I mentioned in my previous post briefly about the time that my ex husband spent in a psychiatric hospital following his affair. I’ve avoided talking about that part of my life in depth for a while with anyone, and the effect that it still has on me 13 months later but I think that it would do me some good to get it off my chest. So let’s go back to December 2015…
He came home for a week (he was away with the Army in the US for 7 months) and told me it was over. The reason that he had come home was for his sister’s wedding and spent the entire duration of that event avoiding me. Even his friends and family had noticed, as he was usually always touching me in some way like holding my hand or resting his hand on my lower back or leg. This time, he couldn’t be further away from me both emotionally and physically. We were in the hotel room after his sister’s wedding and I broke down after holding it together for so long. I didn’t want to spoil his sister’s special day. And then he told me it was over. No real explanations, just excuses.
“I can’t deal with your self esteem issues anymore.”
“I never wanted the cats but you got them anyway.”
“You have no ambition.”
The next day, we went home and cancelled our upcoming honeymoon. It was a late honeymoon because the Army always got in the way of our plans. Then he left and went back to his parents’ house before heading back to the US for another 3 months.
I kept our separation close to my chest because I was sure that he was just having a 30 year old crisis or something. Those that knew what had happened were sure that he must’ve found someone else for him to behave this erratically, but I just wouldn’t believe it. I trusted in him with every fiber of my being, and I think that is why what came next totally traumatised me.
We spoke on and off for the next few months. He told me that he needed space. I gave him that. On 9th December, we were talking on FaceTime. He was starting to come round to the idea of trying to work things out and of course, I was elated. He said that he needed to go to the bathroom and would come back in a minute, so I waited with just the screen lighting up my face in the darkness of our bedroom back home. It was 2am my time, 8pm his time. In the time that he was off screen, I received a message on Facebook from someone that I didn’t know.
“You should check out my profile. You might be interested to know what’s been going on for the past couple of months.”
Curiosity got the better of me and I checked her account, only to be greeted with a profile picture of this woman kissing my husband. I felt sick. He came back online and I confronted him. The good thing about FaceTime is you can’t hide your facial expressions…and he went white as a sheet when I told him what I had just found out. Suddenly, the threats of suicide from him began. He threatened to take his own life there and then. Of course, he never would have done it. It was all an act, but I believed him at the time. It didn’t become clear that it was an act until much later on. I stayed on the phone all night with him to make sure that he stayed alive, and he kept telling me how evil that other woman was and how she was a pill popping alcoholic. I spoke to the Army Welfare Team first thing in the morning and he was put on the first flight home. Once he was back, he was assessed by a military psychiatrist and then sent to a psychiatric hospital.
I made that journey to the hospital with him. Little did I know, it would be my last. I remember sitting in the back of the welfare car with my husband. It was a dull, cold day and it was trying to snow. Signs of Christmas were everywhere now. He was shaking and kept saying “Don’t leave me”. I held his hand tightly and I played with his wedding ring. He must’ve put it back on as he wasn’t wearing it before. It was hard to hold his hand because he had his right arm in a splint. He told me that he had damaged his hand carrying some heavy boxes. I later found out that he had actually damaged it by punching a wall because his girlfriend found out about me, his wife, so she left him. Once we arrived at the hospital, we had to wait to be let inside. The security was more than I expected although I’m not sure what I was expecting anyway! This place was not going to let him come and go as he pleased, that was for sure. I had to wait in the entrance area while some nursing staff took him into a back room to talk to him. The entrance was also a communal area for other residents of the psychiatric hospital to socialise. The people here were very unwell and it was perturbing to know that my husband was also unwell and would have to stay here for a while. The welfare staff kept checking in on me and were trying to reassure me that it was going to be okay, and that they were sure that we would work things out. Apparently, we just looked like one of those couples who could just get through anything. When he emerged from the back room, I took his hand and we followed a nurse down to the military wing. I helped him to settle into his room by unpacking his clothes and rearranging his personal belongings. He just sat motionless on his new bed while I tried to enthuse him about his new surroundings. Although I had noticed that every item of furniture in his room was round and soft. No corners. No curtains, just a blind that he had no control over. No pull cords. Then it dawned on me…this was a room for people who were serious about trying to kill themselves.
I kissed him goodbye and he flinched. I touched his hand and promised to come and see him the following day after work. His eyes were hollow and empty. He watched me as I walked down the long white corridor. I had seen him watch me but I didn’t need to because I could feel him watching me, to the point where it was unnerving.
The next day, I visited as promised. I had managed to keep myself occupied all day at work, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for what came when I reached the hospital. He was an absolute mess. A wreck. He had collapsed on the floor as I was sat in the waiting area to see him. A couple of nurses rushed down the corridor to see to him and asked that I keep my distance until they managed to get him back on his feet and check for injuries. He was fine, just a little spooked. I went to see him in his room and he was curled up in the fetal position, staring as the floor. He refused to look at me or respond to anything that I said. So I just sat there with him in his room until visiting hours were over.
He was in and out of the hospital for the next 4 weeks. They would release him and he would end up back inside again. He went missing once when he was released, and that only ended up with him being readmitted. He would call me late at night, threatening suicide again and again. There was nothing in his room for him to use, not even his cables as they were taken away from him but he phoned me from the communal kitchen saying that he had turned the table upside down and that he was going to spear himself onto one of the legs. I immediately hung up on him and called the hospital wing directly and a few nurses intervened. Did I ever think he was really going to take his own life? I’m not sure. But it wasn’t something that I was willing to risk. He would flood and bombard me with texts and pictures of us when we were happy, newly married and carefree. He would proclaim that he was evil and that he doesn’t belong in this world. Every time he threatened suicide, he would text “Nanight”. One time when I visited and he had been doing better, he asked if we could go out and get some food. Apparently other patients were allowed out with a family member. I checked in with a nurse and she said it was fine, but I had to sign him out. We ordered a curry which was something he had missed whilst he had been away in the States. When I got out of my car to go and collect it, I had to lock him in my car. Like a child. For fear that he would escape and run away to carry out what he was in a psychiatric hospital for. I can’t tell you how much that winded me, having to think of my own husband in that way. When we got back to the hospital, we ate the food and enjoyed talking over our meal. One of the nurses even brought a tealight candle out and lit it for us before putting it in the middle of the table.
“Now that’s a bit more romantic!” she laughed.
We smiled and thanked her. What a sweet thought. Only, she whispered in my ear before she left the room that I would need to bring the candle back to her as soon as we had finished our meal. Suddenly it didn’t seem so romantic anymore. Even the sharp tins that the hot, takeout food came in had to be disposed of in such a way that patients couldn’t get their hands on them. I’m sure you can guess why.
We watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles on my iPad whilst we spooned on his single bed. The mattress was like a bloody rock! He would often be listening to Joshua Radin’s slow and sad accoutic tracks when I entered his room after a long day at work. Looking back, I’m sure that this was purely for effect. Sometimes when I visited, he would just lay in my arms while I stoked his hair and drew circles on his back with my forefinger.
And then one day shortly after he was released from hospital, he was back to himself and he dropped me quicker than a brick. It would seem that all along, he was talking to her on the phone and planning his new life with her. He used me. Afterall, she was on the other side of the world so it’s not like she could come and visit. He actually used and abused my good nature, and my desparation to be there for him and get our marriage back on track. Seriously. What a fucking bastard. I was actually willing to give him a chance after everything that he had put me through. And it seems that he was never prescribed any medication at all. Even the military must’ve known that he was faking it. What a massive kick in the balls that was. He never belonged in that hospital all along. Other people in the military wing were suffering from PTSD and were genuinely suffering from mental health issues, and there he was simply because he had made a massive fuck up. I later decided that the reason why he took it that far was to deflect from what he had done wrong. By falsifying suicide attempts and pretending to be mentally unwell, he made everyone forget about what he did so we all focussed on “Aaaww, poor guy” instead. Very devious.
And still people ask me “Why did you stay?”. Because at least I can say that I tried my damndest to be there for him and to make it work. And even after the way I was treated by him once he left hospital and in the lead up to the start of our divorce, I can put my hand on my heart and say that I tried everything in my power to save our marriage. And for that reason alone, all of this pain was worth it.
With love, Darling Soul x