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I've name changed for this but am a regular poster. Sorry it's a bit long, but don't want to drip feed.
I've had post-natal anxiety since my son was born 20 months ago. Root cause, I believe being a very traumatic birth, long recovery, a baby who couldn't feed well due to reflux and who had other medical issues that meant he desperately needed to feed well to prevent him becoming ill from medication he was on. When he was small, I rarely got out of the house because I was constantly in a cycle of getting baby to feed, oz by oz, medicating several times a day, etc.
Fast forward to 9/10 months and baby's reflux had gone and all medication was finished. Baby is fine, and wonderful. But I was left with terrible anxiety mainly triggered when I had to get out and about with him. Was always fine leaving the house on my own leaving DS with DH (not agoraphobic) but it was just easier to stay home. So mostly, I did. Until I realised after several rows with my DH that it was affecting our lives. I sought help, got a diagnosis and have been seeing a counsellor since DS turned one. Counselling has helped me to see that my childhood (cliche!) experiences has made me a real protector and that that part of me had gone into overdrive with things were so tough with DS. Home is where I could control things, so that's where I wanted to be. Makes sense.
I am so much better. DS is now 20 months, and we got out several times a week (I'm a SAHM) and when I'm with DH too really the anxiety is non existent. I do still have wobbles sometimes though, especially when it comes to 'big' things. Like leaving DS overnight for example.
The longer time goes on, I am finding my DH to be less and less understanding. I completely understand how frustrating my behaviour has been for him and constantly feel guilty about what I've put us through. Yesterday we received a wedding invitation for one of DHs good friends. It's the other end of the country in March 2018 and will require us to leave DS at home (with a grandparent which will no bother, they love having him) for two nights. The invite says to book rooms ASAP if you want to stay at the actual venue (we would) as there were only 10 available, first come first served.
Now DH knows this would be a really big thing for me. When he got home, he said about booking and I explained that I felt very uneasy and anxious about going, but that he should book the room (they are all doubles) as regardless he will be going as I'd never dream of asking him to miss it and that I will work on committing to coming too.
He was so cross and frustrated. Had a total man-strop and said it was ridiculous, that it was ages away, DS will be 2.5 by then and he'd be fine, etc etc. I know all of these things, and will try my best to go (I do want to, but yet the thought fills me with utter dread at the same time) which I told him. But he's just so lacking in understanding still, even after all this time.
Does anyone have any resources which I can use to try to help him to understand? I did say to him last night (after a row!) that a more appropriate response rather than getting cross might have been to give me a hug, tell me if I was finding hard then he'd help me and reassure me - but no, it was all about him and how disappointed he was with me.
I am thinking of possibly speaking to my counsellor about private sessions (I'm seeing him on the NHS currently) where both of us attend and possibly a few sessions for DH on his own. Throughout this process it's really come to light and is clear to me that my DH is a complete perfectionist, who thinks super logically and who struggles to understand when things don't 'work' in the way they 'should'. He found it very hard when DS was poorly and just couldn't get his head around why he didn't just 'do what babies are supposed to do' (eat, poop, sleep). Ours didn't do two of those things easily for a long time!
I'm making him sound awful, and generally he's not. We have a lovely life together. He's a wonderful Dad and a good man. But I'm just not getting support from him in these particular instances, and I never really have. I've told him before, it almost feels like he tries to bully me into things by making me feel bad, rather than try to help and support me through the tough bits.
Any thoughts or suggestions?
Glad that you are feeling so much better yourself. My DH suffers from MH problems himself but still struggled to get his head round me being unwell with PTSD, kept telling me that I had no reason to feel the way I did. I think ittook my telling him how much I was struggling with thoughts of harming myself for him to start listening. We have worked together with our respective CPNs and developed a scoring system out of 10 to help us to communicate how we are feeling to each other which helps. We have also seen a family therapist together which I think has really halped both of us see things from the others point of view better. You could ask your councellor about seeing you both together but it might be more useful to seesomeone trained in family therapy as they will have a better understanding of relafionship dynamics and how those are effected by/are imoacting on the situation too.
Thank you for replying. My counsellor does do family therapy, so that could be a good fit. Plus, we can't afford many private sessions so I was thinking using him might be a good way to go as he already knows the full story - from my perspective anyway. Theres nothing I've said in my individual sessions that I wouldn't be happy to discuss again in front of DH. Although if he didn't feel the same and wanted to keep his individual session content private I'd be fine with that - it's a safe space to vent after all.
I think I just feel that I do little but consider how my reactions to these situations make him feel (it's been a real source of guilt for me), yet he doesn't seem to be able to manage to do the same. I have told him this. In all other areas he's thoughtful and considerate, but when it comes to me 'just not making sense' he can't seem to manage a shred of empathy. It guts me, to be honest.
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