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To think being admitted to a psych ward is a major red flag?

(203 Posts)
JaffaMyCake Tue 06-Aug-13 18:34:26

Need some help on this one mnetters!

Friend is 'seeing' a man who has just told her he has recently been in hospital on a psychiatric ward. He hasn't/won't disclose the details of why and friend hasn't pushed on the matter.

AIBU to think this is a major red flag and tell her to steer clear?

Or is this discriminating against MH issues? I do realise they can affect anyone and are not always a signpost of abusive behaviour. Friend has no children involved.

GreenSkittles Wed 07-Aug-13 18:17:43

My DM has severe mental health problems, she is on a voluntary section, and has been for more than a decade. I don't know if that gives me any credibility to speak on this, probably not!

But I absolutely would want to know what someones issues were, if I was considering being in a serious relationship with them. Mental health problems can take over not just the sufferer's life, but their loved one's too.

EstelleGetty Wed 07-Aug-13 15:59:47

I had been seeing DH for 4 weeks or so when he told me he had bipolar disorder and had been hospitalised a few times because of it. I knew already that I wanted to be with him and it made no difference to me. I did tell my mum in confidence. She, as many others would have done, asked if I was sure I could handle it. It wasn't a mean or prejudiced question, she was looking out for me, as you are for your friend. DH would later tell me the hospitalisations were due to two suicide attempts. None of this 'scared me off.'

Fastforward 6 years, now we're married and I have been very ill at times with MH issues. Very ill. Between us, we've pushed through the bad times together and the good times are more than worth it.

I think you've had a tough time on this thread, OP, but I am so glad that so many posters have been able to open up about the realities of living with a mental illness, or someone you love having it.

DH is so much better now. He hasn't had to take meds in years and his manic/down phases are few and far between. I'm still struggling and have been suicidal at points over the past few years, but I feel that we have a real level of empathy with each other, and neither of us would want to be with anyone else. A MH diagnosis doesn't have to be a red flag at all, but of course it's different for everyone.

meanderingalong Wed 07-Aug-13 14:00:38

I have MH issues and I see my CPN and consultant psych every month, though I've never been an inpatient (though I was given the option of being admitted on a voluntary basis but chose not to). My MH issues have definitely had an impact on my relationship with DH and I know that not everyone would have the patience to deal with my behaviour sometimes, so I recognise that for them it would be better to walk away. I'm not at all violent or verbally abusive but I can get very demotivated, struggle with some social situations, organisation and every day tasks.

I haven't worked for years because of it, although I get some DLA, but it means that he pays for almost everything. It means he has to pick up where I can't always pull my weight, and some people just want a fully equal partnership, with no stress or hassle. I am definitely hard work to be with sometimes, thankfully DH thinks it's worth it to be with me, but for someone who isn't emotionally invested yet and perhaps can't afford to pay for all the household expenses, I can see it would be easier to walk away.

Jossysgiants Wed 07-Aug-13 13:50:26

* jaffa* you have had a hard time on this thread. You were coming from a good place in caring for a friend imho and yes maybe your choice of words was unfortunate, but not out of unkindness. I'm glad there has been the opportunity for movement of opinion though. My closest friend has suffered horribly with an episodic mental illness with periods of psychosis for the last 20 years. He is now in a stable relationship with a fantastic partner, but has been totally honest about his background. It would be naive to think that an illness of this kind is not going to have any impact on their lives. There is every chance there will be future episodes of Hospitalisation and this is something his partner has to be prepared for. But it's as much about the importance of honesty as well as the mental illness itself IMO.

JohFlow Wed 07-Aug-13 13:44:00

Not everyone who has be in psych. has a history of being 'abusive' to other people/ outwardly acting. Some people struggle inside themselves and recognise that they need help. I would be curious if I was his gf; but it is also his choice if/how/when he reveals. I think she has to make he own decisions and see how he is from day to day. There is also the thing that he has now been discharged and that usually means that he has been seen by a range of consultants/doctors that agree he is ready (the only side-line to this is if he discharged himself). It takes a lot of guts to reveal that you have had a past history of MH problems and I think this chink of honesty should be celebrated.

JaffaMyCake Wed 07-Aug-13 13:34:40

YY to Kate - this thread has definitely helped educate! (Me in particular)

KateSMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 07-Aug-13 12:59:34

Hi everyone,

Apols for not posting last night - we should have, given the number of reports.

We do understand why some of you are a bit concerned, but we feel that seeing as the OP appeared to be looking to clarify her opinion, this thread is a great example of how the collective wisdom of MN can help elucidate and debunk a lot of myths around contentious subjects.

KateSMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 07-Aug-13 12:45:17


I have reported the thread and asked for the title to be changed. Come on MNHQ sad.

I really didn't mean to cause offence.

Have just replied to your mail Jaffa smile

JaffaMyCake Wed 07-Aug-13 12:03:09

I have reported the thread and asked for the title to be changed. Come on MNHQ sad.

I really didn't mean to cause offence.

WooWooSister Wed 07-Aug-13 11:51:38

My df had MH issues and was abusive. When I was a child I promised myself I wouldn't ever live with someone with MH issues ever again. However, as I grew up, I realised that he had MH issues and was abusive. They were two separate issues. As a child, I'd confused and conflated the two issues.

So being in hospital isn't a red flag, having MH issues isn't a red flag.

It's naive to think long-term medical conditions don't impact on a relationship. Of course they do. I have a dear friend whose partner has MS, she had to consider how that would impact on their life, and if she could commit to giving the support he was going to need. Her dsis was quite clear that she wouldn't be able to have a relationship with someone with MS. My friend thought she could and they've had a long and happy relationship.

We have to take our personalities into account when entering a new relationship but it is sad that you did associate MH issues with violence.

youarewinning Wed 07-Aug-13 10:57:46

He has been open and honest about being admitted for psychiatric help.

He has every right to privacy and not say exactly why.

I think the fact he's been honest and told your friend shows him in a good light - that he's not afraid to admit when he's struggling and needs help.

Quite the opposite of a red flag IMO.

lottieandmia Wed 07-Aug-13 10:51:37

The point here is 'major red flag' written in the title of this OP. I don't think it is right that MNHQ has let this stand without comment tbh.

lottieandmia Wed 07-Aug-13 10:49:38

But having mental health issues yourself doesn't exclude the possibility that you could be prejudiced against others with MH issues. In my family there are a lot of us who have had mental health issues - my dad has been ill on and off all his life with his own and yet when I was a child, I remember he repeatedly pointed a man out to me who we would see walking around town and say 'That man's a schizophrenic'. How awful that he saw fit to reduce him to this one label, particularly as he had been ill himself and should understand.

ButThereAgain Wed 07-Aug-13 10:41:34

Actually, if a possible partner mentioned to me that they had been in a mental hospital, I would be concerned for their sake but I would also be interested and very open. It would suggest to me, among other possibilities, that the person was far more interesting, sensitive, open to himself, creative, than others. If it did seem to be a negative, then I think that would only be if there were other elements of the person that I felt badly about: my interpretation of the person as a whole would be signalling to me whether his strengths and weaknesses were ones I would seek or ones that I would avoid.

ButThereAgain Wed 07-Aug-13 10:33:26

Of course its true, folkgirl, that mental health issues in a future partner are a consideration to take seriously: they are one among many facets of a person that help you decide whether they are the one for you. I don't think anyone would deny that. It can be very difficult to be involved with someone who is suffering mental health problems. And of course it can be very difficult to help them, or avoid making life worse for them: you need to decide if you are good enough, strong enough, patient and kind enough.

BUT those were not the concerns the OP raised. She raised worries about abuse and danger, just on the basis of a stay in a mental hospital. That is what "red flag" means. It was shockingly stigmatising.

TroublesomeEx Wed 07-Aug-13 10:23:22

I have MH issues and they're not particularly 'bad'. I've never been hospitalised, I'm not on particularly strong medication, I'm not dangerous.

But, I can be 'hard work' at times because of it. I wouldn't want someone to just blindly walk into a relationship with me thinking it wouldn't be an issue because sometimes it is, and I would need the person I'm with to be strong enough to handle it.

How is that bigoted?

idiuntno57 Wed 07-Aug-13 10:11:35

i just can't get over the terrible bigotry of many posters on here. The OP was utterly in the wrong ti suggest that a stay in hospital was a reason to discount a potential BF. if he had been in for a toe op we'd all be going wtf. There is a hint of mental health and the OP implies violence and lifelong misery. Some of the most influential people of the last couple of centuries have had MH issues Churchill for one. Would you discount him OR look at his track record as a prime minister?

Pah I can't bear bigots and they make the lives of millions of people so much harder because we are forced to live a lie.angry

candycoatedwaterdrops Wed 07-Aug-13 09:53:45

PrettyKitty Would you walk away from someone who was a wheelchair user and view that as a 'red flag'?

IfIonlyhadsomesleep Wed 07-Aug-13 09:43:07

I've been thinking about all of this and it is the use of the word red flag with respect to a particular problem someone's having that seems wrong. Are there things that would scare me off getting into a relationship with someone that I hadn't already fallen in love with? Yes. More than likely. Could I categorise those and make a general "x problem is a red flag, y problem isn't" statement? No. There are things I am glad I didn't know about dh before I'd got to know him properly because they might have got in the way of me doing so. Are they now deal breakers? Good god no.

PrettyKitty1986 Wed 07-Aug-13 09:34:24

I suppose that would depend on your definition of 'recent'.

I haven't said that I would discount a relationship with someone who had any mh issues, however long ago.

But I WOULD view a history of mh issues as a 'red-flag' (seeing as that's the term that's been used here) and it would make me think twice before getting involved.

LucyTheLittlestLioness Wed 07-Aug-13 09:29:40

PrettyKitty I thought the implication here was that people were mostly referring to wanting to know about a current or recent MH issue? Your last few sentences sound like you think any MH issues ever you would want to know about and would discount a relationship on that basis? Really?

livinginwonderland Wed 07-Aug-13 09:26:38

Well, it depends why he was there. I have clinical depression and anxiety and DP has dealt with depression in the past and has been, thankfully, extremely supportive and caring.

It's good that he has been honest. It's very hard to open up about MH issues because SO many people are judgemental about it and decide you're crazy or weak or a failure and won't go anywhere near you once they know. Give him time, and I'm sure he'll explain and then let her make her mind up for herself.

Not all MH patients are abusive or violent or anything like that. They just struggle and sometimes need professional care. There's nothing wrong with that.

AnneNonimous Wed 07-Aug-13 09:18:56

I have been sectioned before. I don't mind sharing that information with people but I won't go into full detail with new people as I won't trust them to know such personal details about me yet. I am in no way dangerous.

PrettyKitty1986 Wed 07-Aug-13 09:17:40

I think the ops got a really rough deal here.

In a perfect world, of course nothing would be a red flag - any individual we met we'd take them at face value, whatever problems they have/had, we'll hold hands and deal with them together, treat every one the same...

That's not hugely realistic though is it? If my df of 9 years developed a mh problem then I would 100% stand by him, give him whatever support he needed. He means enough to me that i'd put up with nearly anything.

If I went on a date and discovered that this nearly unknown person had mental health issues that they wouldn't discuss? That's fine - their perogative - as it is mine to walk away. Neither should be villianised for it. There are a few things that now, I would not want to deal with in a relationship. The increased potential for future mh problems (increased because of a persons history) is just one of them.

candycoatedwaterdrops Wed 07-Aug-13 09:17:13

I'm with Lottieandmia. I know the OP has admitted she's had her opinion changed but I am still cross that this thread had been allowed to stand with little input from MNHQ. It is disablist and if it were about a person with a physical impairment, it would be long gone.

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