When you have a mental health problem, whether it be a personality disorder, depression or an eating disorder it’s all about you. Everything is all about you. And that is totally fine. As it should be. You concentrating on your recovery. However, something that – terribly – only occurred to me in the last year was how my husband might really be feeling.
Now, I always put everyone first including my husband, doing as much as I can for him and constantly checking he is ok but I never really though about how he felt about my diagnosis. How my diagnosis might be effecting him.
I remember visiting my Psychologist early last year with my husband. This was the first occasion he attended with me and I remember her asking my husband some in depth questions about how he was really feeling about things and how they were effecting him on a day to day basis. This changed me instantly. It gave me a huge insight into how he really feels most days.
I’ve chosen to ask my hubby a few questions and with his permission publish them here. I’m doing this in the hope it might help other people in the same situation. My husband is so supportive of me and is more than happy to have these questions and answers published. So please take a read;
Being married to someone with mental health issues
- Did you ever think in the past that I might have had a mental health issue? No, never. You hid your pain and struggles very well. Too well!
- What were your first thoughts when I was diagnosed? How did I not notice?! I was confused and shocked and struggled to understand. I felt so sad for you. Sad that you were struggling and had been for so long. I felt awful that I couldn’t help you, I felt a bit useless to be honest.
- How did your thoughts and feelings change over the time of me being diagnosd to now? I have a lot more understanding of mental health in general. I am much better at spotting the signs of when you might be getting ‘bad’ again. I try and understand as much as I can by reading things – including your blog so I know how I can help guide you out of any bad times. I will not let you go through anything alone. It has also made me a lot less judgemental towards others.
- How did you feel when I was admitted into hospital? Shocked! Sad! Confused! Worried! Helpless! So scared! I was told very little so it was a very difficult time.
- How were you left feeling after my suicide attempts? Completely terrified! I couldn’t believe I came so close to losing my wife, my best friend and our son to losing his mummy! I also felt frustrated and angry with you. How could you do this to people that love you!? I was left feeling alone and isolated as again I was told nothing by Dr’s etc so didn’t know how to cope!
- Do you/did you find it easy to talk to family members and friends about my/our situation? No. I found it very difficult. Impossible really. No one understood so it seemed pointless. I felt like this was my family so it was my responsibility. I didn’t think talking about it would help to be honest.
- How have your thoughts around mental health changed since my diagnosis? They have massively changed. From knowing almost nothing I have a much better understanding. I can sympathise as I know it is not the persons fault and they can’t simple ‘snap out of it’ It is extremely complex and needs so much more attention – and funds!
- Even though I am in recovery do you still get worried/scared? Yes! Everyday! I am always nervous that you could end up in that dark place again. I know how easy it is for something to trigger you so I do feel on edge sometimes. Since the pregnancy also I have been more worried but I’m so proud how you have stayed strong and asked for help when you’ve needed it.
- Do you feel you personally get/got enough support? No! I was never offered any kind of support. This needs to change as being a partner to someone who is ill takes it out of you, physically and mentally. It’s such a scary and confusing time for us especially if we have never dealt with anything like it before. We are the ones cares for our ill partners most of the time so we need to be in the right frame of mind to do this safely.
- If you could change one thing about this journey what would it be? Other than the obvious – I would want to change the mental health system! There needs to be much shorter waiting times for one. Then there needs to be much much more support. More support for you as the care you were given at times was crap but also more support and understanding for the entire family!
- Is there anything you would like to add? This whole journey has been so exhausting for all of us. It’s scary, confusing and mentally and physically draining. Never really knowing from one day to the next how things are going to be. Fighting with a crap mental health system making life even more difficult than it should be. At the same time I am so so proud of you. Where it would have been so easy to give up you have kept on fighting. No matter how hard it got. For that I love you even more.
These are just a few questions but hopefully they give you an insight to what it is really like to live with someone who has mental health issues.
This is absolutely NOT meant to make anyone suffering feel any worse about their diagnosis. It’s actually to show the opposite. It’s to show you that no matter how bad things get there will always be people out there who desperately want to help you. To love you. To be there for you. To show you that life is worth living no matter how dark it can all seem.
Another thing that cropped up here is the lack of support for loved ones. It’s horrendous that my husband and so many other people out there are being offered nothing in the was of mental or practical support.
If you have any other questions then please let me know. My inbox is always open.
Love Amy x