Here is a letter sent to us by the husband of a phobia sufferer. We thought it was such an honest account of his feelings that it might help others in the same situation.
Dear Mental Healthy, Trying to lead a normal life with a phobia is hard and sometimes can be impossible. But, what about the people around those with a phobia? Why are we never mentioned? It is very naive to think that only the sufferer has to organize their life around the phobia and not their partners, children or friends. So as a husband/wife, relative/friend or even work colleague, we find ourselves having part of our life blighted and controlled by someone else’s phobia.
It is hard!
And as the husband of a sufferer, I know just how hard it is. When someone we care about is very distressed we obviously share their pain and would like to take it away. At the same time as feeling sympathy, we do know that there’s no reason for them to feel that way, but there’s nothing we can say or do to make them see that.
We feel powerless!
And sometimes we also feel angered by the fact that it is always us missing out. We can’t forget that phobias are an illness and it is always going to be harder for the people suffering from it, but still it is hard for us to live with too. When we truly love and care about somebody there’s nothing we wouldn’t do to make them feel better, even if that means missing out on something very important to us. We must remember we are not powerless. The more we make our loved ones feel helped, understood and not guilty or a problem to us, the more they will trust us. And a high level of trust, especially during a panic attack, could mean that, instead of having nowhere to turn they find comfort in us, and communication is very important. It is a slow process at times, and on the road to recovery there are steps forward and backwards, but every step you take together is a step shared. A problem shared may not be one halved but it does spread the load, and I have finally learned that it’s OK to get sad, or angry from time to time, after all I am only human too.
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