“I finally recognised that, like him, I had to talk to someone too”
Tracey thought her fiancé was struggling with his father’s death, but realised later he was experiencing psychosis. She describes how caring for him has brought them even closer together.
When my fiancé woke me up in in the middle of the night in September 2020, I thought everything was normal. How wrong I was.
Nothing seemed different about him in the run up to this Sunday night. I would say that I was fairly oblivious to anything unusual. When I look back with hindsight, I think it’s possible he wasn’t quite himself, so when he chatted to me, it was only when he began to cry and tell me ‘I can’t lose you’ that I began to wonder if he was possibly depressed. I said that we should call the doctor tomorrow.
At this point I still assumed that he had been shaken by seeing his dad’s grave and was just over-emotional and this was why he was acting strangely. I had experienced depression before, so it then crossed my mind that he may experiencing something similar.
It was about a year ago that this happened. He had rung the doctor as he hadn’t felt quite right, and the doctor had told him to go online and look at websites for advice. It was likely he was experiencing depression then, but this dismissive attitude from the doctor made him hide his real feelings, and to me he always seemed pretty jolly and happy.
I guess at that point I was also doing lots with our children, without him wanting to be involved, but I didn’t question that either.
His dad had passed away seven years ago and it was around the anniversary of his death. Thinking his behaviour may be down to this, I suggested we visit his grave the next day to give him some solace.
When we got to the graveyard and to his dad’s grave, I said I would go for a wander and leave him there for a bit, which I did. I saw him talking to someone, before returning to me, looking distraught.
“They’re after us”, he said. “You can’t drive”. Then to the side, “Do I tell her?”
It felt like with a click of the fingers, my partner was a different person.
This was the start of a really tough time. I called the doctor and the Mental Health Early Intervention Team got involved. For two weeks my fiancé struggled with psychosis, for that is what he was diagnosed with. My oldest son from a previous relationship and our youngest son were sent to their grandparents while my fiancé struggled with panic attacks and paranoia. Our youngest son had seen him try to walk in front of a bus, and my oldest saw him grab a knife. I asked my fiancé’s best friend to stay so he could come with me to appointments and prevent my fiancé trying to get out of the car while I was driving, or bolt over the six feet fence in the garden. It felt like with a click of the fingers, my partner was a different person.
It took some time to balance his medication and he couldn’t be left alone for a few months. He had been at his work for 14 years but didn’t particularly enjoy it. Although it was hard, he left. My work was understanding about the situation, and I was able to work flexibly. When I returned to work, he would sometimes come to see me, but I tracked him using my phone as I was still worried because there was a river nearby.
I describe that time as like ‘having another child’. Things have improved though. He’s now a self-employed landscape gardener and loves it. He gets himself up and out to work. He’s still under the care of the Early Intervention Team and has ups and downs. I recognise the NHS are strained but personally I feel I have had to push for support, and proactively contact the Mental Health Team to do reviews.
The main thing is that he seems happy in himself. I can see our youngest son is like his dad – he puts pressure on himself when he really doesn’t need to, but sometimes when you lay everything bare you can realise that you need to change. It’s a time you can see who your friends are, and that by opening up to people, you can get a lot back in return.
I love and admire him more now for what he’s been through and we’re stronger as a couple. I can’t wait until we get married in two weeks!
Sometimes I feel guilty that I have received more support as a carer than he has. The carers group I attend has been brilliant. I finally recognised that, like him, I had to talk to someone too. I love and admire him more now for what he’s been through and we’re stronger as a couple. I can’t wait until we get married in two weeks!