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Infidelity, mental health, lost and broken

Community Member
2 months ago I accidentally discovered that my husband and partner of 20 years had a 2 month affair with a 'friend', someone who I was led to believe was supporting him through his own mental health journey and who was also trying to befriend me at the same time. I ignored my instincts that something wasn't right, other friends were telling me it was good for him. He was happy. To complicate things the same week, he was diagnosed with Bipolar2. Me finding out about his infidelity sent him to a new low. We both want to reconcile. He is now on mood stabilisers and is distraught at the trauma he has caused (he truly believed I would never find out). I am trying to be supportive and keep 'life' swimming along for our two beautiful happy children. I feel like I am wearing a mask because I have to pretend everything is ok. And I am NOT ok. I am physically not coping I feel ill, my stomach knotted, my heart hurts and now my jaw and teeth ache. I have to force myself to eat during the day and I am not sleeping well. I drop the kids at school and come home and cry. I just want to go to sleep and when I wake up have my life back. I had made positive changes this year, building my self worth. eating well and being active. Things were falling into place. But now I am scared and overwhelmed with all the things I am feeling. I have no joy for any of the activities that previously gave me fulfillment. I have an overwhelming obsessive hatred and anger towards the other woman which I know is not healthy...but I am plagued by images and thoughts in my head of their intimacy and it scares me that they will never fade. It makes me so anxious that I don't know what way is up. I feel panicked being people and I feel panicked being alone. My self worth has plummeted to a new low and I am scared I am heading into a bad place. I have had PND and there is also a history of anxiety and depression on my side of the family tree. Every morning I wake up overwhelmed with grief that it is still real and I cannot breathe. This does not feel like my life. I am disconnected. I don't feel alive. I just feel like I want to run away. I am outwardly doing all the right things (GP, psychologist etc) and everything I read tells me the way I am feeling is normal for the first 3 months and that I may not feel completely ok again for years. Please tell me it gets better. I love him. I should hate him. But I love him. I feel broken and I do not like the person I am becoming.
24 Replies 24

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Hello 16Shades, your emotions are very raw right now, which in line with everything you have read so far is perfectly normal! I know this doesn't make you feel any better of course. I think the way back from here is going to involve rebuilding trust and intimacy with your husband. You may not be ready for that just yet, if you are getting flashbacks of this woman, but perhaps making some plans would put you on a path. Have you considered having some joint cousnelling with your husband?

You don't mention whether this other woman is still around... I take it she is out of the picture completely?

Community Member

Hey 16Shades,

I wanted to reach out at tell you I'm going through the same thing right now and you're not alone. I think only time will tell if the hurt and betrayal will still be sore point or it the wound will heal and will leave a scar to remind us everyday. I thank my stars for my 2 boys they are my world and it's them alone that's driving me to grow and forgive but not forget.

Community Member

Hi 16 Shades,

Welcome to the forum!

First off, I'm sorry to hear about the emotional turmoil you're experiencing as a result of the situation with your husband. What he did was wrong, and this 'friend' took advantage of his vulnerability as well. I echo Jess's question of whether this woman is still in contact with you and/or your husband? I hope your husband is receiving regular professional help for his Bipolar disorder.

You have a great deal going on in your life - with supporting your mentally unwell husband, caring for your children, running a household, weathering the intense negative emotions from the affair, and also dealing with personal mental health challenges. I am very glad you are seeing your GP and a psychologist. You are certainly doing the best you possibly can, but unfortunately you are not finding relief from the hurt and emotional distress yet. You can and will, with time and continued professional and family support. If you don't mind me asking, do you spend time with (or call) other family members, such as siblings, cousins or a parent? Keeping in touch with loved ones is crucial.

Keep seeing your GP and psychologist. If you would like some professionally endorsed self-help resources to refer to, I recommend these:

http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/infopax.cfm?Info_ID=37 (depression)

http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/infopax.cfm?Info_ID=54 (tolerating distress)

http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/infopax.cfm?Info_ID=47 (self-esteem)

http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/infopax.cfm?Info_ID=38 (parts may help you understand more about your husband's Bipolar)

http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/infopax.cfm?Info_ID=46 (anxiety)

Saving these links to your computer favourites in case you need extra info or tips is a good idea.

Best wishes,


Community Member

Hi. I can't believe how incredibly similar our situations are 😞 I truly feel for you and I wish there was something I could say to make you feel better or give you a glimmer of hope. I am roughly 6 months post my husband's affair and still feel totally shattered and distraught and lost and confused... I really think it's the kids that are holding us together. I can't get past the feeling his excuse for his actions is his mental health issues but that doesn't justify it at all in my opinion. And he says he feels so guilty there is nothing he could say to express how sorry he is, so he doesn't say sorry... ever! I don't see enough signs that he is remorseful, I feel like he expects me to just get over it because he's mentally unwell. I can't tell whether I still love him, or just can't let go of the idea we could get back to the way we were. Everything seems so fuzzy and I feel so very stuck, the future terrifies me. I'm scared I'll crack/snap/yell/scream and just give up and walk out one day, out of the blue. My marriage was wonderful before, so I owe it a second chance, I'm just not sure how to identify where my limit is, when is enough enough. I've survived so much and keep trying to tell myself the worst of it is behind me, but I can't help think he'll do it again should he end up in another bad patch, and I'm not sure I could handle that. Sorry I've ranted about myself, that's not what you need right now. It's just when reading your post it could've been my exact words. I hope your husband meets you half way on effort and over time it all works out for you. It's clear in the way you write that you are loving, kind and strong, you deserve peace and happiness! My advice to you is make sure your husband knows exactly what you need to heal and to move forward, his effort will tell all. I know this much because it's mine and my husband's biggest fail... we are terrible at communicating how we feel and it's making everything so much harder. All the best!

Zeal, thank you so much for your reply. I have downloaded all those links. I think they will be very useful. I had read the Bipolar ones when he was diagnosed and I was scrambling for information (and answers). The modules on 'Tolerating Distress' really struck a chord and described exactly how I am feeling so I think I will work through those in detail. I have lived a rather fortunate life and have never felt like this before (sure I have had facets of similar feelings when nervous/excited/apprehensive/anxious/worried etc) but this is like 85% of my waking hours and I literally DO feel like if I drive and drive or got as far away as possible I could escape it, of course logically I know that's impossible...but that's the sensation. Or like if I close my eyes it will disappear. That and also like it is something tangible and physical...I described it to my friend as feeling like vines growing and twisting around my insides...like it was something I could rip out and throw away and I'd feel miraculously better. The feeling is SO unpleasant I sometimes don't know how to cope with it other than just rock back and forth or wander around the house crying.

I used to be very close to my parents but moved interstate when I met my husband 20 years ago. I feel we have drifted apart over the years. My Mum used to be the one I turned to for everything and we'd often have long heart to hearts...but now she is older and has her own health issues and I don't want to burden her as she would be heartbroken and I have no idea how my father would react (he is a very gentle kind soul but I think the concept of staying with someone after infidelity would be way outside his comfort zone). Mum'd want to be down here in a flash and I just couldn't cope with them here (they act more like guests than 'parents' when they stay and it is usually quite stressful). Plus although she knows something is up as she keeps asking... I am uneasy about how the information would impact their relationship with my husband seeing as we want to reconcile. (even my GP advised not to tell anyone). My sister is also interstate and has her own mental health issues and she has never really been a good support to me. More a negative as she is borderline narcissistic (gosh we're a happy bunch!!). I get on well with my inlaws but they don't know. They are local and are supportive of my husband's mental health journey...I think that's why they think I am upset (I had a bit of a moment when I last visited)

Jess, thanks for your reply! He has not contacted her since the day before I found out and I believe him (strangely!). I gave her an 'I know, back off, he is not well' message as she was hounding him to reply to her and he was too weak mentally to go there so ignoring it. I was doing it with his permission (infact he asked me to) . It was 2 days after I found out and I was very polite and although I told her I was hurt I even wished her well and told her to concentrate on her husband and beautiful kids (Seriously!! I don't feel that way now!! I don't know how I did it!). Both she and her husband are now blocked by both of us. I have no idea if he knows.

Unfortunately she is hard to escape totally as she is relatively local and has a few similar circles of friends. I live in fear and am quite on edge in public places that I could bump into her (it is inevitable one day, but when I do I want to be strong ...ignore and keep walking ...not cry/scream/do anything stupid...I am quite a passive person but feel I am not in a good place mentally to be 'bumping into her' at the moment!). She likes to think she is a motivational inspirational guru to other women so she is in your face with her stupid face all over social media (blocked or not she is sadly hard to avoid) and there are photos from 3rd party sources of them together participating in events that I cannot get deleted that occasionally come out of the blue and torture me...events I thought they were doing as friends but fall into the timeframe of the affair (or I torture myself with them to try and see if I can see if he is happy...so so so stupidly destructive and I need to stop that!!)

We are looking at joint counselling but his psychologist is making communication between us very hard as she does not think he is mentally ready to discuss it or delve into the reasons or 'talk' in the way I will need to talk. I actually am not 100% confident in her guidance but he likes her and I have to trust she is doing what is best for him even if he was off his nut on antidepressants and should never have been on them (also coincides with the affair timeline) It is excruciating as I need to talk SO much and I am worried I have already pushed him to talk about things he wasn't ready for. It's hard not to when it is all I think about! It feels like I am pretending all the time. I feel like I have to lie and say 'I am fine' or 'the day has been fine' because if I say it isn't it stresses/upsets him. Then I feel guilt.

Thank you So much for replying Bailey and Trying2BStrong. Your replies mean so much and made me cry (almost with relief I think!). This has been the most isolating experience I have ever had in my life. It's hard walking around pretending and wearing a mask all day when you are broken and hurting inside. It is exhausting.

Thank goodness for our children hey? They force me into moments of almost feeling normal. Sometimes I worry I am too distracted or short tempered with them and sometimes I have to escape for a 'shower' or a lie down' as I need to cry... but generally they think everything is happy and normal and infact possibly think their Dad and I have been closer and happier as we have been talking more, spending more time together and doing things together. They had really started to notice his absence for a while there as he really disconnected from us for the 6months before and during the affair.

Bailey I do agree...I try not to think about where I would be at emotionally/mentally without the kids. I prob would have hopped on a plane and run home to my parents. The responsibility of the kids and their happiness has grounded me. Don't get me wrong I am committed to reconciling with my husband. I love him. We have 20 years together. I believe our wedding vows and wanted to grow old together. But my goodness it hurts so much sometimes I have to fight the urge to disappear.

What I can't get past is how huge the impact on me has been emotionally...it has really got me at my core. I can't understand why it is so hard to move forward...why i can't just go 'he did a terrible thing, he is sorry, he wants to reconcile, he wants to be with me, he says he loves me, lets move on, happily ever after'. I just feel totally stuck and desperately sad. Maybe it is grief for what I feel I have lost. All those things I thought were just for us forever. The intimate stuff. Our commitment for lifelong faithfulness. Trust. Love. Self worth. erghh Now I have doubt.

His mental health scares me. Part of me is scared he is staying because he feels so bad for hurting me, I am scared he will get 6 months down the track and realise he has fallen out of love with me and crush my heart again. I think too much. I'm just scared. And sad. I'd never doubted us before....never in a million years would I have thought he'd have an affair...he's always been very vocal when friends have been hurt in similar ways. So he also feels this shame that it is not the person he thought he was.

So he sees a psychologist and a psychiatrist???

I can understand that sometimes the dust needs to settle a little for counselling to work, however it has been 2 months. Not sure if you can talk one on one with his psychologist to get a better idea of her rationale, because it seems to me that you're being sidelined here. You mentioned that you are seeing a psychologist - what does he or she say about all of this?

It will get better, but having the other woman in close proximity is not helping you. I don't think you should lie to your husband about how you're feeling. It's complicated because of his diagnosis - I would be keen to ensure his treatment regime is effective.

Apollo yes I feel completely sidelined.
He is seeing both and both on the same page re diagnosis. His psychologist has ALWAYS had me sidelined. 2 days after finding out about the affair I was called into her office and given his medication, the car keys and told what to do if he was non compliant (given all the phone numbers) because he had hit a low point. I was given very mixed messages and told he wasn't in a place to discuss anything with me yet....but in the same breath told to communicate openly with him and that he'd have to sit there and listen to me. It was hell that first few weeks thinking I would say something to tip him over the edge. This crap we are dealing with is off the scale not normal regardless of mental diagnosis. The feelings are not feelings either of us are used to having. So he also went through a few weeks fighting the diagnosis because he doesn't want to be bipolar. SO complicated/frustrating and I am trying to be supportive of his recovery. He went back to his psychologist this week and he's stopped talking again because he said until his meds are stabilised he won't be able to support me or converse about the affair or how we got to that place in our marriage. We actually HAD started talking okish over the last couple of weeks but that all got stomped on. I needed to talk last night (why I ended up in here!) and he shut me out because she told him he wasn't ready. He is seeing both again next week. I guess we will take it from there. I know I have to pick myself up and be happy in my own skin regardless...but it's hard!!

I have had great difficulty securing regular appointments with my psychologist. The first appointment was more cathartic while she sat there nodding in horror. I am seeing her again next week. Her focus seems to be mainly mindfulness and doing fun stuff to keep distracted but yeah...I have always been the kind of person who 'never gets bored'. I just don't find anything 'fun' at the moment! It feels like my light needs switching back on!

So far I haven't lied to him about how I am feeling (it's been impossible to hide it as as soon as the kids go to bed I cry because I have been sucking it in for 6hrs) I have suppressed wanting to talk and had to time my conversations as to not overwhelm him I don't think he knows it is as bad as it is though in my head. I am nervous again initiating conversation because of what his psychologist said. Every time I start to talk I feel 'should I/shouldn't I' and feel selfish