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Supporting a depressed husband - seeking hope

815
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.

6 Replies 6

romantic_thi3f
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi 815,

Thank you for your post and for sharing what's been going on with yourself and your husband. I hope that it's helped to type it out and have a space to do so.

I don't think what you're asking for is idealistic at all - it is completely reasonable and understandable. Of course you would want hope. As someone who has been on both sides of the coin I know how dark it can be and how helpless it can feel.

Given everything that you've said, it sounds like you are doing all the right things - never underestimate the power of just being there for him and loving him anyway. If your husband says that's not enough - what is? Have you asked him what he needs from you during this time?

One of the biggest things that helped is to try and see your husband as separate from his depression. It can be so easy for people to blend into their depression- withdrawing from people, not seeming to care and total apathy for the relationship. But if you can almost imagine that this is something that's with him but not him - like the black dog; it can help to remind you that your husband is still very much there.

The other thing I see it is a triangle, in that both of you are at the bottom and the depression is up the top. It affects both of you even though it's his problem.

Do you have some extra support and resources for yourself? Taking care of yourself and being kind to yourself is so important, especially in this pandemic.

rt

Hi rt,

Thank you so much for your reply. It means a lot to know that someone will take the time to read and reply.

I have asked a lot, maybe too much, about what I can do to help. He keeps saying nothing. He has told me on many occasions that I don't care about him that all he wants is to be left alone. I have always found that difficult to do with him. But I have tried over the past few months to give him (and myself) time and space to try to heal and deal with this.

I feel somewhat trapped. Because if I give him space and leave him alone, he tells me that I don't care and that I'm not there for him. But if I try to talk to him and ask him how he's doing and what I can do to help, he gets angry and tells me to leave him alone.

Of course, this makes me sad and hurt. But I keep trying, and not giving up, because in actual fact, the thought of giving up hurts a lot more than the thought of being continually rejected. Somewhere in my heart and mind I've convinced myself that behind the anger, there is still love.

As you said, the depression is with him, but not him...

In lots of ways, I'm scared to try to remind me of what we used to be. He told me that person no longer exists...

I don't know how depression affects people and whether me trying to remind him of the life we had, the moments of joy, whether he would see that as helpful or not. But I guess I won't know without trying.

I have started writing him a letter, to express how I feel. My biggest fear is that he will just reject it and not read it. Or that he will somehow use it against me. And again I know that maybe I need to be a bit more vulnerable and let my own guard down...

I have been talking to a long time friend who knows us both about it. I have been trying to keep looking after myself amidst all this (though I sometimes feel that when I take the time out to do things for myself that he somehow resents it and sees it as a sign that I am just ignoring the real issues).

There is a lot I need to work through too and it is helping to keep posting here. So I do appreciate this space.

SBBZ
Community Member
Hi 815,

Firstly, I want to say you are an amazing wife. Your husband is so lucky to have you!

I'm a husband with depression. It kills me to see my wife suffers with me when I'm depressed. I really want to be the person I used to be, chatty, positive, with a great sense of humour, instead of being withdrawn.

For someone who has never experienced depression, you may never understand exactly how we feel, but that's okay. You don't have to. Even though your husband may ask you to leave him alone, it's still worth trying to do things with him. Being alone is what depression wants, but get moving and be active would help. It's hard, very hard. Sometimes, I can't even get out of bed or feed myself. By contrast, I used to cook fancy meals everyday and enjoy it a lot when I'm well.

RT is spot on when they said to try see your husband separately from his depression. This is so true. I'm in a constant battle with my depression. It makes me say things I don't mean to, or weirdly, not being able to say or do things I want to. It of course takes it's toll on my wife the most, which I feel sorry every single day. Please try not to be offended by what he says, sometimes he doesn't mean it.

Usually reminding me of the life and joy we used to have would make me even more depressed, because I tend to blame myself for being a different person. Just remind him that you love him, no matter what, and you will always be by his side.

People with depression can lose hope in life and don't see any joy and lose interest in the things/activities they once enjoy. He may not want to, but try to get him to go shopping with you, go out to have dinner with the kids, or cook a meal together at home, go see a movie, even going for a quick walk would help.

Professional help is neccessory so please keep trying. Let him know it's not a sign of weakness but strength to seek help. Taking control of one's mental health is one of the toughest things in life. Recovery won't be linear. He will have ups and downs. So both of you need to be patient. It's a journey.

Please also make sure you take good care of yourself. Remember that your health takes priority. Living with a depressed partner is exhausting and can impact your mental health as well.

There's ample resources on BeyondBlue and other sites for both sufferers and carers. I hope you find them helpful.

There's definitely hope and please don't give up.

SBBZ

815
Community Member

Hi SBBZ,

Thank you. However I don't feel amazing right now. I feel guilty a lot, and that I have failed my husband a little by not being able to help him.

Thank you for sharing your story. It helps give me even just a tiny glimpse into his world. My husband tells me that I'll never understand and so for that reason he sees no point in telling me what is going on. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to be there for him. I hope in time he will see that.

It is very difficult right now to get through to him. He is still able to function as normal. I truly think he is amazing because despite everything, he is still here for us everyday.

The idea of giving up makes my heart ache too much so I will continue to keep trying. Thank you.

romantic_thi3f
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi 815,

It's really good to hear back from you and a wave to SBBZ for jumping in as well to show some support.

It's great that you felt comfortable enough to ask how to help, although it seems like a seesaw - either you're told to leave him alone or you're told that you don't care. Neither is a win, and neither helps any of you!

I don't think there's a right answer here though. For some, having time alone can help, for others, it's spending time with people even if the responses is less than great, and for others - it can be about setting some boundaries. For me personally, I've always have said to leave me alone - and that for me comes from a sense of hopelessness in knowing that I'm terrible company, rather than actually wanting to be alone. But everyone is different, and it's really hard in trying to read between the lines when you feel like you're in a lose-lose situation.

Maybe steer away from reminding him of who he was if you can - SBBZ said that he blamed himself and for me I felt like I was just letting people down. When your husband says "that person no longer exists" I am 100% certain it's because he can't see that at the moment. Being able to sit with someone can be more than enough, even when it never feels this way.

I do have lots more thoughts, but I'll just end on this note: please accept my virtual permission slip to go and get some support or do something nice for yourself today. If you need a push, maybe you can remind yourself of the metaphor in that you can't fill from an empty cup (it irks me, but it's true) -

rt

Hi 815 and everyone who has offered you some support here,

It sounds like you're going through a tough time trying to help your husband. We hope our forums have been helpful.

We're going to close this version of your thread under the Depression section as it appears you have also posted about this same issue under the Supporting family and friends with a mental health condition (carers) section, which is probably the better fit. We do ask users to stick to one thread per topic. This is mainly so you don't have to repeat yourself multiple times and that those offering you support have the full picture. We hope you understand.

To make things a bit easier for you and those who have replied to you on this version, here's the link to the still-open thread over on the carers' section: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/supporting-family-and-friends-with-a-mental-...

Please keep checking in with us over there whenever you feel up to it.