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Wondering how to help partner with multiple physical & mental health challenges - Carers UK Forum

Wondering how to help partner with multiple physical & mental health challenges

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
My partner has multiple health issues: GAD, OCD, phobias of germs, choking, vomiting and death, fear of hospitals and all things medical, hearing impairment, tinnitus, IBS, fibromyalgia, functional neurological symptoms, chronic back pain, chronic fatigue, insomnia. I did start an alphabetical list! All of the above have snowballed over the last 4 years to disable her - our home now has all kinds of adaptations to try and keep us here, its like we have fast-forwarded 40 years into our old age - and leave her very dependent on me. I work full time, care for her physically, mentally and emotionally, manage the house, diy, finances, medication, doctors and hospital visits. I am not complaining about this but it is tough. We get no physical help- I am sole carer, the idea of anyone else coming into our home just risks spiralling anxiety and adds to both our workloads- her stress and me coping with it, plus anti-bac spraying everywhere that might have been touched. Before her physical health decline, probably triggered by stress of having an op nearly 8 years ago, she was able to keep her mental health issues largely in control. Now she has lost any sense of control over her existence the mental health issues are re-surfacing. I am terribly frustrated because I can't fix this, and scared about what the future might hold. Not seeking advice, just an outlet.
Vent away - this is a great place for it. We've all done it in our time! :)

I know you haven't asked for advice, so just reject this outright if it's not welcome -

I would say the key 'root' problem is her anxiety - all the other problems stem from that.

Is she in treatment?

If you read around on this forum you will see that time and time again what is urged is not 'tough love' (too harsh!) but 'firm love'.

Firm love sets boundaries for the aberrant behaviour (and BOY does your partner have aberrant behaviour - it's TOTALLY dominating BOTH your lives and making you BOTH deepely, deeply unhappy!), and simply does not tolerate breaches.

Firm love sets rules. Key one is 'accept treatment or I leave'.

Firm love essentially differentiates between 'healthy' care, and 'unhealthy' care. Healthy care is SUPPORTIVE care - and SUPPORT crucially focuses on 'healing' if you want to call it that, but definitely 'moving forward', getting the person to a 'better place'.

Unhealthy care, alas, only ENABLES the person to stay how they are....

Do you think you give supportive care (with the emphasis on actual progress towards a better place for you both) or only enabling care (which keeps your partner just where they are.....) ? (I suspect I know the answer from what you've written and the length of time you've been 'trapped' in that situation with her....????) (apols if I'm wrong!)

We always need to appreciate that the mental illness 'fights back'. It resists 'healing', it resists 'progress' to a better place, it resists 'change' of any kind. It just wants to stay exactly where it is, freezing its victim in fear and misery.

Your target is not the person with the MH, it's the MH itself. That's the target of your 'firm love'.

If you really want your life to keep as it is, and probably just get worse and worse and worse for BOTH of you, then 'stay as you are' and 'keep coping'.

Two final points for now (again, reject them out of hand if you want!) (I'm 'no expert' just another person, with some personal experience of loving someone with MH, including a family member with quite a lot of what your partner has alas!)(and I can tell you the physical problems ARE mental related, most definitely, so may be for your partner too???)(but of course the horribly physical symptoms also in turn cause mental distress, that's the bitter irony of it!):

- Check out 'secondary gain'. I actually heard about that on this site, and boy does it ring true with my family member alas!

- YOUR life is as valuable as hers. YOU have 'rights' to a good life. Does she have a right to dominate your life so negatively (let alone her own!). That said, check out secondary gain for carers as well.....???!

OK, apologies for the totally unwanted advice - reject/delete as you will.

As a substitute, you have my sympathy. I dare say you have been targeted with a truck load of 'helpful advice' (!!!!!!) from just about anyone and everyone, none of which has made any difference to the daily misery of your joint existence, so I can well understand why you may be totally jaundiced and 'hopeless' about it all.

To my mind, though, it just seems a dreadful waste of her life being spent SO unhappy and scared and miserable. We only get one life (probably), so such a shame to spend it unhappily. (And feeling 'powerless' is, to my mind, part of the mental illness you and she are fighting.....)

Best wishes in a difficult situation - sorry if I've offended. Like I say, delete and discard if so.
Just a thought (yet another one!) - I'm wondering whether some kind of 'respite' for her would be a good idea? A few weeks in a 'detox' unit, for want of a better word, where she can be removed from all her current noxious environment, with all its triggers and manic compulsions, to 'reboot' her life???

(I'm slightly OCD myself, and I know that when I go 'away' either on holiday, or to stay with family, it's SO much eaiser - out of my own home I'm bereft of my 'ritual objects' etc, and I am 'free' to not do my rituals.....)(well, not as much significantly!)
Hope you're not put off by my posts - please ignore them if you are.

Do post again on something that is of concern/relevance to you - I can always keep schtum. :)

KR Jenny
Yes I am put off, in some ways offended, by your posts. Your implication that in some way my partner 'chooses' to 'behave' in a certain way shows a retrograde view of mental health conditions. Does somebody with a broken leg choose to limp? Does a MS sufferer choose to have muscle spasms? No of course not. Please do not offer judgement on others when not sought.
Hello KSJ
Sorry to read you are put off from remaining with us on this forum. It's a supportive forum and you can rant as much as you need. Sadly sometimes, reading can seem harsh, (certainly not meant)as apposed to face to face conversation.
Please stay, I know others will want you too as well as me. We've all joined when felt in a very down situation, and know the heartbreak of a loved one being ill, disabled etc. It can actually be a lifeline. It is for me. ( My husband is in a nursing home because of strokes and vascular dementia and I feel bereft at times​)
However this post is about you and being welcomed.
I agree with Pet, I think that others who know more about MH problems will be along and some of them post less frequently. I don't know what to say from my own experience but I wish I could help you - although I understand that's not what you came here for.
Reject everything I say, but please do take notice of the difference between 'supportive' care and 'enabling' care.

Or the MH will win. And make both your lives unhappy.

Over and out - it's your life and hers, not mine. Your choice.

My own family has been blighted in two generations by MH, so I have a vested interest in 'fighting back' against it. It blighted my childhood, and it's blighting the life of my niece, and thereby our whole family.

'Giving in' to it is not an option that brings happiness.

Wising you and your beleaguered wife all the very best that can be, kind regards, and now silence from Jenny