Through the eyes of a carer for someone with a mental illness

Powerless to help.


Tears ran down my face as I tried to come to terms with what I had just witnessed, I had to make it home from visiting Chris without breaking down anymore than I had already, I tried my hardest to slap on a smile for the taxi driver who whilst not pointing out I looked upset, seemed a little awkward when talking to me. I was exhausted, drained and really worried, I had never seen Chris like that before and I didn’t really know how to deal with it. It was now ten o’clock at night, I walked in through my front door and clicked it shut, had a brief chat with Chris dad who had been looking after the girls and saw him off into his taxi home. I felt a huge weight pushing down on my head and shoulders as I climbed the stairs, got myself ready for bed and hid under the duvet where once again I was alone to cry.   4 hours previous….

The bus pulled into the bus stop outside the hospital; I thanked the driver and hopped off, walked along the pathway to the main entrance of the hospital where I checked to see the time, I was a little early for visiting so I sat myself on a bench for a few minutes while I checked twitter. Upon checking the time again I made my way over to the building where the psychiatric wards are, in through the main doors, two more sets of doors, a lift (that still doesn’t work properly) and to the first floor, into the air lock where I pushed the bell for the ward that Chris is on. I waited and waited, until finally someone came to let me in. I signed myself in and made my way to Chris room, his nurse saw me and called me into the office for a quick chat, she asked me to see her before I left so I could feed back how he had been. As I walked down the corridor I couldn’t have prepared myself for what I was going to have to deal with or the emotions I would go through.

I did as I always do, gave him a big hug, he was in tears, Chris doesn’t normally cry, but today he looked desperately upset, tired and extremely mentally drained. I asked how he was, he told me he wasn’t having a good day, but wasn’t able to say much more through the tears that rolled down his face. I sat there and listened to him, he didn’t really say much, he wanted some juice, so I agreed to go to the shop for him and pick the juice up, told him I would be back shortly but not to follow me to the doors.

Once I had returned from buying his juice and staff had let me back inside I once again walked the corridor to his room, I knocked and he let me back in. He was still in tears, shaking and visibly distressed, it was awful to see. I sat beside him, he said he was going to be sick so I passed him one of those snazzy hospital ‘hats’ yeah a vomit bowl! He was sick and said he didn’t feel very well, I told him I would let his nurse know, she checked his physical obs but apart from a slight fever, he was otherwise ok. He sat on the end of his bed and just sobbed and sobbed, he was being hit with flashback after flashback, he was shaking, his head in his hands I rubbed his back and told him he was ok, he was safe and that no one or nothing could hurt him. Tears ran down his face and onto the floor as he begged and begged me to make them stop, I felt helpless. I went back down to the office to find his nurse, who had just nipped out with another patient, I waited for her to come back just outside Chris room.

I spoke to his nurse once she had returned and said I was so concerned about Chris, she agreed, he had maxed out on his PRN medication and she was struggling with suggestions on what to do. She entered his room and saw him sat sobbing at the end of his bed, she crouched down to his level, rubbed his back and started to talk to him, asked how she could help, gave him ideas of writing things down and ripping them up and said she will try and get him reviewed with the doctor again soon. As she left to get some paper she asked if I was ok, I smiled and nodded. How can anyone be ok watching this?

Visiting was finished, I said a heartbreaking goodbye to Chris and walked out of his room, my head was hurting as I tried not to cry, and I walked to the nurse’s office where both his nurse and nurse E were sitting. They asked how things had been, I said awful, they agreed he had had a really bad day and that he was struggling to cope, they reassured me that they were keeping a close eye on him. I burst into tears explaining that he had been begging me to make the flashbacks stop, his nurse told me not to cry or I would set her off before placing her arm around me. She then told me to give her a call in the morning to find out how his night had been and told me to get home and look after myself as much as possible and that even though they know I will worry regardless he really would be ok there with them. She walked me down to the doors, told me that I knew where she was and let me out. I walked into the stair well, the lock on the door clicked behind me, never before had I seen Chris like that, I have seen him distressed, many a time, but this was different, this was something I hadn’t seen before.


Author: acarerseyes

I am a mum to four gorgeous girls, and a carer to my former partner of eight years, Chris who has a mental illness, BPD. I blog my experiences.. life is tough! We live in Greater Manchester, UK.

4 thoughts on “Powerless to help.

  1. You survived to help another day, that in itself is helping both yourself and Chris


  2. You have my utmost sympathy. I know where Chris is at, and I can only try to imagine how hard it must be to witness. As Kimmie says, you have got through the experience, now try your best to care for yourself. When I was in hospital, my wife wisely decided to distance herself and let the hospital staff do their work whilst I healed. I’m not saying that would work for everyone, but it did work for her and me.

  3. Oh Sarah, reading that broke my heart *hugs* x

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