struggling to move on after partner's episode

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xoco52

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Joined
Jun 15, 2018
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#1
Hi all, this is my first post so I hope I'm doing it right. I believe I have undiagnosed depression (waiting for an appointment to figure out) but I am caring for someone with mental illness. Hope its ok to post.

My long term life partner has just a few weeks ago come home from hospital after a serious psychotic episode. It had never happened before and was really traumatic for both of us-- basically, he had a growing paranoia that got worse and worse and ended up having to be taken to the hospital because he was completely out of control. Before this happened, we were struggling a lot, he would have really really extreme emotions pretty much constantly and I did put up with physical and emotional abuse. He always regretted it and was always trying hard to work on controlling his behavior. I sensed that it was actually out of his control and not actually his fault-- when he got aggressive it was like he became a different person. I suspected bipolar or something along those lines but he was always going to counseling and never was diagnosed.

Now after going to the hospital he is diagnosed with bipolar and with the medication he has, the extreme emotions have completely stopped as well as all episodes of abuse. I have been 100 % behind him every step of this journey and completely committed to his recovery, and I was so happy when he was finally coming home and feeling better. He is doing so so so much better-- committed to his own recovery, taking care of himself, basically putting no burden on me, even cooks his own food (which he never did before). But now that things are going so well I can't seem to relax and I don't understand why. I feel completely disconnected to everything and it scares me. I have no motivation to do anything, particularly when he is around. I'm totally confused too- I have been reading that bipolar does not cause violence, but if that is the case, why did all the violence suddenly stop with the medicine? I can't stop being afraid it's going to happen again either, I can't sleep from nightmares.. etc. I was fine while we were in crisis, now that we are doing well I feel completely messed up. I also am afraid to talk to him about this, as I feel it's too soon to bring up memories of the actual psychotic episode, and I don't want to trigger him or burden him while he is still recovering.

Long story short I'm confused by my own feelings and I wonder why I'm not happier, when I would have given anything for this (medication and sense of peace) just a few weeks ago. I feel guilty and lonely and completely detached from everything. Since I'm not in any crisis I can't get a counselor to see me any time soon even though I feel desperately like I can't stand living like this anymore.

Sorry for the long rant, and I apologize if this isnt appropriate for this forum either
 
Cazcat

Cazcat

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Sep 12, 2013
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2,425
#2
Hi xoco52,

Welcome to the forum, you are most definately welcome here. When I first joined the forum my husband was going through his first (recognised) psychotic episode and I found a huge amount of help and support here. I also gained a much better understanding of psychosis.

Over the years I have realised that psychosis doesn't just affect the person experiencing it, it affects those close to them just as much. It is very common that once the crisis passes and our adrenaline levels drop we collapse in a heap. My own mental health has been seriously affected at times by my husband's psychosis.

I'm glad that you have an appointment with your GP. Do you have any support from your husband's mental health team? My husband's team have kept me afloat too the last few years. The other thing I would advise looking for is a mental health carers support group in your area. I have only just realised/accepted that I am a carer and accessed this type of support and I wish that I had done it sooner. You are also entitled to a carers assessment from your local authority to look at what support you need.

I'm too tired to give a full reply tonight, but I'm happy to chat to you further either here or through PMs if you prefer. And don't worry, they way you are feeling is completely normal in your circumstances. I also reccomend the book My lovely Wife by Mark Lukash, where he talks very honestly about his experience of supporting his wife through psychosis.
 
Cazcat

Cazcat

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#3
But now that things are going so well I can't seem to relax and I don't understand why. I feel completely disconnected to everything and it scares me. I have no motivation to do anything, particularly when he is around.
From my own experience and from talking to other people who have been in a similar situation this is incredibly common. I developed PTSD after one of my husband's psychotic episodes, where he had really frightened me. Psychosis incredibly traumatic for all involved. During the crisis our adrenaline keeps us going and then as our adrenaline levels drop everything hits us full force.

I'm totally confused too- I have been reading that bipolar does not cause violence, but if that is the case, why did all the violence suddenly stop with the medicine?
Most of the literature you will find (particularly on the Mental Health charity websites who are focusing on reducing stigma) will tell you that mental illness does not generally cause violence, and in the most part this is true. I have also read research which quoted statistics that suggested that in cases of untreated psychosis there is a significantly increased risk of violence. My husband can become very agitated and aggressive when unwell, normally this is part of a fight or flight response that kicks in due to fear of the things that he believes are going on a ground him. His CPN calls it hyperarousal. The other thing is that just because most individuals don't become violent with bipolar doesn't mean that none do. You know your partner better than anyone to make a judgement about when his behaviour is unusual and you have seen the changes with medication too. Don't get to hung up on what the literature tells you because each person is an individual with an individual experience of their condition.

I can't stop being afraid it's going to happen again either, I can't sleep from nightmares.. etc. I was fine while we were in crisis, now that we are doing well I feel completely messed up.
This is completely normal too. Counselling can be helpful although not always the best thing for trauma. I have a counsellor I've been seeing on and off for years through my work place. I also see a NLP therapist privately from time to time who really helped with the PTSD. Do your husband's mental health team provide any support for you? The NICE guidelines for psychosis and schizophrenia state that a minimum of 10 sessions of family therapy should be offered when someone has suffered psychosis. This was something that we did a lot of with CPNs from my husband's team initially and then later we saw his team's family therapist which we both found really helpful to help us deal with the psychosis and how it had affected both of us and our relationship. There is also a reccomendations for support specifically for the friends/family/carers of people who have suffered Psychosis, sometimes provided by the Mental Health teams themselves, but often commissioned from local mental health charities. You need to talk to your husband's team about a) what support is available for you and b)what work they can do with you both about spotting early warning signs and putting crisis prevention plans in place so that you know that you have a safety net for the future. This is something that I have found very helpful and reassuring and has also helped us to catch relapses early and stop them reaching crisis point.

I also am afraid to talk to him about this, as I feel it's too soon to bring up memories of the actual psychotic episode, and I don't want to trigger him or burden him while he is still recovering.
I remember feeling that way, I let the CPN lead on this and was guided by them. Infact it's only very recently through doing some crisis prevention planning with his CPN that we have properly discussed what happened in my husband's worst crisis (the one that led to diagnosis)

Long story short I'm confused by my own feelings and I wonder why I'm not happier, when I would have given anything for this (medication and sense of peace) just a few weeks ago. I feel guilty and lonely and completely detached from everything. Since I'm not in any crisis I can't get a counselor to see me any time soon even though I feel desperately like I can't stand living like this anymore.
Again completely normal. You have been through a he'll of a lot and you are going to have all sorts of emotions. I still sometimes get caught out by a wave of conflicting emotions. With any new diagnosis there is a grieving process that accompanies it.