Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
My husband is mentally ill, it's all a mess - what would you do?(66 Posts)
Been on here a long time but NC for obvious reasons...
I've been married for a year and a half. Before I married, my husband was ill - mental illness that means he sleeps most of the time, snaps at me regularly, and we have had sex 7 times since we married. I know none of this is his fault, and I knew he had these problems before we married.
We were together 2 years before we married, and i knew he had bouts of depression, but it was only weeks before the wedding he was actually off work and as bad as this. he hasnt gone back to work since the wedding. 1.5 years. He shows no signs of wanting to go back either. When he did work, he enjoyed his job. i earn more than he does, and i earn a decent amount, so we survive, but it's often tough some months, despite my working all hours to hold down a decent job in the background to all this.
i do everything around the house except cooking, which he usually does. a few weeks back, i ended up in hospital due to chest pain which was stress related - this is so unlike me - i love my career and my work but i was really struggling to cope.
6 months ago i broke down and told him i didnt know how i felt anymore..i said that we didnt have a relationship, and that is has been terrible since before we married. he agreed with me and said it was all his fault (i know it;s not actually 'his fault' in that he is unwell), and that he wanted to work on things. cue lots of date nights...plans...a holiday booked (all on my pay obviously), all of which i am only half-invested in. the passion, respect, fun had all gone.
now i have fallen for someone i work with (and have worked for and liked for many years, but he was attached). i have no idea if it's genuine given that my life is such a mess, but it certainly feels it. i have told them and they said i should work on my marriage, though i know that they feel the same way (i know that sounds arrogant but i mean you can just tell when there is chemistry). 2 weeks ago i told him how i felt and he said to get back to him if im ever single. it hurt so much but i know he is totally right, and it is the right way to approach it. whether or not my feelings for this man are genuine, or even if they are genuine are as real as i think they are, i cant ever tell until i am actually single. i realise that, but i needed to include this part so that i give the whole picture.
his mental health - i feel terrible for saying this, but it frustrates me that he can go with me to the cinema, go out to celebrate his birthday, come into town to meet me for lunch, yet cant go back to work?! am i being unfair? i have had mental health issues in the past - ive been in some dark places, but when that happens i dont discriminate between events i can or cant attend.... i just cant face the world full stop (granted i have never been so ill i havent been to work). but i cant imagine getting ready to go out and go for drinks ans dinner and then the next day claiming not to be able to work. am i missing something here? i know he is medically and clinically unwell - ive been to appointments with him etc, and it is a serious and horrible illness. but i am losing respect for him and i know it isnt his fault
i dont know what i am asking. my life is a total mess. i have always wanted a family and i cannot see myself having a child with him - it would be absolutely terrible. yet i want all that.
he is getting better. he is on new meds now. we chat more, i can see the old him coming back. but the problem is my feelings have changed - will they come back? i feel like the damage is done. not only has the last 2 years been awful, but i also have feelings for someone else. it's him i think about before i sleep, it's him i like to talk to (at work, we dont message outside of work, his decision). im well aware that these feelings may simply be a distraction, and no 'real life,' but nonetheless they are still there. i dont even talk to this man socially, but the point is i have felt for someone else who isnt my husband.
i feel so much pressure to 'keep up appearances,' as well. im 33 and we had a fantastic wedding with so many people there. i feel i have lied to people. i want to fix the marriage, but each day that goes by i think it isnt 'fixable,' despite him getting better. my feelings have changed. has anyone had experience of this? will the feelings come back? am i a terrible person to have changed feelings because of someone's mental health and the impact it has had? if he had broken his back for instance, i wouldnt have considered leaving would i.
i feel so mixed up and all i know for sure is that i dont feel the same about my husband as i did, and i dont know if that will change.
I don't have any experience really but can't just leave you hanging. Personally it feels like you are making too many allowances for his illness and sacrificing yourself to him. If your feelings have changed, they've changed and you need to do something about it. What you don't need is to get into a complicated mess with the guy at work, who seems to have behaved very well with you.
i am definitely not going there with the man at work - i just feel that my feelings there are relevant to everything else so i wanted to include that.
i feel so shit about myself... how can i leave someone who is mentally ill. i want to work through it, but even as he gets better i can tell i dont feel the same, and that is what is worrying me
I couldn't be in a marriage like that. It's like a death sentence and the respect being gone is a big thing.
It's like you've taken on a dependant child, except in the form of a full grown man.
I'd end it and pursue happiness elsewhere.
The other guy is decent to not want to get involved with a married woman.
Honestly, if you feel differently, you do. Don't beat yourself up about it. Also don't tie yourself forever to a man who isn't making you feel good about yourself and is basically contributing sweet FA to your relationship. I know you technically have, but I don't think he is keeping his side.
You only get one life OP and this is no way to live. It sounds like it would be best if you ended it but I understand that it’s a difficult process.
I think you need to get out of your marriage. If it this bad so early on, the chances are it will never get better. You don't say what type of mental health problem he has but if it is as bad as you say then the chances are it will never get much better. Can you envisage living like that forevermore? You need to think of yourself and if you want a normal family life then this is what you have to do. Regardless of your feelings for the other man it is only once you are on your own that you will be able to see the wood for the trees.
he is getting better though. who knows, maybe soon he will go back to work?
the problem for me is that the damage is done, in that my feelings have changed. and thats what i feel guilty about. how cruel must i be to question my love and want to end it because he is ill?
i keep noticing other things now too, that i never have before. it sounds awful but i can see now that we have a different intellectual level, theres things i cant talk with him about. it's all just such a mess.
Can you go for some counselling? It is incredibly difficult being in a relationship with someone with mental health issues. Rethink charity can offer some support to partners.
Remember it is not you who is ill and you can't make him better, you have to live your life how you want to.
i feel as if i have got into a cycle of feeling good about myself because i was keeping him afloat. do you know what i mean? but it is only in the last few months i have realised how dysfunctional that is.
when i talked to him about it all, he blamed it all on him and he wanted to fix it. so i feel i owe it to him to try. even so, the feelings have changed and i cant really escape that fact.
i also fear this could happen again and again down the years...
Give your DH a chance on these new meds. We're all different how we handle things so you might not have wanted to venture in to town when ill but he might find it pushes him and it's helpful for his recovery. Marriage is not easy, it takes commitment and I think you need to give your DH some time here.
Please stay away from this other guy. He's a distraction for you and 'Limerence' may be at play here anyway and you might suddenly wake up one day and all that love business will have gone and you might be standing there without anyone.
Nope, it's over. Your feelings have changed. It's very sad and all, but you don't have to stay with him because he's mentally ill and you feel sorry for him.
'.....but it is only in the last few months i have realised how dysfunctional that is.'
Hmmm, might be when you started being interested in the other guy? 🤔
i think the other guy is a distraction Bibbidee. the problem is that i was unhappy for nearly a year before my feelings for him ever surfaced. i want to make it work and be happy with my husband but even when we are talking these days i feel differently.
does anyone have experience of the love fully coming back?
I think you would benefit from having counselling on your own, to decide if you want to invest further in your relationships.
Sadly, I think your life could be very unhappy if you stay with him; I cannot see how you could possibly bring children in to this relationship. And at 33 you don’t have time to hang around.
Counselling is a good idea to help you think through how you feel and how you want to go ahead.
Give your marriage a bit of time, to see how your feelings are as your DH gets better.
It's good that the guy at work isn't encouraging you to do anything that could lead to more complications.
'i keep noticing other things now too, that i never have before. it sounds awful but i can see now that we have a different intellectual level, theres things i cant talk with him about. it's all just such a mess.'
Hmmm, maybe because you're now comparing your DH to the other guy?...I'm not knocking you OP and I'm no Sherlock Holmes but these new revelations seem to fit your new narrative don't they? Like you're convincing yourself, rewriting history?
Hi what's his mental health diagnosis do you know? Is he taking any medication for it - I'm a mental health nurse & come from a family with mental health issues.
Is he claiming DLA or PIP if it's this severe - does he go to sign on claiming job seekers allowance at all - if not then he won't be paying National insurance which will contribute to his pension.
Is he seeing a psychiatrist. What do or have they said - will he get any better than what he is currently. 18 months seems a long time - depending on the diagnosis.
I know these maybe the least of your problems. Has he fooled you do you think. Made out he was great and you fell for it and the real him has come through. I'm sorry your in this situation - how easy will it be to separate from him? It sounds like your getting little out of the marriage and your right he won't make a good father in his current "state"
Have you people to support you and talk things through. At the end of the day the big ceremony doesn't matter -it's you life and future that does.
I was in a very similar situation - except I was the one who was unwell. There is, sadly, no happy ending to this story: my husband left me, and a week or so later, he got together with my best friend. He divorced me and stone wallled me completely, governed in a large part by the guilt he was feeling.
I think one thing that could have changed things is talking: talking to each other, and to professionals, both together and apart. I think for a long time we were dancing around each other, scared to vocalise the problems in case that somehow made them worse or ‘made them real’. However, that doesn’t make them go away; my husband suddenly disappeared one night and that was that.
From my perspective, it was all so sudden. Because we hadn’t talked, I never really felt I understood. He came to one counselling session with me, but said it was too late, his feelings had changed, water under the bridge etc. I was just at the beginning, recognising that there were problems, and yet he felt we were already too far gone?
I felt devastated that I was not involved in the decisions that led to our marriage failing. I wanted the chance to work on our marriage - and I never got that. I thought I deserved the chance to change, and to seek help for the impact that my illness (in my case physical), was having on me and on our relationship. It might not have changed anything, but I believe I would have felt more reconciled, and this would have helped with the feeling I too felt about failing in my marriage, letting my friends and family down etc.
Sorry: a very long post. But the gist is that, although it is painful, I think you need to start talking. He deserves a chance to understand the impact, and to seek help if he wishes to. Personally, I also believe that you should seek marriage counselling, to establish what you both want from here, and whether there is anything left of your marriage that can be saved - if you want it to be.
I know what I am suggesting is frustrating, difficult, and slow, but I think it will help you both, and will also help with those guilty feelings that you are feeling. Divorce and separation is painful and sad, even when it is right, so I think it is worth yhe extra time and effort to help be sure it is right, and to help with those feelings of having done everything you could.
well i think i knew when i married him that we werent on the same intellectual level. i was always the career one, him much less so. i thought it didnt matter. i dont know if my frustration about that is now connected to the feelings for the new man (who does share the career passion). either way, it's a factor in the mess.
thank you all for the insightful posts - so helpful.
the nurse who asked about the nature of the illness, it's depression and PTSD (anymore will out me). i knew of his illness before we married, but it was just weeks before the marriage when the stopping going to work happened. literally been off work ever since. he is getting better, the meds are helping, but still some days i get home and he is bed. i dont think he actually wants to work either, at least he doesnt show signs of that. he used to enjoy work too when we first got together, it is sad.
Oxcat I hear you. I was in a similar situation to you. My DH didn't air his feelings and went off with a work colleague, literally gone within 20 mins. The DC and I were devastated, still damaged by it. OP, please have a genuine heart to heart warts and all with your DH. Don't spare him any detail. You might find the way he replies might be the reasons why you loved him and married him in the beginning.
Hi OP, this sounds really tough for you. My thought is that depression is an illness and you are married and you vowed to stay together in sickness and in health. It sounds like you had a great relationship before your DH got ill, and that he enjoyed his work? He could recover and get back to that. You said you see flickers of his old self there.
As others have suggested counselling might be really helpful for you both. Good luck x
PTSD.... my ex was forced and had this. I left him, all too much to cope with
The ‘love’ never came back. No amount of meds and good days could erase what I’d seen and experienced with him
He never went back to work. Nothing. Just sits on disibility benefits being ill. Even though he’s through the worst of it and could work now etc
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now »
Already registered? Log in with:
Please login first.