How to deal with my paranoid partner?

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Frank Webb

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#1
Hello all

This is my first post on this site, so apologies if I am going over old ground.

My partner has mental illness which features many of the established behaviours: extreme paranoia about people close to her trying to harm her, gossip about her and being disloyal to her. She has been like this since before we met, but since we have lived together she has frequently accused me of all sorts of crimes and occasionally her rage spills over into physical violence.

She has accused me of trying to poison her, conspiring with friends and restaurant owners to poison her, damaging her fingers while she sleeps and numerous alleged affairs with other women. Needless to say all of this is imaginary, but to her it seems very real.

I have tried to get her some help from her GP's, but as she is in denial and will not give consent - she believes I am the one who needs medical treatment - the doctors can do nothing. Two doctors have referred her for a mental health assessment, but on each occasion she refused to participate.

There is a pattern whereby she has one of her "episodes" and once calmed down she will eventually apologise for attacking me (this has sometimes led to my having time off work with cuts to my head, black eyes etc.). However the pattern repeats because she still believes that I want to do her harm.

In particular, the accusation that I pull and bend her fingers while she sleeps comes again and again. She is at an age where symptoms of arthritis can commonly start to appear, but she refuses to countenance this an the explanation, claiming instead that she wakes to find me standing over her and pulling her fingers. Sleeping in separate rooms has not solved the problem - she claims I enter her room and leave again before she wakes properly.

Has anybody been faced with similar circumstances? The medics are telling me that as her behaviour stops short of that which would justify sectioning, there is no help available on the NHS unless she can be persuaded she has a problem and needs to get help. The advice I got from NHS Mental Health Services was to leave her - doesn't inspire me with confidence even if she did self-refer.

Any advice or experiences will be gratefully received.

Frank
 
calypso

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#2
Hello Frank and :welcome: to the forum.

May I ask how old she is? You say she is of an age where arthritis is normal so I take it she is older? This is important as I have an idea, but need to know this first.

As for her behaviour, is there any chance that you can ask if the Crisis Team can have her on their books, and then you can ring up for someone to see her on the day she is behaving like this? I don't know if that is the case, and if they will see her, but its a thought.

You say you are being battered. Men getting hurt by partners is one of the hidden abuses that can happen, and you need support for this, ( I am assuming you are a man here, forgive me if I am wrong). I think you need support also and you could ask the GP or MH services if there is a place you can go for help. I would look around for any self help groups in your locality too.

The trouble with paranoia is that by its nature, people won't believe they are doing anything wrong. Has she had any memory loss with this? I don't mean going into a room and saying, "what did I come in here for" but times when she denies it, but has done things and then forgotten, or made mistakes and then denied she did this?

If she is older, then there are two places on the Home Page which might help you. On is called "Psychosis and the Elderly Person" and the other is dementia. But I am NOT suggesting these are right, just trying to draw out more information.

Can you tell us anything else you have noticed in her behaviour which might help us understand more. Are there any triggers that you have noticed, which start off this behaviour, or times of day when its worse?

I am sorry you are going through this, I wish I could give you definitive answers, but you have my warmest thoughts.
 
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Frank Webb

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#3
Thanks Calypso.
Actually my partner is only 43, but my understanding is arthritis can occur well below this age.
If the place she has been sleeping is cold, then she tends to wake with stiff fingers and kicks off.
Generally speaking I think a lot of her anger is really driven by underlying issues like relations with her family and frustration at not being able to establish a career for herself in this country (she came here from the Middle East around 10 years ago). She has suffered a lot of trauma in her life, including an abusive first husband, and seems to expect similar bad behaviour from everybody she meets. Frank
 
Cazcat

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Hi Frank,

Sounds like you are having a really tough time. I'm going through a difficult time at the moment too sure to my partners acute paranoid beliefs. It's the first time that he has had an episode like this and l luckily he has not been violent towards me. He has accused me of being an undercover police officer, of cheating, of being pregnant to another man,of trying to give him aids and of harming children in his family.

I have also found it really hard to get help and felt I was left to deal with things on my own until things reached absolute crisis point. My partner also has no I insight into his paranoia or delusions and therefore getting help has been hard. Fortunately he does have insight into his depression and has accepted help from mental health services for this aspect.

Things got really bad really quickly and I had to leave our home as I didn't feel safe. I had been in talks with crisis team earlier that day about my concerns but they couldn't do anything as he refused to engage with them insisting that it was me with the problem. When things got really bad overnight he called the police to arrest me for the things he thought I had done. When I explained the situation they told me they couldn't do anything because he wasn't a danger to anyone but removed me to a safe place. I spoke to crisis team again who advised me to call the out of hours gp and request police presence to ensure he complied with an emergency psychiatric assessment. At this point he remained at home and agreed to engage with community intervention team. A couple of days later he attempted suicide and was sectioned for a few days and them sent home things continued to be really bad, he believes he is under survailance and that people are trying to kill him and is petrified, so he has sold our home and is now homeless in a strange city. And them the fun of trying to get services involved starts again. I phoned the services in his new area who agreed he really needs help but wanted a referral from the service in our area. They told me they can't make a referral as we don't know an address for him, he doesn't meet criteria for sectioning so they can't go down the police route. They told me all that we can do is wait for things to go wrong and him to be picked up by police or end up in a&e and access services by those routes, he also said he felt it wouldn't take long for this to happen, so I just hope there is someone there to pick him up when it does.

There are huge gaps in the services especially when people don't have insight. It's such a shame things have to get to crisis point before anyone can act. I feel that if someone could have got involved earlier then we might still be in our home together with support.

I'm not sure what else you can do. Just wanted to let you know that you are not the only one. I know how alone I felt and how exhausting and worrying it has been for me. Went to clear the remaining stuff from our home today and realised he hasn't even taken a coat or proper pair of shoes with him. And there is nothing I can do until he lets me.
 
calypso

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#5
That's fine, I can understand better now. I am not sure what to say, but I hope you can talk on here more and get more support.
 
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Frank Webb

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#6
Hi Cazcat

Thanks for sharing your experience - there certainly are some parallels with mine!

I agree it is a shame that the NHS puts the onus on us as unrecognized carers to deal with these situations with only the possible recourse to police or sectioning through A&E as a back-up. I am sorry that these "support" services were unable to prevent a bad outcome for you and your partner.

I do think GP's could be a bit more pro-active though. My GP got a taste of my partner's bad temper in one consultation he had with her, and so he is personally off the case. However I still regularly report to him, and we agreed that I should contact whichever GP is scheduled to see her for a routine appointment to ask him/her to casually ask her about her finger pain and anything else which might be bothering her. This might result in her eventually accepting that there might be an innocent explanation. I did this earlier this week - I asked for a female GP because I think there is more chance of her talking frankly to a woman, and this was arranged. However I don't know if the consultation was successful or not because the GP wouldn't tell me anything because of patient confidentiality!

Another symptom is her smelling gas inside the house. I had to call the emergency gas service last year, and our gas boiler engineer separately to confirm there was no mains gas leak. Then we moved to a new house and again she smelled gas! This time she blamed it on our neighbour, claiming she could hear him hammering a pipe into the party wall and injecting gas from a spray can. She forced me to go and ask the poor guy if he had actually done anything like this - if I hadn't done this she was threatening to report him to the police. She hasn't mentioned it for a while, but she is extremely health conscious. More recently she is worried about laser beams coming out of the television.

Life is never dull.

Frank
 
Cazcat

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#7
Hi Frank, things are certainly never dull!

I hope that the GPs are able to start to get through to your partner, it's great that you have a good relationship with them.

I've had a better day today, my partner called this morning he is still having a really tough time and I think the reality of being homeless is hitting home. Leaving town hasn't improved things like he hoped it would. We had a really good chat and he opened up a bit, think I managed to persuade him to to seek help. Either from his own team or through one where he is now. I feel a lot better than I did.
 
Cazcat

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Spoke too soon, had a phone call this evening in a really paranoid state. Apparently his mums told him shes going to try to get him sectioned. He's accusing me of all sorts again. Night times seem to be so much worse for some reason. Just wish he could recognise how ill he is and be more receptive to help. Oh well keep calm and carry on.
 
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Frank Webb

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#9
Hi Cazcat

Walking out would seem to be a high risk strategy, but maybe it will work out for the best in the end?

After the last violent episode I decided enough was enough. I had despaired of getting any practical help from the medical profession, so decided to deploy the only other weapon left. I took an overnight bag to work with me, and then told my partner by text I would not be coming home until she agreed to get help for her finger pain and for why she thinks I have caused it.

Initially I received a flurry of texts and voicemails demanding I return home immediately or she would bolt the doors and change the locks. I ignored these for a couple of hours until she eventually tracked me down by phone at someone else's house. By this time her mood had completely turned around, and she begged me to come home with profuse apologies for her actions in our fight. I decided to take her at face value and did go back, and since then we have got on really well with no major conflicts.

This occurrence and some of the things she has said since suggests that me leaving is one of her worst fears - she has no job and with English not being her first language she depends on me for quite a lot of everyday things. So on the face of it my high risk has paid off.

However, I have been here before! The problem is that she is at the good extreme of her bipolarity most of the time, and I always fall into the trap of thinking she has turned a corner and we can work through her problems in a civilised manner. But then something triggers it off again and the cycle repeats!

Although she apologises for using violence - this time she broke a wine glass and stabbed me in the back with it - she adds the rider that I should not do violence to her and reserves the right to beat me again.

In summary then, walking out or threatening to leave may reveal something about the strength of your relationship, and may bring some temporary respite, but is unlikely to resolve the underlying problems by itself. Maybe you could reach the same conclusion about your own adventures?

Anyway keep trying and let's continue to compare notes on here?

Frank
 
Cazcat

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#10
Hi Frank,

Glad to hear that things have settled down a bit for you. I agree though that as it doesn't address the underlying problem, it is likely to recur. I'm worried that she has said she reserved the right to beat you again. That suggests to me that she believes that is acceptable behaviour, which it certainly isn't. She has attacked you quite seriously. I do wonder if involving the police would be helpful firstly in reinforcing that the behaviour is not acceptable and secondly in helping to get her mental health assessment. I know that probably seems pretty extreme and against your instincts to protect her, but the police aren't there purely to punish wrongdoing but to protect too. Unfortunately the police have been involved many times with my partner regarding behaviour linked to his mental health problems and generally I have found them to be understanding and to try to help rather than punnish. On more than one occasion I have had to call them myself though, not through violence but to prevent potential suicide attempts or enforce treatment for attempted ones. The criteria they have to be able to act is that the person is a threat to themselves or others. If she is a threat to you, which when she has these episodes she does appear to be, then they have the power to detain her and if you explain about her mental health issues would likely take her to hospital and insist she participates in a mental health assessment. There is a risk that she may be charged for the assault though I think this would be unlikely if they find that there is an underlying mental health condition.

As for me the option of walking out was taken out of my hands. He called the police to have me removed from our home due to his paranoia about me. They recognised the situation for what it was, buy were unable to act as he was not deemed to be a threat however they did feel the need to remove me for my own safety. This was the crisis point where I was finally able to get a GP to step in and do an emergency psychiatric assessment and she asked for police back up to ensure that he complied. The community mental health team then got involved and advised me to stay away initially. Unfortunately I bumped into him at the gp. He was still very paranoid with me and angry that I had called the services in and demanded that I removed all my things from our home immediately. He has now sold our home, hence we are both technically homeless. Luckily I have family to stay with, unfortunately he doesn't.

On the up side he phoned me first thing yesterday morning and told me he had decided to ask the mental health team to admit him to hospital. I don't know if he has done this as yesterday afternoon the team phoned me looking for him as they had become very concerned that he had not made any contact with him. So who knows what is going on I can only hope for the best and wait until I hear something more.
 
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Frank Webb

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#11
Hi Cazcat

Thanks for your suggestion, however I have very little confidence in the Police in dealing with people with mental health conditions. Regardless of what their mission statements might say, in my experience the Police are only in the business of locking people up, and don't make a very good job of that most of the time. My partner would react wildly if she knew I had involved them, even just to give them a heads-up.

I am a little apprehensive today, as it is six weeks since our last major altercation, which is about the frequency. She was getting increasingly cranky over the weekend: asking me if I had poisoned her drinks, proposing spending large amounts of money on things we can't afford and blaming me for things done to us by others. I will have to tread carefully.

Anyway my situation is relatively tolerable compared to yours. Hope things improve for you soon.

Frank
 
Cazcat

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Hi Frank, maybe I've just been lucky with my experiences with the police and my partners mental health they have always been very good.

I hope that things settle down for you again without any crises. It's so tiring walking on eggshells trying not to trigger anything isn't it? I found things got worse when I was tired too, not sure if that's because I didn't deal with things as well because I was tired, or if there was something about my behaviour when I was tired that triggered something for him.

My situation is relatively settled at the moment he is back in touch with mental health team who have been helping him find somewhere safe to stay. Also he has finally agreed to ask doctor for a sick note which will entitle him to some benefits. He is self employed and has been insisting that there is nothing wrong with him but has finally agreed that he's not managing to work therefore will accept some benefits. So that takes some pressure off me as there is no way I can keep both of us afloat financially I was struggling when we were at the same address.
 
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Frank Webb

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#13
Hi Cazcat

Your observations about being tired are interesting. I think I have encountered this as well.

Late at night a few days after she had accused me of bending her fingers she casually told me - in a calm manner - that I need to change my behaviour if we are to continue to be happy together. If I had responded in a non-committal manner, i.e. neither admitting nor denying that I need to change behaviour, then I don't think there would have been a problem. As it was, I was feeling tired of the whole business, and of this accusation in particular, and told her assertively that she is the one whose behaviour needs to change. The result - Mount Etna!

I think the lesson here is that while we are the innocent victims of our respective partner's behaviour, nevertheless we are human beings with all the normal weaknesses and flaws in our character that everybody has. So yes, my bad mood was in this case the trigger for a violent episode.

Like our wonderful Police force, we can never be "off duty"!

Regards

Frank
 
Cazcat

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Hi Frank,

To right we can never be off duty. Came back to the area we live, had to go back to work and get back to my life at some point. Within hours of getting back he had attempted suicide again and I spent my first night back in a&e. Despite the rubbish context surprisingly it wasn't all bad. Whilst he is still very ill at the moment he is so much better than last time I saw him. Luckily he was ok and was sent home with the ongoing community support. He is being transfered to a new team this week, an early intervention for psychosis team which I am pleased about. He still has no insight into what is going on and I am hoping that these are the people with experience in helping people gain some understanding and regain control. I expect that we still have a long and difficult road to travel but it is so much easier to cope knowing it's not all down to me now. I hope that you can eventually get some support for your partner and yourself too. I have come to a realisation myself, I am willing to provide as much support as my partner wants through this time, but ultimately we can only continue together if he is able to gain insight into what is happening. For my own health I can't continue as things have been. I am willing to be his friend no mater what, but I need to look after myself too.

I hope that things are ok for you.
 
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Frank Webb

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#15
Hi Cazcat

Good to hear you have some progress.

I would welcome your views on the thorny question of who - if anybody - from close family and friends you can take into confidence and tell what is happening in these situations?

I have tried to keep my partner's extreme behaviour secret, only confiding in our GP's and my boss at work, who had noticed something was affecting my work performance. I have had good moral, if not practical, support from these people, but I have deliberately kept it from family and friends up to now.

My dad died last month, and this naturally brought us into more regular contact with my brother and sister, who have enjoyed reasonably friendly relations with my partner up to now. However my partner has alienated both brother and sister by firstly loudly suggesting we "go and look at the will" on the day he died. Then she pushed me to suggest that she could look after my mum - who has advanced dementia - at home rather than in the nursing home to avoid the care home fees having to be self funded. This second idea would not have been practical, but I raised it as a possible option as the £600 per week fees potentially will swallow up almost all our joint inheritance in a short time. Unfortunately my sister took it as a further sign that my partner does no care for our parents and is only interested in their money. Brother and sister are now not talking to us.

My partner has reacted in turn by painting my brother and sister as the ones not interested in caring for mum, and that they are plotting to kill me for my share of the inheritance. Needless to say I am not happy to leave things as they are, as we have my parents house to clear and sell off, which all has to be done sensitively and by agreement.

My dilemma is, do I make a full disclosure to my brother and sister about my partner's mental condition when I don't know if they will be sympathetic or not and be prepared to keep it confidential? If they are in the picture can they give me any useful support anyway? Spending money beyond our means is part of the picture and is an issue which I have struggled to deal with, but they may take the view that I should be stronger with her about this - easier said than done!

I have a friend who was best man at our wedding, who could be some help; however I can't be certain he wouldn't speak to other parties about it and something comes back to my partner with disastrous consequences.

What do you think?

Frank
 
Cazcat

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Hi Frank,

That is a really hard one to answer. The real problem is that mental health problems have such a stigma and there is a huge lack of awareness in the general population. I am really sorry to hear that you are going through this on top of losing your Dad. It has not been as major issue for me as things spiralled out of control so suddenly. I have spoken to my managers as similar to you it has had a huge impact on my work life too. Work have been very sportive, I work in the health service so managers do have some understanding. I have also spoken to my parents who try to be sportive of me, but are not sportive of me continuing a relationship with him as they are worried about me. They have discussed things with other family members who have told them how dangerous they think the situation is for me. Hence I can't really talk to them about any issues. I have also discussed it with a friend who has been a great source of support and given me a very unbiased view of things, which I have found the most helpful.

I can't really advise you on who to tell what I suppose it depends on how things are if things are really strained with your brother and sister it might help them understand the pressures on you, it may not make them any more sympathetic to her though. It would probably depend on their understanding of mental health and their beliefs about it. Your friend might be a god bet I found it helpful to chat with someone impartial. You could explain you want it confidential. I know my partner would be upset if he knew I was discussing things about his health but for my own health I need to be able to, it's not like I'm shouting it out to anyone who will listen.

Sorry I can't be more help really, it is a difficult call to make.
 
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Frank Webb

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#17
Hi Cazcat

Thanks for your comments.

I agree it's a difficult call. Since my last post my partner has swung between wanting a reconciliation with my brother and sister - with some recognition that she has behaved insensitively during our bereavement - and threatening to call the police to accuse them of trying to poison her.

She has a slight head cold or virus which is making her feel a bit dizzy, but assumes this is the result of poison gas which my brother has dispensed around my late dad's house. This is supposedly part of the plan to kill us both and steal our share of the inheritance.

Anyway we are going on a short holiday, which could improve her mood, but there is a high risk of it going the other way based on past form. A stressful week ahead!

How is it with you?


Frank
 
Cazcat

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#18
Hi Frank,

Oh dear it does sound like your partner is very unwell at the moment, it's crazy that the mental health teams can't get involved in these kind of situations. I don't understand why they won't, my understanding of the mental capacity act is that to have capacity you must be able to understand and retain enough information to make an informed decision. Only there are current levels of this e.g. what do you want for lunch compared to do you want to go into a nursing home. (the second being one of the most common I come across in my proffesional life. I don't understand if someone doesn't have insight into their mental health problems how they can make an informed choice about if they need to have input from a mental health team.

As for me I've had a bad day today, but nothing to do with my partner just had an unpleasant meeting at work with senior management, I sobbed my way through most of it joined by my more senior colleague and we both left work in tears, only our junior kept it together. Hardly professional but just can't cope with any additional stress at the moment. Generally I am lucky to have a job I love but as with all areas of the health service things are cut to the bare bone and beyond at the moment.

Anyway have had a good weekend with my partner we only had one incident where he was concerned that some people wanted to kill him and spent some enjoyable time together. He is on an antipsychotic medication which seems to be helping a lot and his work with the community teams is ongoing, I've been told to expect it to take a long time for things to improve, but things do seem to be going ok.

I hope that your holiday goes well and that your partner copes with it ok.
 
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modafinilguy

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#19
To the OP,

It is certainly your choice if you stay with a partner that is like this, but you say she has always been like this, and I mean personally I would not tolerate it.

Not only are you a victim of violence (and who knows how far it could go), but she seems incapable of gaining enough insight into her problems to get help.

Further she accused you are serious things, you need to be careful, she may accuse you of something very serious like rape or child molestation, and the possibility exists you could end up in prison.

Certainly if you choose to stay with her, then I wish you the best, but you may have to use the on power you have and that is being willing to leave if she does not agree to treatment.
 
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Frank Webb

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#20
Thanks for your advice modafililguy.

The reason I went to my GP's with my problems was mainly to get help for my partner, but also to have my concerns recorded should anything happen which could reflect badly on me.

You are right, my partner regularly has accused me of some of the things you mention and more! Furthermore, the GP's advice is I should do "what I have to do" to defend myself against a violent outburst, which is fine as far as it goes. But what if I lose my temper and hit her back, causing significant injury? I have no doubt the powers that be would see that as a simple case of a wife batterer, so I don't intend to go there, but I have been sorely tempted. Having the medical consultations on record affords some protection, however how much will the GP's divulge should I find myself in court? They have a tendency to hide behind patient confidentiality.

The real issue I have is whether I can walk away with a clear conscience? At the moment I think not. My partner has serious mental illness and is in need of psychiatric help - that's my GP's analysis and several of his colleagues. So she is not a fundamentally bad person - quite the opposite in fact, but her bad side is driven by her mental condition which has developed in her past before we met. I feel my responsibility is to keep trying to patiently persuade her that her behaviour is not normal, and she should ask for treatment. If I can help her resolve the underlying pressures which cause her to feel unhappy I think I have a chance.

Frank