I don't know what to do and feel so much pressure
My husband has been suffering from major depression and anxiety for a number of years now. He has had two suicide attempts (the most recent only a month ago), two rather unsuccessful private clinic admissions, multiple different medication trials, none of which seem to be making any difference, and on his fourth psychiatrist. It just seems like none of them know what more to do.
My husband is desperately miserable. On the days he sees his psychologist (twice a week), he is more depressed than ever - he really struggles talking/opening up. We have regular occurrences of him just breaking down in tears, saying he doesn't want to be alive, and he just wants it all to be over. He feels guilty about the effect it's having on me and wants me to be able to get on with my life (yeah, like that would be any life without him - I don't know what I'd do without him). I reassure him not to worry about me, that I love him dearly and wish that I could do something to help, but honestly, I don't really know what to say/do when he has these breakdowns. I tried suggesting we call Beyond Blue or Lifeline last night but he doesn't want to engage with anyone and doesn't want to go to Emergency/Hospital. He just wants his life over.
I just feel so much pressure to keep him alive, take care of him when he doesn't seem to be getting the support/results he needs from his psychiatrist and psychologist. There doesn't seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel and I feel guilty for keeping him alive.
I also have a history of major depression and am still taking medication and undergoing psychotherapy, so while I know not everyone's depression is the same, I think I have a good understanding of it.
Please help - tell me what to do in these situations when he breaks down and cries and begs for his life to be over but doesn't want to go to hospital and cannot then get hold of his psychiatrist for help.
Thank you for sharing this here. It sounds like you’re a really supportive partner, and you’ve both been through a lot. We hope you can find some comfort and understanding on the forums, where other community members will be able to relate to what you’re going through.
You’ve taken some incredibly important steps and we hope you can see how inspiring that is. It’s incredibly difficult when treatment doesn’t have any quick answers, and it can be a really difficult journey. It’s really good that you’ve been encouraging him to reach out to Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636) or Lifeline (13 11 14). Another option is the Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467. We hope with your support he starts to consider reaching out in those incredibly difficult moments. You can also call these numbers as a carer. You’re right, you shouldn’t be the only one he can reach out to, so it’s really important more support is there.
Please remember that if either of you feel unsafe, or if he feels that he is not able to avoid acting on his impulses, the number to call is 000. It also sounds like the Beyond Now suicide safety planning app may be a helpful resource to you. You can read about how it works and where to download it here: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/beyondnow-suicide-safety-planning . He can even call Lifeline (131114) and compete it together with one of their counsellors over the phone.
It’s so important, that while caring for your partner, you are aware of your own emotional wellbeing. Please remember to reach out any time you feel you are struggling, to the Beyond Blue helpline on 1300 22 4636, or to our friends at Carers Australia on 1800 242 636.
Thank you again for sharing here, we hope it helps you to hear from and share with people who understand what you’re going through. Please feel free to share more, and keep us updated whenever you feel comfortable to do so. We’re sure others on this thread will appreciate it as much as we do, and will share in kind their advice, understanding and appreciation.
Dear DD (sorry, this abbreviation sounds better)
I'm glad you met Sophie_M, she gives good advice. I'd like to add by saying firstly there are two problems, your condition, and his
The is an overhead sign in passenger aircraft
"Put oxygen mask on self before helping others"
Which is basically common sense, if you are in a bad way you cannot help others. Are you finding that you are gettng what you need from your current meds and therapy? If not then perhaps you might like to talk the situation over with your medical team to see what's best
Talking about talking what other support do you have -friends -family? People you can lean on? I was lucky when I was suicidal my wife had her mum there to physically help with the household and lend strong emotional support
We got though it all, due to the doctors and my wife
With your husband I guess the very first thing you need to face, like my wife did, is that just one person cannot keep on keeping another alive unless there is a little something in that person. It takes their medical team, people in their life -and their own efforts (even tiny ones) to stay alive
Sophie mentioned Lifeline and the Suicide Call Back Service, These are not just for your husband, but for you too. You do not have to be in a suicidal crisis yourself to talk to these people, you can get practical advice and encouragement too. Just the sound of another voice can make one fell less helpless and alone
What to do? Frankly I think you are doing everything possible already, loving him and letting him know he is loved and you are constant in his life. Encouraging him to seek as much professional help as possible. There is no reason to feel guilt even if he is suffering now and has in the past you cannot see the future
I would not have believed anything except taking my life was possible -never the happy and fulfilled life I have now -and I would have dismissed out of hand any suggestion otherwise.
Sophie mentioned a Safety Plan (It's called BeyondNow). This is good, it fits in a phone and the pair of you can try to fill it in during his better moments, remember the things that made him feel good, laugh or simply forget the misery of life. I've YouTube clips of comedians, music, I have books and movies and more. Be inventive.
To answer your last line try talking of unrelated pleasant soothing things, the sea, animals in the forest ... anything to remind of a bigger better world
Hello Desperately Depressed, my thoughts are with you and understand how complex your situation is, and know that as you are struggling with depression yourself, it seems to close many doors that you had only wished would be left open.
This is causing more problems for yourself, and I mean no harm by saying this, but every suggestion that's made to your husband he does not want to do, this is no fault of yours because you're suffering and any proposition you make are denied by him, that makes it very difficult not only with him but more so for you and is aggravating how you feel.
Sometimes people say they don't want to go to hospital, but as soon as they, there are no phones to annoy him by continually ringing, no one who keeps asking him how he's feeling and now they're placed in an environment where all daily chores don't have to be done, so they are basically left to themselves.
His doctor/psychologist and/or psychiatrist can place him in a hospital against his wishes and a possible chance he may benefit from it, this will relieve you of trying to help him and rather continue to get the help for yourself.
I know you are doing your best and I applaud you for that, but you need to look after yourself, that's very important.
I feel your pain.
I have just recently been diagnosed with major depression, anxiety and on top of this I was and am still suffering from suicide ideation.
It’s a shame that your husbands medical team have not been able to identify the root cause(s) of why your husband wants to suicide. That was the key moment for me when I was able to be honest with my counsellor and the identify the reasons for my suicide thoughts. This then allowed us to work together as a team and to focus on the treatment to confront my demons. (Getting to this point took me approximately 2-3 months)
As a thought and if you have not already done so how about a joint counselling session? Also in addition how about an intervention session with your families, this reconnection could be really powerful as I am sure that he will sense and feel the love for him and what an important and key role he plays in their life’s.
Also, I do agree with some of the other authors that you have to contact and get professional support and this could also mean discussing the possibility of you and his medical team agreeing to admit your husband into hospital. The key benefit associated with this is that this will ensure that he will receive the 24/7 tailored treatment and support that you both need and deserve.
Please, remain strong and it’s important that you also look after yourself.
Take care and I wish you and your husband all the best.
Hi Desperately Depressed
You sound like such a beautiful loving person who your husband is truly blessed to have in his life. It pains me to hear of your own personal struggle with depression while you support someone in the depths of their depression. So important to take care of yourself as you feel his sadness and hopelessness.
From my own experience in the past, I believe the longer you're in a depression the easier it is to adopt the mantra 'Nothing works' or 'There is nothing that makes any difference'. While it's easy to take on this mindset, it becomes far from easy to live with it. For me, nothing worked for 15 years or so until something actually did work. It was my mum who pushed and pushed and pushed me to attend post natal group therapy after my 2nd child was born. I went, basically to shut her up. Bless her. In a group therapy setting, to feel 'normal' amongst a group of like minded people worked. To question who I was beyond depression, beyond the sadness, anger, hopelessness, mood swings, self hatred etc worked. To find who I believed myself to be to be completely false worked. In other words, you can't always trust what you believe (to be the truth). Of course, what works for one may not work for another. At the end of the day, I was pushed way outside my comfort zone when it came to finding what made the difference.
I can't help but wonder what your husband's response would be if you were to ask 'If what will save you exists outside the square, are you prepared to go there?'. If everything inside the square hasn't worked for him or has proven to be depressing, how far is he prepared to venture outside his comfort zone? Outside our comfort zone can definitely be a scary place. From the perspective of a map, it can offer many dead ends, leading to a sense of hopelessness and time wasting, but it can also offer the place we've been searching for, for so many years.
Are you able to stretch his vision, leading him to imagine things he has trouble imagining on his own? Can you work with his imagination? Have you found you've been able to lead his imagination in certain ways in the past? Even if they've been small ways, sometimes it can be the small ways that add up which lead us to open our mind to somewhat greater possibility.
It can be such torture to feel your thoughts so deeply.
Thank you Croix.
Unfortunately I don't have any family (other than a far away brother that I am not close with) I have good support from my psychiatrist and some really great support from work, plus a few friends. Ironically, I was just starting to get really well when my husband's depression took hold.
I called Lifeline after my husband had gone to bed, but all the counsellor could say was "Oh, I'm so glad you called, it must be so difficult what you're going through at the moment (well, duh, I know that), let's just hold some space for what you're feeling." I was so frustrated because she couldn't actually give me the practical advice I was seeking for what to do and say when my husband has these breakdowns and doesn't want to live. So I eventually hung up after going round and round in circles and balling my eyes out for 45 minutes. Don't think I'll be calling back again.
It's the practical advice I'm looking for on how to handle these situations.
I tried making a suicide plan with my husband, but he couldn't agree with any reason to live (I have to admit I'm struggling myself for reasons to live - don't really see any purpose) or anything that makes him feel better in the moment like watching funny videos or going for a walk.
Thank you for your post - I really appreciate your suggestions and words.
Thank you Baljit.
I have tried numerous times to have joint counselling sessions but my husband has refused. With regard to a family intervention, unfortunately that is part of the problem - his parents (who do not live in the same city as us) really stress him out and he does not have a close relationship with them. I do not have parents myself. Either way, my husband is a very private person, and suffers from severe social anxiety, so even having a friend's intervention would be very distressing for him. I am the only one he trusts and feels comfortable around so I don't dare break that trust. He knows our friends care deeply for him but he cannot even bring himself to socialise with them.
Well, if it is of any consolation to you I had difficulty filling in 'reasons to live' as well, and left half blank and the rest a bit wobbly. I have the feeling (and this just my own view about myself) that if I had found strong reasons I'd not have needed the rest of the App nearly as much.
There are no fixed answers for what you can do, any more than there were for my wife when coping with me. You just keep trying and have small wins. She found reminding me I'd been there before and come out the far side did strike a chord, a small comfort.
Other than that I'm afraid it is a bit hit and miss. I'd still suggest mood-altering matters, from music to memories, plus breathing exercises.
If you want a selection have a look at the thread
As you browse through you might gain an idea, not guaranteed but worth a go. You never know, something might raise a memory you can enjoy yourself.
Which reminds me, have you tried the free app Smiling Mind? It is something I've resorted to often and does have a calming effect if one practices. Patience and practice, but worth it. There are exercises for every type of person, even somone with the attention span of a gnat, such as myself
Have you tried giving him simple tasks (from peeling potatoes with a safe peeler to folding laundry)? I found the potatoes took a little concentration -which was good.
I'm sure you are well aware of this but crisis lines depend upon the person you are talking with. Training only goes so far, and sometimes does not help. It's not a reason to give up, just be aware you need luck as well as a phone number sometimes. You can always stop the call sooner rather than being increasingly upset.
I remember many years ago feeling very sorry for the young gentleman on the other end of the line, he had run though his checklist and was out of his depth. He got my thanks and I hung up. Other times I've found others that 'clicked' -usually becuse they had personal experience.
Please remember there are no 'right' answers, just wins now and again, with the most important thing being your duty to yourself FIRST!
Croix -(who is here today thanks to others.)