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How much should I support my DH?

(15 Posts)
McSantaPaws Tue 30-Dec-14 16:55:41

Have been with dh for 16 years, 3 kids. Dh has been diagnosed With bipolar - this was before I met him. I knew fairly early on. I've never seen him have an episode, he's on long term lithium.

It's been a long hard struggle. We moved across the country for work and have moved numerous times in this area for various reasons, renting etc. our lives have been REALLY stressful. I am on ADs and have been for 5 or so years. Dh went through some Therapy and realisations about his family and childhood. This was all about a year ago. It's been tough and it's made me realise some of my own shit, family wise. In any case, dh was pretty badly abused as a child. As an adult, he is a workaholic, and is very intense, needing to discuss things over and over again. He will come home from work and will rant about something from the day that's upset him. He will do this EVERY day. He will also talk incessantly about his abusive upbringing. I will get a churning in my tummy when I know he's arrived home. Right now I have a churning because of his latest rant.

I am effectively parenting on my own because he gets stressed with it. Tbh it feels like he's just another child and I've got a small brood on my hands. I'm forever looking after everyone else - not very well! I feel like I'm going to snap. My kids need me and he needs me and I can't seem to give anymore, I feel sick with it. I haven't got any close freinds round here, I don't go out and he doesn't like me talking about his condition. It's sapping me.

I've asked him to keep with the therapy, which he is doing. He's getting some additional therapy next month. He has started going out for regular walks, which is a big step. But I'm so weary, so very weary. He's asked me to be more attentive and tactile. That's the last thing I want to do so I feel guilty for being a shit DW. I feel like a shit mum as I can't give the kids what they need. I'm so tired of it. I have told him this a couple of times. He says sorry but then is immediately back to normal

I have had some counselling which has helped a little. I'm going to try a new counsellor soon as I didn't really take to the first or second one.

How much should I be taking? How much should I be giving? Is he asking too much of me because I feel like he is. I feel like his carer and his mother that never was. It's killed any passion. I have all these horrible feelings of guilt, weariness, resentment, anger.

NanaNina Tue 30-Dec-14 18:59:35

Oh so so sorry for the predicament you are in, trying to support DH, looking after the kids and everything else by the sound of it. I honestly think something has to give...........because if you crack up, then who is going to keep the cart on the wheels - not your DH that's for sure.

You can't change your DH's behaviour but you can change your behaviour / response to his behaviour. This is true for all of us. It's not clear from your post whether you've been doing this listening/propping him up for very many years, but what is clear is that you cannot continue. I think your DH is insatiable and has an "unfillable" emotional hole, so all your support is in vain really - he just wants more and more. And you are not a shit wife - on the contrary I think you've probably tried too hard to support your DH.

SO what to do - is it possible to have a very frank discussion with him and tell him how you are feeling and how wearying it is to hear him rant on and on every day and how it's not doing him any good either, as this doesn't ease his distress, so it's all something of a waste of your combined emotional energy. You've mentioned that you've made some comments about how you feel and he's said sorry and then continued to behave in the same way. Are you going to be able to be assertive enough to really get it through to him how desperate you are feeling.

The other thing which is really important is that you change your response when he starts to rant - I don't know what you do, but you need to do something different. It's a bit like a play and you need to change the script. Not saying it will make things better but it will bring about some change.

I'm wondering why you aren't having counselling together rather than separately as these issues need to be discussed with the 2 of you. It may be that his therapist will agree to see both of you, but if not, I think it's imperative that you find someone who will work with both of you, so that all these issues can be worked on.........look I'm no therapist but it sounds to me like he is wanting the unconditional love and support from you that he didn't get from his mother and this is totally unacceptable. A good therapist should be able to help you both.

McSantaPaws Tue 30-Dec-14 20:23:54

Nana - thank you so much for your reply. I'm feeling very wobbly and you almost made me cry! No-one is looking after me!! I always feel very emotional when someone is nice to me.

You've mentioned a few points that are very, what's the word, well they stood out. Insatiable and an unfillable hole. That's it exactly. Also, unconditional love that he didn't get from his mother. Again, that struck me. I've often felt annoyed in the past when he says certain things, like I know he'd like me to iron his shirts and put his socks together in a certain way. I know that sounds stupid but they're little things that makes him feel mothered. Not making much sense. I feel blown away by his neediness now

For many, many years I've listened to his rants, soothed him, agreed with him. Now I'm not and it's getting worse. I have tried telling him calmly, I don't want to listen. I've been snappy (obv not ideal) I emailed him recently spelling it all out. I've also said we need to go to couples counselling because I just can't talk to him. I won't engage him In case he starts again, which is very, very often.

I totally agree with you about changing my response. I'm just not sure how. It's so very emotive. I get the knot in my tummy and I seem to shut down. If he keeps on then I just snap and walk off.

Kids kicking off, got to go

NanaNina Tue 30-Dec-14 22:01:25

Well it sounds like you are changing your response, as you are no longer listening to his rants, soothing him and agreeing with him as you did for many many years. You say "now I'm not and it's getting worse" - do you mean he is "upping the stakes" (being more ranty, needy, demanding) of your attention. If so that's hardly unsurprising as he has become dependent upon you to "mother" him and/or attend to his emotional needs, and he will be highly likely to come on stronger to make you respond as you always have done in the past. What does he do when you snap and walk off ......does this put a stop to the rant or not, or does he try another tack to get your attention.

In a way it sounds like there is a big gap between his chronological age and his emotional age and that's not unusual when there has been childhood trauma, and he sounds like he's functioning almost as an adolescent - sorry if I'm on the wrong track there. What is his general demeanour - does he have a temper, do you have to "walk on eggshells" around him or is he more of a victim - playing a "game" of "poor me" - no one has it as bad as me. Can I ask what his job is and these rants about perceived grievances - do they make sense - do they have a particular theme, maybe that he is always in the right and the other person in the wrong. Sorry I'm asking so many Qs - just trying to get more sense of what's going on.

You sound very isolated and this can't be good for you. Presumably your friends and family are some distance away? You mention you've moved a lot, is this because of DH's jobs or just his wish to move. Do you think he's the dominant partner in the relationship. Mind it often looks like it's the man whereas it isn't really because he is so dependent on his wife/partner for his emotional survival. Your emotional needs are being completely overlooked - ignored. Does he realise you have have emotional needs or is he so obsessed with his own needs that he fails to even consider your needs.

Please don't think you have to answer everything but I really think you must insist on couple counselling. Is there any way that you can get out and make a few friends or even acquaintances where you are living. What age are the children?

Finally have you considered that this marriage might have run its course and that he is not capable of change and all that is ahead of you is more of the same. Does he have any positive qualities I wonder.

Take care and I'll keep in touch.

McSantaPaws Tue 30-Dec-14 23:09:25

Nana -again you have touched on a few really salient points. Adolescent being one. He goes off in to his room, plays music loud and plays computer games. Oh fuck. I have often likened him to a teenager.

I am really tired and need to sleep but will come back tomorrow. Would you mind telling me what your background is? You seem very insightful. Thanks again

DPotter Tue 30-Dec-14 23:36:49

Such wise words from Nana.

From my experience, I supported until I was the one getting treatment for DP's depression which he refused to acknowledge. I drew the line there - I had to or there would have been no one in a fit state to do anything.

There comes a point when you have to stop looking after everybody so that you can look after yourself; sounds like you have reached that point. We had couples counselling - still not sure it much good other than for him to hear that if a 'solution' couldn't be found, I would be leaving as my mental health was in peril. The thing to overcome is the guilt of considering to and then leaving someone you have feelings for.

Have re-read your original post and something struck me - could your DP be on the cusp of a manic phase of his bipolar (sorry my terminology is probably years out of date) ? People going into a manic phase can become very intense about certain subjects. It might be worth suggesting a review of his lithium doseage. How would he take that as a suggestion ?

I hope you have a restful night

SilverStars Wed 31-Dec-14 13:08:09

If dh is under a mental health team you are entitled to a carer's assessment they can organise. A chance to be heard and discuss your needs. You have the right to request it, they organise it. Dh has nothing to do with it - it s your appointment and right.

NanaNina Wed 31-Dec-14 14:29:03

Hello McSanta - hope you managed to decent night's sleep. You ask about my background. I was a social worker/manager with a career in the same LA for some 25 years, but all my experience is in Children's Services, not adults. I worked independently after I retired in 2004 (aged 60) until 2009 and have been retired since then. I am interested in all aspects of human behaviour, but have no specific expertise.

I am on the MH thread because I suffer from intermittent depression and anxiety (sometimes severe) which started many years ago after the death of my closes friend. I was thinking about the bi-polar diagnosis too and wondering whether he is under the care of a psychiatrist (assume he is as he is on lithium) but maybe a meds review is due?

DPotter I'm sure your experiences of "drawing the line" would be helpful for the OP. Hope you are in a "better place" now.

McSantaPaws Wed 31-Dec-14 14:56:02

Thank you all so much. I'll try and answer all the questions as I think they're very pertinent..

Silver - i didn't know about carers assessment. I will look in to that. Problem is, he's refused to be referred to the mental health team where we're living now as he gets passed around and he finds it a waste of time.

I am now signed to enable me to deal with his health needs. He finds the NHS very narcissistic and that in itself causes him huge angst. Recently he refused to have a blood test as the staff at the surgery wouldnt supply anymore lithium, due to him being overdue for blood tests. There was a Mexican standoff between him and the practice manager who insisted he have a blood test. It was all over the phone btw. I had to get involved and persuade him to have a test, all was fine so that was only a few weeks ago

There's so much to tell, it may be out of sequence and not make sense until you read another bit, sorry. He has a very bad victim mentality. He feels like people are deliberately targeting him. I can understand now where that comes from, however it's really obstructive. His triggers are people like the practice manager as above. In general, it's civil servant, jobs worth type people that he gets enraged by, computer says no. He cannot let it lie. I often tell him to drop it and find another way to do it, you know, more ways to skin a cat and all that.

I can see a pattern over the years now. I think through all his jobs and he's ranted to varying degrees about it not being fair, being mad redundant or not getting the promotion. He thinks he's being targeted and from his background, I can understand that but I also think that once he gets one on him, he can seem obssessive. So it compounds the problem. So when I look back over the years, he has always ranted.

To be continued...

McSantaPaws Wed 31-Dec-14 16:13:59

FFS now he's put a complaint in with the surgery because his script wasn't right. Bit of back story, they've apparently got his script wrong everytime since we've been here. They had put him on 2 week scripts until he had his blood test. They split up all of his scripts becaus eof this so he doesn't get all meds at the same time (he's on about 4 different meds). He wants everything in one go every 2 months. I told him that I was going to sort it out as in my experience, if you complain to the NHS you're just seen as a trouble maker. It descended in to an argument where he accused me of being angry about his anxiety. I told it felt like he wanted me to go on the war path on his behalf, he reckons they're fobbing me off. Whatever. I just didn't want another fucking rant that's all.

Nana - agin you made a comment 'nobody has it as bad as me' that's how it comes across with him - he has the worst mental health and he had the worst upbringing. He just monopolises everything. I'm ground down. I don't want to start a conversation with him as I know it will turn into being about him, every fucking time. And he'll talk about the same thing. Currently he has a tricky customer at work, she's a trigger. He has told me the same story about 5 times. I just want to shout shut the fuck up.

Is there a way to tell him to shut the fuck up? I've tried the polite way, he gets upset. He's mentioned a couple of times he feels I'm not supporting him. Can't see the woods for the trees. Am I not supporting him? I keep the kids away from him as much as I can, I allow him time when he needs it, which is a lot I've listened and agreed with him

Finola1step Wed 31-Dec-14 16:25:19

The key question I have is related to your dc. It sounds like that so much of your time and energy are spent on your dh. How do they feel about the situation? Do they have a good relationship with their Dad?

SilverStars Wed 31-Dec-14 16:32:23

I doubt many people get scripts every two months especially if no mental health team is involved. If his therapy is through the NHS/diagnosis through a psychiatrist then he should be under a psychiatrist and maybe under a MH team even if he does not see them so you may still get the carers assessment? May be worth asking gp anyway?

McSantaPaws Wed 31-Dec-14 17:36:40

Potter - I have thought about it being the end. I don't like to think about it. I would be quite happy on my own but I know DH will really, really struggle. I don't feel like this could be an option. I shudder to think of it

I've given too much and I've been stupid putting up with all the crap. I should have tackled this years and years ago. Am just like my mum - put up and shut up. God I'm so stupid.

Can't think straight. I think we should do couples counselling as suggested and go from there. It seems like such a slog from here to there though. I'm tired.

NanaNina Thu 01-Jan-15 18:58:01

I'm not sure how old you are McSanta but I'm guessing late 30's/early 40's maybe, so you have many years ahead of you.........I don't think you're stupid, I think you've just as you say gone on doing "more of the same" but it's not achieving anything, for either of you. Indeed for you it is wearing you out and you sound defeated, which is unsurprising. And for DH, all your support is not helping as he continues to be totally self absorbed, confrontational, abrasive and oppositional, well that's how it comes across.

Don't know if you've ever heard of the "Drama Triangle" - part of transactional analysis theory. Eric Berne's book "I'm Ok-You're OK" is his first book I think. Anyway he talks of the there being a Persecutor, a Rescuer and a Victim in the drama triangle, and victims look for rescuers (so DH victim - you rescuer) but when rescuers stop rescuing, victims can become persecutors and the rescuer can become the victim - of course we can all change these positions again and again, and sometimes when both parties are in "persecutory mode" there can be uproar. Sorry if this isn't making any sense, I just thought it worth a mention.

I think couples counselling is the only way forward for you both, and hope that somehow you will find an easier path for both of you. Remember "if you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got" - sounds trite but it's true.

Happy to talk some more if that would help ........

McSantaPaws Fri 02-Jan-15 15:40:42

Nana - spot on again! Have heard the saying 'if you always do' etc. I like that one but it seems to have slipped down the back of the sofa for me!

The drama triangle sounds very interesting. The very word 'drama' seems to sum up our relationship. I hate drama. I'd rather have a nice cup of tea thanks.

Yes I'd like to talk thanks. It does help loads.

You mention dh being self absorbed, confrontational, abrasive and oppositional. I immediately think, no that's not him at all. But maybe I should question that. He is never mean to me or unfair but even though it's not directed at me, it affects me. When he's on one of his rants, I can feel the anxiety inside me. It reminds me of being a small child and my df having a go. I go very quiet and withdrawn. It's my natural instinct

I shall have a look at that book, thanks. And I'll do some more thinking if I get time!

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