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Struggling with wife's mental health - Carers UK Forum

Struggling with wife's mental health

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
Hi I'm new to the forum, my wife suffers from mixed effective disorder, a type of bi-polar. She's just been admitted to hospital for the fourth time in seven months. I try really hard to manage and support her at home but recently her depression and suicidal thoughts have been worse than they've ever been. My wife took an overdose of her meds on Hogmanay, she was fine but I live in fear that if she feels really desperate she will do it again. When she came out last time things were OK, But slowly things get worse she becomes anxious for no particular reason, she talks about a 'loop' of thoughts that go on in her head, how she doesn't want to be here and then how she feels guilt for thinking this and being selfish when she should be happy. I constantly reassure her that her mood will lift and that we have so much to look forward too but this period of depression and low mood has went on for almost 7 months. I keep thinking that her psychiatrist just needs to alter her meds and that her anti depressant can't be working right but her psychiatrist is reluctant to change anything. I feel guilty when she has to go into hospital and feel like I'm failing her but feel the task of keeping her safe a massive burden I'm scared to leave her alone and am so stressed when I have to go to work.

Whilst this is going on I'm trying to support my son with his mental health, he's really unwell and at another hospital as both him and his mum can't be in the same hospital. He has schizo-effective disorder. He has been in and out of hospital over seven years now. He can't accept his condition, goes through periods where he won't take his meds. He then becomes psychotic and ends up back in hospital. I sometimes feel angry at him, for not taking his meds. His poor health is a trigger for my wife's mental health. I do all the visiting when it comes to our son and I try to minimise what's going on with him to protect her. I'd hate to think how it would impact on her if she knew some of the things he'd done.

I desperately want the psychiatrists to come up with a new plan or change of meds to help my wife but they keep saying that they don't want to change things. Everything in mental health seems to take so long. There's never support put in place when it should be and when your desperate, appointments with psychiatrists in a months time are just no good.
Hi Ross and welcome
My heart goes out to you as I know how difficult and exhausting it is to support someone with mental health problems. Unfortunately the system here in UK is under great pressure and not many 'service users' (I hate the term!) are being well served by it.
I can't even imaging supporting 2 sufferers at once. I'm amazed you are still upright.
My view is carers of mentally ill should receive same support as those of physically ill or infirm so try contacting Social services for a carers assessment. Certainly track down your local carers support, they may well have subgroup for MH carers.
Also check out Mind
http://www.mind.org.uk/information-supp ... HfkDKiny2c and all the ensuing links.

I've always thought the carer should be part of discharge planning as in physical illness, but in my experience that never happens, patients are released with medication and the onus on them. There's never any consideration of the fears, needs and stresses on the family or carers.

Basically you cannot cure or change much, only the professionals or sufferers can, and it does take a long long time, sometimes lifelong so you have to concentrate on maintaining your own physical and mental health so you can continue to support for the long haul. That means eating well, exercise, meditation or mindfulness, counselling, people to talk to , rest and respite, somewhere to rant when needed etc etc

If you also Google ' mental health service user forum' and your local area you may find there is a section for friends and family or carers that gives you a voice to the service from another direction, and put you in touch with others in a similar situation

Kind regards
MrsA
Hi Ross, Double 'whammy' indeed. Sorry to hear you are struggling with two poorly people MH wise. You will notice that more people 'read' your posts than answer. That's because some of us, like me, are listening and feeling for you but haven't anything constructive to suggest because we haven't the right kind of caring experience. However many people here do and I'm sure they will be along soon to offer their support and suggestions.
The only thing I can say is that the conditions of your wife and son isn't your fault and you can only do so much in any caring situation. You are important too. One person cannot be everything and do everything for another, never mind 2. Especially hard if your son cannot accept responsibility for himself to whatever extent he should be able to. I wonder if your wife suspects that you are keeping some things back, (wives have a knack of knowing), and therefore worries more? Perhaps imagines worse?
Try to take care of yourself too, that's important.
KR
E.
Thanks MrsA and Elaine for taking time to reply and for the good advice. Will definitely be looking into having a carers assessment done.

I'm really fortunate to have a supportive family behind me but really do feel for those Who have to struggle on alone with unwell partners.

At the moment my wife's biggest frustration is that she can't understand why she can't shake the brutal suicidal feelings and get to the bottom of what's wrong with her. I think your right though Elaine when you mention about a mothers knack of knowing what's going on and this is probably making things worse at a subconscious level. My wife knows my sons really not well even though I try to shelter her from it on a day to day basis. What makes it worse it than she can relate to exactly how it feels to be mentally unwell which is a mums worst night mare. Because my wife has PTSD like symptoms because of some horrific things that have happened to her before we met its like she's almost on high alert for the next big thing to go wrong even at times when things are settled.

As for my son I'm hoping that having his medicine via a depot injection will help him get better. I hate the thought of it and the fact that he doesn't want his meds this way. I hadn't realised though that with his condition that by not taking his meds and relapsing his medicines can become less and less effective to the point where they simply don't work.
Hi Ross
In my humble experience it seems to me your wife's problems probably do stem from whatever the "horrific things that happened to her " were.
Not for public answer, but could you afford some private counselling for her.? I have found nhs psychiatrists quite set in their ways and that a less dogmatic, less time-restricted, more human centred approach via counselling can work wonders, particularly if your wife really wants to move forward.
If counselling works, it can be quite cost effective over the long termjust a thought
MrsA
MrsAverage wrote:Hi Ross
In my humble experience it seems to me your wife's problems probably do stem from whatever the "horrific things that happened to her " were.
Not for public answer, but could you afford some private counselling for her.? I have found nhs psychiatrists quite set in their ways and that a less dogmatic, less time-restricted, more human centred approach via counselling can work wonders, particularly if your wife really wants to move forward.
If counselling works, it can be quite cost effective over the long termjust a thought
MrsA
Hi MrsA, yes I think your probably spot on. I think that's what I find particularly frustrating, the not knowing what exactly it is that's causing her the distress at any given time. The triggers can be so obscure that their not consciously observed. We're very fortunate in that she's not long started private councilling with a therapist who specialises in working with trauma related mental health. We couldn't afford this ourselves but had a family member who has helped us financially. I totally agree regards the NHS councilling, it never worked for my wife. She just didn't feel techniques such as CBT worked for her. I'm sure given time her current councilling will work but at the moment she needs to to get to a place where she is less agitated and able to concentrate enough to be able to practice relaxation and meditation techniques she's being taught.
Hi again Ross, that all sounds very positive.
Some of us on here are fans of book and cd ( or download) Mindfulness by Mark Williams and its spoken meditations. Or there's lots on line, easier than remembering or reading techniques. Especially good if played when falling asleep. Good for you too as well as wife :)
Thanks Mrs A will look that up. I was very sceptical about such strategies but my wife went through a technique with me that she was taught and it really does work. I now find myself grounding myself and speaking to my spirit animal(a gorilla) :D
I'm sure CBT can be very useful in 'retraining' the traumatised mind BUT only AFTER the 'root cause' of the trauma has been firstly identified and secondly 'challenged' (or 'confronted' or 'acknowledged' or whatever).

We HAVE to know what causes us grief and distress, and WHY.....and only then can we 'move forward' to 'heal' (eg, by retraining the mind to release us from the trauma)

To me, the two methods - analysis followed by retraining - need to work in conjunction, but also in sequence.

I'm glad you've been able to get hold of privately funded counselling.

Is your wife in any kind of 'trauma-survivors forum'? There must, surely, be a whole poor of peer-group expertise and mutual support - and you might find one too, as a partner of someone in trauma.

I know that suicide is the most frightening outcome of all for relatives of those with MH, but does your wife not cling to the realisation that her death would be the cause of appalling and lifelong traumatic grief for her already deeply troubled son?

I say this next bit with 'extreme caution' but I venture to say it all the same ....just in case it resonates. But those with MH can become incredibly 'self-focussed'. Their own misery 'takes over' and can make them oblivious to the unhappiness of anyone else......(though I appreciate that one of the most hideous 'distortions' of suicidal thoughts is that they 'persuade' their victim that actually, 'everyone else' would be 'better off' if they ceased to exist - it's an almost pathological 'self-sacrifice'.....)

(Sorry if that offends - my mum had some kind of paranoid schizophrenia, and her MH was the dominant factor in my childhood, so I feel quite strongly - even if very unfairly perhaps - of the damage that MH can cause not just to its immediate victim, but what the victim then 'spreads out' into others close to them.)

For all this, I wish you the very, very best that can be, in your excruciatingly difficult circumstances. I hope that things can 'improve'. Without that faith, what do we have in life?
jenny lucas wrote:I'm sure CBT can be very useful in 'retraining' the traumatised mind BUT only AFTER the 'root cause' of the trauma has been firstly identified and secondly 'challenged' (or 'confronted' or 'acknowledged' or whatever).

We HAVE to know what causes us grief and distress, and WHY.....and only then can we 'move forward' to 'heal' (eg, by retraining the mind to release us from the trauma)

To me, the two methods - analysis followed by retraining - need to work in conjunction, but also in sequence.

I'm glad you've been able to get hold of privately funded counselling.

Is your wife in any kind of 'trauma-survivors forum'? There must, surely, be a whole poor of peer-group expertise and mutual support - and you might find one too, as a partner of someone in trauma.

I know that suicide is the most frightening outcome of all for relatives of those with MH, but does your wife not cling to the realisation that her death would be the cause of appalling and lifelong traumatic grief for her already deeply troubled son?

I say this next bit with 'extreme caution' but I venture to say it all the same ....just in case it resonates. But those with MH can become incredibly 'self-focussed'. Their own misery 'takes over' and can make them oblivious to the unhappiness of anyone else......(though I appreciate that one of the most hideous 'distortions' of suicidal thoughts is that they 'persuade' their victim that actually, 'everyone else' would be 'better off' if they ceased to exist - it's an almost pathological 'self-sacrifice'.....)

(Sorry if that offends - my mum had some kind of paranoid schizophrenia, and her MH was the dominant factor in my childhood, so I feel quite strongly - even if very unfairly perhaps - of the damage that MH can cause not just to its immediate victim, but what the victim then 'spreads out' into others close to them.)

For all this, I wish you the very, very best that can be, in your excruciatingly difficult circumstances. I hope that things can 'improve'. Without that faith, what do we have in life?
Hi Jenny, thank for your reply. I totally agree with most of your thoughts. My wife's mental health can be really self obsessed when very ill, but I feel when someone thinks about taking their life or not wanting to be here it becomes an impulsive action without any thought to the consequence. I know my wife feels unbelievably guilty For having these thoughts as she knows it's selfish, she then hates herself for this and the cycle continues.

I agree about the importance of support groups and councilling. My wife went to councilling for three years and this did help but at times when her mood would dip or stressors occurred the strategies that kept her going stop working. I really feel that councilling for trauma survivor is something that has to be ongoing through out life in order for them to mantain a good wellbeing. I know my wife's processed the traumas she's been through. She has totally good understanding of how they have affected her but there's always a potential trigger down the line.

In my wife's instance were now starting to think that her seemly unliftable mood and thoughts of suicide are down to a medication change. Her meds were changed recently and have since found out that one of the potential side effects of her new drug was 'may cause suicidal thoughts'. Makes me wonder how often chemical imbalances in people whose meds aren't working as they should, or have adverse side effects cause them to make rash decisions.

I'm sorry to hear about your mums poor mental health. I cant even imagine what it would be like to be brought up under those circumstances. I know how difficult it is to have a son with it and their total lack of awareness as to how it impacts on you.