out, feels good to have told my story.
Welcome to the forum.
I can’t give you any advice regarding your husband, my caring experience relates to learning difficulties and the elderly, however, the toll caring takes on a carer is much the same, regardless of who they are caring for.
Have you had a Carers Assessment from Social Services, or any support from them? I know in Hampshire, where I live, there was a monthly coffee morning for carers supporting someone with mental health problems. There might be a similar group in your area?
I would feel terribly betrayed that your husband’s family and friends kept his illness from you.
Are they now helping him at all, or explaining how he got better last time?
Has he been referred to the local mental health services, or the psychiatric social worker, if there is one in your area?
We were sorry to read that you’ve been having a really tough time recently with looking after your husband. I have forwarded your post to Carers UK’s helpline and they will be in touch with suggestions of support you may be able to access.
As well as the support you will receive from other carers on the Forum, you may also be interested in joining one of our Care for a Cuppa video chats which take place on Monday afternoons. At these sessions you’ll meet other carers from across the UK who understand the many and varied challenges of being a carer. To register for one of these sessions, please visit www.carersuk.org/cuppa
Wishing you and your family well
Hi Jenni & welcome
Well you have lots to deal with. And I’m glad you have used this forum to share. Sharing is part of off loading and can be very useful!. I’ll take a guess that your are aware of MIND UK
I was totally unaware that he had any mental health problems as for the first 15 years
A you say you were unaware. But I guess you might understand why it’s wasn’t shared. That’s doesn’t make it right being forearmed would have be better. Did the sister elaborated to the reasons. Does you husband worry about your son and passing on some mental health issues. Is November a significant time of year. Can you remember other November throughout your marriage. When things seemed difficult different or strange. Will you husband allow you. to seek further information from his inpatient stays in his teens.
How is you son now and how does he cope with his father. You say our children how are the other children coping.
Your withdrawal from friends etc is quite normal. At the moment you can only deal with you own issues. And you need to concentrate on yourself and your family. Good friends would understand.
Are you connected to any support groups in your area.
There should also be support groups for your children.
When you husband is having a severe episode. There should be a local number for you to phone for support. Call your local Social services and ask for emergency number.
We have one other son who has Autism and I have been his carer for all of his life, he’s high functioning and attends mainstream sixth form, both boys are over 18 now so I feel are as equipped as I am to deal with everything, we have always been very open and did not want to hide things from them. They obviously found it difficult but were supportive to me and their Dad.
After being discharged from A&E, we were referred to the crisis team who came on home visits for 3 weeks, I do have the number to call if it happens again.
I realise I did not explain that last year when this happened, my husband opened up and told me about all the trauma he had suffered in his childhood, including neglect, domestic violence, and around 10 more incidents equally as horrifying, hence why the relationship with his Mother is almost completely broken down and with his Sister strained, they have never talked about any of the family trauma, his Mother has tons of issues of her own, unfortunately, she lives next door but is like a stranger.
My Husband always gets depressed when summer ends, however, the only thing we can think of that may have triggered this most recent episode is either and old CD that he listened to from his youth or watching Homeland, which featured scenes that may have reminded him of trauma he had gone through.
I have read up all I can on CompleX PTSD, I am just finding it really hard to process all the things I saw and heard, it was very traumatic. Its difficult as we are best friends but I feel I can’t talk to him about my feelings as he already feels guilty and ashamed . My Husband has agreed to refer himself for counselling or therapy so that’s really all we can do at the moment.
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond, It really means a lot. J
Thank you for taking the time to reply to my post, its so great to think that there are people (strangers) with empathy for others, you have given me a real boost.
In response to your question, my SIL assumed I knew about his mental health history and was shocked when she realised I didn’t . The previous times when he was younger were due to psychoactive drugs bringing forward all the repressed trauma, he never sought any help in the form of counselling etc.
He has agreed to refer himself for counselling now, at my insistence, so we will see how that goes.
Take care and thank you. J
When you say mother in law lives next door. This must be a very difficult situation. Has she witnessed your husband last episodes. I would think it very difficult for all of your to express. How you all feel not wanting to add to the situations. But you all need your own go to place for me space. A positive move for your husband to agree to counselling etc. I guess you have tried lots of technique’s. With your husband to help to defuse the build up and overload. And I suppose there are times when there appears to be no warning.
Pat yourself on the back as although it may not seem it. Or you may not feel it you are doing an amazing job. You are keeping your family together. And that take an enormous amount of energy and determination.
Thank you so much Sunnydisposition, that article was VERY helpful , I will print it off and give it to my husband.