I feel like I’m losing my mind

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’m 36 years old, I’ve been married 5 yrs, but been off and on with my children’s father for 18 yrs. We have 4 children, a 16, 14, 10 & 5 y/o. My relationship with my children’s father has never been healthy (I realize that now). There’s been infidelity, emotionally abuse, once in a while physically abusive, I had began to be physical to. (He’s good at making the color black look white or laughing when I’m hurting or just ignore me all together) After marriage the physical abuse wasn’t as frequent but he became more fierce. We’ve been ok, as long as he’s kept happy our family seems to function somehow.

The problem now is that he suffered a brain injury, which has left him with short term memory loss, easily agitated, lacks impulse control. He has no connection with myself or my children, with the exception of my 10 y/o boy, he makes an effort with him and has become a lot more selfish. There’s times he does and says things that just don’t make sense, they sound odd and crazy. I feel like i’m losing my mind and I don’t know if I should be worried or whether staying to help him is going to help him, I know i’m not willing to put my children through what I went through, their father is not the same. I just don’t know how to handle this or if it’s even wise to for the sake of my children, myself, and him. I also don’t want to abandon him if he needs the help…i really don’t know what is the best thing for all of us…

A: I don’t know what’s best for you either. But I do know that you are asking the right questions. I do understand that it complicates things immeasurably that your husband now may not be able to control his violent impulses. My guess is that you could manage the odd and unusual. It’s the impulse control and anger issues that make the situation harder. You’re trying to figure out how to be compassionate toward him and at the same time protect your children from a distressing to dangerous situation.

From my point of view, the welfare of children comes first. You now understand that your kids have already watched their mom be in a relationship that is physically and emotionally abusive for many years. That’s been their model for marriage and family and unless you do something about it, they are apt to repeat it. You need to find a way to show them that treating people you love that way is absolutely not okay. At the same time, you want them to learn that a good person doesn’t abandon a partner when things get rough. Balancing those two issues is your difficult dilemma.

If your children are being emotionally or physically hurt by him, do consider whether there are alternative ways to provide care for your husband without living with him. If you haven’t already, I suggest you contact The Centre for Neuro Skills. I don’t have personal experience with this group so I can’t offer an endorsement. But I have looked at their website and it looks like a good place for you to start looking for more services and practical help.

I wish you all well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jun 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). I feel like I’m losing my mind. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/06/30/i-feel-like-im-losing-my-mind/