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Caring for some one with mental health... - Carers UK Forum

Caring for some one with mental health...

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Hiya Everyone, This is my First post so not really sure what im doing!
Basically i have joined because im so fed up of feeling alone when it comes to MH problems. I have been caring for my partner for almost 4 years now. alot has changed in that time sadly :(
There have been times that have been worse than others but i have stuck by him despite everything. i have a good family and fantastic friends, however, none of them have ever had to experience anything like this so i feel they dont really understand.
I have given up talking to people as i worry they get fed up of me trying to explain things.
Not only that im only 28, i feel like my whole life has been put on hold and sadly had to give up my full time job as my partner couldnt cope with our 2 children on his own. he is slowly getting better has bad days and good days, but is on a lot of medication, which also carry a lot of side effects.
I feel our relationship in non exsistant. i feel that trying to care for some one you love is so hard, if i wasnt his carer maybe our relationship would be better. i mean c'mon, trying to tell your partner he needs a shower and trying to make him eat, and get him up so he doesnt sleep the day away is a so hard, yes, it just leads to arguments. i have tried to approach this in so many different ways, but to be honest sometimes its like living with a homeless person, he doesnt care for him self, he would rather smoke weed, and moan about every ache and pain imaginable. i just want the old him back and start living my life again and i want the best for my children. i know this situation isnt it!
so if anyone has any suggestions or would just like a chat, id really appreciate it.
Thanks :)
Have you asked Social Services for a Carers Assessment? There might be support services in your area you don't know about. I know there is a monthly coffee morning near where I live, for those caring with MH issues.
No i havent as i dont think my partner would feel comfortable with that. i dont even think he would be pleased that im on here. he is quite a personel person :/
Thank you for your reply though. x
It's nothing to do with him.
The assessment is for you, to see if there is anything Social Services can do for you, to support YOU in your caring role. Just ask Social Services to arrange it away from your home.
One thing I've learned from the forum is that people with MH issues are incredibly self focussed, can be bullying and controlling, for various reasons.
Ultimately, we are all responsible for our own happiness. You have your own life to live, and you have two children to look after and ensure they are not affected by your husband's behaviour. The more help and support you can get, the happier you will all be.
Hi Kate,
Actually the most important people in your situation are surely your children? Do I understand that your husband is smoking 'weed' while they are in the house? That must be bad.
Surely those little ones come before him, before you and their well being is of the utmost importance? Is their present environment what you want for them?
I don't know the answer to your partners problems, other members may have some suggestions, but I have read on here that someone suffering with MH issues must make some effort to help themselves and not just 'wallow' in self pity and self neglect, putting the whole burden on their family.
I do hope you find some constructive help.
Hi guys thank you for your replies.
Your right the important people in all of this is my children. I don't allow my husband to smoke around us, he will go away from the house to do this. And also he keeps it out of the house.
Also what you have said I can really relate to with feeling controlled and bullied. But most of all I feel guilty. It probably sounds silly, bit for a few reasons I just feel like I could do more and be more understanding. It's so hard though when he is suffering with MH as I will probably never truly understand how he feels.
I am however at the point of knowing something needs to change. Because I'm worried if it doesn't then I could end up poorly too, and that scares me. X
Absolutely, I developed a life threatening illness, requiring major surgery. When I asked the surgeon why, he said "25 years without a holiday wouldn't have helped!" and told me I must never care again. My husband died suddenly of a massive heart attack a few months later.
You may be facing a life time of caring for this man, unless he gets better, or you move out, or he moves out. That is the brutal truth. The sooner you manage his behaviour, and dump the guilt, the better. I had counselling to help me manage my severely disabled mum's endless demands, and I think it would help you too.
Fast forward 30 years. How would you feel about the course of action you took. Proud, or defeated? I don't want answers, just want you to think about where you want to be in five years time, and how you are going to get there. If you can't change him, can you change your responses to his behaviour?
Hi Lisa
Those feelings of 'guilt'. We all know them and all battle with it. I think it is partially a kind of survivor guilt. Like when someone walks away from a crash where other people have been hurt or killed. It feels like they are somehow to blame for not being injured. He's ill, you're not, so you feel that somehow you should be suffering too and therefore try to do everything to make it better for him, which does in fact cause you to suffer. Rubbish of course, as you didn't cause his illness and you haven't got a cure hidden in your sleeve.
You have to keep it in the front of your mind that you are just as important as he is. Your wellbeing is actually more important because you are a mother to very young children and you owe it to them to keep yourself healthy and happy more than anything you feel you owe your partner, simply because he is your partner and not well.
Then there are the feelings of resentment? Do you think, 'Why me? Why did he have to be ill? What about MY life?' And then you fell even more guilty because you thought like that? Quite normal and very common. You'd probably be odd if you didn't.
I think (remember I'm not even familiar with MH issues and certainly no expert, so just personal thoughts) that it all depends on whether your partner will make an effort. Do whatever he can to get as well as he can and confront the problem. If you could feel that he is trying and doing everything he can to be your partner, not just your burden, then that would make things a little easier. If he won't or cannot then you do have to put yourself and your children first. You may have to leave. It's not right to blight three lives for the sake of one who won't even try. Get some professional advice.Have you heard of MIND? It may help you to give them a call. At least look them up on the internet to see what they offer in the way of support.
Hello, i too am at my wits end caring for my husband. We have beeen married 30 years and i thought I knew him until his breakdown last year. After three months in a MH hospital he came home and i have been struggling to get help for him. The battle is constant and daily and i feel as if i need to keep finding therapists to help him. I really understand the constant support of washing , shaving hair wash eating , and no resposne because of the depression. He is really trying but i cannot cope with the ups and downs and nowhere to turn. My friends say i am coping well but they dont know my nights without sleep , crying in the shower etc etc. Utter hopelessness. I keep telling myself that he can recover but not at the cost of my own health but no one seems to support the carer. .... Finally the CMHT have put me in touch with a carer support worker. Do you not have one? You are surely entitled to one. And i am not sure where you live but sometimes charities exist to support families? Not just finacially but emotionally and practically. Find time for yourself , somehow, to gather strength to go forward.something frivalous , paint your nails pink.... take care bit by bit. I have a card which says ,oh well, another day another pair of under pants. somehow it makes me smile!
Dear Kste

As BB says, it's none of your partner's business that you seek help to cope with him! In fact, it's essential you do. The guilt business is very common - as Elaine says, it's a kind of survivor guilt - but the brute fact is that your partner's mental condition is NOT of your making (might be of his - see more below ! - or, at least, exacerbated by him!), and you have no more responsibility for it than you do for anyone else in the world with MH.

Being 'guilted' into caring is also very common. Many carees, some, alas, intentionally, most unintentionally, are more than happy for their carer to feel 'guilted' into looking after them - poor me, poor me!

MH can, most certainly, make people incredibly self-focussed and therefore effectively 'selfish'. They are so full of their own misery, they simply say to themselves (whether consciously or not) 'Well, THEY haven't got MH, but I have, and it's awful, and I'm so unhappy, and everyone else is better off than me so I don't care what stress I put on them because I am SUFFERING SO MUCH!'...)(etc etc etc)

So, you do have to separate yourself very clearly from what in your partner 'deserves' your sympathy, and what only serves his own self-sympathy (again, whether that self-sympathy is conscious or not.

Your key task as a carer is not to provide care that 'keeps him where he is' but care that 'moves him forward'. Your task is to support him to make PROGRESS, and NOT to 'enable him to stay where he is'. I'm sure you know the dangers of 'enablement', and, of course, its darker sibling 'co-dependency' (whereby 'you' get something out of his MH, and therefore want to keep him in that state)(sorry not saying you do that ,but that if you slide into co-dependency that is what will happen, to the benefit of neither of you!)

I would argue strongly that the key difference between 'support' and 'enablement' is that rules are set, and followed, or consequences arrive. One obvious 'rule' you have to make, and it is non-negotiable, is that he must abandon his drug addiction - yes, he doesn't smoke in front of the children (one small blessing!) but the drug is keeping him in his 'dire state' and he knows that and you know that and everyone knows that - it's his crutch and his consolation, and is, of course, malignly contributing to his own adverse MH as well.

He HAS to have 'milestones' in his recovery - eg, every week he uses less drugs, achieves some 'normal' activity (see more below) - shows tangible signs of 'improvement' that you can log and measure and cite back to him. He has to be 'moving forward', even if slowly.

Those, I would say, are the conditions for you to continue investing your precious life in this man.

A lot, I would say, depends on WHY he has MH. If there are 'good reasons' - eg, traumas in the past - then you cut him more slack than someone who just finds having MH is a great 'meal ticket' (I do know people like this - one in my own family). Which introduces the dark concept of 'secondary gain' - whereby the MH person 'benefits' from having the MH, eg, doesn't have to work, gets lots of sympathy, is allowed to feel sorry for themselves, is allowed to be a druggie, etc etc. They therefore have no 'incentive' to get better - why should they?

Your children are paramount, as others are reminding you, and as you know yourself all too well. Growing up with someone with MH is not fun - I know that from my own mum alas - and protecting them from the bad effects of their dad with MH is vital. EVEN IF it leads to the ultimate situation - ie, you leaving your partner (again, sometimes this is necessary).

All of this really boils down to whether or not your partner (or caree rather, sigh) is or is not making an effort to get out of his MH and into a better life for him, for you and above all for your children. If you feel he is making an effort (and not just a superficial 'pro forma' one to get you back in line when you get antsy!)(again, it happens!) (MH people can like to stay in their 'safe' comfort zones.....), then you can stand by him. But if not, then maybe the time is approaching when you have to make that clear to him - he gets better, or you leave.