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Unable to cope with husband who has GAD and PTSD

(19 Posts)
wibblypig1 Sun 29-Jan-17 09:48:41

Hi all,
Can you help me please. My husband has long standing GAD and PTSD following an abusive childhood and traumatic events in his adulthood (before we met). We have a lovely home and 2 beautiful, healthy children. We are both in secure jobs.

He has always struggled with life, expecting things to go wrong and anticipating bad news pretty much constantly. He is on citalopram and has undergone 2 lots of counselling. The last lot didn't come to much as he is good at covering up his feelings and acting level headed, but if anything, now life is feeling tougher it's made him not want to go back because the counsellor told him he was doing really well.

I have been as supportive as I can, but he is cruel and hurtful, calling me names, accusing me of trying to send him round the bend and bring like my mother (who incidentally has GAD and has suffered with depression and OCD). He has been physically violent to me twice, once around 15 years ago and once last year when I wanted to go out when we were having an argument and he put his leg out to stop me and pushed me up against the wall with his hands/chest. This caused painful bruising about the size of a fist on my shin.

When he is happy we have a wonderful time, he is generous, hilarious, loving and great with the kids, but these times are short lived and anything can trigger a dark mood. Today he is in a bad mood because he is convinced a minor medical issue is in fact a life threatening illness. He has completely humiliated the eldest over something really minor and now I'm in the dog house because he's put something down 4 days ago and I may or may not have moved it. He is snippy, sullen and trashing the place looking for this thing, breaking things as he goes.

I'm exhausted and wondering what to do with my life. I don't want to abandon him. His parents still are cruel and spiteful albeit not obviously anymore, but the generous and helpful when it suits, and they adore the grandkids. They are what you'd call a complete head fuck. I dont want to see my children running to their room because he's said something cruel, but I don't want to go back on my wedding vows. I loved him on our wedding day, and I meant what I said. I love the kind, generous man he is when he is happy, but I dont want this life of walking on egg shells. I don't want to give up on our life together because we can work brilliantly as a team, but I can't cope with the instability his moods bring. I know I'm being selfish and I'm not perfect either. I have issues myself, but I don't feel like they influence the weekends anywhere near as much as his moods. I don't want to give up on him, please tell me what I can do to help him.

wibblypig1 Sun 29-Jan-17 09:52:38

There is obviously a lot more to explain but I don't want to bore people into not replying with a long post, but I just want some advice on how to help him, and what to do if he won't help himself.

Gobbolinothewitchscat Sun 29-Jan-17 09:53:29

Is he getting as much help for this as possible?

If so, and if there is no better, fairly swift, prognosis, I think you have to put your children first

Sorry if this seems blunt, I can see why there seems to be various mitigating abd complicating factors but ultimately I don't think you can have a situation where your children are being damaged (and that's absent the concerns about the violence and behaviour towards you)

Welshgirl40 Sun 29-Jan-17 09:54:57

Has he had any CBT therapy?
Aside, it does sound like he may need a medication review too, as it doesn't seem to be very efficient in helping him cope with his illness. Citalopram may need upping?
You sound like an amazing, supportive and thoughtful partner. There are support groups for you out there, if you have need. Family therapy might be worth pursuing too. Sending a hug. flowers

Crumbs1 Sun 29-Jan-17 10:01:30

I can't see that an anxiety disorder entitles you to be abusive. You are being too supportive and tolerant by half. Tell him to behave decently or you'll leave with the kids. Accepting his anxiety is one thing being the butt of his frustrations is a completely different thing. Mental,health issues do not give Carte Blanche to trample all over your family. To accept the behaviour turns you into a victim and your not sounding like one. Get support for yourself and set some ground rules.

GlitterGlue Sun 29-Jan-17 10:22:06

Does he behave like this at work? Does he break his boss' stuff looking for something? Does he humiliate the person on the till in Tesco? Does he shove the waiter against the wall? No? So he can control it.

It's not acceptable behaviour, even if he has mental health issues. It will be damaging your children. You can't continue to live with him if he doesn't make significant changes.

The good times don't outweigh the bad, especially not for your children. There are no good times when you're constantly modifying your behaviour and hoping Daddy doesn't blow up again.

GlitterGlue Sun 29-Jan-17 10:23:08

And you can't fix this. He has to fix this himself.

Rainatnight Sun 29-Jan-17 10:26:09

I have anxiety that, from time to time, has been quite severe and I have never assaulted my partner or sent children running from me in fear.

He sounds like an abusive man who happens to have an anxiety disorder.

This is horrible for you.

What are you going to do to protect your children?

Bauble16 Sun 29-Jan-17 10:29:14

Sorry but I've suffered anxiety, depression and OCD for 10 years. Never would I abuse my family. Yes I might have be en on edge more back then but violence and bullying aren't excused by mental health

Wolpertinger Sun 29-Jan-17 10:41:16

Is he not just an abusive man, with abusive parents, who keeps you in line by threatening to have a mental health crisis?

He's got you thinking all about how you change your behaviour to make his life perfect - you will never do it, he needs you constantly on edge to keep you under control.

I suggest you repost on Relationships and ring Women's Aid.

TheoriginalLEM Sun 29-Jan-17 10:44:36

I have GAD and can totally relate to many of the things you have wwritten here. My dp has had a tough time with me and I'm surprised that he stayed around. I'm not sure I would have tbh.

I am generally "better" these days but its still there, waiting for something to give it a reason to rear its ugly head.

A health worry
an issue with work
trivial things lkke not being able to find something

These things become all encompassing, to the extent that i cannot function and will not be able to cope until issues are dealt with NOW. Can never sleep on an argument and dp walking out to get some headspace would illicit ww3 and i would block his way and push him atound (despite him being ten times my size blush).

He is an absolute saint for standing by me.

Thankfully things are better for me now. I have a job thatI love and I have found medication that works.

Please ask your Dh to go to his Dr and ask to change from citalopram to Escitalopram. It is much better for anxiety and has fewer side effects. I am on 10mg which is equivalent to 20mg citalopram. When i was on citalopram i was on 40mg and pretty much like a zombie. I feel much more positive on escitalopram.

Counselling didn't work for me, and i have had lots of it. It just made me worse tbh. I had to learn to control this mysrlf. Its tough but tgere isn't a magic solution and i know i will have this for life.

So whilst posters are right tgat he should seek help it sounds like he has. No one chooses to have mental illness and a diabetic wouldn't be berated for not getting the right help if medics were unable to get their insulin levels right etc.

Saying all of that, this will negatively impact on your dc and your own mental health and you have to ask yourself if you can or should be putting your life on hold to support your dh.

Get him to ask for a meds review though. its quite common for citalopram to lose its efficacy after a long time.

ANewDawn Sun 29-Jan-17 11:00:58

Been there, got the t-shirt. Your situation is very similar to my own. The difference is I now hate my STBXH and am in the process of divorcing him after 16 years. I have been pushed to the limit.

Where is your limit? Are you a people pleaser? You are being abused. I suspect you are no where near ready to leave. Keep reading, keep posting, keep questioning. The scales will fall from your eyes.

ANewDawn Sun 29-Jan-17 11:02:46

Oh and I second the pp who says to re-post in relationships. You need to read some threads on there. Lots of similar stories

Be kind to yourself

AnxiousCarer Sun 29-Jan-17 13:21:50


I have suffered with anxiety and PTSD, DH suffers with depression and episodes of psychosis following an abusive childhood. MH is not a reason to be abusive to you or the kids. You definately need to set some clear boundries. On the other hand when DH is poorly he can be agitated and aggressive (to everyone and less likely to be towards me that anyone else) and at times has required police detention for the safety of others including me, I recognise this as his illness, not his personality, but I still have certain boundries and we have seperated in the past. When he is poorly he tends to go away by himself for a few days whilst he gets his meds sorted and gets back on track, to limit the impact on me.

The thing with PTSD is that ADs don't work great for it, they took the edge off my anxiety but that was all. They definately didn't help the way that they did when I had depression in the past. Traditional councelling and psychotherapy is recognised as making PTSD worse by retraumatising the sufferer. I certainly found this when I saw a psychologist through work. It left me a wreck, with worserning flashbacks and anxiety and I dreaded my sessions. I can understand why your DP finds it difficult to open up and talk about things as that was the very thing that made my symptoms worse and I ended up too terrified to talk about them. (I've previously had councelling for other issues and found it very helpful so this was a surprise to me)

I ended up seeing an NLP ( neurolinguistic programming ) therapist privately who did something called Eye Movement Integration ( EMI ) whith me whivh was amazing and got rid of all my PTSD symptoms in 1 session. (Mine was not as longstanding as your DPs so may have been easier to resolve) There is another similar therapy called EDMR which seems to be more mainstream and I believe is available on the NHS. I would get him to look into these types of therapy which seem to be very helpful for PTSD. Certainly for me it was like a magic wand. DH is planning to see my therapist having seen what a huge impovement there has been for me.

wibblypig1 Sun 29-Jan-17 23:50:26

Thank you for your responses. Lots of things you've said ring true.
AnxiousCarer, the eye movement therapy was planned during his last counselling sessions but they never did it with him because they said he was ok. I have insisted that he goes back to the GP or counsellor and request this again. The CBT never materialised the time before that, either. He has said that because he had to cover up his feelings in the past, it's second nature to do it now when under a bit of pressure.

TheOriginal - thank you, I didn't know citalopram became less effective over the years, he's been on it for about 8 or 9 years, so that explains a lot. Do you know what I mean about not wanting to leave him because of his mental illnesses, that were bought on by the bad treatment of others during his childhood? How awful would it have been for your DP to leave you when you were struggling enough with as it is? I can't say I think it's fair that he should grow old alone and away from his family. Thank you for sharing your side of it with me, it means a lot.

Rain, my kids are still quite small, which is why I'm deciding/asking for advice now before they take too much in. The littlest one is the light of his life at the moment, the one keeping him going, and the eldest I just tell them daddy is feeling upset and it's not their fault/anything they've done wrong. Its all I can do until I make a plan.

Thanks for the hug Welshgirl, I needed it.
A newdawn, I'm no pushover generally, but I'm sure one day I'll see this situation for what it is/was, but after nearly two decades together I am getting weary. I'm not a people pleaser, I just don't like giving up on things if I'm not ready and there's still a chance I suppose. I just plod on, taking one day at a time.

Bauble, if you were on edge and anxious, how did this manifest itself? My mother has GAD and acted similarly to my OH (snappy, lashed out/smacked us) so I just thought this sort of grumpy anxiety was the norm.

Glitter glue, Gobbo and Crumbs, you all make some valid points that I will no doubt weave into our conversations over the next few days.

Thanks again.

If anyone else who has GAD/PTSD can respond with some advice or viewpoints, then I'd be really interested to hear from you.

nattygk Mon 30-Jan-17 21:18:25

I have ptsd and health anxiety never in a million years have I been violent it's true what the other people on here are stating he is beyond help he needs to snap out of this dreadful behaviour I'd go to women aid i wouldn't spend another breath on this bully of a man get yourself away from him

gamerchick Mon 30-Jan-17 21:27:31

Thing is while you're concentrating on the child your husband was once you're risking your own kids being damaged well into adulthood.

Don't really understand that reasoning. Focusing on him all you wanted was the time before you had kids because when you did you don't have the choice anymore. It has to be about them.

You're been damaged by your mother, it's the reason you're still there. Why would you want to pass that on to them?

Amandahugandkisses Mon 30-Jan-17 21:34:14

I have PTSD and GAD
To be honest it had made me very meek and quiet. Nervous of confrontation.
Nothing as you describe in you husbands behaviour. But we are all different I suppose.

TheoriginalLEM Mon 30-Jan-17 21:37:05

Can I ask if you have spoken to him about how all of this is making you feel?

There really is NO excuse for violence but I have to admit, with heavy heart that at my lowest I was violent to DP. Thank GOD we got past that. I was really quite unwell at the time. I don't have PTSD, I have always been anxious ( I can see it now) but it all came to a head when I had DD2 and lots of things to deal with (bereavement, debt, illness) all at once and I had a breakdown.

Yes, it would be really sad if his mental illness robs him of his family but no more sad than his children robbed of their childhood and his partner who has supported him throughout being unhappy and anxious as a result of his illness.

Sometimes life really is shit.

I think in your shoes I would be spelling it out to him in no uncertain terms that no way is violence or aggressive behaviour acceptable, that it is damaging his children (it really is) and he risks alienating them and putting you in a position where you may have to leave, to protect yourselves. I imagine he would be pretty horrified.

I very much think that he should talk to his GP, there are many antidepressants in the family of drugs that citalopram is and some suit better than others. Citalopram worked for me, on and off for about 6 years then it just seemed to make me worse, depressed as well as anxious. A change to Escitalopram made a real difference.

I wont pretend to be 100% but things are much better and I can finally look forward.

He has to take ownership of his illness, I know it isn't easy, mental illness is pretty self destructive and I know that I could lash out at DP as a form of self harm, nothing made me feel worse than hurting him, yet the vitriol would still come from my mouth. Then I would demand reassurance that he wouldn't leave me, it was when he needed space that I would flip.

I don't believe he is a bully, but he IS bullying you - the fact that its his illness that is causing that doesn't change the facts and the facts are that you deserve to be happy and feel safe.


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