Good morning and welcome to our third day where we are sharing your Mental Health stories. The feedback has been incredible and whether you have sent us your story or been reading them we are so inspired by EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU!!
This morning we are sharing a story from one of our SMASH community about living with somebody suffering mental health issues:
My husband and I got married nearly 5 years ago. We’ve been together for 12 years. I know him inside out. A few times in the years we dated, I’d find that he would ‘go quiet’. As in just close off from me, and I thought nothing of it. About 3 years ago, he really distanced himself. He just became so cold towards me and I couldn’t understand what was going on. At the time, we also found out his mum had been diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t understand what was going on with him other than, he just doesn’t care anymore. I told him after his mums treatment was done, we would tell her that we were to split. I had enough. I didn’t know what bought on his horrible attitude towards me. And when I say it was horrible, I mean it was too much. Things like, when I found out I had an infection and was really ill, he blamed me for making his mum out to be a burden and that I was seeking attention when his mum was in need. My dad had a heart attack, he accused me of trying to get attention. It had gotten too much by this point. I stopped caring putting it all down to him just changing who he was.
Fast forward 4 months. He spoke to me, admitting what had been going on and how he had been bad to me. I had left and gone to my parents for a few weeks and he came to get me and took me away on holiday to give us a break. I thought, he’s making an effort, here’s a man that I’ve been with so long, I need to give it one more shot. On the flight home, he COMPLETELY overreacted, becoming really anxious. Although I don’t like flights, I’m not irrational on flights. He was crying on the flight home. I couldn’t understand what was going on. I wish I had taken him to the doctor at this point but didn’t. His family really distanced themselves from him. They don’t like me too much. A lot of it is jealousy at the fact that we have a home, a car, a decent life. But they are bitter and don’t work on their own lives. They put the blame on him. They see the glossy good life everyone sees on the outside, not the hard work we put in daily. So I couldn’t rely on them to help me understand what was going on with him. There was a lot of guilt in their family and a ‘we have to do this because the family expect it’ culture. Whether that meant surviving on 5 hours of sleep a day running around for people who have no respect for you.
About a month after this, my husband comes home from work and is so happy. I hadn’t seen him like this in such a long time. He says he got offered a role in London and he wants to do it. I didn’t have a job in London so it was a major change for me and I had already done this a year before when we got married and I moved in with him. I had a home and I was a little worried but said explore the opportunity. It fell through, he declined the opportunity due to issues with the pay. About 2 weeks after that, they upped the offer and he took it (without asking me). Once the reality settled (that it isn’t just a move to the bigger city and young living) he broke down. I was working one night, and he turned to me with tears in his eyes. He said why did you let me do this? I didn’t understand what was going on. He got the job, it really was an amazing opportunity for him, and for us, it gave us a fresh start. But I didn’t say that we should move. He did. He started panicking. I didn’t get what was going on. He couldn’t breathe and that’s when I realised, he was having a panic attack. It would get worse when I’d be in the room with him. So I’m sat in the hallway talking to the nhs staff because I was so scared for him. He got to the point where he couldn’t even confirm his name. I genuinely thought this was it. He’s lost it. (I know it sounds so horrible). We went to the hospital and they did nothing. What could they really do? We came home and for the next few weeks, I made him feel like the king of the world. He tried reaching out to his family. Telling his brothers he was now seeking therapy (I had private insurance so was lucky enough to fast track through to therapy). They seemed to not care. They could tell he was upset but they put him down. So I felt it was just on me to take care of him. It was the toughest thing I’ve ever done and would never wish it on anyone. I would hardly sleep as he had severe anxiety where he woke in the night and started crying. I’d sit outside the bathroom and make him shave in front of me. I wasn’t sure what he would do. I would sleep sitting straight. I had cut off all contact with everyone just to make sure he was okay. My family were so concerned because they had seen us splitting a few months before and now, I’m no longer visiting or calling. Mentally it drained me. 8-9 hours work, then coming home to the house of tears. It seemed like we were cursed. I told him to go ahead with the job supporting him. Realising here his family would be worse for him then the shift to London, I told him it was the best option and we moved.
He was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and they gave him medication which made him calm but cold. We eventually went through the full course of therapy and they were able to understand the issue. It stems back to his sister losing her husband. She had just gotten married and within a year, she lost him. He was a loan shark and had crossed the wrong person (I’m not here to say what he did was right). But they found him dumped at the side of a road. She had just had their first child together. My husband was a religious boy, relying on god to guide him to the right path and god let him down. He went in to the ‘entertainer brother’ mode. Doing whatever it took for his family to be okay and having a happy face on regardless of what he was going through. Changes like buying our own home (although they should be happy), made him anxious and to top it off, his mum had become ill and he was the ‘let down’ in the family not supporting them. So when his brain had given in to that feeling, the depression took hold. The 4 months before this was him being depressed but me not realising. Him pushing me away was his way of thinking he wasn’t good enough for anyone. Moving to London was another big change for him and whilst it was his decision, he only realised how big of a deal it was once he’d made the choice. After 2 courses of therapy, he’s in a good place now. But I’m not going to lie, any time he goes quiet I find myself saying ‘what’s wrong’ at the end of every sentence. I don’t know if how I behaved with him was right, maybe I shouldn’t have babied so much. Maybe I should’ve seen this sooner but you don’t.
The moral of my story isn’t ‘look at how tough my life has been’. It’s that he’s somebody who I decided was going to be my life partner. I decided to marry him and be with him for the rest of my life. No depression should get in the way of that. But it’s so tough for the people around. Don’t overthink. You’re doing the right thing in every decision that you make. Just trust yourself. And know, that if you do decide to walk away, it’s not your fault either. This is something so tough which like my husband, started when he was 11 and only came to light when he hit 30.
Mental awareness focuses on the person (and I’m really not saying it’s easier for them, I know it’s tough). But it destroys the people around you as well.
Thank you so much for sharing. It can't be easy supporting somebody you love who is going through such a lot. You are incredible xx
Sam & Ash