Husband is depressed, left.
He suffered depression as a teenager (was institutionalised after suicide attempts), and 4 years ago he left me - after a bout of depression, but we went to couples counseling and were reconciled a few weeks later. While it was sad and I was hurt, there was no acrimony between us.
I have always been sincerely supportive of my husband’s depression, which ebbs and flows, more than anyone in his life.
Other people in my family suffer depression, and I have lived my life taking care of him sometimes more than myself, and being genuinely happy to do it.
I am the closest person he has had to him in his life, and he only started going to therapy for the first time in a decade mid-2013 after he had an episode and I encouraged him to seek out professional help.
We talked a lot, at his pleasure, about his feelings and mindset without pressuring him to talk, and he said he was feeling a lot better. We had being trying to have a baby and I said we should stop until he felt more confident about us and his own life. After he started therapy this year, he asked if we could try again and buy a house, as those were really things he wanted. He asked me to trust him, and told me (every day) that he adored and loved me. He told me I was his emotional guardian and things were looking better.
A few months later, he left - telling me he wanted to move to the bush and never have children. He wasn’t acting like himself, he was telling me I was a horrible person, with no values or moral compass, and that I was too materialistic. He said I couldn’t change into a better person and that he never wanted me in his life again. He was showing no empathy, making no eye contact, and it was really confronting for me to see. I told him it was going to be OK, and we would do whatever he needed to feel better. He told me he wasn't depressed, that I was the problem, and that he never wanted my help again. The next morning he went to therapy, and came home and told me it was over because I was a bad person and he didn’t want to give me anything anymore. His parents called me frantic that he was having an episode again, after such a long time, and we communicated with each other every day about what was happening - we were seeing the same behaviours that were so unlike him.
He didn’t care that I might be pregnant and had no place to live as a result of his actions. He went away for a month, camping, and came back and wanted to talk. He told other people he wanted to reconcile with me.
We spoke a couple of weeks later and he said he “went crazy” when he left, but it wasn’t an episode and that there was nothing for him to work through. He said he was sorry for being cruel, but he didn’t want to work on the marriage. I feel he has determined the marriage is what’s made him so unhappy, and that while that obviously may be true, it's also possible that he is not dealing with his depression.
Going to therapy myself, I have come the realisation that we really did have an open, honest, caring marriage where no one was trapped into a certain way of life and all doors were open. That’s not to say it was perfect - of course not - but it was certainly emotionally healthy and loving.
I am still very worried about him, though I accept that he doesn’t want me in his life any more.
His friends told him that he should leave me because I don’t deserve to be messed around, but I don’t feel that is their business, or that they understand his history of mental illness. I feel they encouraged him to run away (away from his family and support network), when they should have communicated with me, or his parents, so we could all try to work together to take care of him.
I feel his therapy has not been very helpful, and would like to encourage him to try another therapist or style of therapy.
As that’s not my job anymore, I’m finding it hard to let go of caring for him, obviously loving him, and of course finding it incredibly hard to take care of myself at this time.
Don’t know what to do… I feel terribly guilty I have not gone after him - that even though I believe my presence is making things worse, that it’s my fault he is so sad, and that I’ve been a terrible partner to him.
Thanks for joining the forums and opening up about what you've been through. I'm sorry your relationship has broken down like this.
It can be very difficult after a separation to let go, and no more is this obvious than when an ex-partner has been/is dealing with mental health issues.
You have accepted that he doesn't want you in his life anymore; the next step is the difficult one that you acknowledge, that caring for him is not your responsibility anymore.
Even if it were, you have your own wellbeing to think about, and it's difficult to be a support to someone else when you are not an even keel yourself.
It's great that you're doing therapy yourself now, it sounds like the major issues for you to work through are around your guilt and feeling responsible for his depression, which you are not. From what you have posted, it sounds like you have done everything you could.
What do others think?
Online Community Manager
Hi Camilla,As a person who has suffered depression/anxiety since 5 years old and I am now 52 years old, can I just begin with saying how awesome you are for standing by your man for as long as you have! That is huge! I hope you realise that. You have done everything you can according to your post. I get it, that I have really put pressure and worn out some significant people through my lifetime because, in retrospect, I was so caught up in my pain re depression/anxiety that I did not see their pain or needs. We are all human with our own set of needs, wants and dreams. And they are all valid - as are yours.My point is, your husband has made his choice at this time. He has blamed you at this time. The best thing - and this is only my opinion for what it is worth - is to continue with your counsellor if you trust that person - be aware of your own sense of right and wrong in this equation and ask yourself whether what you think is right or wrong is helpful, not only to your partner, but more so to you! At this stage, you need to be prioritising yourself. Treat yourself to pampers, whatever works for you, facials, makeovers, nails, a walk down the beach, a huge horse-ride somewhere, a big shopping-fest, with or without frriends - whatever makes YOU feel special. YOU matter as much as your husband. Do you understand that?He has to work out his stuff and at this point there is nothing you can do except stay well yourself. Just be true to you. You have spent 8 years supporting your husband. Can you give that same kindness to yourself, because right now, you need to be kind to yourself. Kind thoughts and best wishes - Suzie xx
dear Camilla, you have to be commended for helping your husband for all of this time, but this hasn't been recognised by anyone, so you feel as though you have been let down.
There seems to be an underlying problem here and that is how much influence and/or control does his friends have with him or over him, and do you believe that this will continue.
The flip side of the coin is you and being able to overcome him leaving, so it would be wise to keep your therapy going, because there will be a lot of adjustments for you, and this includes whether or not you still want to stay where you are living, or to move so that this may lessen your thoughts of the marriage. L Geoff. x
Hi everyone and thank you so much for your thoughts and responses. It really is helpful for me to read. I think the abandonment is what has led to my own deep depression here, and the degree of that darkness I've felt has been something that's really shocked me.
I think I do need to move on practically in order to affect any changes and focus on myself, but that's just a really hard thing to do - I tell myself that all the time, but it's a daily struggle to get up, work and get on with things. Having someone that you loved and supported toss you out without a second thought makes me feel worthless, and that self-loathing is hard to keep at bay.
I guess I'll keep pressing on, my friends keep telling me it will pass, so I have to just listen to their advice, and to yours, and hope that's what will happen.
Thanks again for all your thoughts, I've found this really helpful.
I really can't imagine the feelings that you have been going through (and still going through). It's so good that you've found some excellent therapy outlets.
I know it's so easy for people to say that things will pass and it will get better. They aren't the ones who are currently in the middle of it all.
But you seem to be doing the things that you need to do and pressing on; just one day at a time is all you can do. And hope for little victories along the way. Anything that you can raise a smile at during your day or even something to laugh at.
Those feelings of self-loathing and worthlessness are needing to be put back, right in the back of the kennel - when they try to appear, just close your eyes and think of something that you absolutely LOVE and enjoy and take some deep breaths and think of that thing. This is something that I try and while it's not 100% proof it does sometimes work.
And as you know, the people here are always here AND supportive. So whenever you feel the need, please come here and unload.
Just checking in on this post again. It has been a long few months since this happened, and I really wish I could say that I feel better - but I don't. My ex has now started exhibiting aggressive and very angry behaviour towards my family and friends about how I'm being completely horrible and unfair to him. He wants some things from the house, I told him I can get them for him when I'm back in Australia (I'm away at the moment), and it's really set him off. He's threatened to call a locksmith and force his way in there. This behaviour is so unlike him, he is such a gentle, patient person. I also heard he's moving interstate and is really happy and psyched about starting his new, "ethical" life. I'm so confused, and don't know why he hates me so much... I honestly have no idea why he is furious with me and our life....