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New to forum - can you realte? - anxety, OCD, PTSD - partner - Carers UK Forum

New to forum - can you realte? - anxety, OCD, PTSD - partner

Tell us a bit about yourself here.
Hi everyone,
I am new to this forum and website. I've been isolated and struggling for many years and would like to reach out. I think I am in a very unusual situation, but perhaps not, perhaps there are others who relate, and I would love to hear from you.
I have been with with my partner for 21 years, and 7 years ago she had a breakdown and developed severe anxiety, severe OCD and symptoms of PTSD from multiple traumas (mainly from childhood). I became a carer unexpectedly.
I managed very badly I'm afraid. I tried on my own without reaching out for help, apart from therapy and some 12 step work on myself. I haven't really been able or willing to talk to anyone about what's its really like. I have not always acted in a good way myself, and I have been resentful and unpleasant one time, compassionate another etc.
It's hugely impacted on my life. My partner imposes many things upon me that I must or must not do. She will not touch anything herself and therefore everything I have to do in the house, as well as caring for her basic needs. She leads a horrendously restricted life. Sometimes she maintains a cheerful attitude anyway and keeps herself busy , sometimes she has panic attacks, thoughts of wishing she were dead, many complaints about me and so on. She does not look after herself well. I am literally keeping her alive, in the sense that she only eats when I give her food - and other very basic things. There is no let-up of the responsibilities.
I never knew that something in the mind could be so powerful and destructive. It is awful to see her suffer and to be controlled by her fears. The help she has received so far has helped in some ways, but has not changed the basic stance of the illness. I am very afraid of what I might do that might impact on her. I let her fears, phobias and irrational demands rule my life, which is my choice, but I feel unable to do anything different.
If anyone relates to any part of this please do be in touch!
:shock: :( :blush: :)

Dragonfly
Dear Dragonfly

I'm not entirely sure why others haven't responded yet, as I know there are carers here with partners with MH issues. My own experience of MH issues is from my childhood with a mum who was probably bipolar/paranoid schizophrenic (undiagnosed - a lot of MH was undiagnosed in earlier times!), and it can certainly take a toll on those in the vicinity, that is for sure! I'm also very mildly (well, I think it's mildly!) OCD myself, and have a SIL with general anxiety disorder (sort of - anyway, chronically anxious about, well, everything really, especially anyone in the family being ill, and she's freaked out by her unhappy adult daughter with depression)(whose been taught anxiety by her mum....but that's another story!)(and possibly the wrong explanation anyway)

So, on those grounds, I can definitely understand why you are a state yourself, given the pressure put on you by your partner's MH.

I guess the first thing I'd ask is why do you think she had a breakdown seven years ago, as in, why then in particular do you think? Had her childhood traumas been having any fall out beforehand, or had they been suppressed/repressed so she could function apparently normally, but then they just overspilled and set her off on her current path? Or did something else happen seven years ago that took the lid off her troubled past to let it affect her now?

Secondly, is she under any medical/psychiatric care for her MH? Is she in treatment, under medication, etc etc? ie, is he MH being tackled, or just 'endured'? If not, is it because she is resisting any care/treatment (very common, alas, in MH!)

A single sentence of yours really, really struck home - 'I never knew that something in the mind could be so powerful and destructive'....oh boy, yes indeed!

I think that it makes it SO hard for us to deal with MH in others, because it makes us want to yell 'You're just inventing all this! It doesn't exist! It isn't real! So just damn well STOP it and get on with having a good life! There are people in this world in total hell, being bombed, and murdered, or they have physical illness they can't cure! All this 'crap' is just in your own mind so just damn well pull yourself together!'.....

BUT, of course, that is the devil of it - that THEY think it IS real! They CAN'T stop it and pull themselves together. They CAN'T get on with their lives.

The 'daggers of the mind' are stabbing them every, every day....

If it's any use to you, an expression I tend to use when dealing with people who are 'needy' for whatever reason, is, not 'tough love' (which can sound harsh) but 'firm love'. It's being kind and compassionate, but clear and consistent. It's setting down what you will and will not put up with, and sticking to it.

I think that all too often people with MH do tend to draw everyone else into their world. With my mother, it meant that my brother, my father and me all 'pandered' to her, we cossetted her and ran around her, and the whole world had to revolve around her, we got sucked into her world and we had to pussy foot around her the whole time, 'in case' she went on a bender, and her outbursts used to control us, there was no doubt about that. We were afraid to 'cross' her so we endlessly kow-towed. She controlled us through her emotionality and distress and anger. None of us ever, every stood up to her, or she'd punish us by getting really, really angry....and she'd taught us all to be afraid of her anger (in hindsight, of course, other people's anger is irrelevant - it can't affect us unless we let it....)

You say your partner 'imposes many things upon me that I must or must not do'....but what happens if you 'disobey'? Does she 'punish' you by having an 'attack', in order to bring you back into line? Do you have to collude with her anxieties and obsessions, share them and be subject to them? What happens if you don't? If you just say 'nothing bad happens if you break one of your endless OCD rules' and then walk away? Do you think she uses your compassion for her to make you feel guilty if you 'upset' her by refusing to collude with her delusions (ie, her OCD and anxiety).

Sorry to throw all these questions at you! Obviously don't answer any, and I'm only really putting them down to give you food for thought, but it might be food that is all too familiar to you anyway. I guess the only real question to ask you is this:

Do you want to be able to endure what is going on better than you doing at the moment so your life will be easier?

Do you want your partner to get better mentally so there is less for both her and you to endure?

ie, do you want to change the way you are responding/reacting, or change the way she is responding/reacting?

Again, it's not me you have to answer to, but yourself.....
Hi Jenny,
I've only just seen your reply - thank you so much! I will answer in more depth when I have some time.
I am embarrassed at my typos in title, which should of course read: can you relate? anxiety etc (I can spell!)
Dragonfly