I met a nice bunch of people here lately (in person) through LLL and some babywearing group stuff, but they're always posting on FB about their, well, normal lives. And when we get together, and they see a ring on my finger, there's always the questions. What does your husband do? Nothing. What do you do? Be an unpaid caregiver for him. What brings you guys to move here? Well, cos we don't have anywhere else to live except at my mother's house. What do you guys do for fun? Chill in the ER. Want to come to the farmer's market this weekend? No, can't, husband refuses to leave the house. Want to join the babysitting swap? No, I don't want other kids around him because if he freaked out they might get scared, and I can't schedule things ahead of time because what if he has an issue and I have to cancel? Do you guys allow TV? Well, when I had my own house, no, but here TV is front and center of the house and I can't tell my mom she's not allowed to watch it in her own house. Of course, I don't actually SAY those things, but what else can I do but kind of dance around the issues? And if I can't follow up with plans to meet for a playdate in the park, because I have to hold my husband's hand through another panic attack, then I seem like the flake. They tell me about a romantic night they had with their partner, and I just get, sad. Or a single mom tells me about her adventures in dating, and I still can't relate.
I guess this is just a vent. I just want to have normal friends with people I have things in common with. Instead, my life revolves around mental illness. I'm not even 30 and all my dreams are like, gone... Anyway, that's all. Guess there isn't much else to say at the moment. I'm just down.
I wish I knew what to tell you. I don't really have any friends that are local. I'm not a social butterfly, and I feel like if I join a playgroup, I'll be judged for how many kids I have at such a young age. I go to NA sometimes, but that's as far as I relate to most of the people there and the ones I do relate to are in their 40's. I just need a job after I pop this baby out. I got my socialization from the workplace when I was working. Only thing is, I haven't had a job since April 2009. I have mental illness myself, and my life revolves around the kids and staying well for them.
I know you say you're just venting, and maybe just want hugs and sympathy. You do have my sympathy, for sure. However, I also want to say that if you have to be on suicide watch 24-7 indefinitely then maybe your DH does need inpatient care. That's way too much responsibility to take on alone, and it's really not fair on you. Or your children.
When he does become stabilized on his meds and less needy, what's stopping you from having friends? Is it because you feel you have nothing in common with them because of your husband's illness? If so, don't let that stop you. You certainly don't need to tell everyone everything (although you can if you want), but there is nothing wrong with explaining to people who get closer the real reason why you can't join the babysitting pool. You'd be surprised how many people deal with mental illness. It doesn't get talked about. I myself have an anxiety disorder (clearly, not as serious as your husand's) and I hid it for a long time. Then something clicked and I thought, screw it! I'm going to explain to people why I won't eat their food and why I do some strange things sometimes. I haven't lost any friends over it. If anything, it allows people to tell their own stories, and then everyone feels better.
Friends are necessary for health. Seriously. They're not optional.
All the best to you and your family. I hope your DH gets to a better place and I really do hope you go out and meet people. Even without an ill spouse, it's difficult to make friends, but it can be done. :)
I hope I didn't come out as judgmental about how I'm tired of our life revolving around this. When I was growing up our life at home revolved around my father's being ill. He was always on the verge of dying (literally). He finally passed away when I was a young adult. I didn't have a childhood or teenagerhood (or whatever that's called) to speak of because we were always praying for him getting better, etc. Then I grow up, jump into marriage right after college (which, I don't regret) and it turns out that there's pretty much no break here, either. I moved from my house to living with my now-DH. He had his first inpatient stay when I was pregnant with my older child. He's been in and out of the hospital since then.
He's usually NOT on suicide watch but in the past month he has been because he's convinced he has a fatal cancer (he has had tests for it and there's no indications to confirm his suspicion except for a tingling in his chest). He is probably getting hospitalized tomorrow again for a few months of mental health stuff. It sucks.
Also... I do love him. That's all there is to it. I'm not blaming him for any of this. It's just, hard, I guess. I also have plenty of stuff of my own to deal with (anxiety, depression, etc.) but I feel I don't really have the space to address them because we're always focused on his stuff. We don't really have anyone for social support and no money for sitters etc so I'm always on duty for both the kids and for him and it's just, I dunno, hard.
I don't know that I could be a sole caregiver for someone as progressed as that. My hope for you is that when he's committed for the short time he's going is to focus solely on you so you can get rid of the junk that's stored up in your heart and mind.
Not judgmental at all. It's completely understandable that you are tired of this. Moving frequently is definitely not a community builder. I wonder if there are any advocacy/support groups in your area that deal with mental illness in families? At the very least, you would have things in common to discuss.
This is a tough situation you are in and you are a strong person for sure. As others have said friends are vital and not optional. Connecting, sharing and communicating is vital and healthy, especially for women. I think you might reconsider meeting others through a support group. That arena might be a good starting point because they will understand the basic dynamic of your relationship and life in general. I would just be honest and say "hey, I am looking for some friends to occassionally hang out with and not talk about our SO's or mental illness, medications, appointments etc. Anyone here like to knit, see a movie or go on a garden tour?"
I am sure there are others who feel the same way and are looking for the same kinds of friends. You deserve support and some people in your life that are just for you!
I can sympathize, a bit. I live far from family and friends and have a hard time making friends because my son's special needs (asperger's, spd, adhd) and violent meltdowns make it hard to mesh with the other mommies. I don't have great advise or anything, just sympathy because it's really hard when your life is stressful and you don't have friends to fall back on.
(also, I did not mean to click the "I think this post is great" button. I don't think it's great that you are so stressed and lonely. At all. Sorry about that.)
Stephenie, Wife to Nick 9/3/05 Mama to Keagan 4/12/07, Eden 3/29/09 Someone new coming in July and two angels 6/06 and 10/10. Check out my blog!
At this point I wouldn't even be able to go to a support group because I doubt there's one that allows kids.
DH has been admitted as an inpatient. It was miserable when I took him in because I was trying to go in with him to the ER and talk to triage with him, and an orderly was kind enough to watch the kids while I was there, and another orderly yelled at me to "just call a friend, kids don't belong here" - well, um. Yeah, OK, why didn't I think of that?! Like that's where I want my kids to be?! Watching their father curled up in a ball crying in the hospital, and them not even really thinking it's a big deal cos they're so used to it? It was pretty pathetic when I had to tell them that I'd love to, but I don't have anyone to call. And he gave me a look and said, "you don't have a single friend?" And I had to be all, nope, not a one.
Yep, that was the highlight of my week.
Anyway at least he's being under watch now, even though I can't communicate with him. Argh. So hard to have strangers tell you when you are or are not allowed to talk to your husband, and then go days without being able to. It's like he's in prison or something, except he didn't do anything wrong. And I can't even VISIT him because kids aren't allowed in. Good Lord. It gets better and better. I'm sure I'll figure something out but honestly. Anyway, at least I get to get some peaceful sleep and stuff while he's not here. But it just feels like the world is a big place when there's no one to call except to some strangers on the Internet, no home to live in other than my mom's, no income, blah blah. Screw this, I'm going to Disney World. We got season passes as a present and it's only a short drive away, so why not, right? The kids were sad that their dad wasn't allowed home and said it was my fault for leaving him at the hospital. Maybe that'll cheer them up. Maybe I'll make friends with Minnie Mouse. =P This is a good time to make friends in person, I know. I'll probably go on meetup to find some playdates or something.
:( Personally, I would schlep the kids down to a support group. Who knows, you might find someone there who can help or who is aware of resources. I have moved many times, so I know the isolation you are talking about, and adding the difficulty of your husband's illness...hard.
... Seawitch, my husband convinced himself of so many things overtime... He's also a recluse and suffers from mental illness. I take care of him. For the most part I can count on him for atleast picking up the kids from school... if he remembers to take them. And they're pretty shiesty they won't even get ready if it's daddy's day.
I do understand what you are going through. I've been going through this for 12 years. Though he's never been committed... geez louise that would be a bit of a break for me, he's kept me busy. I also just went through an m/c and I understand the switch back on their certain death or need for your attention. I have friends and keep them. Because they know about him. I tell them. If they don't want to deal with my constant change of plans then they usually don't stick around. However, I've found that most of them do stick around. Maybe they just love my interesting life. Either way I generally take my kids with me every where and rarely do they stay with him. You can have friends, you just have to be honest about your life. And maybe you need to find people that know what you're going through. One of my best friends is an anxiety ridden mess. But she's a blast to be around. And If I have to call her and tell her it's a no go because DH isn't doing well, she gets it.
Though it's hard right now, remind yourself why you're with him. Mental illness is just like cancer. It's devastating. But before I leave you I will leave you with a laugh or maybe not.
DH has had...
the Hanta virus... our neighbors had rats
Lupus... my friend had lupus
Atleast 15 heart attacks
bugs in his brain
Possible lung failure
Iron deficiency... which he felt would lead to a certain death
hearing loss... he can hear me
numerous possible broken bones
and sleep disorders... as in he stayed up all night playing a video game and couldn't wake up before 5 pm due to exhaustion. That one I'm iffy on.
Sometimes I just have to laugh, to myself of course he'd be hurt otherwise. And sometimes I just wonder WHY in gods name did I stay with this man. I stayed because I love him. And because my children have grown up understanding mental illness and they love their daddy and are such a blessing and help to us both.
Though you're down right now, you're right you do need to focus on you for a bit. And if he's committed that's they time you do it. While he's well that's also the time to do it.
I'm also going to say something that I may be jumped on for saying. I say this as a sufferer myself. I myself have had numerous "heart attacks", "cancers," etc. Even hantavirus (and the neighbours didn't have rats). Oh, and the plague. I've had that too. Yup, totally understand where your husbands are coming from, although they both sound perhaps a little more severe than me. The thing that really helped me manage the anxiety and hypochondria over the years was the fact that I was on my own and other people were depending on me. Over the years I've pushed through so many attacks because my kids needed me, and there was no one take over for me. So...I don't know...how about stepping back a little? I mean, obviously not when he's suicidal, but when he's a little more stable.
Also, another tool that has been an immense help is learning to laugh at myself. When I'm in the throes of panic because I"m going to die, there's a part of my brain that's still detached and logical. That part is laughing at me. That part can see the ridiculous nature of spending time worrying about having the plague. When I can't quite get past it, I talk to my husband about whatever's going on and we laugh about it together. Would your husband be open to seeing the funny side of hypochondria? Speaking for myself, being able to laugh at myself has provided a great sense of relief because the constant worrying, it gets tiring, even for the one doing it.
There is definitely a time and a place for therapy, and believe me, I've done a fair bit of it. But one pitfall of therapy is that it's very self-intensive and it doesn't have much of a sense of humour, you know? It's all very serious.
edited for clarity
Thanks for sharing Annie, I think it's important to hear what others who suffer think. There are a lot of things that are my DH's responsibility. Like dishes and some laundry, caring for the pets and the kid shuttling twice a week. That's a lot for him and though he doesn't complain I can see how drained he is. So I think you're right about that.
However if constant care is required, it's no longer a relationship and it's no longer fair to the kids. I'm not saying give up. I'm saying look forward and decide what's right for all of you.
Yeah, he is supposed to do chores but he doesn't. He says he will and they just don't get done. He does feel bad about them but, he just, I dunno, forgets? Or is preoccupied?
At one point when he was doing as well as he ever was we actually split up because I thought he was just using me to do stuff for him and I felt taken advantage of. I thought, then, that it was an act or something. He nearly starved himself. He's over six feet tall and supposed to weight around 200 for his frame and he stopped eating for months and he was down to 130 lbs when he got admitted to the hospital. He just went to work and came home and sat there until it was time to go to work again. I didn't know this at the time. If I don't put food in front of him, he won't eat. Even if there is food in the house. Even if I make him food earlier and tell him to take it out of the fridge. He just won't unless I put it in front of him. That's just one thing. Or he'll leave and wander on his own. Or, or. The kids aren't supposed to be left alone with him. Sometimes when he's doing well I will leave them alone for a few minutes with him but it's not like he can watch them regularly when I'm supposed to be working or anything. I don't feel they're safe in his care. It's heartbreaking. =( And I can't get childcare aid if there's a parent at home with them that I happen to be married to. Even with a doctor's note (which he has) I can't do it, it's policy. I can't get a job where I make enough to cover childcare and live on. Hell, I probably couldn't make much more a month THAN childcare, especially not quality childcare. I don't have any work history whatsoever. Ugh, just ugh.
I do feel we have a relationship and I do feel close to him and when he's, for lack of a better term, lucid, things are just fine. We get along, he loves the kids, the kids love him, we love each other, we have great talks, goals, dreams. Then when he's... well, when he's "not all there" it's like... I dunno. It's hard.
Thanks for sharing the stories.
I esp. liked the list of ailments. Well, not "liked". DH has also had AIDS, a stroke, various STD's, cancer, this, that. The "funniest" one was when he was convinced his skin was turning into scales. It's called something like ichtyosis or something. We still joke about the time he thought he was turning into a fish, but I'm afraid I find it "funnier" than he does. Except it's not funny at all, it's more heartbreaking, but whatever....
I understand how hard it is. Hey what's his family like. And if they're doing okay, were they always that way or have they had their ups and downs? DH's fathers side has some suicidals and interesting people. All of them have addictive behaviors. When DH was on Paxil his addictions were unreal. I actually couldn't give him any money, he would drink 6 to 8 redbulls a day and smoke 4 packs a day as well as herbal remedies. Since he got off it all... believe it's been a hard 6 months. I've seen him drink maybe on redbull a day and maybe 1/2 a pack.
Also you should be able to get him on disability. If he's been committed it isn't easy but it's doable. My friend was admitted last year and she was given disability until she decided that she could do it on her own and then just one got a job and got off it.
The 100% is a big deal not only because it's an almost living wage (70% is below FPL) but it would provide health care to our family. The medicaid limit was like $14 under what we got from the VA last time we checked, or something ridiculous like that. So we couldn't even qualify for medicaid (well, the kids could, I couldn't) and we racked up some pretty medical bills from my stay in the hospital, let me tell you. But he was trying to seek employment then and so he didn't want the 100% then. He can't really handle employment, though, that much is clear, the stress was way too much for him. So now he's willing to seek unemployability / 100%. Which would help out our family SO, SO, SO much. But. If we try to push for it I almost feel like people think he's faking his symptoms to get money. Which he is NOT. I can't imagine someone who's less employable than him, though. Well, I guess I can, but he's at that point where our family literally can, not, function without some sort of help. And I'm so sad that there are so many OTHER families in this position that the VA just can't keep up... I don't blame them, they're doing the best they can, but it's just such a shitty thing.
He was adopted so we have no idea about the bio side of his family...
SIGH! Lol. It's a pity party all around. =P I'm glad/not glad to see you sharing your background. It's not like I would wish this stuff on anyone but it sure does help with the feeling that "we're just a mutant freak family and no one can possibly understand us" stuff. =P I might be exaggerating a bit but some days it seems like that.
Oh we deal with the VA and let me tell you they CAN, they have been told to pick it up already. They've left paperwork in their desks for months at a time that they could have turned in. If it were me... I'd march my happy butt right in there and demand that they do their job or call every day. They do get sick of it because they have to address your concerns. I threatened to let DH loose once in the Mental health office if they didnt' stop BSing and give him his meds. He got his meds.
I know, one more thing to worry about, but just so you know there are certain states that bend over backwards for Vets. I'm a veteran myself and I know there are groups out there that can help you guys.
There are lots of us out there and the best thing to do is reach out because 9 times out of 10 someone will reach back. I've learned so much about the systems since I've been out just by asking others.
Connecticut - OK doctors, great advocates
Mass - good doctors, good hospital
Washington - shitty doctors, great hospital
Florida - shitty doctors, great hospital, not sure about advocates yet
Those are the states we've been in so far.
Believe me I've called... and called... it's the fact that we keep moving around so much that EVERY, TIME, we move they start you over with another team. I barely get progress out of one group when we transfer and have to start over. Headdesk. That's why, hopefully before we move this last time, the 100% will go through and once you're 100% they'll process you much more quickly than the average veteran getting set up. For 70% the primary care doctor alone is like a 2 year waiting list. If you're 100% they get you in like immediately.
It's similar with getting EI for our son (who also has/had special needs... haven't even worried about that much lately as he's made so much progress, but lately I've realized we still have to get stuff for him, too... Life is fun!
I just wanted to say hang in there also - you love this man and he loves you and your family is together. That's no small thing in this world. You'll get through these hard times.
And I know typing back and forth to a bunch of "random" people on the internet definitely isn't the same as having a close friend or two to just go grab coffee with, but it's a start. People will be there for you and care and let you vent or be "normal" here.
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