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Supporting a depressed husband - seeking hope

Community Member
I am married to an amazing man. We have been together 20 years, married for 15 and have 2 amazing daughters. We have always stood by each other, and he has always been loving and supportive.

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.
230 Replies 230

Community Member

Thanks Geoff, I am pleased to report that the appointments went well today. My husband was receptive to both the doctors advice and the social workers questions and insights.

Although my husband was very sceptical about entering a new relationship with a healthcare professional, he found the session with the social worker helpful. He felt heard (so important) and the social worker showed insight into the various intermingled issues he is experiencing.

I was pleasantly surprised when the social worker included me in the entire appointment, asking my perspective and direct questions about my experience. It felt that he was there to help us both. My husband found it more collaborative and helpful having a group discussion rather than one-on-one where he feels put on the spot at times. We've never been to couples counselling before but we definitely have some big issues to work through so that fell into place nicely I guess.

We've booked another appointment for next week. On the way home, my husband even reflected that it feels like a step in the right direction. So that's nice.

Hopefully I can remember today's positive steps as I get set for another hectic week of juggling a lot...

Hello stillcoping, I'm pleased to hear it went well and sometimes for people having a group, whether it's only 3 or 4 people is better than being put on the spot in one to one position, it does take the pressure off because it can give them time to think.

The positive steps may come and go or be triggered by something that brings you back to what has been said, you can't physically try and remember them all at once, they will come to mind when the a situation requires them to, and as you have a hectic week, hopefully these or at least one of them will help get you through another day.

My best.


It's been a busy week. We went to see the mental health social worker (MHSW) again and they recommended my husband be admitted to hospital for inpatient treatment. This means that in about 2 weeks, my husband will be away for 3 weeks hopefully getting the treatment he needs - or as the MHSW put it, setting up a scaffold of support to help him navigate what he's going through. I fully support my husband getting help, it's definitely needed and I am glad he is receptive and even hopeful about it.

For me, there's so much up in the air for this upcoming month. I haven't caught up with it all yet and am running on autopilot and trying to meet my responsibilities at my full-time job. This has involved lots of early starts driving my toddler around to various grandparents so I can get to work but it's not sustainable as we're both very run down. I'm still in "this is temporary" mode and not finding the time or space to stop and think how this next period is going to look for me and my toddler.

I anticipate it will involve some time off work but I can't imagine taking a full 5+ weeks off. The driving around is very tiring so I'm looking at local day care options but not sure that starting at day care is what my toddler needs right now given she's already dealing with a lot. I want to work still so I have my own sense of self, which I can do from home so that my schedule is more flexible, but I always feel better and more productive going in to the office and being around other people.

So lots to think about. Luckily I have an appointment with my psychologist tomorrow so hopefully she can help me sort through this all... 

Dear Stillcoping,

My heart breaks for you. But, reading your posts also give me feelings of admiration and strength for you. I am so glad your husband is getting the help he needs so he can one day thank you for all that you are doing for your family. My thoughts and prayers are with all the carers who go through so much more in silence. 

My husband left home a few months ago (his choice) and we see each other everyday when he comes to visit the kids. It's heart breaking seeing him walk out the door everyday. I know deep down he does love me even though he has convinced himself that he doesn't. The signs of depression have been there for a while but he refused then and still refuses now to get help. We have 3 kids that miss him terribly. It's so hard to fathom that this illness can change who you are very fast. I changed in the first few months too. I felt sad, angry, and so needy (for words of comfort, acknowledgement, support etc..) I was never needy before.  

It's been and very up and down couple of months, I find myself ok some days but other days it's like everything is so raw that it cripples you. The only thing that gets me through is our 3 kids. The last thing I want is for them to see me emotional. I have my first psych appointment coming up next week, I have been looking forward to it to better equip myself on how to be more supportive towards my husband and our kids. I long for the day my husband finally decides to put himself first and get the help he needs. I secretly wish - when he's ready for him to come back home. Until then, I have to teach myself to be selfish and work on me while looking after our 3 beautiful children.. 

Much love to all of us that are doing hard work behind the scenes.. xo

Bless you both for fighting so hard to save your marriages.  Mine has been in tatters for a while, my wife wanted to leave me, then wanted to see other people. We're only together because I fought like my life depended on it (and maybe it did).  I have certainly been depressed, but I have mostly stopped drinking and I hope we're seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.  I'm glad you're also seeing things get better


Otherguy, how did you get her to stay? I tried so hard and was met with such stubborness that i had not seen before. I think my whole attitude towards this heartbreaking situation changed over the last month where, I am respecting his need for space a lot more. I think i made it clear that i love him no matter what, and i will always be there for him. There are pockets of time where I see the real him and then it changes again when he says/does something hurtful. I often think he (or the illness) does this on purpose to create more space between us. 

I hope you are getting the help you need to get through this difficult time. And i do hope you both get to the end of that tunnel and bask in that light.. 

Thanks for your kind words teamwork and That Other Guy. Relationships can be hard even without depression thrown in the mix so kudos to you both for fighting for yours too. 

That Other Guy, I am glad to hear that you feel like things are turning a corner. It must be so challenging to be depressed and also working on yourself and your marriage. I hope things continue to improve for you. 

Teamwork, I am so glad you are seeing a psychologist to help you through this difficult period. It must be a huge shock to adjust to not having your husband around after so many years living your lives together and having to see him everyday can't help. It can be so hard to think clearly/function in the wake of rejection and all the emotions that come with it. It's totally normal to want him to come home but I'm glad to hear that you're able to respect his need for space and that you're working on being more selfish (which must be a muscle rarely used for a mother of 3!) Both these steps sound like you're heading towards more clearly defined boundaries of who you are outside of your role in the family and that can only be a good thing. 

My update is that I have mostly sorted out what my next couple months looks like - tiring! We're in limbo now until my husband is able to go to hospital but otherwise I have decided on me and toddlers weekly schedule. I have taken Monday's off work to help ease some pressure and intend to have a chunk of me-time on this day. I am leaving all my emotional processing until my husband goes to hospital so my me-time is probably going to be 3 hours of crying + a massage. 

I am absolutely exhausted after another full weekend with a very emotional husband still stuck in bed and trying to be extra attentive to my toddlers emotional needs to make up for the busy week. One too many things to juggle today with not enough rest time so I ended up getting annoyed at my toddler which is the last thing I wanted to do. Hopefully tomorrow will be better... 

I have another appointment with my husband and the MHSW tomorrow so am looking forward to seeing what that brings. 

Hi everyone, just an update. My husband has been in hospital for a week now and it has been going really well, definitely a great decision for him. His treatment approach and meds have been completely changed - from treating depression and mood swings to treating anxiety as the root cause. The first few days were so positive but his mood has dropped and side effects of med changes are kicking in now which is tough. I'm glad he has an opportunity to deal with a low mood in care though. 

I am taking time off work while this is all happening and am very grateful I am able to. Just getting in to hospital was such a headache with the admission date/time being confirmed then moved a few times. It was stressful and anxiety producing on top of what was already going on. As the leaving date is also up in the air, I didn't want the added pressure of having to juggle work and being an inconsistent presence so unpaid leave it is. 

It's been really difficult trying to maintain any sort of routine for me and my toddler so far - with grandparent days moving around, starting day care, me going out with friends, hospital visits. I have found it really hard to unwind and I have been keeping really busy with appointments/cleaning. My psychologist said could take a few days minimum to adjust to the idea that I don't have to do everything. I'm slowly building in more rest to my days.

So the journey continues and hope prevails! 

Hi quirkywords, and everyone who has posted

It feels like it's been so long since I've had a chance to properly post here but I do try and check the posts now and then and see what's happening.

In response to your question - We are OK.

I sometimes hesitate to post because I want to hold onto all that is good and not let it go.

But I realise that, the main thing that has always got us through this, is hope.

And so I want people to know that, there is always hope. You have to believe in that because once you let it go, what is there that will keep you going?

My husband and I had our last relationship counselling session a number of months ago now. I myself have put a pause on seeing my psychologist. My husband still has sessions with his psychologist, and is still on medication.

Our relationship is not the way it was before. But in some ways, I feel the bond is stronger, more genuine, having been through this. Not that it wasn't before. But I guess in some ways I took the easiness of our life for granted, and now I realise how blessed we are.

The children are good. More settled and with life going back to normal seem to have moved on from all that they went through.

I won't be so naive as to think that the road won't be bumpy from here on in. But I guess we both have learned ways to manage, individually and together.

While I believe hope will get you through, I know that every situation and every outcome is different.

Please take and use what you can from my journey. But don't expect it to be be the same. But do believe that things will get better, day by day.

Stay strong. Be brave. Stay kind. And always hold onto hope.

Hi stillcoping,

I know it's been over a month now since you last updated. It sounds like things are going well, although of course there will be challenges in trying to adjust with all the changes. I hope things have improved even more since.

Finding time to look after yourself is so hard, but so important. I hope you can find the balance.

And your last words, of the journey continuing, and hope prevailing, will provide so much comfort to someone else reading and sharing in your journey. So thank you for that.

Post an update if you're around and feel up to it. I'd love to hear how everything is going.