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Struggling to cope caring for husband with anxiety - Carers UK Forum

Struggling to cope caring for husband with anxiety

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.

I'm new to the forums and this is the first time I've posted, but I am really beginning to struggle with helping my husband and need some advice or words of wisdom.

My husband has begun to suffer with insomnia and anxiety since September. It comes and goes, he can have a really good week and then two weeks with no sleep and extreme anxiety about small things. He has had this once before about six years ago and we thought it may have been seasonal depression, but this is so much worse than it was before.

I am currently four months pregnant with our second child, I have a two year old, I am a childminder so have a fairly physical job and I am looking after the house and doing all the chores completely on my own. I am exhausted and beginning to feel really down myself.

My house is becoming a very unhappy place and I don't even want to think about how this affecting my son. I worry about leaving my son with my husband to take some time out because of his frame of mind, so I get no time to myself. And I'm aware that in five months time, I'm going to have a new born as well.

I am trying to help him, but at the moment I am so exhausted and fed up that I am becoming a version of myself that I don't like and I am beginning to resent everything I have to, which is so selfish. Any help or advice would be really appreciated.

Thanks x
Hi and welcome. Caring for someone with MH can be the worst of all - with physical illness you still have the person 'there' so to speak, but for MH you are dealing with 'not the person you once knew' etc etc.

Firstly, do you have any idea why the MH hit him first time around, and whether he identified any factors (other than the seasonal one which forgive me but why would it affect him one year and not since?). Remember men are HABITUALLY inhibited from 'admitting problems, weakness, stress' etc etc, so getting at what is bothering him can be REALLY hard.

The obvious 'explanation' for his current bout is, of course, that you are pregnant again! That said, his MH now pre-dates hyour getting pregnant, but maybe you were trying for a child and he wasn't keen, etc etc?

Obviously, having another child will be hugely stressful just because it is for everyone! (You won't need me to tell you that), and maybe he is 'dreading' it, however much he is also 'looking forward' to it?

Is he worried about money? I can vividly remember my first NCT meeting and the mums had to huddle and come up with the 'top three things we're worried about' (it was pain in labour, pain in labour and pain in labour ha ha!), but for the blokes it was ALL' money'. They were really worried that a working wife would stop work and all the finances would be on THEM, plus with a child to keep, etc.

Never underestimate the 'man the provider' pressure that blokes feel under!

He may also have bad memories of you as a first time mum (er, no sex for ages ???!!!) and general PND or whatever, and be 'dreading' it next time around.

But that's only the 'obvious' possibly causes. Has anything else been going on (eg, fear of redundancy, parental ill health etc etc). SOMETHING must have kicked this off, and it's time to discover it, assess it and then sort it (possibly back in his child hood? Becoming a father/mother often 'dis-inters' ghosts from our own childhoods....)

Do bear in mind that even if he won't talk to you, he might talk to a counsellor!
Hi Natalie
You've made no mention of doctors. His first port of call must be GP. You ( and he) cannot deal with this alone.
I' like to focus on you. You are doing too much! I was very fit when I had my children, but my hormones sent me to sleep, anywhere. I even fell asleep curled up on some canvas sheets at a steam rally, when the rally was in full swing. Please don't jeopardise you baby or your marriage by trying to work more than your body wants you too. Making a new life takes a lot from a woman's body, and you have a 2 year old as well. Time to give up child minding, snuggle down in bed with your son for story time and an afternoon nap, and ENJOY this pregnancy. It's supposed to be a really happy time for a family, and if you are happier, hopefully some of it will rub off on your OH.

Sorry not replied. Thank you for advice. Hubby has been seeing a GP. They have given him medication and we're in the process of seeing a cognitive behavioural therapist, so hopefully things will begin to look up soon.

I realise that this time, it probably is the baby that has sparked this off, but not sure last time. We were in a completely different situation. It was post babies, marriage, mortgage. We had no responsibility.

He is a worrier anyway and I do often wonder if he has a bit of OCD and if this is where his anxieties are triggered. I also think his parents are a lot to do with it (sorry to sound clichéd) They wrap him up in cotton wool, even now when he hasn't lived with them for nearly 6 years, they are extremely involved in our lives and often after he's spoken to them, I see a change in his mood and I have suggested that he stop discussing his anxieties with them.

With regards to work, I really don't think I'll be able to give up just yet. Although, I appreciate that it's physically exhausting, financially we can't afford to and as ridiculous as it sounds, work sometimes feels like my only source of sanity. I have cut down my hours, so that should help a lot.
Hmm, is he an only child I wonder?

Parents do so often 'teach' their children anxiety. My SIL has 'taught' my niece to be incredibly anxious about everything all the time. My SIL is anxious 'for' her daughter, and so my niece is anxious as well......

Of the two parents, which do you think does the most damage to your husband, anxiety-wise? (I'm going to take a guess it's his mum, but you never know!)

I'm glad he's flagged this up with his GP, and that some form of treatment is on the way.

Mind you,the fact that he's now seeing his GP about his anxiety is going to give is parents (mum?) even MORE to be anxious about........................................
You are spot on other than the only child bit. He is the oldest and was premature and had quite a serious accident, which resulted in him being in a coma, so I believe this is why he is slightly more looked after than his brother.

Having said all of that, I think she would have done the same regardless. She rings constantly to check how he is, how he slept, then gives him list of things to worry about. Last week she told him that he needs to be careful that he doesn't lose his job, which is something he's been worrying about a lot.

It's so hard to help him when he has that kind of advice in his other ear. I'm hoping that when he starts to see someone, he will see how harmful his parents actions are to him.
Hmm, can you have a word with his dad, about how counter-productive (ie, totally unhelpful!) his mum's constant phone calls are?

Can you make sure the phone goes to voice mail?

It's clearly time to 'de-involve' your in-laws from your lives to a degree, though speaking as a son's mum myself I know that will feel 'hurtful',. but it does sound far too claustrophobic right now.

Obviously your MIL needs counselling herself, but will that ever happen? If not, then you have to try and 'insulate' your husband from the constant stream of anxiety-generating input from his mum!!!!!!!!!

I'm wondering, when he gets his CBT etc, whether you and your husband can get to a position where you can sort of 'tease' your MIL about her fears??? It's a way of acknowledging them, but 'wrapping them up' in humour (genuine and gentle mind), so they are not 'powerful' any more.

The trouble with anxiety is that it is impossible to 'satisfy'....ie, the minute one anxiety is dealt with (eg, your husband doesn't lose his job), his mum will move on to the next 'disaster' that 'might' happen. It's a bottomless pit of fear - hence my recommendation that SHE get counselling too. Obviously, originally, she did have 'real cause' for anxiety and fear for him, when he was in a coma, but it's like her mind got 'set' to that level, and can't switch off, now it isn't justified by reality any more.

Do you inlaws ever go away on holiday? If so, do the constant phone calls stop then, and is your husband less anxious?

Can your FIL talk to your husband and establish a kind of 'father-to-son' dialogue of 'Well, old chap, you know what your mother is like! Constantly fretting! Best not to take these things to heart.'
As much as I'd like to speak to my FIL, he is not the most approachable person and doesn't take well to criticism and I feel this wouldn't help. My husband has started telling his mum that he doesn't want to talk about it when she phones now, which I think will help.

As much as anything, I need to find a way to cope. I get one morning a week to myself at the moment. I say a morning, but it's realistically 2 and a half hours. I try to make this time just for me, but often end up doing things I know I shouldn't, but there is no one else to do them. I'm stuck
It could be that either your FIL is 'fed up' with hearing endlessly about his wife's fears and anxieties about her son (and everything else?) that he's gone 'unapproachable'.....or, of course, that he's always been unapproachable, hence why his wife offloads onto her son

Does she talk to you at all, about her fears? That might 'draw her fire' so to speak. you would be less emotionally involved with her, might even be abl to calm her, rather than her son. It's good your husband has started to limit the topics of anxiety!

Yes, you definitely need more time to yourself. As your pregnancy proceeds, you'll need more and more, too, as you get tired and tireder.