My journey through anxiety, panic attacks, depression and psychosis – Part X
This is the 10th in a series of “My journey through Anxiety, panic attacks, depression and psychosis. Please click here for Parts I, II, III, IV, V , VI, VII, VIII and IX if you wish to read the backstory (It might make more sense).
For those of you who don’t know, I started writing about my journey six months ago and only ever intended to write it in four posts. However, it’s become clear that my journey through anxiety and panic attacks was a lot longer and more painful than I remembered. That’s made it difficult to get the words down on paper at times. I’ve taken many breaks and written lots of other posts in between, giving me time to reflect and bounce back a bit stronger each time.
It’s not what you’d expect on honeymoon, is it? I mean, married for one day, in Sunny Corfu with my new hubby, I should be in heaven, right? Oh no, not me! I had anxiety and several panic attacks throughout our first night. And not for reasons you might have thought. If you read my last post “Done with anxiety and Panic Attacks” here, you might remember……
Home from honeymoon
He continued as he started, creating merry hell. He was legless and chatting up anyone under 30, thinking I’d be jealous — I wasn’t. Oh, I forgot to tell you, he was ten years younger than me. Ha, not so anyone would notice.
So, after honeymoon-gate, did it get any better? Once we got inside my house, my eldest son greeted us both warmly, and welcomed us home. He laughed, telling Ian to get the kettle on, saying “You live here now,” which he did indeed. It was the first time I’d thought about the fact that he was now moving in with us. I had that sinking feeling in my stomach and it didn’t feel right.
After dinner drugs
After a chatty takeaway dinner the boys went off to their rooms to study, leaving Ian and me in the sitting room. He cracked open yet another beer can and began rolling a joint. “Oh no you don’t, not in this house and certainly not in front of the boys,” I cautioned. I knew he’d smoked the odd joint at a party, but there was no way I’d have cannabis in our home.
“Man, I f*cking live here as well, don’t I? Ye’ve never stopped us before like, and you’re not stopping us now,” he retorted. Attempting to cajole him, cos I didn’t want a row, I suggested he go out to the garden. He stormed out, huffing and puffing, almost taking the door off its hinges then allowing it to slam shut.
“It’s alright, the wind caught the door”, I lied to the boys who were peering down over the landing. My heart was hammering, and I could feel the anxiety engulfing me, rapidly. Christ! Then I remembered, I’ve got to take this damn idiot with me, in my car to work tomorrow. Urgh! The thought of having to be in the same building all day, every day.
Panic attacked me
The words “what the hell have I done?” were already screaming at me, as panic attacked me. Yet I still had to get through bedtime, and that was as appealing as having a wisdom tooth out.
However, after more beer and spliffs, he was barely even fit enough to get up the stairs. He stumbled his way to bed and, despite his man sweat, the smell of beer and cannabis, I managed to sleep.
Early shift next morning, we were showered and out the door before the boys got up for school. Ian asked if he could drive my practically new, one year old car but was stared down by the withering look that said “Yeah, right! And if you get stopped by the police!” So he curled his six foot self into my tiny car, tutting and cursing. Huh, like he’d fit his lanky legs beneath the steering column anyway.
When we got to work and were going through the front doors he leant in, “Give us a kiss then.” As I’d turned to stare at him in shock, he caught me unawares, smack on the lips. People milling around reception “oohed and “aahed” and I realised it was done for their benefit.
Back at work as mental health nurses
Back at work the days got better and the weeks flew by and by being on opposite shifts, I could avoid Ian for a lot of the time. However, being on the Rapid Response Team (one person from each mental health ward who would attend to emergencies around the unit) meant we’d occasionally bump into each other at work. Like most of the men on Rapid Response, but particularly cos I was there, the macho in Ian emerged, which both irritated and sickened me.
This wasn’t how you approached patients when they were psychotic, possibly responding to voices and already terrified. However, male staff would pull themselves up to their full height, head back, arms crossed and staring down the patient, almost goading them into a fight. As the Team coordinator, I’d advise staff to stand back while I spoke quietly and calmly to the patient, asking what the problem was and how could we help.
Despite being psychotic or manic, patients would generally relax slightly, enough to state their need; which was often just a cigarette, a hot drink or some fresh air. Even if they were unhappy about having to take medication, they could usually be encouraged to take it, without a fight that was unwinnable anyway.
Soggy Christmas Crackers
Things weren’t fantastic at home because Ian continued to drink beer and smoke weed on a daily basis, only now he confined himself to the bedroom. He’d lie there in a stupor, watching all kinds of scifi over and again, waiting for me to return, when he’d start name-calling and trying to provoke me. He’d want to know which men were on shift, was I screwing him/them, which one did I fancy or was I having it away in the store cupboard!
Fast forward — Christmas, and we all went to my brother’s for lunch, where there would a huge gathering of various families. No guesses who was pissed before lunch, was laughing too loudly at unfunny comments and telling inappropriate jokes to people he didn’t even know.
Then, as we sat for lunch on a makeshift bench he lurched backward, kicking the dinner table almost into the air, throwing the rest of us off kilter. Glasses shattered, the spilled wine ruined the Christmas crackers, cutlery rattled onto the new dinner service as, wide-eyed, we all tried to catch bits and pieces. “Outside. Now!” I hissed.
“Why, what’s up like?” he laughed. The upshot was that I took him home and left him, while the rest of us had yet another fantastic family Christmas.
Tale of the strange makeup bag
As usual, I was going out with my girlfriends for my January birthday drinks and Ian wasn’t best pleased, even tho’ he hadn’t planned anything. A girl’s night out was just what I needed and of course, we all had a ball, dancing until the early hours. We got into our taxis and giggled most of the way home, not a care in the world.
My best pal was staying with me thankfully cos in the morning Ian had come across a strange makeup bag on the kitchen worktop. He wanted to know why I’d taken makeup out with me, what did I need it for and who was I chatting up this time. At least Anj could vouch for me that it wasn’t mine. Nonetheless, it was another interrogation that lasted weeks. He never did believe that we found it in the back of the taxi and took it home, just for devilment.
Oh, how I loved to flirt
That summer, I booked us a holiday to Egypt with the boys and one of their best friends. We had three rooms on the ground floor, right by the swimming pool and we were all excited. Not two days in and Ian started! I was flirting with the boys’ friend; lying with my legs wide open. Now, lying on a sunbed in a bikini, legs akimbo is not a good look. Not for me. Not for anyone. And me — flirting, with a thirteen year old boy? un-bloody-believable!
We had one of those harsh but whispered arguments so the boys couldn’t hear in the next rooms. But there was no doubting that Ian didn’t hear or get the message. He was almost in tears and apologising, blaming the drink and the heat. Oh my God, not only the sickening accusations, but his pitiful begging turned my stomach.
I made it through our first anniversary but the following morning he was at the blame game again and who was I shagging this time. He knew it was a woman and he was okay with that, he just wanted to know who it was. He then went on to how I was flirting with my dad at the family gathering the night before! Enough
That was it. I’d had enough! I’d tried and put up with his constant bullying, patronising and manipulative behaviour for a year now. I told him to pack his things and leave before I got home from night shift the next morning.
Over to you
It’s late and having spent the last week with two little imps, our gorgeous grandchildren, I’m exhausted. I’ll finish here for now and hope you’ll stay with me for the next part. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts and please feel free to ask any questions.
You can read text chapter here.