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My Wife has depression and my support is like a ghost...
I need advice about becoming a more supportive husband... I have finally realized I need help. My wife suffers from depression/anxiety and I have done nothing to support her for 15 years.
Our marriage is like a yo-yo. We can go days without speaking or even looking at each other to a normal relationship of love and caring united front.
The picture of our world to others would look perfect. I run a very successful business which allows my wife to be a homemaker, with school drop/pick-up for our children.
She is a delight to people around her, the best daughter, sister and friend to all. However it is a mask... I get the raw end of deal, I get the moods, the yelling, the BS!
So I just turnoff, I cannot deal with it. For 15 years I have been a silent partner when the depression comes, the worry hits her face... I run for the door and escape. Or I fight it and tell her to get over it and relax, it is no big deal... how wrong am I...
Little things trigger this, from wanting to give away the kids baby car seat, to a disagreement about the smallest thing like coffee .... everything comes back to a fight about her and now my condition of mental health. I say we aren't helping each other and the yo-yo effect kicks in.
I just don't understand it, why does this matter?
I find myself resenting her, she is too much for me?? I question it consistently... . I am out making the dollars why she is home in her world without any agendas....
I have found myself looking at her and my feelings are not nice..my reactive behaviors are becoming sarcastic and hurtful to us both ..
I made a promise "In sickness and in health..." so to commit and change I desperately need advice. I dislike speaking to the professionals as they have never experience what I am going through, or more importantly my wife is. I would rather get experienced people who have or are getting through this.... this forum may throw up some much needed education.
Thanks for reading.
Hello and welcome to the forum. This is a good place to talk. I don't entirely agree with you about professional mental health people as they do have lots of knowledge but here you will find those who have lived experience of various mental health issues and we are very willing to talk about our experiences and the effect on family and friends.
First of all I want to point you to Beyond Blue's resources. Under the heading Get Support at the top of the page you will find a drop down list. Go to Publications to download or order. Browse the catalogue. It's always useful to have the correct information about any medical problem. You can download Fact Sheets and send for the booklets. No charge for anything. There is information especially for families and friends on how to support someone.
It is hard to be with someone who is in distress especially when we do not know how to help. One of the most difficult situations for those with depression is to be told "Get over it". I am not telling you off or anything of that sort. I simply want you to know how dreadful it is to hear words like that. On top of an already fragile sense of self it feels like we are being discarded as useless, no matter what you or anyone else intended the words to mean.
I do congratulate you on realising that your wife has a genuine illness and needs your help. There are many people who never understand that depression is all too real and devastating. It sounds ideal, man at work, woman caring for the home. That's not how it works. Depression skews everything we say or do and what is said to us. It's not a deliberate misunderstanding, it feels like a put down.
Yes it is unrealistic and hard to understand but this is how the black dog works. It whispers in our ears that we are useless, why bother trying to get well, no one cares about you, you are worthless and the family would be better off without you. So much of the conversation is seen as affirming this view and before you have begun to talk the conversation has gone down two different tracks.
What I need is someone who asks what I am feeling and stays quiet while I tell them. Someone who does not dismiss my words as being childish, attention seeking and false but believes what I say because that's how it is for me. I think people with depression also want their thoughts validated. Do you now have a mental illness. It's not clear from your post.
If you like I will be happy to continue talking.
My heart goes out to you and your wife whilst you deal with that so-called '3rd person' in your relationship. For me, it did feel like a 3rd person who had seriously outstayed their welcome (not that they were welcome in the 1st place). Both myself and my husband wanted the depression to leave but it seemed like it never would, up until about 13 years ago when it finally said 'Adios'.
I'm sure you can relate to the following in regard to the traits of depression: Unpredictable mood swings, lethargy/lack of energy, the almost obsessive need for control, unreasonable despair, anger and...well...you know the rest. Having lived both inside and outside of depression, I must say the difference is incredible in so many ways. The brain is an incredibly complex thing, the way the chemistry works or doesn't work in some cases. My advice would be to do a bit of research on the impact of depression, as it may give you some insight and support when it comes to helping your wife manage.
Troy75, I'll give you the best analogy I can think of when it comes to the helplessness of depression, an analogy you may perhaps be able to relate to:
Imagine you yourself are sober and people around you are saying 'Be drunk!' You say 'I can't, I haven't had any alcohol.' Their response, 'Doesn't matter, just be drunk. C'mon!!!' Of course, when the chemistry present in alcohol meets with our brain, we feel the effects (so no alcohol, no effects). It is a little like this with depression; when the chemistry for happiness and motivation (such as dopamine and serotonin, for example) aren't surging around a lot in our brain, it's not possible to experience happiness and motivation to a great extent. Saying 'Smile more' or 'Get over it' is like saying to a sober person 'Be drunk'. Simply put, if the chemistry's not there, it's not there. This explains the purpose behind taking anti-depressants (changing the chemistry).
One thing I always wanted from my husband during those years in depression was faith - faith that what I was feeling was real, it wasn't just me being difficult, it was a genuine feeling of frustration, despair and helplessness. To hear 'We will get through this together until you're free' would have made a world of difference.
It took 15 years before I found my freedom, so try not to lose faith in both your wife and the possibility of a miracle of sorts. I praise my husband for his tolerance and devotion, traits that have served us well, in us staying together.
I appreciate your support.
Thank you for posting. You could be my husband. It’s good to have perspective from the other side, as my husband too cops the grunt of my anxiety and depression too. I wish I knew how to help you, I wish I knew how to get my husband to help me. The only thing I can say is to show her that you love her, compliment her, hold her. I know that sounds simple, but that’s all I want right now, our yo-yo is at such a low point that I’m pretty sure he doesn’t actually love me anymore, and that’s the worst feeling. I probably drove him there with the things I sometimes say, but I don’t mean them, it’s the anxiety speaking and I know it’s hard for him to understand that and to not feel hurt.
So if I’ve helped in no other way, please know that you’re not alone.
My first post so maybe take it with a grain of salt, but the reason I replied is that it mimics my situation but in reverse. I was the one with depression and my partner started exhibiting some of the same reactions as you did. I had a really tough time of it and my partner just didn't get it. Its not blame .. just the way it is. If you haven't been there how can you truly understand?
Similar to your partner I wore a mask. I was one type of person to everyone else but another to the person I loved. Trust and love helped me to see that I didn't have to keep the mask on 24/7 and could be myself with someone!
Regardless, the mask did get heavier as time went on though. In the end it incapacitated me to the point I needed a lot of time off work.
One time in the grips of a depressive episode, we had an argument and she screamed "I don't know what you want from me!!?". Without thinking I just yelled back "All I want to have you do is to hold me and tell "It will be OK"!".
I wanted so much to believe that everything would be OK but I desperately needed someone else to tell me that. I wanted that someone to be a person I trusted and loved with all my heart, because I needed to believe, to have that lifeline when I felt lost. Someone to keep me grounded while I was in that place.
Start perhaps by asking her what SHE needs from you to make it manageable. Everyone has different needs and it's a matter of trying to determine what your partner needs to keep her grounded.I applaud you for coming on here and caring about your partner to post.
I only just caught up with your thread and if I can thank you for taking the time and having the strength to speak from the heart as well. It is difficult to provide support when we dont understand the problem....which is why Beyond Blue exists in the first place...
I have been in senior corporate roles for years and have had depression/anxiety which was looked upon as a weakness when it is an illness.
Can I ask roughly when your wife was diagnosed with this awful illness so I can help you more effectively? I have had the same illness for circa 36 years and now in recovery after learning to accept the help from my doctors and having frequent counseling (which I refused for over 10 years because I was an idiot, which only exacerbated my depression/anxiety)
I just wanted to say that you are proactive with your and your wife's health.....Your post/thread topic is straight to the point and I understand your pain Troy
You are not alone..... you will not be judged on the forums. Your thread topic/post is just as important as mine or anyone elses here
I hope your weekend is going reasonably okay....Please post back when its convenient for you
My Best for you Troy