Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Abuse is not....A Mental Health Issue

My husbands ‘fragile’ mental health was always a factor in our relationship, when bad things happened, as they do in life he always seemed singularly unable to cope with them, suicide attempts became a frequent occurrence and there were points when I genuinely believed our relationship would end with him taking his own life, it was something I lived in fear of for many years.

It was ‘depression’ for the first few years of our marriage, then at some point, though I cannot remember when, it was decided, and again I’m not sure by whom, that it was more than depression, it was bi-polar mood disorder, he spent a lot of time on mood altering medicines, none of which ever made the blindest bit of difference to his tendency for blind rage.

During one of his Employment Tribunal cases he was sent for a mental health assessment, he came home and told me they had suggested that he actually had a personality disorder, he was very interested in this and took to google to research, not long later I was presented with a book about how to manage in a relationship with someone with borderline personality disorder. All of a sudden his weird behaviour seemed to make sense.
Gary Larson

Yet mental health professionals were always reluctant to diagnose him. I couldn’t understand it. To me it was obvious he was mentally ill, and as time went by he seemed to get worse, he didn’t only fly into rages whenever things weren’t ok, he flew into them even when life was good, citing things that had never actually happened as the reason; he was delusional and paranoid. I was angry that the mental health professionals didn’t ‘fix him’ if they’d only take seriously how ill he was he could get better and everything would be ok. He’d be pinning me against a wall literally foaming at the mouth because he’d say I was bullying him and trying to make him kill himself and I’d be wondering why this kind of behaviour wasn’t considered worthy of a section.

Even when I left this was my belief, I left because his behaviour which I put down to his mental health issues, was now impossible to live with and was harming the children. I did not leave because I didn’t love him, I did not leave with the intention of never going back, I left hoping that sooner or later he’d get sectioned, get help, get better and then we could carry on with life. I held onto this notion for months and months.

I have always thought “he has to be mentally ill, because if he’s not then he’s a terrible person.”  I think that perhaps those mental health professionals who have been reluctant to diagnose him, those employers who haven’t “made allowances for his illness” and have sacked him, those friends who have walked away from him who I have considered “intolerant” have accepted that actually he’s genuinely just a horrible person rather than a victim of some mental affliction. But this is not something I’ve ever been willing to accept. And logic dictated that the way he treated me, the way he treated the children made him a horrid human being. Buying into the notion that he was actually completely insane was my way of excusing his behaviour, of telling myself he wasn’t a bad person, he was a sick person, and he needed my help.

This is one of the reasons I was determined to stick around. I’d see his behaviour towards me as ‘self destructive’ I’d think “he’s lashing out and trying to destroy his own life by ruining his marriage, and pushing away his family, I’m not going to let him” I became not his wife but his carer and his emotional punchbag, all for the sake of my denial, all because for some crazy reason it seemed better than admitting I’d married an awful person.

And actually this has been the DV myth that’s been the most difficult for me to shake. I guess it’s because there clearly is something wrong with his mental health and I will never know to what extent he is ill and to what extent he is nasty, spiteful and selfish. But the point is this; it doesn’t matter. He might be completely barmy but he still knows suffering, pain and hurt. And knowing those things he still chose to inflict them on me and our children. He made that choice. Lots of people are insane and they don’t go around hurting other people, and those who do are responsible for their behaviour. My husband may well have felt awful about himself, he may have suffered the most horrid mental and emotional torment because of his mental illness, he may well have seen and heard things that didn’t exist and been utterly confused about what was real and what wasn’t. But he chose how he reacted to that torment, and he chose to react to it by tormenting me. That was not necessary, that was not okay, and it was not my responsibility to care for someone who continually hurt me.

If you are a carer and the person you care for hurts you, this is NOT a symptom of their illness, it is a choice they make. Please don’t put up with it as I did, seek help.  You can ring the National DV Helpline free and confidentially on  0808 2000 247 and I promise, even if you think it’s not real abuse, it’s just a sick person lashing out the Helpline will listen and will be happy to talk to you. 

Please check out the rest of the Abuse is not series by clicking on the tab at the top of this post

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful article, thanks for putting this together! This is obviously one great post. Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have so provided here. Best sports psychologist at ITZ Sports Psychology & Mental Game Coaching


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