Relationship Looking for people who "get it"

Sprocket

New Here
Hi, first time posting.

I just need some support from people who are going through similar challenges...
My story:
Been with my partner for 17 years. She has finally been diagnosed with CPTSD from prolonged workplace bullying from ~20 years ago. We had been asking for help for years but kept getting fobbed off. (UK, so NHS) Finally seeing a psychologist and seemingly going to get proper trauma-tailored treatment (only been seeing them 1 month so far). Which is fantastic, because all these years it's just been me and her trying to cope.

Partner's symptoms have been getting worse since the start of the pandemic. She is no longer working (was self employed but now covid means what she was doing is no longer viable). I work full time. I also do 100% of housework/shopping etc due to her having physical issues too and also because her coping strategy is to totally hide from everything; so she doesn't "see" when things need to be done. We don't qualify for any assistance as I earn too much, but I stress that I earn less than the UK average wage and when you split that between 2 people and a cat it doesn't go far.

About maybe 5% of the time she will be her old self, but she is mostly either totally withdrawn (playing PlayStation or on the computer) or she is in a highly triggered state. Anything can trigger her; e.g. I once used a common figure of speech that one of her perpetrators used and she got so angry and violent (only towards herself, not me, but it's still scary). The other week we had a small disagreement about something which spiralled when though i removed myself from the situation until I heard a smashing noise and found her trying to slit her wrists with a broken shard of ceramic.

Because of these extreme reactions I try very hard not to show any annoyance or that I am ever upset. But then I get accused of being emotionally distant myself. Family and friends don't understand when it tell them she is unwell, they just say "oh, sorry to hear that" and they think she is being lazy by not working.

Two weeks ago her mum died unexpectedly, and she lived 6 hour's drive away. Today is the funeral. Yesterday we tried to go down... I booked a hotel, we got our clothes packed, booked holiday from work...but after 2 hours of driving we had to turn around and come home. Because every single little thing that "went wrong" (e.g taking a wrong turn/roadworks/the sun is too bright/feeling car sick/crap sandwiches for lunch) meant she just totally spiralled and was an incoherent sobbing wreck after 2 hours.

I am starting to get really irritable... (well I am perimenopausal too!) And I am starting to have terrible thoughts that I would never act on but they are distressing. I don't know whether just to power on through... but I'm starting to suddenly cry at times; and I can't do that because if my partner sees I am at all upset she blames herself and the talk quickly turns to suicide as "you would be better off without me, I'm ruining your life"

She has no one in her life but me. No friends and isn't close to family now both parents are dead.

I don't know what I'm asking this forum, but thank you for reading. Just needed to share.
 

Tinypaws

New Here
I'm so sorry for what you're both going though. It sounds like a near impossible situation for you both. At least the NHS is starting some form of support now, just so frustrating it takes so long to get any form of help and even then so much red tape/ hoops to jump through. Anything beyond 6 sessions of CBT is often met with seeming like you're asking for the world!

Does she have supportive GP / CMHT involvement for some of the emotional regulation stuff? Living with that constant spiraling is hard hard going and it's impacting you as significantly as it is her. Your words have so much love in them, I have no magic words of wisdom, but how hard your working, for both of you, shines through.

Practically, has she considered applying for PIP? Its non means tested and might support with the financial aspect, if nothing else. There's a few really good guides online about it specifically in relation to MH needs as well as physical difficulties.
 

Sprocket

New Here
I'm so sorry for what you're both going though. It sounds like a near impossible situation for you both. At least the NHS is starting some form of support now, just so frustrating it takes so long to get any form of help and even then so much red tape/ hoops to jump through. Anything beyond 6 sessions of CBT is often met with seeming like you're asking for the world!

Does she have supportive GP / CMHT involvement for some of the emotional regulation stuff? Living with that constant spiraling is hard hard going and it's impacting you as significantly as it is her. Your words have so much love in them, I have no magic words of wisdom, but how hard your working, for both of you, shines through.

Practically, has she considered applying for PIP? Its non means tested and might support with the financial aspect, if nothing else. There's a few really good guides online about it specifically in relation to MH needs as well as physical difficulties.
Thank you for taking the time to respond. No CMHT involvement as far as I can see; just weekly therapy. Think GP would be supportive, but we don't know them well having moved to the area only a few months ago. I am already asking for 2 referrals for myself (gynae issue and ADHD assessment) so I feel like I can't ask for any more.

Will look into PIP, thanks. She has some PIP I think, from a prior injury which limits her mobility, but we haven't looked at it again since her diagnosis.
 

MnM

Confident
Full on what @Friday said.

You cannot be her carer and her partner simultaneously. I've so been in your shoes. It is heart wrenching, confusing, terrifying, debilitating, and soul sucking.

YOUR self care, and YOUR needs are paramount to YOUR well being.

If I could give my past self advice, here it is:

- Go stay with friends or family solo for at least two weekends a month (or whatever, but at least 4 out of 30 days where you are not in your home environment - 20% of the time is Pareto's Principle (which would be 6 days). I wish I'd bought shares in another house so partner could go there/would go there, and myself as well. Whether or not they use it is their call - it is imperative to your mental health (IMO) for you to remove yourself from that environment just to breathe and recalibrate. It doesn't mean your relationship is unstable, it doesn't mean you're "taking a break". It means you're taking your mental health and your relationship seriously. You are setting yourself up for success in every way possible.
- I got my partner a job. They need to leave the house. Volunteering, if they can't work. Most organizations out there are struggling. Animals, if she connects that way.
- If your self care is suffering, you need some form of space. If your sleep starts to suffer, you shower less, you eat more or less or poorly, you stop going to the gym or working - you stop anything that you have normally enjoyed. When my partner prevented me from getting up in the morning to have my morning tea, I started to die inside. I fought for it, but it was a literal fight. I refused to give it up. Refuse to give up things that are valuable to you.
- Tell at least four people in your life about what is going on. BE HONEST. Like brutally honest. Maintain those four people and maintain your honesty and transparency - this is for your own protection. Encourage your partner to do the same!!
- Get a therapist. Be so so so honest.
- Make a safety plan. Have your partner do the same. Seriously. I've become of the mind that everyone in a relationship should have one, just to check in with self. How do we know where we are if we didn't mark where we started?
- If your partner is self-harming, get help. FULL STOP. This is not on you. Literally not your job.
- If someone is paid to do a thing your partner needs, ask for help. Maybe you can't afford it, so make a list of the people in your lives. Write down what those people's specialties are. Write down how those people have been there for you or her in the past. Then ask the person best suited to meet your need if they will help. Ask the right person for the thing you need. Do not do this alone. I call this list my Safe list - it literally tells me when I'm in a state who has already done what and who knows how to do what and then I only have one phone call to make, and the answer is usually yes.
- Your relationship will suffer hard if you are carer and partner. Have your partner engage in finding a carer - someone on your Safe list if finances are tight. This is you having your partner's best interest in mind, and your partner having your best interest in mind. I'm sure they've expressed some guilt (?) that you are the one holding the ends? Have them participate in the solution. If they refuse, then it makes it more clear what steps you need to take to protect your partner, and by proxy, yourself.

That's all I can handle for now. I am very passionate about this - I was a live in carer professionally for many years, and that in itself is not healthy. SPACE is necessary for everyone involved. I then shifted to being a carer, but refused to do live-in anymore. Having a partner who requires care is seriously demanding - more so than being a professional live in carer. Please take steps to create space and safety, and lean on professionals and your community to support you in the ways in which they are experienced and skilled.
 

Sprocket

New Here
Full on what @Friday said.

You cannot be her carer and her partner simultaneously. I've so been in your shoes. It is heart wrenching, confusing, terrifying, debilitating, and soul sucking.

YOUR self care, and YOUR needs are paramount to YOUR well being.

If I could give my past self advice, here it is:

- Go stay with friends or family solo for at least two weekends a month (or whatever, but at least 4 out of 30 days where you are not in your home environment - 20% of the time is Pareto's Principle (which would be 6 days). I wish I'd bought shares in another house so partner could go there/would go there, and myself as well. Whether or not they use it is their call - it is imperative to your mental health (IMO) for you to remove yourself from that environment just to breathe and recalibrate. It doesn't mean your relationship is unstable, it doesn't mean you're "taking a break". It means you're taking your mental health and your relationship seriously. You are setting yourself up for success in every way possible.
- I got my partner a job. They need to leave the house. Volunteering, if they can't work. Most organizations out there are struggling. Animals, if she connects that way.
- If your self care is suffering, you need some form of space. If your sleep starts to suffer, you shower less, you eat more or less or poorly, you stop going to the gym or working - you stop anything that you have normally enjoyed. When my partner prevented me from getting up in the morning to have my morning tea, I started to die inside. I fought for it, but it was a literal fight. I refused to give it up. Refuse to give up things that are valuable to you.
- Tell at least four people in your life about what is going on. BE HONEST. Like brutally honest. Maintain those four people and maintain your honesty and transparency - this is for your own protection. Encourage your partner to do the same!!
- Get a therapist. Be so so so honest.
- Make a safety plan. Have your partner do the same. Seriously. I've become of the mind that everyone in a relationship should have one, just to check in with self. How do we know where we are if we didn't mark where we started?
- If your partner is self-harming, get help. FULL STOP. This is not on you. Literally not your job.
- If someone is paid to do a thing your partner needs, ask for help. Maybe you can't afford it, so make a list of the people in your lives. Write down what those people's specialties are. Write down how those people have been there for you or her in the past. Then ask the person best suited to meet your need if they will help. Ask the right person for the thing you need. Do not do this alone. I call this list my Safe list - it literally tells me when I'm in a state who has already done what and who knows how to do what and then I only have one phone call to make, and the answer is usually yes.
- Your relationship will suffer hard if you are carer and partner. Have your partner engage in finding a carer - someone on your Safe list if finances are tight. This is you having your partner's best interest in mind, and your partner having your best interest in mind. I'm sure they've expressed some guilt (?) that you are the one holding the ends? Have them participate in the solution. If they refuse, then it makes it more clear what steps you need to take to protect your partner, and by proxy, yourself.

That's all I can handle for now. I am very passionate about this - I was a live in carer professionally for many years, and that in itself is not healthy. SPACE is necessary for everyone involved. I then shifted to being a carer, but refused to do live-in anymore. Having a partner who requires care is seriously demanding - more so than being a professional live in carer. Please take steps to create space and safety, and lean on professionals and your community to support you in the ways in which they are experienced and skilled.
Thank you so much for your considered advice, I really appreciate it.

There is a lot to digest there... and I will use your post as a guide; you have some excellent ideas.

I know my self-care is slipping and that it is crucial.

Trouble with socialising/leaving the house is covid. Partner is very very concerned re the risk of catching it, is clinically vulnerable, and it's still really high here. (1 in 30 currently infected). She wears a mask even outside if there is the slightest chance anyone will come past. We still wipe down all the shopping (or i do). I haven't hugged my elderly parents in nearly 3 years.

Your response has made me realise how seriously I need to take this. Thanks.
 

MnM

Confident
I know my self-care is slipping and that it is crucial.
It is. If you are not in touch with yourself, how do you know how you are, who you are, where you're going, or what you need? I'd venture a guess that your partner's self-care levels mirror this. We cannot be in tune with ourselves if we are not doing the things that make us feel grounded and whole. If a partner is preventing us from doing that, we need to create space. We need the agency to choose what we do, else we are ships without rudders.

I despised the bloody self-care sh*t. Hated it. Avoided it. But through my practices with myself and how I am measuring my pathway and "progress", I can see that self-care is the single most effective way of returning to self and stasis. I have a theory and drew a diagram that I haven't digitized yet but need to, I'll describe it here.

There's a see-saw (is that what they're still called?!) with the fulcrum, where there is safety and balance, where we are authentically based in ourselves and present.
To the left, hypoarousal, and the right hyperarousal. If you enter hyper or hypo-arousal, the see-saw tips. The consequence is that we become less present, less safe, less balanced, less authentic, less expressive. And if the single most effective way of returning to self and stasis is self-care, then the best way for me to know what to do or where to go or who to talk to is to self-care.

I have a self-care checklist on an excel sheet, and every two weeks, I literally check the list and graph my progress. Did I shower consistently? Yes or no? Did I drink enough water? Yes or no?

It's insane. I don't hate it anymore, and my mind is still blown a little by it. Like I'm falling in love with it. It's a cool thing to be growing for sure.
 
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