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What to do?

Community Member

My wife/partner of 15 years is in full depression and rejects doctors advice to see a counsellor as she doesn't believe they can help. She has medication daily. She hates everyone and every thing and drinks & smokes to manage her afternoons. Our relationship is distant, not hostile. We have 2 teenage children.

For the past 12 months I have been waiting for her to hit the bottom and have an epiphany about different wellbeing approaches and possible changes - this hasn't happened and things seem to be getting worst. I have suggested, nicely, about cutting down drinking & smoking, about other possible wellbeing approaches, counsellors etc all to no avail. I am wondering where to go as I am worried for her wellbeing and trajectory but do not seem to be able to talk with her - any suggestions?

5 Replies 5

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome

You are in a tough situation. Ok, some suggestions-

When that time comes in the afternoon when you know she is about to start drinking, grab the car keys and gtake her for a long drive. You have to be cunning as opposed to sneaky in that- you don't talk about this act beforehand and when you start driving you tell her it is just a short drive.

Say you drive for one hour to a small town - upon arrival you can suggest coffee at a café , that can take up to one hour, then drive home again...that's 3 hours total. 3 hours less she drinks. Say she starts drinking at 4pm normally. If you just said to her - try to delay drinking till 7pm she wouldn't wait that 3 hours, but if in the car she might.

After that exercise if it works, you can talk to her about the power of distraction. Then maybe (it's a long shot I know) you can mention hobbies, sports and interests. A friend of mine with depression was "lost" and she decided to follow her AFL team the Richmond Tigers and that year they won the premiership. Now her home is decorated with black and yellow. It has given her an interest.

Also google the following. You only need to read the first post

Beyondblue topic does stubbornness have a place

Beyondblue topic is there room for stubbornness

Beyondblue topic who cares for the carer?

Beyondblue topic changes from a boring life

Beyondblue topic the balance of your life

Beyondblue topic clear the road I'm on my way

I hope they help. There are thousands of threads like that here on this site.


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello Barraboy

Welcome to the forum. This is a tricky problem you have. We cannot force people to change as you have discovered and persuasion is not being effective either. I like Tony's idea of 'kidnapping' her to go for a drive. She may just realise how much distraction can help.

Have you suggested AA? While she may not yet be at the complete alcoholic stage it may give her something to think about although mostly people are convinced they will never be an alcoholic. Still it's a thought.

My concern is mostly about her safety. Is your wife at risk when she drinks and/or smokes? Does she fall etc when drunk or try to drive. Does she leave lit cigarettes around which could start a fire? And the most concern is if she is having any thoughts of suicide. If you are not speaking you will not know so may I suggest you make attempts to talk to her.

There may be two benefits in this. Your wife may believe you no longer care if you have no conversations (and yes I understand the difficulty). When people are deeply depressed they believe they are useless, a waste of time and no one cares about them. Smoking and drinking can be a way trying to feel good with opposite results. It takes a great effort to keep the talk lines open and I know how hard this can be. It is worth trying however.

Secondly, if she is having thoughts of self harm you may find out. She is unlikely to say this out of the blue so to speak. If you suspect this is the case then take her to see your doctor immediately and enlist his/her help. If you are very concerned take her to hospital yourself or in an ambulance. This is important and does not need her consent if she is serious. Not a nice thought I know but necessary in some circumstances.

I suggest you read the information on depression on BB. There is lots about depression and also some for family and friends about what to do and how the other person feels. Start at the top of the page under The Facts. In fact look under all the tabs. You can download the fact sheets but the booklets need to be posted. No charge for any of this. Get as much information and help as you can.

There are help lines you may find useful for yourself and also tips on looking after yourself, a vital necessity for carers. Use all the avenues you can find.

Please let us know how you go.


Thanks for taking time to provide some advice. You are right I do need to read through the resources and acquaint myself with possibilities as I do love her very much but feel trapped in the cyclic relationship that is not really finding a pathway out.


Much appreciated. I will read over the Beyond Blue resources and see how this can inform me and give me some guidance about how I talk with her about our situation - as I obviously must need to change to help things but I also hope she can find some happiness somewhere in here as well and I wonder what changes she may feel practical/beneficial and how she may come up with these.

Thanks for your time

Hello Barraboy

How are you going? Have you been able to do a bit of reading. I know I always want to read about something that troubles me and find all the answers if I can. It's helpful for some.

Being alcoholic (and forgive me if this word is not quite correct) is a bit like being depressed. It's really hard for those in that situation to see clearly what is happening to them, how they can change and the hardest of all is make that change and keep going. The first barrier is not having the insight to see what is happening. While it's obvious to others we all find it hard to recognise ourselves in various situations and can get quite defensive when we are told.

What you have going for you is your love for your wife. If she can believe this and trust you it will help enormously. Unfortunately it's not often that straight forward as we bring our own judgement to these situations. I wonder if you would find it helpful to talk to someone from AA. Sadly your problem is not unusual. So many spouses are devastated by their partners drinking and the feeling of impotence in themselves. It's not an easy road. Perhaps talking to an AA person will provide you with some tips on managing yourself and your grief plus ways to help your wife. Find your state organisation on line. I'm certain they can help.