My beautiful husband has become a stranger

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Apologies in advance for the long post.

I desperately need some advice or support because I don't know if I'm doing the right thing.

My husband and I will have been together 8 years next week and married for just over 3.5 years.

Our entire relationship has always been tight and solid, we've always been so relaxed with each that we can say or do anything in each others company.

A couple of years ago my husband began to experience very severe lower back pain which has never gone away and over time has stopped him from cycling or walking too far and, being in his early 30s at the time, made him feel like an old man. Obviously this started to get him down a bit.

His doctor prescribed him Diazepam for the pain but was telling him to take it daily for a good couple of months or so and every time a dose didn't work the doctor told him to just take more. My husband became very anxious, something he's never been before and started to cry over bizarre things like the sound of his own voice or milk. I told him that we needed to get him off the Diazepam and to consult his doctor on how to do this. The doctor told him to just stop taking it! I told my husband that this was terrible advice but because it came from the doctor he just went along with it.

Needless to say he went quite downhill, was very miserable- very flat. Eventually he got through it but recently questioned whether that experience had "taken a piece of him away".

After that passed he still needed something for the excruciating pain he was in with his back. The same doctor prescribed Gabapentin. Almost immediately he was struck with side-effects.

He couldn't think or form thoughts clearly, his mood started to become flat and it affected his balance. During this time he had an MRI done and I managed to convince him to go back to the doctor's for a referral to a specialist for his back so he was referred to the pain clinic. The doctor at the pain clinic looked at the MRI result and said that it was no surprise that the Gabapentin wasn't working because the thing that's actually wrong with his back would never respond to such treatment. He told him to come off the Gabapentin and put him forward for steroid injections.

Shortly before he started to come off the Gabapentin my husband began to really change. Constant and unrelenting crying spells, he didn't know if he loved me, our dogs, his family. He began to experience suicidal thoughts and even researched the most effective way to kill himself because he wanted to make sure he wouldn't survive. One day he was at work and became so distressed that he locked himself in his shop and a friend had to go in and talk to him. All of this is completely out of character.

Fast forward a bit, we got him off the Gabapentin and although the crying spells had stopped, the flat mood and suicidal thoughts were still there. I went to the doctor's with him in the hope that we could get him a referral to someone better qualified than his GP to help but the doctor referred him on to the Well-being service and gave him Citalopram instead.

Well-being put him in group therapy with other people who weren't experiencing similar things which made him feel worse and the Citalopram has ruined his sleep and not helped with the suicidal thoughts or low mood. It made him productive at work but that's it. My husband is always high functioning even if he's struggling.

Three weeks ago my husband woke up on Monday and said he felt desperately sad for no reason and he just couldn't shake it, this carried on all week and towards the end of the week I began to feed off of it and I blew up at him and acted like an idiot. I flounced off into the bedroom and said maybe I should leave. It was stupid, I've done several times over the years and I never mean it and when things calm down he usually ends up laughing at me about it and calling me angry pants!

This time, however, it was like something snapped and he became extremely distressed, told me I made him feel vulnerable and ugly because he's convinced I've gone off him. (I'm on Sertraline and it's killed my sex drive but I do still fancy him, he just doesn't believe me) He packed a bag and went to a friend's where he's remained ever since. He says being here makes him feel like a failure because he feels he's "f****d everything up" and he's let me down and ruined my life. None of this is true but he's absolutely convinced that it is and nothing I say gets through to him. He went away with his friend for five days and told me not to contact him so I was worried sick about him. He's so cold towards me and he's started becoming quite nasty and childish when he talks to me. None of this is the man I knew very and his mum says the same. He's a kind, caring, thoughtful, beautiful human being but I don't know who this person is.

He looks me in the eyes and tells me he loves me but he doesn't want to be with me anymore, he even tried to dump me by Facebook message! This isn't the man I know.

He says our marriage was broken, which it definitely wasn't, and he doesn't believe that all of the stuff I talked about above has really had any bearing.

I've basically begged him to hold off of making decisions about our marriage until he's started to get some help, even though he's talking like it's inevitable we're going to end. He has a doctor's appointment on Thursday which I'm going to with him, thankfully it's a different doctor to his usual one.

I'm almost certain that he's severely depressed and that he can't see past all the bad, negative feelings but my anxiety kicks in and I start to wonder if I'm wrong. It's hard to entirely put my feelings about us aside but I'm trying really hard because first and foremost I want to help him get better.

Can anyone help because I'm really struggling here.

1 like, 17 replies

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17 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi I'm really sorry for you both, pain is horrendous especially when it is unrelenting, your GP was definitely not treating him correctly just prescribing diazepam as a pain medication, it is ok for muscle spasms and anxiety but not relevant for pain and can be very addictive especially for someone who is already struggling with mental health issues. Has your hubby been offered any other treatments ie hydrotherapy, physiotherapy etc

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    • Posted

      Hi Alexandria.

      He's had physio but it didn't do anything.

      The doctor at the pain clinic referred him for steroid injections a few months back but that only worked for a couple of weeks. He's in hospital this Friday for a different treatment so I'm really hoping that works.

      I really feel like the Gabapentin wrecked his head. He suffered with cognitive functions whilst on it and became very depressed to the point he was having suicidal thoughts and started planning how best to do it. Even though he's been off it for several months it's done some damage and he's not been the same since. We went to the doctor's at the beginning of the year and he was very distressed so the doctor gave him Citalopram but it hasn't read helped. He's just been kind of muddling through these past few months, still having suicidal thoughts just slightly less frequently but he really changed about 3 weeks ago. It was like a kind of build up. He woke up on the Monday overwhelmingly sad for no reason and couldn't shake it, it carried on all week and the Friday we had a blow up and then Sunday he was extremely distressed, packed a bag and left and hasn't stayed at home since.

      He's become a completely different person, cold, nasty sometimes, even cruel. I've never seen him like this, ever. He's never even threatened to leave before, let alone actually do it.

      He says he loves me and loves spending time with me but that he "just can't do it anymore." Apparently I make him feel like nothing he does is good enough and when I ask him to be specific, all he can say is about odd times I've grumbled at him for for getting under my feet when I'm vacuuming and silly things like that. He says that makes him feel like our marriage is broken.

      I'm so confused and scared right now.

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  • Posted

    I am very sorry to hear about your husband and how this has affected your marriage.   It sounds like a horrible situation.  Forget the GP, go to a psyche doctor who will have more experience with side effects.  My wife is now dealing with my health issues - mostly physical issues - and she is having a difficult time - as am I.  In some ways we have become closer, but that is a small consolation.  I wish you and your family the best.
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    • Posted

      Thanks John.

      When we go to the doctor's I'm going to insist that he gets a referral to a psychiatrist for a proper diagnosis and tailored help.

      I don't want the GP just pulling out the prescription pad again because I think that's what's got him into this mess.

      The Gabapentin really did some damage, I'm sure of that.

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  • Posted

    Hi I am sorry your husband is in so much pain both physically and mentally.  It sounds like this combo of drugs has really messed with his system.  I think with the right ad he will feel quite a lot better but it is trial and error before he finds one which will help.  Also too he would need to be on them for at least 6 weeks for them to get fully into his system.  

    I am wondering what exactly is wrong with his back coz I get very severe lower back pain as well and doctors just ignore mine and tell me it's age!  

    I hope the steroid injections help and he finds an ad which does. Just had a thought there is a drug called amytriptalin (not sure of spelling) which is given to help both pain and depression.  It could be worth asking about it but he may not be suitable.  Oh and I am glad he is going to a different doctor as the first one sounds horrible!  x

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    • Posted

      Hi,

      Yes, I feel like his doctor has really let him down.

      I think at this point he needs to see a psychiatrist for a diagnosis and treatment as the Gaps only spend ten minutes before getting the prescription pad out.

      I feel like he's hit a crisis point and the suicidal thoughts are still prevalent which is concerning. He still won't come home either and although the friends he's staying with are trying to support him, they take what he says at face value because they have no parity and they don't know anything about the lead up to this point as he's only been friends with them for less than a year. No one knows him like I do but I'm the person he's blaming and trying to escape from. 😔

      His back is due to a herniated disc and something bulging and touching other bits. Sorry it's vague, I can't remember the full description! X

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    • Posted

      Hi i don't think you will like what I am about to say but sometimes when something is over the one that's trying to end it will say all the right things, I still love you, it's not your fault, I just need time, space and lot's more, mainly because they don't want to hurt you by just saying it's not working anymore and I think we should split. I'm possibly wrong but I have actually been their and seen it first hand, in the end I just had to be John blunt and walk away, then I managed to get my head straight which also helped with the physical symptoms as well.

      As I said you need to sit down somewhere neutral and actually ask the question and before you do tell him you want hold him if he wants his freedom, it will be hard but at least you will know then which way to move forward.

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    • Posted

      Thing is though, he's said nice things, he's said he wants to just split. He tells people his medication is working and then he says it's not and lots more besides. He's very contradictory at the moment which is something else he's never been.

      I found out yesterday he's started OKing again. He quit about 6 years ago which was difficult for him because whenever he's tried before it's made his asthma much worse but this time he saw it through, even though he had paramedics put to nebuliser him and things like that. He got through itand has no desire to smoke since then and now, all of a sudden, he's smoking.

      All of his behaviour right now is just not him at all and the longer he's been away, the worse it's got.

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    • Posted

      Hi again, it sounds to me like he is kicking over the traces, you do need to speak to him to make sure that he really does still want to be with you, your reality might not be his.

      You have to be sure that your not the one fooling there selves, I know you probably consider me harsh but I'm a realist always have been and sometimes I see things clearer than others.

      Like I said if you talk and I'm right you can stop living your life for him, if I'm wrong then you can help him move on in a good way.

      When he quit smoking did he really want to or was he cajoled into it, I quit nearly 10 years ago, this time it was for me before I always quit for others and I want smoke again

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    • Posted

      We've been to see his GP today.

      She's said that he's clearly very depressed and is taking him off the Citalopram as they're not working. He admitted that the suicidal thoughts have never gone away.

      She's waiting until he's on the last week of Citalopram and then introducing Venlaxifine. She's also concerned about him smoking weed and thinks he needs to give it up, at least for a while.

      He's going to hold off trying to make any more decisions about the marriage which is good because he really needs to get himself sorted first. I just hope that he doesn't struggle with coming off the Citalopram because it is a worry and I don't feel like the friend he's staying with understands just how bad a state he's in right now. He won't listen to me because he just takes everything my husband says at face value.

      The smoking thing was something he wanted to do because he was fed up with feeling so unfit. He says he doesn't even know why he's started it again.

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  • Posted

    This definitely sounds like he's been effected by the medication. Medication should not be switched that quickly, especially medication thats purpose is to do with psychological disorders. In my opinion, it seems he is fed up and angry at himself. Being in pain all the time and missing out on things you love to do can cause depression all on its own. Mix it with all types of medications and it's a recipe for disaster. I know with depression I have felt the severe want or need to run away from myself because I was angry for feeling this way. How can you run away from yourself though? You cant, so you run away from your life in hopes for a change. Odd behavior for him to not come back though, because in my experience, after leaving for a day I have to come back.. I end up missing my significant other too much. A psychiatrist is definitely a great place to start. I would also look into homeopathy for his lower back and acupuncture/massages! It's what is saving my lower back (I found out I had slipped discs) I'm so sorry you're going through this and it must be heartbreaking! Don't give up and be strong! Hopefully the more help he gets the better he feels and you both can start feeling some normalcy in your lives together.

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    • Posted

      I honestly feel that the Gabapentin wrecked his head because prior to being on that he was fine. He was a real mess when he came off that so that was when the doctor started him on Citalopram. He's been on 40mg for a few months now but all that's happened is that he can't sleep and then this sudden drastic change in the last 3 weeks. Going from being kind, honest, thoughtful and loving to cruel, cold, spiteful and even childish at times. He's never displayed even a tiny bit of that behaviour, ever, not even in arguments.

      He has an ex-girlfriend who was abusive, stole from him, cheated and was just the worst. She wanted to run off to Australia with the guy she cheated on him with so he bought her a plane ticket and drove her to the airport because he wanted her to be happy. THAT'S the man I know.

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    • Posted

      I would also look into CBD - cannabidiol which is cannabis without the high. You can buy it online or in shops. I'm not sure where you're from but we have a bunch of shops here that sell it. Look it up. It's so beneficial for pain, anxietys and much more. I take the CBD oil drops from a tincture and it honestly has taken my depression and anxiety away.. it has really helped manage the pain in my back as well

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    • Posted

      He started vaping weed for his back pain just in the evenings a couple of months ago but now he's smoking it. Partly for his back and partly because he just wants to be stoned.

      It doesn't seem to be helping his depression, he just seems like he's slipping but he doesn't want to stop. His GP told him to give up but he's not interested.

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    • Posted

      That's very strange that he would just change his whole demeanor! I can't imagine the heart break you're going through. Do you still talk to him? How did his appointment end up going that you went to with him?

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    • Posted

      We do talk but it's hard going sometimes. He's all over the place at the moment so I don't know what he's going to be like each time I see him. He can be kind of ok, sometimes a little like his normal self but other times he's nasty, cold or spiteful which is completely out of character.

      Everything about him is odd, he really is like a complete stranger.

      The appointment was ok but we still can't get him a referral to a psychiatrist, he's got to have more "community treatment" before they'll consider it which essentially means more trial and error with meds.

      He's going to be tapering off Citalopram for the next 6 weeks and have Venlafaxine introduced on the final week.

      When he spoke to the doctor he was missing bits out about what's been going on with him and really seemed like he just couldn't be bothered to be there. I filled in the blanks which obviously annoyed him because he was then annoyed with me afterwards. I had to point out that it was all relevant to how he is right now and that to get the right help he needs to give an accurate picture. The doctor was concerned about the weed smoking because of a risk of psychosis in very depressed people but he has no intention of stopping.

      He had a procedure done on his back today though so hopefully that will work and he won't have the worry of the back pain for a while.

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