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Wife has long term depression - Stay or Leave?

Community Member

I’m in a pretty dark place right now.
I’ve been married for 12 years and my wife has suffered from serious depression and anxiety for 9-10 of them. She's received ongoing treatment but things don’t seem to be improving.

It first began with an injury and the loss of her job. I didn’t earn much money at the time but it was just enough for us to live comfortably. She started taking pain meds and antidepressants, but soon needed psychologist and psychiatrist appointments and other therapies and meds. Her mood began to drop lower with the good days becoming fewer.

The costs started rising and I fell into debt. I worked harder, longer hours which luckily led to promotions, still with the extra money we were only just getting by. Trying to pay for the extra medical bills and debt while paying for everything else was just killing me. I had nothing to show for my hard work but kept pushing on knowing it was all for my wife.
Things kept getting worse, we stopped being intimate because of her low self esteem. She became too anxious to leave the house. We missed family events and outings with friends. I couldn't go out by myself very often because of the distress it would cause her. I now have very few friends because of this. I work 9-10 hour days, 11 days a fortnight, do all the cooking and most of the cleaning. I was always fine with all of this because I know its not her fault. I know she suffers a hell everyday that I could never imagine. It kills me inside to see her in so much pain and distress.

I really thought I was managing ok and felt strong until I had this moment of realisation. I went out for a night in the city with a some friends and met this really nice and very attractive girl. She was all over me most of the night but I refrained from anything other that chatting. She stuffed her number into my pocket when we left but I didn't keep it. Believe it or not, I met the same girl the next weekend and she was still lusting after me and made me feel amazing. This was when the moment of realisation came, I had truly forgotten what it felt like to be wanted, needed or loved, like I had been numb all these years. I didn't do anything with this girl but she made me realise and feel a lot of things. Im certainly not happy and miss the feeling of love and companionship. I don't want to miss out on life and can see it slipping away but i'm afraid of what would happen to my wife if I left her. I feel truly stuck. Can it get better? Any advise would be appreciated.

17 Replies 17

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi there John117 and thank you so much for reaching out on our forum.

Your post is incredibly emotional - the pain and clarity with which you expressed it is very raw. Plainly, you are an exceptional human being with the level of sacrifice you have endured for your wife. It must be incredibly difficult not being able to see any way out of your situation for the future.

Unfortunately, I don't have a magic wand to wave but just want to say I hear you and feel for your situation. My father in law looked after his wife who had MS for ten long years before she passed away - he had the strength, love and resilience to care for her until the end which earned him enormous respect from all of the family.

Is it out of line to ask if you are happy that your wife is receiving the very best treatment and advice? Sometimes obtaining advice from a range of professionals may present a different view, but that is really not for me to comment further on. This question also applies to yourself as well, helping your inner strength cope with things.

In regards to the girl you met, of of course it is extremely easy to succumb to attention from another in your position. It is normally lust and short lived - it is great to see you are not at all sure to commit to anything there.

I sincerely trust your wife's outlook will improve and once again give you that platform from which to grow your love for her.

Thinking of you. All the very best, The Bro

Community Member

The Bro! What a fitting username!

Wow, thanks. I never really looked at my self as exceptional, I just tried to do what anyone else would, support her and make it to the other side. I just didn't realise the other side was so far away. Props to your father in law, just amazing.

Yes, I'm fairly confident she has received the best treatment. I worked super hard to make sure of it. She's had two rounds of ECT treatment in the last 5 years, 23 ECT's in total and is involved with multiple support organisations. We have tried many different types of therapy and nearly all antidepressants available. We're seeing a new psychiatrist and psychologist next week, still trying to keep things moving forward. I've thought about talking to someone professionally but don't want my wife to find out, it'll be just another thing that she blames herself for and trigger another episode. She hates that her depression effects me so I just hide it to protect her.

Of course, I never had any intention of committing to anything with the girl I met, it was just how she was treating me and what she said that brought on a lot of emotion, haven't had that in a very long time. Made me remember how I used to feel, I just can't believe I forgot how to feel these emotions, I'd been missing them this whole time and didn't even notice. That was the biggest eye opener really. Im afraid that If I'm not happy I won't be able to care for her properly, become bitter and then I'll be useless to everyone. I don't want to end up in the same place.

I'll keep pushing on for now and hope for the best.

I really appreciate your kind words and taking the time to read my post and reply to me.

A true Bro! Thank you.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi John 117,

Wellcome to our forums!

Im sorry this is happening to yourself and your wife….. it’s nice that you have been supporting your wife through out her mental health conditions….. I can see the love you have for her…..

I really hope your wife can become well again so you can both enjoy life together I understand how anxiety can make us feel.

You asked can it get better? My answer is yes and that’s from a personal point of view I had severe anxiety OCD…. I have now recovered thanks to the help I received by health professionals I believe I was able to recover because I was given the correct treatment to recover …. I did metacognitive therapy it changed my life! Maybe you and wife could look into it to see if it’s a fit for her…. Ive read it’s used for depression aswell…..

Maybe you and your Wife could sit in a psychologist appointment together so you can see what your wife needs to learn and work on it together…

I understand you had nice feelings with the other lady but I’m sure if you and your wife could work on things together the future may look bright for you together….

Have you thought of getting any support for yourself? You could make an appointment with your gp and do a mental health plan together… this will enable you to see a psychologist.

Community Member

Hi Petal22

I always had it in my mind that I would support her throughout this, I just had no idea it would take so much from me. I really do love her very much.

Congratulations on your recovery, must've been an epic battle for you. It's great to hear that there's still hope. I read up on the metacognition and it sounds like it could definitely be useful, next step up from CBT it seems, which she has also tried. We'll mention it to her GP and see what can be done.

I already attend appointments with her as often as possible and have learnt so much already. Really had to adjust the way my brain thinks to support her in the right ways and make sure I say the right things.

I'll give it a go talking to a psychologist but am a little unsure if it will help me. I was seeing one for a while to treat PTSD after I had a bad accident a few years back and it really didn't do much for me other than let me get a few things off my chest. Hopefully this time could be different.

This was really a last resort for me and I'm glad I came here. I didn't know what else to do so thank you for your reply and sharing a bit about your experience, it really means a lot to me. Just feels nice to know that other people care.


Hi John117,

I understand it would take a lot out of you….. it would be tiring……

When I went through my condition my loved ones didn’t know what to do but just support me.. it’s all I really wanted…. “ you never forget the people who come to you with a light to lead you out of the dark”….

Thank you John it feels great to be on the other side of OCD it was one long journey but my journey taught me so much….. while I was in the grips of OCD I felt like I was living in an internal hell……. So now being on the other side of it is just liberating I feel I went through what I went through with OCD so I could come out the other side to help others with their mental health and give others HOPE of recovery.

Metacognitive therapy really changed my life ….. it gave me back my life and gave my family back a fully present ME! I used to be so lost inside my head…… metacognitive therapy taught me how to recognise the thinking cycle I was in and then how to disengage from it…… it took a lot of perseverance and hard work but it was all so worth it! I did mine in a group therapy……. all the other people in my group had the same condition….. we were taught many strategies and skills…….. we also did a guided meditation as part of our therapy I give meditation credit for one of the tools that got me over the line…. It taught me that I’m not my thoughts but the watcher of my thoughts….. has your wife ever tried meditation?

Im glad you’ve looked up metacognitive therapy yes please have a chat to your gp about it…

Thats great you already go to appointments with your wife…

Im sorry you had a bad accident….. maybe if you see a psychologist they can help you to deal with your thoughts and emotions while supporting your wife….. maybe they could give you some helpful strategies…

We are glad you come to our BB forums…. , we are here to support you in any way we can.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello John, and I am so really sorry to hear of the situation you are in and realise that you are doing everything possible to help your wife and applaud you for this, and what I'm going to say I don't normally proffer from saying this, however, as you have been married for 12 years out of which your dear wife has suffered from depression and anxiety for 9-10 years after you have worked and seen her go to counselling sessions is a tragedy and wondering why there has been no improvement, must be a heavy weight on your shoulders as well and definitely a quandary.

If I can briefly tell you of my situation after being married for 25 years, and very sorry to take up your comment and what I'll say is not indicative of what you've said, but my depression was one reason why my wife left me and then filed divorce papers, and I'm not saying for this to happen, because deep down I still loved my wife but as soon as I had to move into a house by myself, my depression began to clear and I'm certainly not blaming my wife.

We still talk regularly on the phone, in person as well as text each other on a weekly basis, so may be you might want to think about this, it's only a suggestion.


Community Member

Hi Petal22

It never used to wear me down this much, I don't know why I'm not as strong as before. I really want to keep carrying the light and lead her out of the darkness, but I can see the light disappearing behind me while the light I'm holding is getting dimmer. I keep thinking, "Are we just walking into the darkness together?"

It's great to hear that metacognitive therapy made such a difference for you, kudos to you for mastering it. It's horrible to imagine what you must've gone through. Your story really touches me. I hope we can achieve the same result. Group sessions sound like a great idea too. My wife uses guided meditation regularly, it seems to be one of the more effective tools she has learned to use. It often helps to calm her down after a panic attack and also helps her to sleep at night. Always better than her taking tablets, I worry so much about the amount of medication she takes, it just seems unnatural to be taking so much for so long.

I haven't really had the time to put much thought into my accident, whatever I have to deal with is minuscule in comparison to what she is going through so It was never really a priority for long. I managed to survive so I feel quite lucky anyway. Even though it didn't do much for me last time, I will try a psychologist again, just to be sure. I'll try anything at this point.

Is amazing that after recovery, you're out here helping others, helping me. So very much appreciated.

I'll let you know how we go with the metacognitive therapy.

Thanks again


Community Member

Hi Geoff

Thanks for your kind words as well, the three of you to respond to me and show me support has really been overwhelming. I really have tried everything I can think of to help her get better.

Im so sorry to hear of your situation too, hope you have managed well after your separation. It's horrific learning on here how many people are dealing with these types of situations. Breaks my heart. Please don't be sorry for sharing your story with me, it's definitely helping me. Hopefully I can do the same for other people in this situation if I make it out the other side.

Im going to take the advise that is being given to me here and fight a bit more, a bit harder. I'll try anything that anyone can suggest at the moment, I'm desperate and out of ideas.

Thanks again for taking the time to talk to me.


Hi John117,

I don't really have any further advice to add to the already excellent advice you have been given. Reading through your post I wanted to comment on how admirable you loyalty and devotion to your wife is, as is your desire to do everything you can to fight for her and your marriage for as long as you can. I hope you remember to look after yourself as well in this process.