I have been with my husband for over 20 years, 13 of those years in marriage. There was a time when things were normal: we did things together, dined in restaurants, had a business together…all of the normal things a married couple do. About 6 years ago we lost our business, our apartment and all of our money and ended up living with his parents. It was a stressful move and his parents didn’t make it an easier with the way the acted towards us; we were like unwelcome guests that they never met before. My in-laws are extremely dysfunctional people to put it nicely! After 2 years of living there and my husband dealing with the stress, he had his first psychotic break down at 44. (Now I have to tell you that when I was 9, my father had a severe head injury and was also diagnosed Paranoid Schizophrenic, so I have some experience living with this prior to my husbands diagnosis.)
I cannot tell you how devastating it was…I was speechless and didn’t understand where the delusions and paranoia came from. I was beside myself and after dealing with it for about 4 months, I finally called someone and had them come to the house and evaluate him. They took him to the hospital and admitted him into a psychiatric hospital the following day. He was gone for about 3 weeks and came home, angry at me of course because I had him “committed”, but he was better than when he left. That was the first time and there have been 2 more incidents since then and one of them led to a 5 month stay in a state psychiatric facility only for him to come out and stop taking his meds 4 months later. He just got out of the hospital again last week after a 7 day stay. He seems better and swears he won’t go off his meds again, but I doubt he will stick to it. Although, this time he is acknowledging he has a mental illness.
There in lies the sadness of the situation: The Meds! If he would just take the “meds” he would be ok until they stop working for him, but we haven’t gotten to that point yet. I have been hitting my head against the wall wondering if there was more I could do to avoid this; maybe I should have pushed harder for him to see someone when the depression set in and he was crying to me that he couldn’t take it anymore and he felt like he was going to crack. And he did!
Living with him is hard. I never know what to expect. We have a 10 year old son who has been like a rock this entire time but I know that there is only so much a young boy can understand or take. My husband tries to interact with him but there are times that he withdraws completely and doesn’t talk to me or our son. My husband has become socially withdrawn and most of our neighbors won’t bother with him, but he doesn’t want to have contact with them either. At one point, I was working part time and worked very hard to be hired as a full time manager at night, which I achieved, only to lose it 3 months later because I needed to be home with my son at night.
Our marriage has taken a real beating; we don’t sleep in the same room and the reason is because he would go long periods without taking care of his hygiene. And after a while, I just didn’t care anymore if we slept in the same bed or not. When he is in psychosis, I get so angry with him that all I want to do is yell at him to snap out of it or I make sarcastic comments to him regarding his delusions that I know doesn’t help. But no matter how angry I am towards him or how hopeless I feel, I will never leave him. There is no one else to take care of him and the thought of him being mentally ill and homeless is enough to make me stay. So now we are living like brother and sister…sad, but that is how it is. I miss the man I married and I think I have finally come to terms that this is how he is going to be and there isn’t a thing I can do about it. The only thing I can say is that I need to be more understanding and perhaps seek counseling for myself and my son! If anyone has any thoughts or pointers on this discussion, I would like to hear them!