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Need advice for supporting wife with mental health problems - Carers UK Forum

Need advice for supporting wife with mental health problems

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

I’m new to this forum so apologies for any naïvety in this post.

I am looking for advice about how best to support my wife who has been suffering with her mental health for 4+ years. We have been married for 8 years and together for many years before that. We have two gorgeous young kids.

My wife suffers from anxiety and depression, has had suicidal thoughts in the past and has self-harmed (thankfully not for a while now). She has a very unhealthy relationship with alcohol (I don’t think she drinks too much but I have been finding empty bottles hidden around the house for years) and will regularly lie about what she is doing or has been drinking. There has been a real break-down in trust.

I think there is an element of post-natal depression at play (things got really bad after our second) but don’t believe she has been fully assessed. She is on anti-depressants, which appear to be helping with the depression but she has easily been sleeping for 10+ hours a day for years, doesn’t eat particularly well (we used to love sharing and cooking food together) and will take herself away from the family unit at times. She also attends some self-help support groups, which she appears get something out of. That being said I Don’t know how much improvement I have seen.

She had to quit her job 2 years ago as she was unable to deal with the pressure that it caused. She has regular bouts of brain fog, confusion and slurred speech (some linked to alcohol I’m sure but I don’t think all) and I feel she really struggles to deal with day to day activities. Sometimes I regularly feel that she is only just keeping her head above water. Any sort of stress seems to set her off, which is very difficult as life is busy and stressful when you have a family with young kids.

There is a lot more I could say but for some time now our relationship has really been suffering due to all of the above. I also worry about the impact her behaviours are stating to have on the kids. The relationship between her and some of my family is also now very strained. Everyone just wants to support but struggle to know what to do. Her personality and behaviour has changed completely since we were married to the point where I don’t recognise her, what she is saying or how she is doing things. I’m sure I could have handled some situations better but we regularly argue and I feel that I am constantly walking on eggshells as I am never sure how she will react to what I think are normal conversations. I try to tread a balance between giving her slack and calling out what I think is strange behaviour in normal everyday situations (as well as the drinking). I get an ear-full for trying to do too much around the house and with the kids (she regularly says “don’t demean me”) but also daggers if I’m not seen to be doing enough.

I’m a very positive person but I’m now getting exhausted with the situation. I am really trying to support but whatever I am doing does not appear to be working.
I think to that I need a few things

1. Additional counselling for my wife to support with her anxiety and addiction.
2. A mental health assessment?
3. Probably some relationship counselling.
4. Advice from the community.

Cheers.
Hi, HelpNeeded, and welcome.

Your detailed post strongly suggests to me that alcohol is playing a larger role than you believe - although you do refer to her having an addiction, and have only mentioned alcohol within that context. Much of what you're saying reflects my understanding of the behaviour of people with an alcohol issue. And, to be honest, I think that the starting point is to get you some advice and support in that area. Al-Anon was set up to support family members of people with an alcohol problem. I definitely think you need to start there.

https://al-anon.org/newcomers/

It would also be worth trying to find out what self-help groups your wife is attending. If only to find out what difficulties she's acknowledging. You can then tell her she's not dealing with this alone, and that you want to support her.
Thanks Charles. My wife has been going to weekly AA meetings for 9 months or so. She also goes to another group that is more focussed on CBT. She appears to know the theory really well, but my impression is that she struggles to put it into practice (then again maybe things would be much worse if she wasn’t attending). Im still finding empty bottles scattered around the house, probably one a week.

What I really struggle with is the seemingly erratic and sometimes irrational behaviours and thought processes from my wife who used to be very logical. Other people pick up on this (although her parents don’t seem to - am I overthinking things?) and I really believe this had a large part to play in her needing to quit her job.

Im constantly telling myself she is I’ll and needs support, but her behaviours are making it increasingly difficult.
Thanks for your reply, it clarifies things quite a bit. I definitely think you need to contact Al-Anon. AA is great at supporting people who have an alcohol problem, but there's no doubt that families need support too.

It's especially important where kids are involved.
Al anon is your best bet. You are in my prayers.