11-07-2019 09:35 PM
This is is my first post here. My husband has bipolar 1, has probably had it most of his life but it became a big problem in our married life when he resigned from a job (a matter of conscience) and we had a lot of stress and uncertainty. That was when I was pregnant with our second child, who is now 7.
I dont know how to fill you in on all the stress it has been, but long story short he was admitted to hospital in February after so long of limping through. He had already acknowledged that he needed to be on meds again in November, and had started some. When he came out of hospital he had weekly appointments with his psychiatrist to try get his meds working. Through a lot of trial and error he is now on a mix of four meds. The final med -the last piece of the puzzle, without which he was still coming home from work grey and ashen faced with untolerable anxiety- blunted his affect so badly at first I was quite distressed about it and we decided he should go off it after a few days. That was Easter Monday. It became apparent that he really truly needed it to function - so he went back on it. His affect is now a bit improved but it continues to cause me to feel unsettled.
We also have 4 young children 18months-9yo. Our second has autism (level 1) and needs help with speech/toileting/anxiety. He also is back to having ADHD issues and I am waiting for us to have appointment with a new Paed. Our eldest has always been different - asynchronous learner, extremely intense. My baby suffered from a severe feeding aversion and is now better but there was a lot of stress with that. We also homeschool. This has been stressful but it is life giving to me. I have hobbies, sewing and reading. We belong to a wonderful church. I have really good friends. Family who are great at offering financial and emotional support. I FaceTime with a group of special needs mums who use the same curriculum. My husband and I alternate taking every other Sunday afternoon ‘off’ while the other person takes the kids.
Since we moved 18months ago we have had so many big things happen aside from my husbands bipolar being so relentless. It has been an unusual number of things that happened. I have gone through times where I would have a screaming outburst at my kids. Like I’d be patient and patient and patient and then someone does something where they are whining for me when I’m trying to get space or I’m already working hard getting everyone their food and someone keeps nagging me that they want theirs now.
Then I would realise how strung out I was, reinstitute sewing time/reading time as a regular practice etc which would have fallen to the wayside and it would settle down.
I felt down at Christmas when my husband’s mental health was all over the show and I had a baby who wasn’t doing hand to mouth anything at nearly 12months, I had nasty eczema on my nipples that was excruciating and he would only feed off me. I cried and told my husband I didn’t know how I could go on. He told me I needed to sleep, which I did, and I kept feeling low, then a month (?) later I felt better.
Also I am a person who thrives on warmth.
Since Easter when my husband went on his affect blunting medication I started to feel really anxious. I have an anxious personality and have suffered from anxiety for most of my life I think. I saw a counsellor 9-10 years ago and sorted out a bunch of things and it really took a backseat. Then all of a sudden it is back, chest pain, just feeling wretched, worse than anything I had experienced. Before that my son’s anxiety had become severe, he was even having accidents and was petrified of being alone. I was feeling v motivated to get myself fixed up so I wouldn’t make his problem worse. I listened to a book which helped for a while. I got a referral to a psychologist. I’ve been having trouble sleeping which is very not like me.
Last week my son had unusual outbursts over an obsession. It was on and off for 3 days (M/T/W). He was trying not to and apologised in the evening of each day. He was making his own strategies of what to do to help his problem. But there was wrestling him to the house so he didn’t run on the road (I am a small person and it was very difficult physically), him trying to break windows etc, wanting to go buy the toy he saw at Woolworths. 2 days I had to call my husband at work. He is amazing with my son. He uses his deep calm voice and my son loves his dad being so stable and predictable and easy to read, it really helped. The third day in between my son’s outbursts my daughter was having her own grumpy and intense day. I was patient through the whole thing but I was so spent. But that evening I ended up screaming at them all saying something like ‘I don’t know how to keep going’ over and over again. My husband finally believed that I really was having a problem. (He is very supportive and loves me so much but he isn’t picking up on things as much). I took my daughters psychologist appointment that happened to be the next day. I just couldn’t be waiting for the recommended one anymore.
Since then I keep having screaming outburst at everyone, nearly every evening, all after my husband comes home. Then I feel I have it altogether in the morning, we have a good day...then it’s the evening again. Today it happened in the morning, but then I realised my husband had been at home (he worked from home today). Tonight I could pinpoint that feeling of anxiety that preceded my feeling of desperately wanting my kids to stop needing me. It may be related to my husband having come downstairs to help me. I started to react then begged him to put on a screen for the kids (we have a very limited screen time policy because of how it affects my son). But it worked...they were glued, I didn’t ask them to do anything cleaning up wise (we are very big on helping with chores)...and my screaming at the kids was averted.
My husband said he’s worried I am having personality changes and says I should see our GP. My mum has MS and he wants to know if that’s what might be causing this. I don’t think it is. Honestly I think I’m burnt out, it sounds so ordinary doesn’t it, when I feel so upset by it. But I think that might be it. But I think it’s being exacerbated by my husband being on the fourth med he is on. I am someone who reads emotion well and trusts my intuition cause it’s more trustworthy than my thinking, but I can’t with him anymore. He could be staring because he’s just thinking or because he’s mildly depressed. He is making a real effort to do things like hug me or show warmth. That is nice. I know our relationship is strong and I’m not worried about this taking us out. We can sit and talk about ideas and enjoy each other’s company. But I can’t talk to him when my kids are around because I think I’m putting in so much effort that I can’t handle it, especially when adding in the evening routine of cooking/tidying/stories etc.
Did I mention we’re also house hunting, cause it’s now or never with our deposit and the property market where we are... But I also I feel such a drive to be tethered down to some place.
I’m hoping that someone on this forum might have some advice to offer me! My family need me, I hate being who I am right now!
11-07-2019 12:37 PM
4 young children, home schooling, autism and BiPolar in one family is a huge load. No wonder you are feeling burnt out, exhausted and at snapping point.
The main thing I have learned in recent times is to keep doing SELF CARE. Keep topping up your own engine. Perhaps the GP visit could help. Or reduce your expectations on yourself. I know a lot of mothers recover a little when their children go to school, but you are not getting that time out.
I home schooled a little and know there are postives in that too, but maybe you need to re arrange your ship a little. You are the centre of things, and have probably been a wonderful SUPERWOMAN for so long, you are forgetting to accept your humanity.
One year I gave myself permission to zone out to Neighours before I regathered my energy to do dinner. Its what works for you, but some way of putting the brakes on can help.
12-07-2019 07:11 PM - edited 12-07-2019 07:33 PM
What a tremendous effort you are doing looking after all the members in your family @mum8891.
As a carer, reaching a level of burnout is common. Experiencing feelings of guilt is also common but this does not have to be your normal. The number of demands on your time and energy is high and you have already mentioned a few places where you have reached out for help or have existing support networks – how would you feel about accessing support to help with some of the daily challenges?
Looking after yourself is important and doesn't only mean deep baths and massages. Managing your energy is just as vital in self care.
13-07-2019 07:54 PM
I really appreciated reading that you gave yourself permission to zone out watching Neighbours. I’ve decided that my kids will watch a tv show every evening when I’m making dinner/tidying up. It’s helping so far. Perhaps as well because I can see a way that I can make things a little easier. My husband is giving me his Sunday afternoon off tomorrow - I’m going to start jogging.
And I’m taking a week off house hunting. That has brought such relief.
Thanks for listening and for taking the time to reply.
13-07-2019 08:07 PM
It is a lot. The trouble is that my parents live interstate and my mum has MS; my parents in law are closer but also have health challenges. But they are all very supportive in other ways. We went to my in laws today (for them to have a birthday afternoon tea for my 4yo). I had told my mother in law yesterday that I really wasn’t coping and she and my father in law were so sweet and sent us home with money for takeaway, then my 9 yo amazed us all by packing the dishwasher. I didn’t even feel remotely like I was going to yell at anyone for the entire day!!! First time in forever! I am seeing there is light at the end of what has felt like a very long tunnel.
And...feeling a little like things are better...has meant I’m not bothered by my husband’s blunted affect. I think feeling worse must make me more sensitive to that? Not sure.
Anyway thanks for your kind words
13-07-2019 03:13 PM
@mum8891 The funny thing was that I was not a Neighbours type, but as home schooling is 24/7 it gave me half an hour of me time. My son could respect that. He was about 9 at the time. Glad your 9 yo rose to a challenge. It helps to catch them being good. I always mention it.
14-07-2019 05:01 PM
@mum8891 It is great to hear you are feeling a little like things are better and that there have been some positives for you recently. How wonderful that kids have the capacity to surprise and delight us at unexpected times.
Hope you have enjoyed your afternoon off today. How do you feel after jogging?
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