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Husband and father suffering under weight of obligations

Community Member

My wife was diagnosed as bipolar in her thirties after various family traumas as a young g girl, akin to PTSD. I don't see any mania or happy-times in her so think it's really just depression. She's on meds and manages well, but no libido and has fallen out with her entire family.

My son didn't finish year 12 as didn't cope with school/social pressures and borderline suicidal. Later diagnosed with high functioning autism - super high IQ, but terrible anxiety and quirky OCD traits. His younger brother doesn't understand and will not give him a break.

I see my son's traits in myself and believe I am also on the spectrum, but find myself overwhelmed with the responsibility of keeping it all together for them all. Just lost my job, with no assets, and huge debts - and panicking about the immediate future.

I feel like like my life is a facade and just want to curl up in the foetal position in the corner and scream.

8 Replies 8

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Allonme~

Welcome here, a safe place where you can talk with others. Well, the name you chose says it all, a burden borne alone. We are not going to be able to fix your financial situation, or the illnesses in your family, hopefully we can supply companionship, perspective and maybe a few suggestions.

Having the whole weight of family on one's shoulders is a pretty common thing, and I guess while things go along OK then it sort of works. As you know when the wheels fall off it can seem impossible. You see no way out and feel trapped and hopeless.

So what to do? I guess seeing to yourself first is paramount. There is a sign in passenger aircraft above the seats that says:

Put oxygen mask on self before others

Which pretty well sums up the importance of being in a good position in order to help others. In your case I'd suggest you need both medical and personal support. In your position I'd book a long consultation with my GP and talk about those symptoms you find in yourself, the circumstances you are in now, and the crushing weight of responsibility. If you think talking face-to-face is going to be too hard then write it down first and share the paper. Be honest even if embarrassing or frightening. See what happens.

On the personal front who do you have to talk to frankly, who can at least understand and care enough to try to help? Trying to go it alone really is too much. Can you have these sorts of conversations with your wife? Do you have a supportive family?

Losing one's job is a huge problem, and to deal with it, and with the problems in your family, you really do need to be in a practical and positive frame of mind with energy. You need encouragement.

As you can see in this post I've said nothing about any particular problem, only about trying to see if you can feel better, more confident.

I'd be very pleased if you came back and said what you thought


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Allonme

First of all thanks for taking the time to share what is going on with you. We hope you find our forums supportive and useful.

It sounds like you have a lot on. And that you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself.

I agree with everything Croix has mentioned above, especially the point around seeing your GP.

Is there anything you can do immediately to clear your mind? For example, walks outside to get vitamin D and exercise. What about your diet, can you focus on more fresh fruit and veggies?

What is your son up to now? Autism is incredibly common but can be hard for everyone involved. Does he have support? Part of any community groups?

Sounds like your youngest is being the typical brother - which is normal but not helpful! Does he respond when you tell him to back off?

Looking forward to hearing more about what is going on with you.

Blue Jane

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni
hello Allonme, sometimes we wonder why this should ever happen, unfortunately there is no immediate answer, because it may begin in certain stages along the way, so you try and deal with them as they approach you, until finally it all becomes too much for you and that's when you fall.
When it happens with your wife, there won't be any libido, she's struggling too much and that would be the last thing on her mind, so this adds onto how you are personally feeling, lousy I'm sure.
Brothers don't know or understand what OCD can do to someone, my older brother always teased the hell out of me in every way possible, so this made the OCD worsen, so it's a cycle that goes around and around ending up nowhere but only to become an enormous mess, it's very sad because it's not pleasant at all.
I often mention this on the site and will keep doing so, because for me it helped me so much, that is Anglicare was who I contacted, and I don't know why, maybe ther as an ad on TV, but tat doesn't matter, the point is that they will contact the creditors you owe money to, they will stop all those letters demanding payment within 7 days, any phone calls as well will stop and then organise a payment plan that suits you, not them.
I couldn't thank enough until our house was sold, and then a final payment was given to me to finalise the payment, it was much less than what I originally owed them.
Companies buy these debts off the original company, so let's so say a credit card to ANZ is well overdue and as time progress's ANZ sell this debt to another company who then chase up the debt.
Sorry hope all of this hasn't been too much for you, but you must always look after yourself first of all. Geoff.

Community Member

Thanks Croix

I don't really have a close friend - perhaps why I now resort to a forum - and am too embarrassed to discuss with family. My wife is the one I should be able to talk with but I've always been walking on egg shells as I'm worried about sparking her own issues. A real Catch 22.

Shes always said she thinks I have depression but I don't agree... hmm

Thanks Blue Jane

Your picture resonates with me as I feel like I live a constant facade of happiness, where even when I am smiling I still hide behind the practiced smiley face I show to others.

My diet is OK and I get out and about but cannot sleep at night with my worries, which I've never had before.

My eldest son has fortnightly psych visits, but I struggle with this more than anything else. I 'managed' through life with what I belief were similar issues, whilst he is going backwards -fuelled in my opinion (rather paradoxically) by the contemporary need to accept and deal with anxiety and other issues in a nurturing manner. Can't argue with that... but when I grew up I just got on with life as it isn't going to stop and wait for you, and I see it passing him by Now I think I'm a terrible parent as I seem to lack the empathy and understanding I'm told he needs - whilst I just see a very capable young guy who needs to get out from behind this curtain we are helping to wrap him in. He gets anxious about all the same things I did at 20, but instead of finding a way to overcome it, he just chats with his psych?! Again, poor parenting and mentoring I'm afraid.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Alonme~

You come across as a very self-reliant and capable person, which is great, the world needs such people and in most circumstances it is a real asset.

I very much used to be that way myself until various things in life knocked the stuffing out of me, did not matter if the car needed a new gearbox (I'd get one from the wreckers and put it in) or if it was an unruly situation (I was a policeman) I was able to sort it out.

After being invalided out I swung the other way and relied a great deal on others. Now I like to think I've struck a balance, not going it alone but not leaning too heavily on others either.

When one looks at one's children it's often easy to see elements of yourself in them, particularly if they have an illness or some other problem you have had to face. You mentioned the pressures and thoughts you had earlier in life and how you dealt with them. It is possible to draw the conclusion if they acted as you did then things would be OK, and you yourself are maybe at fault for not encouraging them to do so.

I'd imagine that could be a bit of a trap. Things may not be that cut and dried. Do you think that once again it is a case where a balance is needed? The world today is not the same as the one we grew up in and facilities are available now that were not there before. So while helping someone -in a reasonable manner - to face their problems it might also be an idea if they had the professional help too.

A lot of therapy is just that - getting a person to face their problems, but incrementally in a controlled way.

It comes out very clearly you love your son and want the best for him, perhaps talking with his therapist might bring about a coordinated approach that could be more effective than anything else.

The other thing I learned when I was really in a mess was that my partner was much stronger and more capable than I had anticipated. I had tried all my married life to shield her from some of the pressures of life and feared greatly when I was no longer able to do so. As it turned out she supported me and the family in every way and later said it was a pretty good thing, it helped her too.

What do you think of all this, am I on the wrong track?


Community Member

You're on the money.

i don't doubt my wife is stronger than I give her credit for, but suffering from depression herself I've been protecting her from my own feelings for so long that I still can't bring myself to lump my woes on to her. She once had a complete breakdown after years of bottling up up her issues because (according to a psych) I had become such a calming influence that she was finally in a place she could safely let go - good for her I'm sure, but it wasnt in the marriage broshure id been issued?!

Strughling with debt right now and at 50 I'm having trouble getting my next job for the first time in my life with several months of no income

Everything just sucks.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Allonme~

I guess it is a tribute to your supportive and caring ways that your wife finally dropped the mask and you saw the troubles that had been underneath all the time.

I suppose we all have masks and bottle things up to a greater or lesser extent. The trouble is that having a pretend face for others both saps energy and also leaves one feeling maybe trapped or isolated, nowhere to turn. It can also generate a feeling that if one has to hide things then one is a less worthy parson.

I'm not sure I'm explaining all that very well, I'm just trying to say how I was.

What it boils down to is if you soldier on all by yourself shouldering all burdens you may find it too much as well and break down. There are an awful lot of pressures on you after all.

I guess you need to let your wife know some of it. Although ill she has responsibilities too and should at least be invited to help as much as she can. If you start off with something simple like saying you are stressed about money and can the pair of you go for a walk. Next time she might offer.

What do you think?