Advice needed, depressed, mood swings

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
My partner has severe mood swings, anger, self harm, depression and previous suicide attempts (some before I knew them).

I'm struggling to cope and feel like every day is a battle, I feel awful and trapped. Is it ok to leave and not come back if someone tried to commit suicide last time you tried breaking up?

Is it ok to leave when your partner gets so angry they are doing self harm and smashing things in the house?

I sometimes want to leave and can't take all my stuff and my family won't let me go home for some selfish reasons/don't understand. But I can't take much more. I love them but any happy moment is always ruined later by random anger mood swing, which is impossible to understand. Have so many arguements.

It's destroying my life and I feel lost and don't know what to do. I have tried everything to help them, I do a lot for them every day, trying to get them help, different help etc. Also their family don't help

How can I ever leave? When is enough?
Enough is the point when YOU feel it's enough. What help is your caree getting? For me, personally, the time to go is when you are not being respected, and you have no peace in your own house. However, I've never cared for someone full time with mental health issues. I'm sure someone else will be along soon with more informed comments.
I'm only speaking personally, and without any experience of a partner with MH (my mother had it though), but I would say yes, you are entitled to leave. In the end, each of us is responsible for our own happiness, and that includes both your partner, and yourself.

I've always said, and I hope I'm right, but I may not be, that the most important thing to decide when you are dealing with someone with MH is whether your behaviour towards them is SUPPORTING them (ie, getting them to improve their condition themselves, however slowly, and with however many pauses and 'relapses', but always 'forward motion' overall) or whether it only is ENABLING (ie, your presence, your attitude, your behaviour simply 'allows' them to continue as they are, without any improvement at all).

Personally, I would say that unless your partner (a) accepts they have problems (b) accepts treatment (whatever is available) and yes, as BB says, (c) respects you and visibly 'does their best' to improve their situation and appreciate what you do....then if they don't, you are most definitely entitled to call it a day and leave.

You might first want to consult forums specifically dealing with carers for those with MH, and self-harming/suicide, but (and I say this therefore VERY cautiously!), in the end. if your partner chooses to end their life because you leave them, well, that is their call. YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR LIFE!

Threatening suicide is a way of attempting to control you, to 'lassoo' you back with a rope to get you to come back and go on being there for them. It is not about love. It is about fear of abandonment, refusal to take responsibility for themselves. Well, that's the way it looks to me. But, like I say, I think consulting others in your predictament in specialist forums, and also visiting your GP yourself and explaining the situation, is a good first step to take before you actually walk out.

Is your partner in treatment for her MH, or is she in denial? If the former, then good, if the latter, I would say that accepting treatment is a definitely requirement for you even to consider staying on.

Do you have any idea why she is so afflicted? (ie, in what has happened to her in her life?)

PS -remember, all I've said is just 'me' - there's no expertise, and no experience (except my mum - and she was never that bad!)(well, in a different way, but not suicidal or self-harming, though she could get very, very angry)
Hello Neil
Caring for someone with a MH condition is extremely difficult. I sm currently carer for my ex partner who suffers MH illness. It is very challenging and more often than not I get no appreciation for what I do. Every day is different and I never know what mood he may wake up in. He can be horribly verbal and very ungrateful. It wasn't my responsibility to look after him but no one wanted the responsibility, I can certainly see why now. He lives in my home and I reached the decision that I have to hand over my role of carer to someone more qualified to his needs. I decided enough was enough and contacted adult social services to intervene. He is being assigned a social worker who is going to do a needs assessment and find out where best to place him accommodation wise. Caring is extremely hard and there comes s point when you have to think of yourself. I hope things start improving soon
Christine
Hi Neil,
I currently find myself in the same position as you have described with my partner and im also at a loss as to what the 'right' thing is to do.. the difference being that we have 2 young children (not sure if you have children as wasn't mentioned.) my partners depression has worsened over the past year to the point that he has threatened self harm, the GP has changed his meds numerous times, but im not sure how much it helps. its literally like Jekyll and Hyde some days and I worry if we split what would happen.. I think the hardest thing is not knowing who to speak to about it as my family and friends have never been in this position of caring for some1. this is probably of no help to you but just wanted to spk up and say I understand the situation.
Hi Neil, I'm sorry to hear you are having such a tough time. I have been a carer for my husband for 18 years. has has bipolar and we also have two children, now aged 18 and 21. He has had numerous relapses, hospitalisations, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks etc.
I do understand how you are feeling and have the felt the same numerous times over the years. I have had counselling myself and CBT and during my sessions have questioned why I have stayed. I decided that if I still loved him, that if his behaviour was not detrimental to our children and my health that I would give it my best shot and stay. I'm not saying that it has been easy but I was and am still willing to keep going. Obviously leaving him would be very difficult but he is an adult and wants to make his own decisions and I felt that I should be free to make my own decisions and so should you. So if you have got to the end of road and really want to leave, start again and be free I dont think you should feel guilty or responsible.
Staying in an unhappy relationship whatever the health issues is not staying for the right reasons.
You have your own life to live, you only get one shot.
Good Luck x
Thanks for your help and stories. Unfortunetely she is so angry at moment smashing around and I feel pretty on edge in other room. She's banging doors and clattering everything. Simply after asking her to do her share of chores.

We are seeking more help from new doctor and new meds, but it's Jekyll and Hyde resulting in me feeling extremely stressed like now I'm shaking. Which cannot be good for my own health, can it really? I'm an adult afraid of her when she's like this.

She had a bad teenage life and home life so I guess it's a reflection of that but I feel like I'm scared when she gets angry like this and what can I do? Later she will say sorry and I'm stuck if I say well it's not on she will get more angry again. I can't win, I find it best to accept apology but here I am right now a grown man, scared and afraid in my own house.
Levi_1509 wrote:Hi Neil,
I currently find myself in the same position as you have described with my partner and im also at a loss as to what the 'right' thing is to do.. the difference being that we have 2 young children (not sure if you have children as wasn't mentioned.) my partners depression has worsened over the past year to the point that he has threatened self harm, the GP has changed his meds numerous times, but im not sure how much it helps. its literally like Jekyll and Hyde some days and I worry if we split what would happen.. I think the hardest thing is not knowing who to speak to about it as my family and friends have never been in this position of caring for some1. this is probably of no help to you but just wanted to spk up and say I understand the situation.
Yes I seem to have less friends and my family seem more distant because of it. They can't help it seems. Sounds like same for you. What can we do?
Hmm, writing as someone with NO EXPERTISE (So you must must must take it on that basis - what I say may be not only wrong but irresponsible!), what it looks like to me is that she's trying to control you by her anger. She wants you to feel frightened (I don't say 'consciously wants'!), so that you will do as she wants, which is to stay 'cowed' and 'obedient' and 'meek' and 'compliant. When she apologies, it's not a 'real' apology if she simply gets angry again if you say her behaviour wasn't acceptable. The apology is to manipulate you, wrong foot you, get you back 'onside' etc.

If you looked at her behaviour, as an exercise, not as an expression of MH, but as that of a 'controller', you might see it that way?? If you look up controlling behaviour (or just listen to the Archers, where a wife is has just stabbed her controlling husband - she finally rebelled!), you may see patterns that seem similar. Most controllers are men, but by no means all (a friend of mine's brother is married to one - she's vile!), so a 'female controller' is perfectly possible. They will deliberately use anger (and of course, that can escalate to aggression, which hopefully your partner won't!) in a specific and quite calculated way (again, I could argue that it's NOT calculated in your partner but sort of 'instinctive' of her MH) which is to break down resistence and ensure compliance. Then they 'blow warm' on you (her 'apology') to get you back in line that way.

Ultimately, she wants to behave the way she wants to behave and make you put up with it.

Now, I have no idea if this interpretation is true, but it might be worth considering.

I also don't know the best way of countering it. 'compliance' is not an option - it's not good for you, or, ultimately, her, whose 'healing' is your end point (again, see my comments about whether you are supporting her, or enabling her!).

With classic male controllers, the most dangerous time to be with them is when their victim 'defies' them - especially if the victim tries to escape. That' when most abused women are killed, in a rage by their controller that she is trying to get away from their control.

So 'defying' your partner by disapproving of her anger, by not 'exonerating' it, not 'forgiving' her, may there fore simply trigger another outburst as you describe.


I don't know whether simply saying to her 'These outbursts are not acceptable. They are a clear form of aggression at me (and the world, and at whoever you consider has harmed you in the past) (because you may well be substituting for the 'perp' who damaged her!), and I will not put up with them. All behaviour has consequences, and if you lose your temper again, then I will walk out. I will not put up with it, do you understand me. You will control your temper or I will leave.'

You say this calmly,and you mean it.

The KEY of course is absolutely refusing to be affected by her outbursts, not being scared of them, and above all not placating her. You say you are shaking, and I'm not surprised, but think about this - can she actually DO anything dangerous? OK, maybe she can, she can attack you with a knife, or burn the house down or whatever (!) but it's her ACTIONS that can be dangerous NOT HER TEMPER.

My mother had regular outbursts (when she challenged, or her brooding mood snapped into fury)(we could see it building!), and they used to terrify us, but eventually we realised that they were just 'froth'. IF WE DECIDED NOT TO BE SCARED OF THEM WE WEREN'T SCARED! And that meant her temper lost its power to cow and control us.

Other people's anger is irrelevant unless it turns into actions (ie, physically attacking you.) I know it's very hard, because it's instinctive to avoid aggressive behaviour even if verbal and undirected, and I don't blame you for shaking, but I do believe this is a barrier you will need to get through.

Only when her temper can no longer affect you, or control your behaviour by way of 'cowing' you, can you defeat that particular demon for her.

Now, like I say, all this is just 'me' so please check it with GPs/counsellors/behaviour therapists etc etc etc.

And I do think, sadly, that you may need to prepare Plan B - which is to leave. You could tell her something like 'Look, work with me for the next three months, and I will grant you some leeway, but on my terms not yours, and if you show solid progress then I will continue to invest in our relationship. But if you don't, or you try to control me with your anger, then I will leave. It's up to you, it's your choice. You can do what you want in life, but you take the consequences, and they will be YOURS, not mine, to bear.'

I do wish you all the very best, but again, I think the crucial response from you must be to support her healing, not enable her sickness to manifest.

Can you ever have 'honest conversations' with her about her self, why she is as she is, how she perceives herself (I don't think our mother had the slightest self-awareness, self-perception, she was simply 'driven' or whatever by the demons in her head)(and that is a deliberate metaphor for MH!)? How much insight do you think she has into her mind's affliction, and can she discuss it with you without 'sinking into it' so to speak?

I also think that if you prepare Plan B (leaving), and set up the exit route (whether it's separating finances, or seeking out alternative accommodation for if you need to take it, etc etc) then you may feel less stressed at being 'trapped' in a destructive relationship.

Kindest wishes - life can get better for you both. For her it may be a long path, for you it may, in the end, need to be Plan B. Your life is worth just as much as hers. And it could be, you know, that YOU are 'keeping her where she is' because of your potential enabling function for her MH, and/or for adopting the role of her whipping boy and 'controllee' for her fears. (Controllers may not be pscyhos, they may be highly damaged people who have severe abandonment issues and can't trust others to stay with them 'of their own free will', etc etc!)
Neil_1606 wrote:[quote="Levi_1509]

Yes I seem to have less friends and my family seem more distant because of it. They can't help it seems. Sounds like same for you. What can we do?
[/quote][/quote][/quote]

Not quite sure myself... feel like I'm walking on egg shells all the time. However I don't fear my partner as his depression is more him ignoring me which is difficult to deal with. He gets grumpy and says horrid things but most of the time he just shuts himself away. If you are feeling fear or afraid then that is not ok. Regardless of her illness.. the thing that gets to me the most is trying to picture a future where this situation has changed and I can't see one.. and that worries me. None of us would have chose this situation. At same time I feel guilt for thinking that way and worry what will be thought of me if I did leave and something bad happened. Have you and your partner been together long? And has it always been this way with you both if you don't mind me asking?