Phenomenal effort to actually get that all out Dingus. Takes a lot of energy and courage.
Thanks for that.
One thing I’ve picked up in most stories so far is the prevelance of the feelings of Shame.
Shames is the feeling that you are not enough.
Shame spirals out of control when you don’t live inline with your values or you live in secrecy, silence or in judgement.
Shame spirals into anxiety and depression.
Anxiety and depression breeds Shame.
It becomes a never ending loop.
Apart from his wonderful contributions on here and the Bomberblitz Cast, I don’t know Dingus personally.
But I’d like to say this…
When our lovely puppy had to be put down last year, I was struggling to a point I needed to share my sadness in the Dog Thread.
Not more than 5 minutes had elapsed after posting and Dingus leaves a nice reply, which I very much needed at the time (perhaps he sensed that in my post).
I’ve never forgotten, so thanks mate.
I’m absolutely humbled by people on here sharing their experiences, warts and all, opening up without fear of judgement.
Every one being incredibly respectful.
I often lose faith in human nature.
This thread reminds me that there are people out there that genuinely care.
This community we have is a special thing.
My situation with post natal depression was a multitude of factors, for starters the birth was complicated and I nearly lost both my daughter and my wife in delivery, in all honestly it was a horrific experience, I didn’t sleep for 3 days after what was a 40 hour labor, so probably 5 days without sleep, then a good mate who was a dad came over to visit and “help” but he basically went on the ■■■■ every night to “celebrate” so the little sleep I got was cloudy, next thing I know I’m back at work and my boss had been fired while I was on leave, and I was up to my neck in it in a very high pressure environment, working through breaks to try and get on top of things and then coming home to a recovering wife who was wiped and a baby with a massive case of reflux and colic which we could not get on top of. We had no family within 700ks of us. After about a month of barley treading water a new boss was hired who’s first meeting with pillored me about my output since returning from paternity leave, and that was it, break down.
On reflection I see the problem as this, fatherhood is a transitioned world to what it was 30 years ago, my father wasn’t even in the room when I was born, he didn’t change nappies, he could not cook, he worked, he came home. He was a great dad don’t get me wrong but he came from a world where a fathers role didn’t really commence until the child was walking and talking.
Men now have this expection, quite rightly that parenthood is a shared experience from the outset, couple that with external expectations to maintain your usual verve socially and professionally. It’s a massive adjustment which I wasn’t prepared for. It blind sided me. I felt like I was ■■■■ at all of it for a really long time. I went through a phase where I was convinced my daughter didn’t like me, I loved her but I felt like she was inadvertently distroying me. Then one day, about 6 months into what at the time I thought was living hell. She said her first word.
It was a water shed moment. It made me realise I can’t have been that crap. We have had another child since, a boy, who was a dream, 2 hour labor, came out in one push, slept like a dream from the outset. I spent the pregnancy preparing myself for a repeat and it could not have been any more different. My daughter is the apple of my eye, we have a very special relationship. I would not change a thing.
This is the best thread on the whole internet, thanks for sharing folks.
Thanks for sharing Dingus. I hope you can get on top of your depression. All the best to you.
All I can offer are some observations from an inexperienced carer’s perspective. I’ve had 2 long term relationships and one close friendship with 3 women who struggle with bipolar and schizophrenia. I have drifted away from all 3 for other reasons.
In case 1 our level of ignorance was significant. There was no diagnosis until she left the relationship and our many kids. Now it’s obvious that she was mentally ill, but we just thought she was a bit strange at times and a bit flakey when the pressure was on.
In 2 of these cases the mental illness symptoms increase significantly when the mother and children are separated (it was always by their choice). To me it feels like as mothers they held themselves together really well when kids depended on them, but when the kids are away they just fell apart.
One of these women is the love of my life and always will be. She feels the same way about me. Dingus’ post reminded me of this. We are not together as the relationship still gets damaged, sometimes beyond repair from years of neglect or (mild) abuse, even though we understand the cause. Eventually we look elsewhere for the love and intimacy we all crave.
Another is the most selfish person I know. How much is she responsible for this and how much slack should I cut her given she has a mental illness? When we were together the ‘episodes’ didn’t happen that often; most of the time she functioned well, but I think she chose to be selfish. Some might think this was self-preservation but I don’t agree.
I’m grounded and stable and I think this is a major factor why these women were attracted to me.
I think the problem with our ‘new awareness’ is that the label ‘mental illness’ doesn’t provide very much useful information. So from the outside we still don’t know enough regarding how we can help other people who are suffering. I needed to know and be with these 3 women (before, during and after episodes) for a few years and have the benefit of some professional advice to be confident I was providing appropriate help and support.
It was also nice to hear from friends and family of these women that they thought I did a good job looking after their friend, sister, daughter etc as I was not always sure of this, and within the relationship at the time I never really considered I was ‘looking after somebody’.
Thanks to those who have opened up. Some of you I consider absolutely formidable people and the best and funniest posters on Bomberblitz.
I find the acceptance of mental health stops at depression and anxiety. If you suffer bipolar, schizophrenia, schizoeffective disorder or borderline personality you’re not so accepted in society. This needs to change
I find myself a lot more forgiving if they have insight into their condition.
Which is obviously completely unfair, but just knowing they’re aware that they have episodes that make them paranoid and aggressive through fear, and that they don’t want to be like that…it makes it a little easier to take.
I don’t know if sharing that view is of benefit to anyone at all, but there you go.
It’s been great reading this thread personally. while everyone’s experience is different… they are also very similar experiences. I can relate to most of the post natal stories. It’s given me some great insight into my own experience.
I mentioned in my last post that I was in a relationship with somebody suffering from BPD.
What Wim mentioned above holds true for me, that you are more forgiving or understanding if someone shows insight in to their condition. In my case though, it came to feel that these moments of insight were used to keep me there. They would generally come only after pretty terrible episodes where I was hurt and distressed by her actions, words or whatever else, and she sensed an impending abandonment.
For the best part of two years I was effectively a carer. Sometimes when things seemed stable she was the most loving partner, but I later learned that even this was just the “upside” of her condition.
People with BPD can be very, very attractive, vibrant, charming and open when they are on an up. I trusted her and confided in her about many things. As I mentioned yesterday we developed a very deep connection in a short time. I got hooked on the “up” version of her.
Her first “down” episode came not long in to the relationship. In short, we were in Melbourne, we’d had a beautiful dinner at which she partook quite freely of the drinks. She started accusing me of “looking at waitresses” etc. it culminated in her yelling at a woman at the next table “Do you want to ■■■■ my boyfriend? Because he wants to ■■■■ you and everyone else here”. and then storming out.
I had no idea what to do. I was embarrassed and shocked. I had no idea where this had come from. I apologised and ran after her.
In short, I spent from 10 pm until 3 am following her around the CBD trying to get her home in a cab. Twice she jumped out of moving cabs in traffic when she spotted a bar, I followed, waited for her to finish her drink while trying to calm her. She toyed with me for hours, apologising and agreeing to leave before sprinting away again.
When I eventually got her home she physically assaulted me for the first time. I had my back to her. She took off a long necklace she was wearing and whipped me around the head with it, missing my eye by about a centimetre, leaving me with a gash on my cheek and in total disbelief. I slept in my car and in the morning she was apologetic, distraught. She explained it away by saying she was “scared of how in love she was”, or words to that effect.
You’d think the only course of action at that point was to leave immediately. You’d be right. But I didn’t. I believed her remorse and had no reason to think this was anything other than a bad drinking reaction. At this point I still had no idea of her alcohol dependency or mental health issues. It was easy to forgive this person that I was in love with. It was also a massive mistake.
This pattern would repeat in various forms every month or two for the next two years. During that time I was abused, attacked (both physically and emotionally), publicly humiliated, lied about, manipulated, cheated on, once even stabbed (though only with a butter knife, but still… fark that).
I kept forgiving. Every episode was followed with remorse which, I believe, was probably genuine. By this time I had come to realise that she had severe mental health problems, but I was committed to her. I discussed during this time with a psych that a big part of that was probably me wanting subconsciously to make amends for what I’d done to my marriage.
And even though I’d never said that to her, she knew it. In fact, she would use it against me whenever I stood up for myself. “Go on, abandon me like you abandoned your wife and child”. She knew it about me before I figured it out myself. She was a master manipulator, and it worked on me. It worked a treat.
By the time I finally left the relationship I had lost everything. I had neglected my business to a point that it failed. I had no savings, no income, no plans. I had isolated myself from family and friends. I hadn’t seen my son for seven months. I poured everything in to her at the expense of my own well-being.
Strangely, my anxiety only returned when I first started gathering the strength to leave her. Maybe spending most waking moments focussed on someone else’s problems kept it at bay. But when it came back, ■■■■ it came back with a vengeance.
I knew I needed help after I experienced the worst panic attack of my life one night when she was out somewhere drinking. I had no idea with who, where, if she was safe.
I ended up on my lounge room floor hugging my knees to my chest, screaming. For what felt like hours. No even just terrified of my own life, but experiencing thoughts that my son was at that very moment being harmed in the most horrible ways. It was pure torture.
It ended when she turned up on my doorstep at about 2 am. I let her in and she proceeded to abuse me for being “weak” and “pathetic”. “Not even a man”.
It was probably the first sign of “weakness” that this person I had been so committed to and supportive of had ever seen, and she used it, without hesitation, to hurt me.
It was a wake-up call. I saw her three times after that over the course of a week. One night she had cooked dinner for us and was underwhelmed with the compliments I had given. She started an abusive tirade about how I was just using her and probably a bunch of other things. I didn’t hear them. It was as if my brain just switched my ears off and commanded my legs to walk out.
I have never seen or spoken to her since.
But the relationship damaged me as a person. The anxiety and panic attacks continued, my sense of self-worth was less than zero. I was unemployed, living with my mother again. Depressed. Drinking. Not eating. Not able to connect with people. Thinking once more that not being alive would be the easier option.
It took a year to get back to anything approaching normality. I took a few contract jobs and felt like a complete fraud the whole time. No confidence that anything I did was adequate or right. But I was seeing my son again, rebuilding what felt like a catastrophic loss of relationship and connection with him, and it helped. It got me through the week as the only thing I had to look forward to. I have no doubt that without him I wouldn’t be here now.
Once, when he was about three, I was having a particularly bad bout of anxiety. He was painting in the lounge room while I lay on the couch listening to a guide meditation. It wasn’t working. Even though I was trying my hardest not to let him see that anything was wrong, he put down his paint brush and came over to where I was laying. He smiled at me, patted me on the forehead and said “gonna be alright, Dad”, gave me a hug and then quietly resumed his painting.
I ended up back with a psychologist to try and get myself right. His opinion was that I was now dealing with mild PTSD as a result of the relationship. I haven’t really dealt with that to this day and I should. I’m not sure he was right. I mean, in retrospect the relationship was harrowing, but it feels odd comparing what I’ve been through to the experiences of dmorg1 above.
In a way, being treated by this psychologist worked. I’m still here. I have a career, a roof over my head, almost enough money (there could always be more), and most importantly, an iron clad relationship with my son.
What I never got back though was the ability to unreservedly trust a partner again. I’m not talking about trust around fidelity, but trusting someone not to destroy you. That if you give them your history, your emotions, your fears and hopes and even your present emotions towards them that they won’t turn them against you. I had built walls around that part of myself so that very little could get in or out.
I’ll have to stop again here. This feels therapeutic, but I need a rest.
lifeline 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au
Dingus it is good you can talk about it. Don’t keep it within yourself. I’m no doctor but you have experienced a traumatic horrible time in your life and I reckon the psychologist is correct with the PTSD. You don’t have to be a soldier, a policeman, a first responder or a car accident victim, anyone can get PTSD especially in what you have experienced. Do not be in denial and try to fight it yourself because you will not win. Your emotions and feelings are virtually the same as mine. By talking about it, it is very therapeutic. While I was in hospital for rehab, part of my therapy treatment was hypnosis in which I found very helpful. Take care.
Structured support is needed for acceptance, for those who may suffer from psychosis, but also for those involved with them. At times I have had to shut down and get myself a version of respite care so that I don’t also go under.
In a previous job, part of my role was to provide debriefing and counseling to staff involved in a critical incident.
Without exception, at the end of each session they would say how much better they felt for having talked about it and their relief was palpable,
I guess the moral of the story is not to bottle things up as it definitely doesn’t do any good.
Absolutely. Sometimes it’s good just to talk to someone you trust and feel comfortable with.
Someone who won’t judge you if you burst into tears.
The mind can just go crazy, I personally find the more I talk about it, it helps me stay calm
Even if it’s just for a short time.
It’s reaffirming to read that experiences I have had are not unique. So many posts in here I’ve read and gone “yeah, that was me as well”.
The one thing my experience showed me, is that by luck or something else, I have surrounded myself with some extremely good people. From parents, to friends, to professional acquaintances, when I had a massive anxiety breakdown late last year, they were all very understanding and went out of their way to help without having to ask. Whilst it still got pretty bad, I dunno where I’d currently be without them and it probably doesn’t fathom contemplation.
They can also assist with antenatal depression as well, which you doesn’t get the same recognition as post natal depression but is also very real.