Welcome to the Healthy Families forums!

This is a space to ask questions, share experiences and support each other. Find a relevant thread or start your own!

Before you can post or reply in these forums, please join our online community and have a read of the community rules. Forum membership is open to anyone residing in Australia.

  • share on Facebook
  • share on Twitter
  • Print page

Topic: Wife is mentally ill and alcoholic

  1. Soberlicious96
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Soberlicious96 avatar
    95 posts
    4 October 2019 in reply to Blackboy

    Also, FYI, I won't be on here for the next 2 weeks, because I am going away for a holiday, so please don't think I'm ignoring you if I don't answer you.

  2. Blackboy
    Blackboy avatar
    27 posts
    17 October 2019 in reply to Soberlicious96
    I hope you have been having a good holiday and enjoying life! My wife will be going to 3-month rehab on 21 October and I am really really hoping that this will work for her. I will be extremely lonely and miserable but I intend to make the best of it. Look forward to hearing from you.
  3. Soberlicious96
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Soberlicious96 avatar
    95 posts
    21 October 2019 in reply to Blackboy

    My holiday was great! So very relaxing. They seem to live and function at a different pace up north ..... slower and calmer than where I am. It was really lovely. We spent most days having a walk in the morning around the forests and along beaches, and then in the afternoon we just relaxed on the couch doing pretty much nothing at all. Was so nice!

    So today is the day when your wife went into long term rehab, yeah? Would you like to tell me about how that was for you? I understand it will be a lonely time for you. Perhaps once she has settled in a little you could visit her and set up a regular visiting schedule, so that at least you have that in your plan, and will have something to look forward to, yeah? I'm sure that she will miss you too.

    Anyway, still here, as always. Take care. Talk again soon. xo

  4. Blackboy
    Blackboy avatar
    27 posts
    30 October 2019 in reply to Soberlicious96

    I'm glad you had a good holiday. I'm sure you needed it and deserved it! A slower pace is just what so many of us need.

    It has been a lonely time for me, as you would understand, the last 9 days. Seems like months! The place she has gone to is like a boot camp and she can only phone once a week for a short time. No visiting until 17 November. They get them up at 6.15 and work them hard every day with hardly a break. My wife did do her weekly phone call to me today, for about 10 minutes. She is upset because she finds some of the other inmates unfriendly to her (this is what always upsets her the most) and she has almost no quiet time to herself. She is a quiet, shy, retiring person and she is aged 62. Most of the people there are in their 20's and she describes them as immature and noisy. She feels she has nothing in common with them and is left out of their gatherings. I said she should speak to a staff member, but she says to do this she has to go through the inmates, because they make the rules. It's not a good situation. She was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder just before she went there. Unstable emotions and lack of self-esteem. Maybe this is not the ideal place for her. For the time being we will just play it by ear and see if she might start to feel better after a little while. I hope so.

  5. Soberlicious96
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Soberlicious96 avatar
    95 posts
    1 November 2019 in reply to Blackboy

    Yeah, I can only imagine how difficult it must be without her there, given that you have been together for so long. And I must admit, it doesn't actually surprise me, now that I think about it, that there are people there much younger than your wife; most of the people that I drank with didn't even make it to 50. They all died quite young, in car crashes, or from alcohol-related diseases, or from suicide. The ones that have made it past 50, are the ones who turned their lives around, like I did. It's quite amazing that she has made it this far, being alcoholic and with mental ill health.

    I do hope that she starts to settle in at least a little bit soon. For me, when I first got sober, I felt a bit the opposite; like I was the only young one, and that it was 'about time all those older ones stopped drinking, but what about me?' I thought I was too young and the wrong sex, and should come back when I actually had a poor pitiful story to tell. But that feeling and thinking didn't last for long. I began to really identify with the way that they described their feelings and their thinking patterns, and began to notice less and less of the 'age' of people, and more and more of that common thread; alcoholism and all the crap that comes with it.

    Anyway, on another note, perhaps you would like to tell me about what you have been up to in the last 9 days? Have you managed to do something nurturing for yourself, like catch up with an understanding mate, or family member? Or maybe some gardening or golf or .... I don't know, something that helps you to relax, even if it is more mental relaxation than physical?

    Given that your wife is obviously being kept very busy while at the rehab, perhaps this could be a good time to remember what you like to do, as well as what she likes to do, and develop a plan for the 'idle times' that may occur when she comes back home in a few months, yeah? If you are both retired, or not working as much as before, then it's the perfect time to do what YOU BOTH WANT to do, yeah?! Idle time can be dangerous time, as it's the perfect time for our minds to 'turn' on us and plummet into all those worst case scenarios it can possibly muster, and then some! Having a routine with plenty to do, is good for both mental health and physical health.

    And now, I'm running out of room again! Must go. Keep in touch, yeah? You are both often in my thoughts.

    Regards, Mel. xo

  6. Blackboy
    Blackboy avatar
    27 posts
    13 November 2019 in reply to Soberlicious96

    Hi Mel, I am very sorry for the delay in replying. This is because sometimes I feel weighed down by hopelessness and think there is no point in even trying to find any help. I try to find some hope somewhere. I go to U3A courses, I go to my walking group, I go bushwalking, I write poetry and am in a poetry group, I have a FB page and am in nearly a dozen FB groups, I read, I garden, I do photography, I surf the internet. But I have no family and only 1 friend, and he's in Adelaide while I'm in Melbourne. The misery keeps on breaking through no matter what I do. Fact is, my wife is all I have in life. If she were fine, I would be fine; but her situation is desperate and so I also feel desperate. My only solution is to try to find a way to help her.

    My wife was a functioning alcoholic for most of her life. She was a senior lecturer at university for some 30 years and was fine during the day, but drank in the evenings at home. I didn't like that, but it was bearable. The problem began when she retired in 2017. Then she began drinking during the day also, and much more than previously. She has gotten drunk after AA meetings (because she felt not accepted), at her psychiatrist's office where she collapsed and vomited all over the floor, after seeing a counsellor (I had to rescue her from the train station where she was crying and screaming), at another counsellor's office where she was writhing on the floor, after going out for coffee with a friend, and of course at home. Yes idle time is the most dangerous time for her though. But inevitably there is going to be a lot of idle time in her life. We can't always be doing things. I have the idea of her going to a yoga retreat, which will be alcohol free but she will have to get used to being on her own. Her self-esteem is extremely low (for no good reason) and she desperately needs to learn a positive image of herself.

    When we go away on holidays she is fine, has nothing at all to drink and is very happy. She has something to look forward to every day and says she doesn't even feel like drinking. But we can't always be off on holiday!

    Anyway, I apologize for being so late in replying to your kind post. I promise that in future I will be quick in replying. Thanks for all the help you are offering.

    Rory

  7. Soberlicious96
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Soberlicious96 avatar
    95 posts
    14 November 2019 in reply to Blackboy

    Dear Rory,

    It sounds like you are certainly keeping yourself busy anyway. I too was in a few Facebook groups, when my marriage was in meltdown a few years ago, and in fact still am. Just different ones now. I found them them to be wonderfully supportive and were just what I needed at the time.

    But yeah, all the busyness in the world doesn't necessarily stop the grief and sadness altogether, hey. When someone you love is sick and you can see the illness progressing, and there is nothing you can do to stop it, then hopelessness will always surface from time to time.

    Also, I noticed that you said "Her self-esteem is extremely low (for no good reason)", but I think there IS a reason for her low self-esteem; and it's highly likely to be the booze itself. Alcohol is a depressant. It takes all the 'good' brain cells and replaces them with fake bad ones. In fact, here's a link which may help to explain some stuff a bit better than I can:

    https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/alcohol-related-brain-impairment

    Maybe you have already read up on all of that? I don't know. But if not, then maybe it will help to explain some things, such as why she behaves the way she does? It's likely that her self esteem is closely related to the damaging effect that alcohol has had on her brain, and its functions.

    In the meantime, and on another note, you and I have a couple of things in common; I too have written a couple of poems in my time, and I too enjoy photography and in fact was in a camera club for a few years! I'm also currently training for a 20km walk that is happening at the end of this month ....... don't know how that's gonna go because I haven't trained quite enough, but anyway, I'll get as much training as I can over the next week or so.

    And before I go, please don't feel you have to apologise for a delay in replying; you're not being timed!

    Anyway, I'm running out of room now (again!), and the sun is shining outside and I need to get in some long-distance walking training!

    Until next time, take care.

    Mel. xo

  8. Blackboy
    Blackboy avatar
    27 posts
    14 November 2019 in reply to Soberlicious96

    Thanks Mel! I will have a look at that link soon. Meantime, pls note that I said her self esteem is low "for no good reason". I know there are reasons, but they are not good ones in the sense that another woman with my wife's qualities would have her nose in the air and extremely high self esteem! I'm aware that alcohol is a depressant. So is she. She is a professional biochemist and knows all about the chemical mechanisms involved. These things are cyclic, I believe. She has low self esteem, which she tries to deal with by drinking, which makes her self esteem worse than ever, so she has more to drink, and on it goes.

    I am visiting her in Ballarat on Sunday, so we will see how things are going.

    A 20 km walk is quite a feat (no pun intended!) - I go walking regularly but my upper limit is 16 km (sometimes I have exceeded that, but that's due to getting lost). Walking outdoors is a good way of coping with depression, as I keep reading on various internet sites. I wish you lots of enjoyment but don't overdo it!

    Cheers

    Rory

  9. Soberlicious96
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Soberlicious96 avatar
    95 posts
    18 November 2019 in reply to Blackboy

    Hi Rory,

    Yeah, knowledge is one thing, but having the power, the willingness and the actual ability to do something about it is another matter altogether.

    I remember years ago reading a book called 'They're a weird mob' which was about an Italian guy who learnt to speak English, but not Australian English! The book was quite hilarious, but it was also a clear demonstration between the difference of 'knowing' something in an intellectual capacity, but then having the actual experience of it being an entirely different matter. It's a great book, but quite old .... I think I read it back in the early to mid 1980's sometime?

    As for my walking training; I did 12.3 kms on Sunday, about 9.5 today, and will do somewhere between 9-12 kms on Wednesday. And everyone keeps saying that if I can do 10 kms, then I'll do the 20 kms 'easy'! ..... I don't know about 'easy', but I do know I am determined! I'll let you know how it goes.

    Anyway, it's late now and I have to work tomorrow, so I'll sign off for now, and will talk again soon.

    Take care.

    Mel. xo

  10. Blackboy
    Blackboy avatar
    27 posts
    20 November 2019 in reply to Soberlicious96

    "They're a weird mob" - yeah, I also read that many years ago and found it very funny!

    I think you should be careful with your walk. 20 km is a long walk and if the day is hot you could easily get dehydrated. At least take plenty of water and have frequent rest stops along the way. And of course there is also the current danger from fires, depending on whereabouts you will be walking.

    I visited Swati (that's my wife) on Sunday. She is not at all happy in her rehab place. Essentially it's the problems I mentioned in my post of 30/10. She hates it there. I had great difficulty in persuading her to stay even one more week. She is due to ring me on Friday night and I anticipate she will want me to bring her home this coming weekend. She has a couple of standby options in the form of clinics she can easily get into, and the yoga retreat, and also she has been told about a "lodge" which sounds quite good inasmuch as they have "dual diagnosis" involving one-on-one sessions with psychologists for both alcoholism and her other mental issues. Nevertheless I am sick with worry as to what might happen on her return home, given what has happened within a few days every other time she has returned home.

    Well anyway, I wish you a successful walk - just be careful and ease up on the exertion, eh?

    Cheers

    Rory

  11. Soberlicious96
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Soberlicious96 avatar
    95 posts
    26 November 2019 in reply to Blackboy

    Hi Rory,

    Yeah the walk went well, in that I did manage to finish (do the whole 20 kms), and had plenty of fluids so no dehydration ...... but I finished in a LOT of pain. I have 3 fairly decent blisters on my right foot, and very sore hips and pelvic area. My feet are better today though, so am definitely on the mend. And quite proud of the fact that I achieved what I set out to do!

    In regards to the situation with your wife, I must admit, I don't really feel as though I can help much more? Except to offer, or suggest, what I already have; in that going to Al-anon and getting support for yourself. There is also, however, another book which you may find helpful? It's called 'Codependent No More' and although I haven't read it myself, I have heard from many others who have read it that it has helped them to find more balance in their relationships, and to set boundaries around acceptable and unacceptable behaviors - both from their partners and themselves. What is codependency? It's "excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one who requires support on account of an illness or addiction." .... it could also be excessive 'focus' on a partner, rather than oneself. Anyway, maybe this link will help:

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/anxiety-zen/201609/6-signs-codependent-relationship

    Or maybe it won't help. I really don't know. All I do know is that all the rehabs and treatment centre's in the world will not 'fix' your wife, or your frustrations with your wife's disease, unless you and or your wife does something dramatically different to what you have been doing over these last few months and years. Maybe this link will help explain the whole 'detaching with love' thing a bit better also;

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/family-affair/201506/detaching-love-0

    Again, I don't know. I just know that you perhaps need more ongoing support yourself, than what I am qualified to offer? I'm Sorry. Would help more if I could. Anyway, all the best. Just take things a day at a time and keep doing more of the things for yourself that help to keep the blues at bay.

    Take care.

    Mel. xo

  12. geoff
    Life Member
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    geoff avatar
    3392 posts
    26 November 2019 in reply to Blackboy

    Hi Rory, I'd like to pick up your thread although Mel has been doing a terrific effort, and I must apologise for not being involved.

    I just need to read through your notes and the replies from Mel, or perhaps if you want to, you could just let me know in a summary, I'm sorry to ask you, it's just that there are many threads I read I have to try and remember and once I can connect with them, it all comes back.

    Best wishes.

    Geoff.

  13. Blackboy
    Blackboy avatar
    27 posts
    28 November 2019 in reply to Soberlicious96
    Thanks Mel. I'm glad you survived your long hike without too much damage. I'm sorry you don't wish to continue the correspondence. I'm well aware that I'm a very hard nut to crack, and that no doubt you can't find much else to say, but I have appreciated your concern, and just having somebody to talk to has made a big difference to me. Anyway, thanks for what you have offered to date. I will certainly follow up those 2 links.
    1 person found this helpful
  14. Blackboy
    Blackboy avatar
    27 posts
    29 November 2019 in reply to geoff

    Thanks Geoff. Briefly to stay within the limit: I am a 67 y.o. retired lawyer. Only child, very introverted, low social skills, no family, almost no friends. Health good, financial situation comfortable. In a state of anxiety and depression due to my wife's mental issues and alcoholism. Currently trying hard to remedy my situation by forcing myself to join groups and participate in activities. Trying to make friends, with limited success lately.

    Wife: 62 y.o. retired university lecturer. Indian ethnicity, came to Australia at age 13. Parents deceased, only sibling is 1 sister who has treated her very nastily since their mother died, and they are now estranged. Has several friends who are supportive. As a child was emotionally abused (told she was useless, shouted at, put down) by her father who had a foul temper and mental issues of his own. Experienced racism on coming to Australia. Is extremely sensitive and sees racism and rejection everywhere. Believes that every woman who speaks to me is flirting with me (this is nonsense). Began drinking alcohol at c. 18 y.o. I did not realize this at the time we married (1984). Was a functioning alcoholic who held down a highly responsible job for most of her life because during the daytime she did not drink and was able to be reasonably normal. Problem was in the evenings - most evenings she was mildly intoxicated. I did not like this but it was bearable. Retired in 2017. Problem became dramatically worse in Nov 2018 (we do not know why): she began drinking during the daytime and to a much greater extent. Since then, she has collapsed several times drunk; was crying and screaming at the railway station; went off to meet a friend and did not come home or contact me for 3 days, during which time she was in the car drinking all the time. Many similar things both at home and outside. Over the years she has been to many clinics and she is fine while there, in good mood and determined to give up the stuff, but upon return starts up again within 2 days. Never drinks when we are on holidays or if we go out together. Personality: kind, caring, gentle, loving, very insecure, feels rejected by most people although this is not true.

    Currently: on Tuesday came back from a therapeutic community where she did not fit in. No drink there or since 15 September (in a clinic Sep-Oct) or since coming home. But has a nasty cough and is sleeping almost all day.

    Running out of space - Rory

  15. geoff
    Life Member
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    geoff avatar
    3392 posts
    30 November 2019 in reply to Blackboy

    Hi Rory, I believe that when children are abused in some way when they were young, they find a way to finally release their frustrations and with your wife that what's she has done.

    Going into rehab or clinics is fine while they are in there but as soon as they out, the first thing they do is pick up the bottle once again.

    She may not have drunk while on holidays only because it's out of her routine, but I'd like you to continue as realise that I have replied back to you much earlier and wondering whether typing it out again has helped you.

    By the way, I'm 65 divorced because of depression and self medicating with alcohol, now I only drink socially.

    Geoff.

  16. Blackboy
    Blackboy avatar
    27 posts
    30 November 2019 in reply to geoff

    Hi Geoff and thanks. I made a mistake in saying she had no drink since coming home on Tuesday. I discovered 2 flasks of white wine she had been drinking from. The sleepiness has mostly been due to the drinking. You are quite right in saying "Going into rehab or clinics is fine while they are in there but as soon as they out, the first thing they do is pick up the bottle once again". This is what always happens.

    Last night she was lying on the kitchen floor, crying and wailing. She couldn't stand or walk by herself. This morning she is OK, probably because I threw out all the wine.

    Due to lack of space I did not mention that she has a diagnosis from her psychiatrist of Borderline personality disorder. This is closely connected to her alcoholism of course. I recently heard of "dual diagnosis" and it seems to me that it could be beneficial. Just now, however, I am trying to persuade her to go back to a clinic. I no longer have any illusion that a clinic will cure her. But I can't cope with her at home any longer, and the time in the clinic could be used to plan some long-term solution. What she needs is some place where she can stay long-term and where she will be unable to access alcohol. It seems very difficult to find such a place. I am looking for a social worker who can give some advice about it.

    Thanks for your helpful input.

    Rory

  17. Haurice
    Haurice  avatar
    6 posts
    1 December 2019 in reply to Blackboy

    Hi Blackboy

    This sounds like a really difficult situation for you. It is so challenging watching someone you love go through tough times and make poor choices.

    You are not alone. I am watching my partner go down that same path and it’s heartbreaking.

    You’ve received some really good advice on this thread. Make yourself the priority - you can’t control your wife’s drinking.

    I do hope your wife has chosen to get sober. But whether or not she’s made that decision, I hope you are looking after yourself and getting the support you need.

    Haurice

  18. geoff
    Life Member
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    geoff avatar
    3392 posts
    2 December 2019 in reply to Blackboy

    Hi Rory, alcoholics can be cunning, so if you found 2 casks/flasks there is probably more hidden away even in places you wouldn't expect, bottles in the pantry and wouldn't be in any logical place, maybe a hole somewhere in the ground which is covered by a rock, maybe a plant (not a plant pot) etc.

    I have heard of 'dual diagnosis' and a couple of psych's wouldn't treat me while I was drinking back in those years when I was depressed.

    A few places to gain help other than being here are

    -Australia offers 24-hour support to families and friends of drug and alcohol users 1300 368 186.

    -If you need help with alcohol addiction, call Alcoholics Anonymous on 1300 222 222 to get the phone number for your state, but for me, and I'm saying for me, AA didn't work because the same people stood up and said the same story as they did last time I went, but for some people it does do wonders, and I hope this is allowed

    -Costs vary. Some treatments are free. Some government-funded
    community-based and residential rehabilitation centres ask for a
    co-payment

    The point you have made is 'that you can't cope with her at home any longer' is the main point here and would like to discuss this next reply.

    Take care.

    Geoff.

  19. Blackboy
    Blackboy avatar
    27 posts
    2 December 2019 in reply to Haurice
    Thank you for your thoughts. I guess you know what it's like. For me it's utterly unbearable. Heartbreaking, as you say.
  20. Blackboy
    Blackboy avatar
    27 posts
    2 December 2019 in reply to geoff

    Yes, well I just discovered some inside her guitar case - she is very good at finding hiding places. She has been sober for 2 days but now she is back drinking again and is asleep (3.30 pm) after we had a very emotional scene.

    I can't cope with her being at home in 2 ways - one is just the emotional stress on me, and the other is that whatever I do, I can't stop her drinking and if she drinks she is liable to collapse and maybe be injured (not to mention longterm liver damage, brain damage etc.) Also she eats next to nothing when drunk and so gets very weak.

    I am desperate to find a place where she can go long-term and have no access to alcohol. In the clinics she has had no access to alcohol and has remained sober and quite happy. But as soon as she comes home she starts drinking. The clinics will only take her for a max of 6 weeks. Some long-term arrangement has to be found. Isn't there anyone who has some ideas of what can be done? Surely others must have had similar experiences? Surely there is something like a home for alcoholics? I'm prepared to pay the cost if I can just find somewhere!

Stay in touch with us

Sign up below for regular emails filled with information, advice and support for you or your loved ones.


Sign me up