Ellie blogs about how she has supported her husband, who has complex mental health problems, through the best and worst of times.
“You hide it well.” This is a comment that I have heard so often from medical professionals. I suffer from anxiety and depression both of which can overwhelm me at times, but they have to take a back seat as I am also a carer for my husband who suffers with both physical problems and (as his psychiatrist calls them) ‘a complex range of mental health problems’ –borderline personality disorder/multi personality disorder the worst offenders.
That “you hide it well.” comment has always annoyed me. What do they expect me to behave like? Like many others in my situation I deal with my mental health the best way I can. I am a ‘glass is half full’ person and I always try to remain positive.
I find a lot of joy in nature. I love animals and the changing seasons. I find the way that the trees and plants rest and then spring back to life fascinating. The sight of the first snowdrops is always a joy in the depths of a bleak winter.
My hubby and I have a very special relationship where we have created our own normal. We have been married 16 years this summer and over the years I have learned so much about his mental health problems. Even with this knowledge his instability affects my own mental health and life has been very difficult at times.
The early years were the worst. His instability was constant and at that time I didn’t understand what was going on. He came from an abusive background and he has various personalities that can ‘come out to play’ especially if he is feeling scared or threatened. He has a lot of triggers that have to be avoided. This can be a real strain on my own resources.
"We have built up a strong resilience to his mental health problems and have found our own way of coping."
I have spent many hours, days and weeks talking him through everything and helping him become grounded again. Together over the years we have built up a strong resilience to his mental health problems and have found our own way of coping. It can be very hard to deal with at times as he can change so much he is like a stranger to me. I have taught him that he is safe with me and our close family.
"I am very protective of him – he is scared of people and people do not understand him."
We hide our mental health problems from a world that does not understand them. (Maybe that is where the doctor’s get the ‘hide it well’ comment from) Neither of us are ashamed or embarrassed them it is just easier not to tell people about them as past experiences of being honest have proved that. People know about hubby’s physical health problems but only very close family know about the mental health side of things. I am very protective of him – he is scared of people and people do not understand him.
He has no filters and can come across all wrong. To me he is my shining star. I know he is a lovely, kind man who just happens to have a fragile mind. He is my rock and I feel very lucky and proud to be able to share my life with him.
Six months ago I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and this affected my mental health greatly. It was an overnight life-changing event, and I could not get my head around it. I was not over weight and I ate fairly healthily, but I was told it was genetic and there was nothing I could do about it. Straight onto medication and pricking my finger three times a day (I hate needles) to check my glucose levels. I didn’t have space for this in my life, I had so much to deal with already. It felt unfair.
The shock made the dark dungeon in my head return in a big way, I tried to ignore it as my husband’s needs were greater than mine. I had to be strong and I couldn’t let this beat me but I could feel myself sliding into oblivion Talk about bad timing!
"My hubby’s support has been brilliant – when I am down he brings me back up again."
In the end I didn’t let diabetes beat me I have always had a thirst for knowledge and I love to research everything, so I borrowed library books and scoured the internet so I knew what I was dealing with. Researching everything helps my mental health. I need to have everything settled in my mind as this is my way of coping.
So in came a new diet for both of use and a new exercise regime for me (hubby can’t exercise due to the constant pain that he is in). It is still all quite new and has been hard at times, but I do have more energy. My hubby’s support has been brilliant – when I am down he brings me back up again. We both have a stupid sense of humour and can make each other laugh until we cry.
I feel so lucky to have his love and friendship. I am in awe of the man I share my life with: My husband, my hero, my stranger.
Read about Information and support
When you’re living with a mental health problem, or supporting someone who is, having access to the right information - about a condition, treatment options, or practical issues - is vital. Visit our information pages to find out more.
Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.