The Other Side of Mental Health – Being on the receiving end

You may have recently read my anonymous post about mental health and finding a light at the end of the tunnel. Well I can now tell you that this anonymous post was actually from Gareth. You see we have been hiding a massive secret…

For the last 2-3 years despite many people thinking we are not working because we are lazy or we like to scrounge benefits there is actually a much bigger picture. Until now I have been sworn to secrecy. You see because there is such a stigma behind mental health I was told I wasn’t able to tell anyone. Not even my own mother. One or Two friends have a little bit of an idea but nobody knows the full story or the extent of it.  Gareth would rather have had people believe he was just lazy or rude than to know the real truth and the full story.As I write this I am concerned that people are going to judge, because that is what people do. He has agreed it’s time I was able to speak and the stigma was no longer a problem.

The beginning

When I first met Gareth I honestly and truthfully believed I had met my soul mate, the perfect guy for me. We spent hours and hours laughing and chatting. If I was feeling poorly he would randomly tuck me up on the sofa with a blanket or mess around in an attempt to cheer me up. I was in a really good place and the perfect happy bubble. I couldn’t have wished for anything more. He got on fantastic with all of the children and seemed genuinely happy to spend any spare time with us. I genuinely couldn’t believe my luck.

The day it all changed

We were enjoying our happy bubble when I got a really weird phone call from a friend asking if I had spoken to Gareth. I had absolutely no idea what she was on about but when I put down the phone Gareth told me he needed to speak to me. It turned out my friend had actually forced him to speak to me and tell me that he had ruined everything. He had cheated on me. Words can’t even slightly express the knock on effect this had.

Our world was perfect, we couldn’t keep our hands off each other and he had cheated? What’s worst is I remember the day so clearly. The kids had gone to their dads and we were home alone, he had been invited to a party and instead of asking if I wanted to go with him, he went leaving me to the night alone. I remember feeling pretty miffed that I hadn’t even been asked if I wanted to go to the party but felt I had nothing to worry about, the only people who were going to be there were Gareths family and his long-term best friend who he treated like a cousin so she wasn’t a threat.

He was messaging me the whole night telling me how much he loved me and couldn’t wait to see what the future held. Then literally 2 hours later he was in bed with his ‘best friend’. When I found out I was beyond devastated. I really loved this guy more than I had ever loved anyone and he had just done the worst thing he could ever do to me. We had even had a chat literally a few days previous where I said if you ever feel the need to cheat please don’t do it, just walk away.

I found it really hard to process that this had happened and I had asked him over and over if anything had happened that night ( gut instinct told me something wasn’t right) not only had he lied to my face but once it came out that I knew people continually lied to me telling me it hadn’t happened.

Usually my instant reaction would be to run a mile. But there was something about this guy that I loved and despite him breaking my heart I wanted to see where it would lead so after a short break I decided to let him back into my life.

The True Colours Began to Show

After this cracks began appearing I would notice that Gareth snapped A LOT! Not to the kids though or anyone else for that matter just me! He was also incredibly selfish. Everything in our relationship was when Gareth wanted it to happen and it didn’t really matter what I wanted, it had to be on his terms. From him moving in to us having a baby.  I have lost count of the amount of times we would be up until 3-4am arguing, talking about our relationship. Me crying in a heap on the floor whilst he sat there just staring into space. Then he would apologise and we would start again.

Eventually I noticed that something wasn’t quite right. I had noticed that if people visited Gareth would take himself into another room. He also had a very nervous twitch and whenever he is stressed or worried this twitch would worsen so we sat down and he opened up to me. He told me how for a long time he had been hearing voices. Not just one or two but lots of them and they weren’t very nice. They were telling him he was useless, to do dangerous things. Now I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t I run a million miles , cut my losses and get as far away from this crazy guy as possible. Take my kids and go. Surely he wasn’t safe to be around? But I can genuinely hand on heart tell you that this only ever happened to me, he only ever snapped at me, only ever said nasty things at me and never in front of the children. It wasn’t constant either sometimes we would have 2 or 3 really good happy, fun and close weeks.

Admitting the problem to the doctors

Instead of running I got him help. I called the doctors and he was prescribed medication,  after starting the medication he had a particularly bad episode, the children were at their dads and he was scared and shaking, crying uncontrollably and I just didn’t know what to do to help. I was scared! Not for my safety but because I didn’t know how to help him. The emergency doctors rang me straight back I explained everything that had happened and they told me it was a side effect to his medication and it was quite common. I was relieved to know it wasn’t serious but I was also incredibly scared. You have to remember the whole time this was happening I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone. He had sworn me to secrecy about the whole thing. This was made even more difficult by the fact I had a friend who worked in mental health so we were worried that she would somehow find out.

Eventually after a 2 year battle with doctors, appointments and medications we recently got a diagnosis. Gareth has personality disorder. During another bad period where I had to call the crisis team I was informed that the number wasn’t just for Gareth, it was there for me too. If I needed to talk or help with coping with Gareth and the way he acts then I am able to ring up and they will give me advice too. They told me on the phone that Gareth had personality disorder (until this point we didn’t actually know).

That day Gareth told me that the only reason he gets out of bed each day is the children. My heart was torn and I was devastated. I can’t describe how it feels to have the person you love with all your heart and soul say he didn’t want to be alive, he had contemplated jumping off a building to make it easier. Saying that the only reason he hadn’t was the kids. Not you, but them. This threw me into an incredible turmoil and I decided that it was far more important for us to work on getting Gareth better than it was for me to have a relationship. This happened when we split not so long ago. We sat and spoke frankly and completely honestly for the first time ever and I told Gareth I didn’t believe he had room in his head for me, the kids and his voices and we called it off. Heartbroken doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. I wasn’t good enough, surely I wasn’t? I can’t have ever been good enough can I? I mean he cheated on me, shouted at me, made me feel like I was nothing. Even the bedroom was a hassle. ( sorry those who know us too much info I know)

We booked our wedding over and over and in actual fact we booked and paid for a wedding day but Gareth was so absorbed in his mental health problems that the day went passed just like any other day, I asked him if there was anything he was supposed to do that day and he replied that there wasn’t. Crying I simply said ‘ we were supposed to be getting married today’ He had completely forgotten! Thank God we hadn’t sent invites.

Giving things a second go

After we broke up and concentrated on Gareth he finally let me attend his appointment with the mental health team, This was a massive breakthrough , until this point I wasn’t allowed to appointments and just had to be there to pick up the pieces and give out the hugs when he was told over and over that he wasn’t able to go to work. There we spoke with the doctor together and I realised that despite me not understanding ( and trust me when I say I still don’t understand) he does care very deep down.

We went home and sat and spoke some more and agreed to give it another go. This was a huge step for me because we had already been through so much together and I had already been betrayed and made to feel worthless so many times but something just tells me that we should be together.

Gareths medication is now sorted out and it is keeping things controlled. We have high hopes that one day he may not need it anymore but for now we are doing the best we can. I struggled and I would be lying if I said I don’t. I don’t understand how he can have so much control of his emotions and temper when he is with the children but with me he can snap at the drop of a hat. It is never physical and if it ever was or if it ever became something that the kids witnessed or i felt that we weren’t safe then I would be gone before you could blink.

Incredible father

Despite all of the things that I have just shared with you Gareth is the most amazing and incredible father to ALL of the children. Every day he makes sure they’re OK, he can’t go to sleep at night without making sure that they are all asleep and settled. If any of them are sick he stays by their sides and makes sure that they have everything they need. I have no worries what so ever when it comes to his parenting skills.

I just wish that he had the same respect, patience, love and attention for me …..

Where are we now?

I waited a year (yes a year) for Gareth to watch a film with me. He handed me a date night card 2 Christmasses ago and still hasn’t taken me. We are still struggling and it’s hard because I struggle to talk to people(yes I know crazy when I have such a personal blog but this should give you some indication of how much I DON’T talk about ) also if you ever meet Gareth he is one of the most amazing, polite , kind people in the world so I am sure that this post will shock many of you but we want to raise awareness. We want people to know that just because you suffer from bad mental health conditions it doesn’t stop you being an incredible parent. We want the stigma to be gone and people to realise that we aren’t just lazy.

We’re taking each day as it comes and I hope one day that there will be room for me as well as the kids but I am slowly losing faith.  Life is short and I don’t want to miss out on something incredibly special if this isn’t going to work. Equally I don’t want to leave and then regret losing my soul mate. Despite everything we’ve been through and everything we continue to face I have stood side by side with Gareth through thick and thin and I just don’t believe we have gone through everything we have for no reason.

Who knows what the future holds, I am hoping it is a happy loving family home, lots of happy memories and good times now we are getting the correct help.

Thank you for reading, you have no idea how difficult this has been to write down, to admit and to share.

 

 

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