Coping with hallucinations

I found dealing with my husband’s hallucinations was the most difficult part of caring for him. Despite my frequent questions and calls for help to professionals, I never received satisfactory help or advice. ‘Oh, just go along with it’ was what I was told.  You try doing that, I thought, when you come back from shopping and find 6 cups of coffee sitting by the kettle waiting for me to take to the ‘visitors’ sitting in the conservatory. If Harry had been able to carry them there, goodness knows where they would have ended up! I also felt aggrieved when accused on several occasions of not offering hospitality to his daughter who was sitting beside him. On one occasion, I actually rang her at home in Italy to prove a point that she wasn’t there, which, in retrospect, I think I probably shouldn’t have done.

Harry’s hallucinations were usually about members of the family, the presence of ‘yobos’ near somewhere that was important to him, such as in his study, so that he became frightened as to what they would do, or a dog begging for food at the table.

I did find some answers to visions he saw at night. Harry’s consultant explained that his brain was creating a much more vivid interpretation of some kind of stimulus. He would see a large, threatening image of an intruder at night, which frightened him. I eventually realised that, with the faint glow of the night-light, he was disturbed by the presence of dressing gowns hanging on the back of the bedroom door. The ants crawling up the bathroom door proved to be chips in the white gloss paint, revealing dark spots underneath. Once I realised this, the solution was easy – I simply removed the garments or arranged to have the door painted.

I always felt frustrated at my inability to deal with Harry’s hallucinations and felt I had failed totally in this area. Our relationship was built on total trust of each other and to ‘live the lie’ as it seemed to me, went against this; we both described what we saw and felt to be true and sadly they contradicted each other. I was feeling frustration and frequently exasperation but he was experiencing real fear.  The best I could do was to provide comfort and reassurance.