Supporting a depressed husband - seeking hope
Towards the end of last year, my husband told me he was depressed. At that time, I asked him to get help. He said he didn't want to and we left it at that and things got better for a few months. But for the most part of this year things have been very up and down,. A couple of weeks ago he admitted that he wanted to die.
I know nothing about depression so every time we talk about it, I ask him to get help. However over the last few weeks he has stopped talking to me, and started sleeping in our spare room. He has told me that I can't help him, he wants to go it alone, I haven't been there for him, and may other hurtful things. I keep telling myself that it is the depression, but it causes me great pain and sadness.
Last week one of his oldest friends contacted me to tell me that my husband had been to see him. He told him he's lost and disconnected, doesn't know where he is, and how or where I stand with him. But his friend told me that he loves me, and that I can't give up, even when/if my husband says he has. He hasn't given up. But I need to be patient and try to find a way to reconnect. I cry every time I think of this.
I do believe there is still love there. But I can also appreciate that the depression probably leave very little room for him to feel/see anything else right now.
I know the priority is to get him help. However as he keeps refusing, I feel there is little more that I can do.
I know he needs professional help and as long as I still have the strength to, I will keep trying to convince him to get help.
I am writing this post basically because I need hope. I need to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I need to know that loving him and simply being there for him (even though he says it's not enough) can get us through this. So if anyone has any experience, stories to share, tips and suggestions on how to reconnect, I would be very grateful.
I know that it sounds highly idealistic, and we don't live in fairy tales. But I have to keep believing that we will get through this somehow.
It’s certainly been a long haul for you, and you’ve been so strong to hang in there for the last year. How’re things going with yet another lockdown?
The passing months really demonstrate how cruel depression is, to see that change and know that it’s not the person that you love, but rather an illness is really hard. I think the uncertainty of not knowing if and when things will get better also takes it’s toll. It’s really challenging when you read into actions and behaviour to try and decipher what they mean, all the while knowing that you are unable to read minds. The thought processes of depression are so different, and even though you can show unconditional love and good intentions, these things can be interpreted in a completely different way.
I hope you’re hanging in there.
It has been sometime now since posting, and I just really wanted to come on and thank everyone for your posts of encouragement and support.
I have seen a few new threads on here with people in a similar situation to mine and rather than replying to those posts, I thought I'd just come on here and reiterate a few things.
While this may be a difficult thing for someone supporting a loved one suffering depression, it is so important to build your own personal and professional support network. This is not about being selfish and putting yourself first. In fact without a support network of your own, I believe it would be almost impossible to have the strength to provide the support necessary to support your depressed love one. I have a very small personal support network that knows the details, and they have been invaluable in this journey for me.
I also think it's important to be patient. Patient with your loved one, and patient with yourself. There is no right or wrong. There will be mistakes and failures, there will be lows. But there will also be progress. It may not be the progress you expect, but with each day that you get through, that is progress. Don't forget that.
You are allowed to feel down, and sad, and upset, and hurt. It is OK. Let yourself feel those things for as long as you need. Be kind. To yourself and to those around you.
Be hopeful. Don't give up. For them. But most importantly, for yourself. Things may not work out the way you hope or want, but they will work out.
There will be brighter days ahead.
Hi Here2Talk & KG82,
I was just on here reading past posts and realised that I didn't answer some of your questions.
My husband believes that he has probably been like this (depressed) since he was a teenager. I think when I met him, was when he started seeing things differently. And we have been together for 21 years now, married for 16.
It has been just over a year now though since my husband has been officially diagnosed with depression (severe). He has been on three different medications, and seen two different psychologists. It is also coming up to a year or so now since we started relationship counselling. Unfortunately with the lockdown we've had to reschedule our latest appointment and it hasn't been great.
We have two daughters - 10 (almost 11) and 8 (9 in January). The both have suffered through this and I got them a referral to the school psychologist last year. Things improved and so when school started this year they both decided that they didn't need to see her anymore.
Things are not great at the moment (again). The latest lockdown has really taken its toll and we are all really struggling. And yes, I do find that when I am blamed for something or things don't go right, I feel like I need to try harder. There is a lot of second guessing my actions and my words, which is definitely not great.
I do believe there are still better days ahead. In a way, I feel like we need to ride out this latest episode, just as we need to ride out this latest lockdown. I am trying to find that balance again between giving him space, but not pulling away too far like I did when things got very bad. From both of us, there needs to be lessons learned on how we deal with each of these phases, otherwise we will never move forward.
I find that his first response is generally rude, and then he sort of realises it and responds in a bit of a softer tone. So I feel like the depression is the instinctual response, and then he checks himself. I do believe he is trying. I don't believe that he purposely wants to treat me this way. I guess he is just stuck behind that wall of depression and we both need to find a way through it. Which I do believe we will.
It will just take time, and I guess trial and error until we both learn what works. It feels like a long journey so far but in reality, I know this will be a life long thing that we will need to manage. And as I said, I do believe we will. We'll both just need some patience and understanding and love.
Thank you for your update. I’m sorry things are hard at the moment. These lockdowns aren’t really helping many people mentally, and are an unfortunate, but necessary evil. I think that this particular lockdown has hit harder than the others. You show such great resilience, determination and insight into your situation.
I’ve been reading Depression Fallout by Anne Sheffield, which is the about the effects of depression in a relationship, and I thought of you. I’ve found it really helpful in understanding my own feelings about everything that happened with my partner. I was relieved to find that the phenomenon is incredibly common and replicated amongst many couples for whom one is depressed. I could relate to so much of what was written.
I hope you continue to cope with this current set back, and reach out if you need to.
Thanks for your updates and for explaining what is happening.
I admire the fact you are positive that you will be through this hard time and things will get better .
I wonder if your husband feels the same way because when one is depressed it is so hard to see it will ever end.
Your support, love, and positivity gives your family something to hold onto and look forward to
I just wanted to see how you were going. I know it must be tough and you said in your last post the latest lockdown was particularly hard.
I hope you're ok.
I've been speaking with a counsellor (finally!) and she told me to remember, just because you understand their behaviour and reasons for it doesn't make it acceptable to continue to treat you poorly.
Look after you x
Hi everyone! I know it has been a while, but I am still here and have been reading and am grateful for all the posts.
emotionallydrained - I totally agree, understanding it doesn't always make it acceptable. I guess in the end, it is going to be about how much of it you can 'accept'. I am glad to hear you've started seeing someone, I hope it is helpful. Nobody ever knows what the future holds, but I hope that seeking help is the beginning of your path to finding happiness again, even if that happiness is different to what you expected.
As for me, I am OK. WE are OK. Not always, Not everyday. But mostly. There is still some mistrust, from both of us. But I hope that as time goes on, trust will be built again. Although I am not as active on the forums, I will still be here and will respond to anyone who may want to talk about their own situation, and I will also try to post updates and check in from time to time. Hope you all are doing well!
I know it's been some time. I have been reading but haven't had a chance to post. But thought that since we are well into the new year now that I should at least come back and say hello!
We have made it through another Christmas and New Year season, coupled with birthdays and our wedding anniversary. And it has been good!
It feels strange to type that and put it on such a public forum. But I feel that it is important for us to acknowledge the progress we have made. As I said last time - I am OK. WE are OK. Not always, Not everyday. But mostly.
And I also felt that it was important for anyone reading here, to know that there is hope. I remember first coming onto these forums and reading threads from a while back and always wondering how things turned out for those people.
There is hope. There is progress. But it doesn't come without pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, making yourself vulnerable and questioning what you might not understand, even if you think the answers might be scary.
I remember someone posting on another thread, that sometimes we need to be 'strategic' about how we love a depressed person. And while I may not have agreed with having a 'strategy' to love someone, I think I didn't really understand what that meant. Being strategic doesn't mean having an agenda, but it shows some sort of understanding of what your loved one might need from you.
I have tried to be mindful of what my husband has been going through, and not pushing too hard, but also a big mistake of mine was not pushing at all. And so now I am trying to find that balance.
If you are reading, and want to chat, or have some questions, please reach out.
I hope everyone is doing well!
Hello 815, finding that balance can change from day to day, depending on what's happening and what the person suffering from depression of any type is going through, we can never predict from one day to another what's going to happen or how they are going to be feeling.
In my situation eventually, my wife lost the power to want to talk with me, that's why we ended up divorcing, and in actual fact, it was probably good this happened (not that I wanted it to), however, now we can talk as if nothing happened and talk as if we were courting each other, laugh, joke and remember old times (good), but the possibility of living together once again is close to nil.
I have accepted this a long time ago and enjoy how we talk to each other now.