I need a new tactic - nothing is working to communicate to my husband
My husband has been battling with depression for a few years now, and it seems to be getting worse.
We have day on end when he wont leave the bedroom, will watch TV from sunrise to sunset, won't shower and orders unhealthy takeaway food.
I have tried so many way to communicate with him and nothing seems to work.
It always ends in a huge and heated argument with 99% of the blame pointed in my direction and I am the one who is always accused of "baiting" him or "pushing his buttons".
We follow the same pattern, I try to raise a concern, he blows up, I argue back to defend myself and then he either checks himself into a hotel because he cant stand being around me -or he ignores me for days on end.
He threatens weekly to leave me, for me yo pack my things, find my next doormat of a husband, etc. He accuses me of trying to change him and I can't make him do anything.
I know he says these things to get a reaction out of me, and when I do react, its my fault!
My question is: how do you as a supportive partner, not allow this to get to you? How do you not argue back? How do you let this not affect you?
Sometimes it's a case of not being your fault at all, have you thought about that?, no doubt. With depression people get irritable, they like isolation but need looking after, they dont like being "told" anything especially men and it's such a fine tightrope of living for their carer hence his words "baiting" him or "pushing his buttons".
Can I suggest that with most mental illness as we know from experience alone, that circumstances multiply as the illness takes hold, issues that weren't issues previously suddenly become issues immediately with no warning. I'd also go as far to say that love doesnt come into it. Sure the issues can fester to the point of separation but the anger and irritation, the illness is often the cause. Without the illness there be no extra issues beyond a healthy relationship.
You dont state if he's been diagnosed or any subsequent medication, ongoing therapy. IMO this is crucial. If not then you have two options- get him professional medical care in the first instance by a GP visit or tackle his refusal for treatment. The old say "you can lead a horse to water but no make him drink" is quoted here on this forum a lot. Refusal to seek treatment is a whole new ball game and that is a decision of his that you need to evaluate because his symptoms you are tolerating are effects you must and have a right to- decide if you want them in your life.
If he agrees to treatment (or more ongoing reviews) then you have a good chance to overcome some of the intensity of living together and could lead to a return of your early days of your marriage.
So for now, try to move away from getting bogged down into he said, I said and the right or wrong of arguments and accept that the whole situation is due to the need for him to receive treatment.
In the end he holds the reins, to get that help or not or to seek a review or not etc. Allow him the choices and accept that if he refuses then you cannot make him seek it and you'll need to reassess your situation at that point.
This thread is likely to be ongoing and you are welcome to continue to post as the situation changes, so feel free.
You could try listening to him and not arguing back on points you disagree?
Its okay to not agree, you can acknowledge what he's saying and try and respect thats his view of things.
Try and be more accommodating to him....engage with him positively.....go in the room and watch a movie with him....eat the junk food with him.....show him that you're still there and still on his side....
There's no magic pill and method that's going to make him snap out of if...small steps...not big steps
Hello Possum, and thank you for coming to us because at times it's so difficult to know what to do in a situation like this and it's good Tony and Guest_7403 have replied back to you.
So much has been said which I totally agree with, so I'll try not to repeat what's been said.
If your husband is suffering from any type of depression, it's virtually impossible to be able to reason with him, some people don't say anything, and what's said to them means nothing, as it's just blocked out and doesn't mean what you are saying, I only say this as that's what did happen with me, however, I'm not qualified to say, just know from experience.
At the moment you can't rationally discuss any topic with him, as all his thoughts are negative and doesn't want to communicate with you, that's why he remains in the bedroom and orders take away food, he wants not to be disturbed, which often happens when people are depressed.
Your attempt to try and talk to him is not achieving what you were hoping for and also creating problems for yourself, that's why it would be good if you could visit your doctor, because you need to remember this affects two people, not only one person.
You can't make him have any counselling unless he decides that he needs to and perhaps the suggestion of separating may be an alternative to consider and this doesn't mean that in times of desperation he won't contact you, because this can happen.
In considering 'baiting' would you say you're trying to hook his attention into facing challenges, in the way of him reforming himself through and beyond depression? When it comes to 'button pushing', would you say you're pushing buttons to try and trigger a higher degree of consciousness or awareness in him? Could you say you are trying to constructively bait him and push buttons, which can be a good thing. Problem could involve him perceiving it the wrong way. If he's a 'feeler' and feels everything so deeply, could it be a matter of him not wanting to feel the sometimes depressing challenges that can lead a person out of depression? Does he need a careful guide, to guide him out? Perhaps a professional guide could be considered, in the area of mental health. Someone who's trained in pushing buttons to raise consciousness might be the way to go.
From personal experience, being a gal who'd lived in a depression for quite a number of years, a deeply challenging and sometimes depressing question to explore would be, for example, 'Why do I feel like a failure?'. The depressing part comes with the referencing side of things. To address all the times where you've felt yourself as a failure is confronting because it holds so much pain. Easier, in a way, not to face going down that path. Once you can make sense of why you feel this way and exactly what or who led you to feel this way, you can move on beyond having made complete sense of it. So, it's kind of like doing some of the work to come out of depression can be more depressing at first. Can become a matter of don't push a button that leads me to have to address all that depressing stuff.
Can't help but wonder what triggered things a few years back. There's typically a trigger that leads us to have to be more conscious, a trigger that leads us to have to face and/or let go of certain things. If you're trying to push him to be more conscious, I imagine he's also labelled you as 'pushy'.
As Guest_7403 touched on, consider how he's feeling life and feeling his challenges. If he's watching shows that bring him joy, the tv could be regarded as 'joyful'. If he's eating food that provides him with a sense of pleasure, you could say he's an emotional eater. If you were to cook him a few meals he absolutely loves, would that at least lure him/bait him to come out of the bedroom on occasion? To serve a couple in bed first might get him to consider coming out for the rest. A start toward change perhaps.
Hi Possum, me again
Meant to ask, if you could pick what state he's in, what would it be? Is he in the state of 'being desperate to get out of depression' or is he in the state of 'feeling sorrow for himself' or is he in the state of 'lazing' (something that covid lockdowns triggered in people, which can feel impossible to get out of). Sometimes this deeply depressing habit does nothing for our chemistry or energy levels?
The state of 'feeling sorrow for our self' (unfortunately mislabeled as 'feeling sorry for our self') can be so depressing. I've felt it myself in the past. It's like you've lost some significant part of yourself or significant parts and you're deeply grieving over that part or those parts. Kind of feels like a part of you has died or parts of you have died. In some cases, we can resurrect parts of our self, such as in the case of having sadly lost the adventurer in us who was so fully alive in our youth. Bringing it back to life can be so incredibly challenging at times, especially when the chemistry and energy just aren't there to access.