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{ Relationships } The moment I asked my hubby to leave, if...

Preface:

Photo: Yours Truly in Bali (Me!) www.instagram.com/inspiredlifephotos Quote: Dave Willis

Photo: Yours Truly in Bali (Me!) www.instagram.com/inspiredlifephotos
Quote: Dave Willis

I want to preface this post by saying I LOVE my hubby! He is a great man, great dad, great hubby and my best friend. Even best friends have problems to work through.

Throughout our lives we change, we mature, we grow, it's only natural, it's how we 'evolve' in life. So please know I am not man bashing or hubby bashing, simply sharing a difficult time in our lives that may help you overcome similar challenges in your own life. I respect my hubby and I am grateful he chose me to spend our life together forever. 

Let's start from the beginning...

For the last, oh say 18 months to 2 years my hubby has struggled with anxiety (we are a great pair aren't we? I have been struggling for decades!)

The anxiety is not work related, that's something he feels is going better than great, considering he got a major promotion, more money and a car, I'd have to agree firmly. So work is all good.

Every afternoon when he gets home he wants to talk for a good 30 minutes or more. So, I consciously stop everything I am doing, put my phone down, turn the PC monitors off, turn and look and listen to everything he says about work. It's usually a blow by blow account of his entire day, but I listen. I listen for the challenges, the stress triggers and frustrations, there are some but nothing that overly concerning.

So why the anxiety??

Well, it has got to do with what happens immediately outside of our home in the neighbourhood that he struggles with. For the most part, many of us can simply get on with our own lives and carry on. But not my Hubby, he gets anxious simply driving around the corner and into the driveway. His mind races with scenarios of who is there, what they are doing and why or what's might to happen.

I get anxious too sometimes, especially when it sounds like someone's wielding a pickaxe to the head of someone next door, we've had to call the police a few times. It sure does give you the shakes and makes you frightened for their life and your own!

So that is the CORE of his anxiety, the safety and wellbeing of us, so I get why hubby is so anxious, he doesn't want us to be hurt or be exposed to negative behaviours of others (which is out of our control). So the anxiety builds and builds and builds, but it wasn't being managed by him well at all.

It gets so bad that he won't eat dinner, he gets a buzzy feeling in his body, he can't think or do anything around the home but get anxious about what's going on next door. Most times, nothing is going on. Sigh.

This is how NOT to manage anxiety...

Abusing alcohol (and/or drugs). End of story.

Hubby was finding a way of escaping the reality and anxiety by drinking. I wrote about it a few months go on this: Why Alcohol and Families Are A Recipe For Disaster! Alcohol was his escape and I got to the point of refusing to buy it for him when I was out by pretending I didn't get his text message. I know it was a lie, but I did it to protect me and the kids from what stems from the drinking. He isn't violent, but he becomes even more withdrawn, he's there physically, but socially and mentally he isn't. It's not fair on us, so I lied and I'd do it again.

It was getting worse, it got to the point where he was isolating himself in the home, either with headphones and music (like having a bloody teenager in the house!) or going to our room and shutting the door, again escaping what is happening outside.

I felt like a single parent, doing everything. Even the simplest of tasks were confronted with confusion and anxiety. Even just spending time or playing with the kids was difficult for him. He admitted to finding it difficult to have fun or be happy.

Everyday become harder and harder for me to manage our relationship as husband and wife as well. I felt like a housekeeper and nanny, nothing more.

I tried to change me. Wrong...

I turned to upgrading my wardrobe, making sure my makeup and hair nice every day, I wasn't being as carefree and casual, but making a real effort for him to look at me even. I was lucky to get sideways glance. Most days he didn't even notice. You noticed, everyone else noticed, but not him. I felt alone in my marriage. I admit I love the attention I was getting from anyone willing to give me a compliment or a cheeky wink, it made me feel noticed and appreciated.

Every time I wanted to talk to him, he had his headphones on and I was having to repeat everything I said. Also, I was feeling like I was interrupting him causing him to stop what he was doing and his 'peaceful space'. Hey, I GET that people need their me-time, no problem there whatsoever... BUT when its 24/7 things need to be looked at! I don't live like that and I won't. I am not walking on eggshells, we need to talk ASAP, I thought.

Other times I could see he was so switched off from us that he wasn't paying attention to was Bam Bam was doing (usually up to no good!) and leaving hubby and the kids home while I pop out to get milk and bread gave me an anxiety attack because I was losing trust in him to watch the kids and keep them safe.

So this is all happening at the what you know as my "Inspiring Mothership" and I am feeling deflated, unappreciated, unloved, un-everything... I was also feeling very guilty for having positive aspects of my professional blogging, networking and business life going AWESOMELY WELL, in fact, BETTER THAN EVER! I so want to celebrate with him, engage in discussion about MY DAY, I want to shout from the rooftops, I want to share my successes with the man I love, with my family together doing happy bum dances for our wins.... Instead, I'm trying not to interrupt him and feeling alone in my world here at home, feeling guilty for being happier than him and loving what I do. Then I go online and I feel like I am someone, I feel happy, connected, loved and supported. All of the things I haven't been getting from him. 

The Dreadful Drift...

By this point, I'm in denial, but I see the drift apart happening. I don't want to see it, but deep down I see us drifting apart into our own worlds; mine full of hope, success, fun, happiness, friendships and love. His, full of doubt, anxiety, fear, loneliness and misery. I know I could help him, but I am not the right person to, even though I try. I even tried to include more fun family activities we hadn't done before, like dressing up for SupaNova, he even struggled with that.

At this point, we were a few months away from going on a family holiday. You'd think it would be an exciting time leading up to it, but it wasn't, well, not for him anyway.

Part of me thinks he is going through some sort of Menopause or as my sister referred to it as MANOPAUSE. Indeed I do believe there is something in that, I'm sure there is a book on it somewhere!!

My Breaking Point...

I had a long call with one of my sisters and it became clearer to me that I needed to be the one to raise the alarm bells and communicate my concern for his wellbeing and the wellbeing of us as a family.

I'd reached the breaking point. I'd had enough!

While not the most direct and appropriate way to approach the communications, I sent him several text messages while he was at work. Thankfully they were well received, he already knew which made me feel relieved.  

I said he would have to leave if he didn't get help ASAP, that the alcohol had to stop because it was making him worse and that it's unfair to us as a family if he continues this way. From that moment I thought Our holiday to Bali would make or break us...

Before leaving on our first international trip as a family, I was anxious about leaving the house. I am always like this before any extended time away from home. I get home sick, always have. Add to this our marriage and family issues and of course how hubby would be away and it was a perfect recipe for making my own health suffer.

So just a month before we leave I have major heart palpitations and have to get a heart monitor on me for 24 hours and an ECG. Thankfully it was just anxiety and not more serious, but it did feel more serious! It just goes to show you how anxiety can run havoc on your body!

I guess the emotional stress and baggage we would be taking on our holiday was enough to cause me some health concerns and thinking that our holiday would "make us or break us" wasn't the most comforting of thoughts I have to admit. Just goes to show you how powerful negative thoughts can be, even on someone who is focused on the positive. It wears you down, which is why we ALL need inspiring reminders and motivation, it helps us keep going.

Why it took hubby 5 days to adjust on holiday... 

Here we are in Bali, a dream for many families, including ours. My sister and her family also in Bali and whom we'd be meeting up with after we settle in.

Bali is a place for budget travellers, generally speaking, there are high-end resorts in various locations, but essentially Indonesia is classed as a third world country, it's quite rough around the edges, but has amazing character. When you look past the abandoned and half built buildings, unfinished roads, the foul smells and rubbish you do find beauty when you look past all of that. HOWEVER, when you are my husband, a man who is pristine with his cleanliness and organised and tidy way of living, going to Bali may not have been the best place for him, especially in his current state of mind.

BUT...

I stand by our decision to go. While it took him 5 days to adjust to Bali, we made sure we escaped to places that would help us all see the beauty in Bali. Hubby was already in the mindset of struggling to have fun. It was apparent to my sister's family when we visited them at their hotel. His absence from our get together's wasn't personal, it was his way of coping (or hiding) from reality. I found it so frustrating and upsetting, that here we are on this amazing trip and he couldn't find the happiness in it.

I was almost ready to tell him to go back to Australia... :( so so close... so close.

The Turning Point...

Five days into the holiday with five more days to go, we reach a turning point in how Hubby was feeling and responding, he was starting to have FUN!

OH.... THANK GOODNESS!

I managed to get him to go on the floor drop waterslide at Waterbom park. I didn't say I had done it, but he thought that everyone had done it, but no he was the only one. The adrenaline that came from riding all of the slides really made him happier! So his level of coping with changes in our plans, indecisiveness from having others in our group etc. was improving, although at times he struggled. My sister and I were so excited when he decided to go out to Kuta and Legian for a drink and trip to the beach. I was struggling with a migraine anyway, but he went out and we felt that he had relaxed, which is all we wanted for him, just to have fun and be happy. Isn't that what holidays are about anyway?

A long way to go, but the only way is up!

Anxiety is a bitch! I know that first hand but I am pleased to say I am almost off my medication (hence why I am not the best person to help my hubby with his anxiety!) but we have seen some positive improvements;

  • Hubby has been playing more with the kids, running around playing Batman and Robin with Bam Bam, he's laughing and playing pretend and being silly. These are all positives as it will help to increase his endorphin levels! 
  • He organised his own counselling through his work health services for free and has action plans and things he can do to improve his mindset around how he feels when he is at home.
  • He's on medication which will help him regulate and take a break from the high-level anxiety he has had to level out his emotions to give him the headspace to manage it more effectively.
  • He stopped drinking (for a few weeks) we are still working on this, but it has improved, 2 steps forward 3 steps back as they say.
  • We have improved our communication and relationship, I've stopped trying to impress him :) and just do what I do, I can't change him, he has to want to love me and notice me. He will. 
  • He has been using the Smiling Mind mobile App to meditate. He has been doing quite well with it actually.
  • He is more interested in what my day is like and I am more open about my day, I don't feel I need to suppress my happiness or successes as much.
  • Helping around the house more and being more attentive to what needs to be done so I'm not doing it all on my own.
  • Backing me up when it comes to disciplining the kids or being more of the disciplinarian.

I want my husband back...

My hubby is a really funny guy, it's what attracted me to him the most. His laugh, his cheeky smile, his bedroom eyes (as my grandma pointed out), his quirky cleanliness and ordered ways, right down to his carefully folded clothes and his immaculate and neatly positions shoes. I definitely believe he is on the Autism spectrum somewhere, at the lower end for sure, many people have said he should be tested but I am ok with who he is and his quirks, it's what makes him unique.

While much of the time he is in his own world, no one knowing what the heck is going on (including his own mother!) he has his ways that are different, but what stands out is that he is more different now with anxiety and he isn't coping. We want to help him overcome this, manage it better and not just cope with it because that means it's still there, we want it gone and I want my man back. The man who loved the adventure woman I was when he met me. The man who didn't give up on me when I didn't want to be around to burden him and everyone else.

I just want my man back, the man who knows how to have fun, the man who knows how to smile, just because he can.

Why I am sharing this with you...

Two reasons; one my hope is that if you are watching your partner or someone you know slipping away from you because of anxiety and you aren't sure, then I hope what I have shared gives you an insight as to what can happen and how we have managed it (whether it's right or wrong). Two, I hope that you now have the strength and commitment to your loved one (or yourself) to see help right away. Life is way too short to be suffering like this. I also want you to know you are not alone. 

I have provided some resources below to help you with your next step to wellness.

XX Be well, be happy, have fun and stay strong x

Heather

 


further information on anxiety disorder?

What Are the Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder...

Symptoms vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder, but general symptoms include:

  • Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
  • Problems sleeping
  • Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • An inability to be still and calm
  • Dry mouth
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Dizziness

Source: WebMD

Do you need support for Anxiety?

Source: Google.com.au