Friday, June 20, 2008

Questions From Readers

In January I received some questions from a reader, prompted by a post I had written in November 2006. The post was entitled “Blip”, and at that time Mr Man’s medication had been changed, causing a temporary fluctuation in his symptoms. This had led to him believing that many of our friends were spies, and that even his Psychiatrist was “in on it”. You can read the full post here. Below is a portion of my correspondence with the reader, for the benefit of those who may be in a similar situation.

"How do you handle it when Mr Man says things like “she’s in on it”? And how do you handle living with someone who always believes that people are spies? I have fears about when my hubby comes home – how am I going to feel with him always thinking that people are after him? I have a hard time when he thinks I am against him. I don't know how I will react if he is going to say stuff like that throughout the years."

I understand your fears at present. When I first realised that Mr Man was suffering from Schizophrenia I didn't think he would be well ever again. But in time, and usually with medication, things do get better. It can seem slow at times, but then other times you look back and you suddenly realise how far he has come. The key is not to compare to what he was like when he was well, but to compare to what he was like at his worst.

At the time of writing this “blip” post, I didn't actually challenge Mr Mans beliefs too strongly. I think I said something like "Do you remember telling me that you realise these beliefs are part of an illness? When your meds get into your system you won't feel like this anymore" But he didn't remember it, and it seemed to confuse him, so I chose not to challenge it anymore, only reassure him and distract him from those thoughts as much as I could. Dwelling on them definitely doesn't help.

I was aware that I would have to keep a closer eye on him and I made sure he took his medication. Apart from that I tried to carry on as normal. It really did turn out to be just a blip and he didn't need to see his doctor after all. If the symptoms had persisted or had got much worse I would obviously have had to contact his doctor against his will.

Mr Man isn't like this all the time though. Once a person is relatively stable on medication the fluctuations in symptoms aren't usually severe. Also, you do learn to adjust and accept certain things in time.

"His social worker said that if I took over his care, not only will I be the wife but I will have to be the one responsible for him taking his medication, and if he doesn't then I will be the one forcing him into the hospital. So it could strain our marriage. Do you have any experience with this?"

Yes, I have had to make sure that Mr Man takes his medication, and I have also had to have him detained under a section of the Mental Health Act before. Even now, I get Mr Mans medication ready for him, but that's mostly because he would probably forget to take them otherwise! I don't usually have to watch him take them these days, but if he becomes unwell, like in this "blip" post, then I have to watch him take them to make sure he has had them. It's when he starts to doubt that he is ill that he is likely to skip medication, but most of the time he understands that he is ill and needs the tablets. They call this "insight".

We have had problems with this in the past, but communication was the key for us. I always tried to give Mr Man lots of reassurance that I loved him. I knew he didn't believe that he needed the medication but I had to ask him to trust me and I would try to reassure him that I would never make him take anything that would harm him. At times he only took the tablets for me, but at least he took them.

"Trust Me" by Philippa King

It was painful sometimes when I sensed that he was suspicious of me, but I had to remind myself that it was temporary and that as soon as he started to improve he would understand.

For a while it wasn't uncommon for him to ask what each tablet was called and what it was for. Understanding his fear helped me to be patient with him and explain about each medication time and time again. He would especially ask these questions if the chemist had used a different manufacturer that month and the packaging was different or the tablet was a different colour or shape. They really should think of these things shouldn't they?

The day he was admitted under a section of the Mental Health Act was a strange day. Although he had refused to go to the Doctors with me, when the Doctor came to our home he didn't become argumentative at all. He refused to go into hospital voluntarily, but he seemed to just accept the situation when they enforced the section. He didn't seem angry at me either. This was his third admission, and each hospital stay had been a lengthy one. I suppose he knew by that point that I was going to support him as much as I could, just as I had done on both previous occasions. It's different for everyone though.

Hopefully it will never come to that point with you and your husband. It really depends on how much insight he manages to gain through his medication. One thing I would say though (and I'm not suggesting that you would do this) is never lie about anything, even if you think it will protect him. I have always been completely honest with Mr Man about his medication and everything. When our home was broken into he was still in hospital. It would have been easier to not tell him about it, as he thought the burglars were spies, but I knew if I didn't tell him he would lose trust in me when he eventually found out. Maintaining trust is vital.


Mark Brown said...

What a terrific post.

Matter-of-fact personal stories of overcoming the challenges of mental health difficulty like this really do make a difference.



Mr Mans Wife said...

Thank you Mark, and thank you for stopping by my blog.

I was very pleased to receive my copy of One in Four today, and I have added a link in the side bar under "links".

Thank you for the opportunity to write for One in Four. I would be very happy to do so again in the future.

Anonymous said...

Good to see you back again, hope everything is well! great thought provokeing post as normal.


Currently in hosp what fun!

Mr Mans Wife said...

Oh no! Are you having a bit of a relapse or is something else wrong? I'm glad you're still able to get access to a computer and internet. Thanks for commenting Slurry. I hope you feel better soon and are able to go home again. Please keep us updated if you are able to x

Roses said...

I just thought I'd drop in and say hi. Hope you are both well.

Seaneen said...

Brilliant post. Welcome back, you :) xxx

Mr Mans Wife said...

Hi Roses, thanks for dropping in. Things are just kind of ticking along here. I really need to write an update but it's been so long that I can't remember what or when things have happened! I hope things are well with you and yours too.

Hey Seaneen :) That's always a compliment coming from you. Thanks for the welcome.

uphilldowndale said...

Great post, good to here from you, I've been wondering how things are

Mr Mans Wife said...

Hi UHDD! *waves* :)

What a lovely welcome from everyone! Thank you!

Carol said...

You know, six months ago, it seemed like my DH was never going to get better, and, now that we've found the right medication, he is closer to his "normal" self than I ever dreamed he would be again. But sometimes I forget how well he's doing and say to myself "well, back before all of this happened, he used to...." and, as you said, I can't compare to "before", all I can really say is that he is so much better now than he was a year ago. And count my blessings on that, instead of complaining about what we still don't have.

Mr Mans Wife said...

It's so true Carol. I think maybe it gets easier with time. It's hard not to think of what has been lost when a loved one has recently become ill. It's like going through a grieving process, which of course is different for everyone. Once we accept that things will be a little different from now on, it becomes much easier to cope, and every improvement is a bonus.

Thanks for commenting Carol.

Barbara K. said...

I just found your blog and really appreciate the honesty and insight you bring to your posts. I blog about couples and illness and have already learned a lot from you.
Thank you.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thank you Barbara, and welcome to my blog.

I've had a look at your blog and can relate to so much, both as a "carer" and a sick person. I'm glad my blog has been helpful to you too.

Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou MMW, so glad to see you back!!
Recovering from a bit of a major relapse, and drugged to the eye balls, but getting there slowley but surely, with the odd blip along the way. hope your ok?


Mr Mans Wife said...

I'm sorry to hear that Slurrey. I hope you feel much better very soon. Do you know what triggered your relapse?

We're not too bad thanks. Mr Man has been a bit "wobbly" but he's coping very well. I shall post about that soon.

Now that my own depression is more under control (I hope), I plan to post more regularly.

Thanks for the welcome back Slurrey. I hope the staff are treating you well.

Harlowquinn said...

This blog is truly a God send. My own Mr. Man has currently done a run, he relapsed at the end of March, and I think he is having another one now. He won't speak to me at all, but will leave the odd message for others on his facebook, which makes me feel worthless. I am trying my hardest to understand, but I am at my wits end. I do not know why I have been singled out as he has told me :he is not cloer to anyone, as I am to you". This really feels like it's over for us. I'm not giving up on him, but he's given up on me. I am devastated. I don't know what to do. Thank you for posting your stories, it helps me cope better, as I am doing this all on my won. Best of luck to you and yours.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Harlowquinn, I'm sorry that things are so difficult for you at the moment. My own Mr Man often copes better communicating with people online than face to face or on the telephone, and it seems even easier when it's people that he doesn't actually know in "real life". I know it's so hard not to take it personally though. Maybe it's because you are so close that he can't cope with talking to you at the moment? I know when Mr Man is unwell he finds it hard to communicate with his family, even via email.

Is your Mr Man actually missing? You could ask the police for help in finding him, as he could be considered vulnerable if he is unwell and without medication.

Please don't struggle on your own though. You are always welcome to post here, even if it's just to let off some steam, but you could also contact the community mental health team (your local GP surgery will have the number) and ask if there is a carer support worker for your area. They can help with all sorts of things, from benefits and housing to emotional support and finding time out.

Thank you for your comment Harlowquinn. I hope you manage to get the support you need.

Cosmo said...

Hi ther mr mans wife, I feel your pain, thank you so much for sharing your posts and comments with us all, I feel as though I am in the same boat as to speak, my partner and love of my life has paranoid schizophrenia and bad depression and has so since 12 years of age, I now feel not so alone since reading about your experiences. My gorgeous man, as we shall call my partner is supposed to be on seroquel which helps a great deal but only to a certain extent and also takes mirtazaphine for depression. currently he has stopped taking his medication and does this every couple of months, now i am up to the challenge of convincing him to start taking it again, he is still on his anti depressants, thank goodness, but we still get by. Since he has been living with myself, since october last year he has not been hospitalised, I attempt to keep a very safe secure and routine environment where he manages to feel safe enough so far, so good. I myself am on anti depressants and diazepam to allow myself to go out in public and not get nervous and anxious and worry about how he is at home by himself, we have four children between us and we abide in Australia, so currently I am dealing with my own issues as well as being gorgeous mans carer and running a household full of children. I just wish to thank you for sharing your experiences and letting me know that I am not the only one who struggles on particular days to keep the man I love and adore from falling over the edge. Thank you and I would love to chat to you more, if you are available and have the time. Warm Regards,

Harlowquinn said...

well tonight was almost it. I cannot deal with the apathy, with being ignored while he gives others his attention. I am so close to breaking my word to my own because...I just can't do this. He sent me a message on Friday saying "have a safe weekend"and that was it, I thought that meant he was back, and that we could talk again. I was wrong, clearly. I hate begging him for his attention, when I can see he can chat it up on facebook with no bloody problems. Everyone but me. He has never left me a message or anything. These girls suspect, but after the Greyhound thing, the likelyhood of him EVER telling anyone he has Schizophrenia are nill. He was my best friend, and I thought we were close "I am not closer to anyone than I am to you" Is that so? Why then, does he ignore me? I gave him my word, I would never leave him, I would stand by him for the rest of my life, until I was old and grey. He said "that's scary for a kid that can't act right" but he never told me to go. So tonight, i had yet another one-sided conversation with him and i told him this is unfair. We were so close, and now i come in last place to everything and everyone. Do they reserve this kind of emotional abuse for those they are closest to? Is that it? I am so close to suicide over this, it's not even funny. People keep telling me to walk way, but everyone else has. These people are aquaintances he says "no one he is really close to" so...why me? Why can't I be treated like all the other girls? This isn't fair. I love him, but this is killing me, and he doesn't even care. Sorry to carry on like a whiny brat, but so lost. I can't go on like this.

Harlowquinn said...

and a side note, these girls are regular coffee dates for him, so he does see them in real life. It makes me feel worse, knowing that they get from him, what I sould be getting. I am trying not to be jealous, but it's hard. He leaves me with the burden of knowing he is SZ, and these girls don't have to do anything, all they have to do is show up and he falls all over them. it's mean and cruel. somewhere inside he has to know how wrong it is to treat someone this way, and if this is all he is going to do, he should tell me it is over, and let me go. I'm not bailing on him...but if he asked me to go away, if it was what he wanted me to do. I would.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Comso, thank you for your comment. I’m glad that my blog has been of comfort to you. It sounds like you really have your hands full! Although it has caused me great distress in the past, I realise that our situation is much easier due to not having any children. I take my hat off to you.

I’m sorry that you are having problems at the moment with your Gorgeous Man not taking his medication, but it sounds like you are doing a fantastic job of keeping him out of hospital. I’ve been meaning to write a post about why people stop their medication for some time now.

Thank you for stopping by and sharing your experiences. To be perfectly honest I am hopeless at keeping up with my emails, but I try to reply (eventually) to all of the comments I receive, so please feel free to stop by and comment as often as you like.


Harlowquinn, I’m so sorry; it sounds like you are going through a really rough time at the moment. I have no idea how much of your Mr Mans behaviour is due to his illness, and how much is simply part of his personality. However, I remember a time when my own Mr Man made a lot of effort to appear “normal” and well to others, and this left him so drained that he had little or nothing left for me. At the time I felt jealous and hurt, but I suppose looking back I can see that I was the only one he felt comfortable enough with to just be himself.

I’m not trying to justify your Mr Mans actions, as like I said, I don’t know how much of this is due to his illness and how much is due to his personality. When you ask: “Do they reserve this kind of emotional abuse for those they are closest to?” the answer is no; that is not a characteristic of the illness, but everyone is so individual, and having a diagnosis of Schizophrenia has no bearing on that persons personality or values at all.

I sincerely hope you can either get this issue resolved with your man, or find some closure. x

Harlowquinn said...

I think that is the case, he has to pretend with everyone else, but with me...I just know and I accept him. He was not like this when we first met, it was only after he stopped taking his meds in March that this came out. He is like this when he is off his meds. He plays normal with everyone else, but ignores me. He says he has a hard time talking to me. And then sayd things like "if you really knew me" which is stupid to say the least, considering he tells me he is not closer to anyone than me. He goes back and forth. I told him tonight, that I pretty much knew he was off his meds, and that I was worried, Again one-sided. this is not Jesse, not the one i met. This is relapse off his meds Jess, the same one he has been since he came back mid may. I don't know him anymore. He won't let me go, at least he won't tell me and i won't let him go. We are just two very stupid people. Maybe he's the smart one to ignore me, I thought I was good for him, maybe I'm not.

Harlowquinn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mr Mans Wife said...

Harlowquinn, I'm sorry that things are so difficult for you at the moment. I don't think you have screwed anything up - you were understandably concerned about your man so you sought help for him.

This sounds like a very difficult situation. I've read through the conversation and it seems that the Russian girl was a hallucination as he says "I was told that she was never here but I think she was". Then later he explains that he didn't need to call you because someone was already there - the Russian girl. (I'm sorry if I'm stating the obvious, but you didn't say either way whether you understood this or not)

In a situation like that (when he had just told you he had taken "stuff"), when you're not completely sure of a persons mental state, and you're not sure which drugs they have taken or how much, it's difficult to help them from a distance, over a messaging service. If you were unable to call him and speak to him directly, or unable to go to his home, I think you did the right thing by calling his parents. Understand why he is angry and hurt though - WE know that he needs help, but he probably can't see that. He may not understand or believe that he is ill, and may be angry at people trying to force him to take medication all the time. Perhaps he has already fallen out with his parents about it in the past? Also, he'll be angry and confused because people keep telling him things that are different to what he believes is true - such as the Russian girl not really being there.

I can't say why his parents would have told him that it was you that called them. Maybe he demanded to know and they felt they had no choice?

I know it seems unbelievable that they didn't even realise how poorly he was, but just as he does with his other friends, he probably keeps up a very good pretence in front of them.

Harlowquinn, you are not a loser. He maybe feels that you have betrayed him, but if you were the only person he admitted feeling suicidal to, that is a heavy burden to carry, especially if you do not have the means to physically be there and help him through it. He may be angry for a while, but hopefully in time he will calm down, and maybe when he feels better he will understand why you had to do what you did.

I hope that helps.

I've decided to delete your comment because it seems quite personal to read someone elses conversation, and anyone can read these comments.

Harlowquinn said...

No, I did understand that she was a hallucination, and it ties to me in a weird way, because he know I am Russian, and he has had hallucinations of me before.

This is not the first time I outted him, I did so after his first relapse. Jess does not get along with his family. They are ashamed of him, and I am his only companion, the others see him every 3 weeks or so, and most don't bother to check on him until they haven't spoken in weeks. they don't notice when he is gone. Their lives would not end if he died, mine would.

I had gone over this in my mind when he relapsed back in March, I made the decision that if it came to this, I would sacrifice all I had with Jesse to keep him safe, if it came to this.

My friend said he kept the conversation going because somewhere inside he knows that I did this out of love for him, not out of malice. Wheh he relapsed in march I tried to kill myself, and the same night I was attempting he also tried to kill himself, he told me in an email. I then finked on him to his mum.

His parents don't know what is going on because they have almost no contact with him, they just don't want him around them, they don't even like him being in the house. He is all alone, and if I didn't know his so well, to know when he is ill...

what would happen? I know he is sick, before he even does.

As I type this, he still has me on his MSN messenger list, which is a good sign, he's quick with the delete button, and the facebook was a means of keeping me from contacting his mum or her contacting me.

I understand he is upset, but the alternative is he will die. My husband was 19 when he committed suicide, he was also SZ so I know how the story ends, when they don't get help. I was 18 years old, and I did my best...but he died anyways.

I just hope, he will forgive me. I did this because I love him. It is that simple. I told him, I would stand by him the rest of my life, relapses, breakdowns...I was never going to leave him and that if I was not sure I could love him on the good days, and love him more on the bad ones, that I would have never fought to get him to come back in the first place.

I hope all is not lost, because he is the best thing to have ever happened to my life. He is my life, he is my sun and moon and everything in between, maybe one day he will see that.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Harlowquinn, you have been through so much already and it is obviously taking it's toll on you. I can only imagine the trauma of losing someone through suicide, and then living with the fear of it happening again. No wonder you feel suicidal at times.

Please get some emotional support for yourself. I think this has to be your priority right now. You will be able to support Jesse much easier once you have support for yourself. Otherwise, I fear that you may both go under.

I don't know where you live, but maybe your GP could arrange some sort of counselling for you. This isn't because I think you're "losing it" or you're emotionally weak or anything like that - but we all need support to get us through difficult times in our lives, and it seems that you have had more than your fair share of difficult times.