Sleepwalker husband. Help me give emotional support


#1

Please help me with ideas to emotionally support my sleepwalking husband. I am not, repeat not, seeking medical advice here. We already know what the trouble is, but I feel so bad that my husband goes through this.

If my DH has an episode I feel so bad. I am torn between telling him what he has done, and not telling him. Sometimes, during an episode he gets very angry and swears and curses, other times he gets giggly and does really funny things.

Recently we have had to eliminate alcohol and caffeine from his life since they can cause the episodes to worsen. Since the current stress he is under can’t be lessened, all the other factors must be. I feel horrible since I am the one who is aware of the problem, I feel like I have become the “sleepwalking police.”

He is quiet and withdrawn about it, and we try not to talk about it too much, but sometimes we have to. His case is considered severe because of certain behaviors. We have gotten all the medical help we can, but the emotional shame he feels, I just can’t seem to help.

What are some ways I can show him that he is still valued and is not defined by this disorder? What are some ideas to give him spiritual support? I have shown him the research that says this is not a psychiatric disorder, but a genetic chemical disorder. He still feels so much embarrassment. (Hence my posting it here and not seeking help closer to family.)

Please help!


#2

Deb,

My first thought for reducing embarrassment on his part would be to find some type of support group, whether online or elsewhere. Nothing says “hey, it’s okay” (especially for men) than to find out that they’re not the only one.

My next thought it how I would approach the situation w/ my dh; you and your dh might have totally different personalities & ways of communicating/handling things, so this may not work: Since you’ve obviously taken this seriously & gone the medical route, etc., I think I’d try a lighthearted, “hey, no biggie” type of day to day approach. Find ways to emphasize that this is a medical issue & only one tiny aspect of who he is as a person & in God’s eyes, and only one tiny aspect of who he is to you. Again, lots of building up/emphasizing what attracts you to him, romancing (which for men is usually on the physical side) and keeping a refrain of “honey, you are so much more than a sleepwalker to me” handy.

Third thought: totally random brainstorm, here, but if you’re feeling like the “sleepwalking police” b/c of needing to report to him or drs. about what goes on, could you perhaps keep a journal or log, instead? (Obviously for serious, safety stuff you’d do what you need to do on the spot) but this might help translate it into “I’m jsut keeping an accurate record for the specialist” and not, “Honey, you were so funny last night.” (Not implying that you’re doing anything wrong; jsut thinking of ways to put some “distance” between you and the “policing”.)

Spiritually…hmmm, my first thought for anything that’s causing so much distress is meditations around Christ’s Agony in the Garden. Not everyone is given the privilege of sharing a glimpse into this part of our Lord’s life. I’m also thinking about married saints or couples. There’s Saint Gianna, who was a physician & there are books published of her love letters to her husband…I’ll try to think of more!

Bless you for trying to help your dh!


#3

Thanks Stephanie! These are some great ideas. Most of them I will start right away, thank you! There are a few that I would have trouble implementing though because of personalities and such.

I really wish I could do the “no biggie” day to day approach, but that won’t work from a ‘fixing what he broke the night before’ POV. He is a *big *guy. When he sleepwalks it is like dealing with a giant, cranky, toddler. He once crushed an alarm clock in his bare hands telling it, “you’re not going to tell me what to do!” The next day we had to go replace it so it was staring him in the face that it was a big deal. (He never hurts people though, just to make that clear.) He has stumbled and fallen on me and I have been hit in the night from his flailing arms. We call it his “six-foot wing span,” but nothing terribly serious. Needless to say, we are NOT a co-sleeping family.

The journal would also be so helpful, yet I would be concerned how that would make him feel. At least when it is just my memory it can be forgotten, but a journal feels forever.

I’ve thought of the support group thing too. But he is such an introvert I have no idea if he would even attend. Maybe I should find one for me.

The Agony in the Garden…what an amazing way to connect with our Lord! I will tell him that one right away. Talk about embarrassing! He knew He was going to be scourged publicly and die naked on a cross. It was all going to happen and He had to just let it happen for our sake. Wow. To have something in his life where he can share that with our Lord. WOW.


#4

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