Partner's health turning violent

Hello, I am new here. My spouse has had severe depression and anxiety since I’ve known them. They have never had a job except to write listicles for clicks for a website. We have been married for two years, and initially we had planned to move back to my country but when the opportunity to get a spouse visa (through a PIP exemption) came up, we decided to take it, because my spouse cried and cried at the idea of going somewhere new, and we were afraid that we wouldn’t be able to afford mental health treatment for them. Since then, I have worked full time, and as they lost all benefits except for PIP, mine is really our sole income. Things were really looking up this spring. They had just interviewed and got a part time relief worker job, to be able to slowly get into work. We were planning to move closer to my work so I don’t have an hour’s commute, and to start trying to have a baby in February. Within weeks, my spouse had a dramatic breakdown and went into a mental hospital. During their hospitalization, they continuously strangled themselves, leading to over-aggressive holds by the nurses. Then when they were taken to a physical medical appointment, they ran away from their 1-1 nurse, ran into a church, and because of the nurse’s neglect, they were able to light themself on fire with candles from the church. (This was while I was away on holiday) They endured burns on 12% of their body. All in all, they were hospitalized for 3 months before coming back home

My spouse has been back to the mental hospital 3 times since their discharge, this final one is section 2. They have been having flashbacks about the fire, and hallucinations, but they wouldn’t talk to me about any of it. I went away for a weekend, to get a break for myself, made a safety plan with them and everything, and as soon as I left, they went right back to A&E and the mental hospital, but would not stick to the plan I had put so much effort into arranging, that they would go stay with their parents until I got back. They are obsessed with getting back on the ward where they were abused and neglected. They are convinced that it is the only place that they will get “what they need,” that every other ward will kill them, that their nurses and mental health professionals at the Acute Day Unit are trying to kill them. The professionals make this obsession worse because every time my spouse brings it up, someone promises to look into whether it is a possibility, even though they have been told point blank that they cannot return there.

While they were in A & E waiting for transport to the hospital, they wanted to know which ward they would be taken to. I had my arm linked with theirs because they were wobbly, and they started ranting to the nurse about how they needed to go to this ward. I patted their arm to comfort them, and they slapped me. They aren’t much bigger than me, so it’s not like it left a mark, but it stung and I could still feel it several minutes later, and it frightened me so much.

I have never been hit in a relationship before. People ask me if perhaps my spouse was delusional or having hallucinations that led them to hit me. I went to the waiting room to get away from them (after getting my coat and shouting at them for hitting me), and 5 minutes later, I got a text from them saying that they were sorry they hit me, that it was because they were having hallucinations and there were too many people. I don’t know how these things work, but I get the impression that a person doesn’t pull themselves together from hallucinating after five minutes to recognize that they were hallucinating.

I just don’t know what to do now. Regardless of whether my partner has the ability to actually physically hurt me, I don’t want to live in an environment where my spouse is doing violence to me. I don’t feel safe bringing a child into the world that could suffer because of a future breakdown, or could see me hit by someone I love. I’m 35, so I’m running out of time. I already have a week’s holiday planned, and I’m trying to work with my boss to extend it so I can go back to my country and get some serious space from this situation. I don’t have a lot of close friends here because I work in an environment with high turnover, and the people I do know from work live close, while I live across town. I’m not getting much support from anyone here.

My grandma is really big into Al-Anon, and I’m really feeling that “love is not enough” thing right now.


I’m so sorry to hear about your difficulties and I completely understand and hear what you are saying about your difficulties.

You say your partner has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, however she is experiencing hallucinations and irregular moods?

Is there anything else you can say about her behaviour, do her low moods last for a long period of time or are her moods very up and down? In terms of her hallucinations does she see and hear things? Does she also hear voices? Or has she been given a better diagnosis, because based on those few symptoms you’ve mentioned it doesn’t sound like she just has depression and anxiety.

In terms of the mental health wards, I’m so sorry for your awful experience and their lack of care. Given that she is suicidal, she is a risk and should not have been given leave and monitored. Unfortunately mental health services just don’t have the funding it’s awful.

Ultimately no one can make the decision as to whether you stay with her or not. If her diagnosis is completely wrong or missing then she won’t be getting the support she needs and this will not stop. What ever her diagnosis she needs the right medication and therapy to support her, so it would be weighing up how much you want to go through.

I would say that if you stay, never allow that. A firm boundary, if she ever results to violence you leave immediately and will only return when things are calm.

I hope something from this has been helpful, my partner has borderline personality disorder. He too struggles from hallucinations, voices, suicidal thoughts and self harm. It’s very draining and challenging. I’m also a psychologist.

The hallucinations they told me about before are things like the smell and sense of fire, and also that they are afraid that they are going to do it again, but not anything “telling” them to do it. I think the new symptoms are due to trauma around the burning, but also I don’t know how much is from BPD and their attempts to make me stay, which has the effect of driving me away. They want me to stay and help them, but the more help they need, the less I want to be with them.

Oh OK so possible PTSD? And they do have a diagnosis of BPD?

Have you recieved any support from a counsellor at all? From my experience it was helpful having someone to speak to that didn’t just try to give me advice or tell me to leave. I could share my worries.

It’s so hard, that push and pull dynamic. If she does have BPD, do you know much about that diagnosis? If not I’d suggest researching it. But be careful, there is a lot of stigma around BPD and lots of stories by ex partners who still hold a lot of resentment.

Your safety and wellbeing is first!

“other ward will kill them” also this sounds like a delusion/paranoia instead of an obsession. This could stem from anything, my partner believes his neighbours want him dead. And to answer your question about pulling themselves from a hallucination, yes it is possible to hallucinate and apologies for the behaviour that occurred. She sounds like she has more insight given that she is aware they are hallucinations.

My partner makes false accusations that he truly believes in and then apologises afterwards for the hurtful words. I believe the paranoid thinking/delusions/hallucinations are linked to the splitting/devaluation of a partner. You are all bad, so of course their reality will agree with that.

You wouldn’t be a bad person for ending the relationship, if she does have BPD then this cycle will not end until she gets long term therapy (DBT). And it’s a draining, exhausting and self esteem damaging cycle.

I do hope something I’ve said is helpful, being there for someone with complex mental health difficulties is hard, especially when the symptoms are directed towards you in hurtful words or physical violence and it is toxic.

Yes, they have a diagnosis of BPD and are waiting for services from a specialist clinic, which will do DBT. But two years ago, they had made so much progress, and were convinced that they were cured.

People say that mental illness is like any other disease. “Would you feel this way if I had cancer?” Cancer doesn’t cause the disordered behavior. And it’s the disordered behavior that is making me suffer. If they were just sick, I could just mourn them, just be there for them. But now they are refusing medication in the hospital because they “can’t trust the nurses” (but telling our priest that they are on anti-psychotics and that they think they need them because they hit me). They blame everything on being ill, but if they’ve always had BPD, why has it got so much worse since we got married. Have I just made it too easy for them to not take care of themself?

Can you recommend any particular books or websites for how to live with someone like this?

Hi Han,

If you haven’t see this info already, it might help


I’m glad DBT worked previously, that’s a positive.

It’s definitely not you, and it’s not her, it’s BPD if that makes sense? I know it’s so hard not to take it personally. I still struggle everyday!

Recovery is long, and definitely not linear! It’s possible just life changes were the trigger, something someone without the disorder could manage. I’m sorry you are both going through this!

I would highly highly recommend “Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder” it doesn’t just tell you what bpd is but gives helpful DBT based techniques on how to respond and support a loved one.

I don’t think they were receiving DBT before. Since they moved to the city, it was about 2 years of getting into CBT, the counselors getting weird about/not wanting to deal with sexuality and gender identity issues, moving to a different borough, same cycle, trying other services, etc etc etc. No one looked at their BPD diagnosis and thought “oh yeah, you need something different.”

I’ve heard a lot about “Stop Walking on Eggshells” so I think I’ll get it.

I find it very confusing when you use the word “they” which suggest more than one person.
It would be really helpful if in future you could use the word “he” or “she” instead.

Bowlingbun, I will not be doing this, because my partner is trans non-binary, and their pronouns are they/them. If English is not your first language, I do understand that gender-neutral pronouns are not usually taught in classes that lag behind the times. Here are some helping resources for how to use they/them pronouns

However, I find it insensitive that you would come to a carers forum where I talk about abuse at the hands of my spouse, and feel it proper to reply without a solution, help, or comfort, but instead tell me that I’m wrong for something unrelated. Please don’t do this to anyone else.

As I’ve now written over 20,000 posts on the forum to help others, I know that the language someone uses can be confusing to others, and was hoping that my comments would be helpful. I am English, came top in the school for English Language, and spent 20 years writing a magazine described as “the best of it’s type in Europe”. I make no apology for my nationality or education!

At 67, I have no idea what trans-binary means. Maybe you’d like to explain what that means. When I was educated, there were only two sexes, male or female.

They weren’t helpful. They were off topic, upsetting, and put me in an unsafe position to reveal my spouse’s gender identity. Copy those links, do a simple Google search, and delete your replies. I came here for support caring for my partner, not to be your educator.

Some of us haven’t been in a classroom for over 50 years, there were only ever boys or girls in those classrooms.

Anyone can call themself whatever fancy gender term that they like, but they are still either male or female, there aren’t any other options.

I very sorry to read of your difficulties. My circumstances are different to yours, as my husband ( sadly passed away in may) had strokes and vascular dementia plus other health issues. His dementia changed his personality somewhat and was very painful to watch. We had a good marriage
Obviously your situation is very painful.
Please don’t feel you are being judged, this is a non judgemental forum regardless of gender etc.
If you could bear with us re the terms you use, perhaps say 'partner’it will make it easier for you to get the advice you require.
This is not a criticism, just a polite request for you to consider.

This is all getting a bit nasty, except for Pet’s last post.

Firstly, it is quite normal and correct English to write ‘they’ and I have sometimes read it in this forum just because the poster wanted to keep things impersonal, nothing to do with gender identity. But there’s no need to be condescending when pointing out that it’s correct.

spent 20 years writing a magazine described as “the best of it’s type in Europe”

Hmm - I hope without the apostrophe!

Secondly. let’s concentrate on helping each other rather than making it a correct/incorrect English issue. This is so common on the internet, people get very excited about correctness, but that’s not what this forum is here for.

I made my comment purely because I wanted the writer to get the help needed, nothing more.
I’m a struggling carer too, just doing my best to help others.

People, people - can we please can get back on topic and offer Han_1910 some advice on how to resolve their current problem?

On a forum such as this it is all too common for the “written” word to be misunderstood - if we were having a “verbal” conversation then body language, facial expressions and tone of voice would come into play and we are able to judge/determine the true meaning of what is being said. But because we are already feeling “fragile” due to the nature of our situation we can too quickly read the wrong meaning into the written word. Equally it is important when replying to a topic to think about how our words, innocent as we may think they are, could be misinterpreted by the person we are replying to

Thanks to Han for joining the Forum and for sharing with us the difficult experience you’ve recently had with your partner. Thanks also to other Forum members who have posted supportive responses to Han. I just wanted to emphasise that Carers UK is an inclusive organisation that does not tolerate discrimination on any grounds, including gender identity.

If any users of the Forum wish to refer to their partners or others using the gender neutral pronouns ‘them/they’, please can all members respect their wishes and use the same terms when responding to their posts. Our Community Guidelines ask members to be respectful and point out that “giving strong, judgmental opinions about another person’s personal circumstances and choices can be upsetting to that individual and may put them off posting on the forum”.

We want the Forum to be a safe and welcoming place for all carers, regardless of their differences, and as Greta says, please can we focus on helping each other.