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.
I'm really sorry to hear that you've been going through this. Seeing someone we love go through a difficult time can be so challenging and heartbreaking. I can see that you really love your husband and you want to be there for them.
From my personal experience with knowing people with depression, they can stop doing the things they used to enjoy doing and isolate themselves socially. Is there anything your husband still enjoys doing? For example watching a tv show or reading? In saying that I can understand that with depression it can be hard to concentrate and energy levels are low.
I have heard that sunshine and getting outside can help, even for 10 minutes it can take us out of the environment and gives us a new experience.
I can understand it is really hard when you urge someone to seek help but they don't want to. Has your husband ever considered speaking to Lifeline or Beyond Blue?
I am really grateful that you posted on these forums 815 because you will get responses that will make you feel not so alone and help to ease the pressure on your shoulders.
Here for you
Thank you so much for your reply. It means a lot to know that there are people out there who can provide support.
I have asked my husband to seek help. I haven't mentioned any particular organisations or helplines because until I have only just started to do research and find organisations that could help.
My husband is a keen golfer who golfs at least once a week. Unfortunately we are in Metro Melbourne and subject to Stage 4 restrictions due to coronavirus. Things were starting to improve for a while until this latest lockdown as he was still at least able to get out on the golf course a couple of times a week.
The thing about my husband is that in front of everyone else, our families and friends, he is still the same sociable, fun guy that we all know. But at home, he basically ignores me. He tells me that I haven't been there for him in the past few months, that he's never felt so alone and that it's too late for my apologies. He says he doesn't know if he can let me back in.
And to be honest I feel guilty that I haven't been able to do anything for him. And I feel like I have failed him in so many ways.
I've asked what I can do. He says to leave him alone. Which I have for the time being. But I worry that the longer he ignores me and the longer I 'leave him alone' by also not attempting to speak to him, that the love will fade and we will have no chance to work through this. I worry that by 'leaving him alone' he will think that I don't care of that I am not there for him.
I have 'left him alone' as that is what he has asked. Plus I think we both need time and space to heal (as much as we can given that we are all stuck at home with the restrictions).
Should I try to speak to him again? How much longer do I wait? Has anybody written a letter/email to a depressed partner about how they're feeling and found that it's worked?
I know that no one will have the answers for me as every situation is unique. However I would really just appreciate some thoughts and suggestions and support.
Welcome to the forum. There are many of us who have gone through the same or similar experiences and we want to help and support you as much as possible.
Before I go on I want to point you to the beyond blue fact sheets which give excellent descriptions of depression and help. Got to The Facts at the top of the page and navigate from there. Also look at the Get Help options.It's always good to to have information about our various medical problems and I hope these will be useful. Perhaps you can give them to your husband. You can download any of the fact sheets and print them. There are various booklets but these cannot b e downloaded. You must ask for them to b e sent to you, no charge.
One booklet is for families and friends and you will find that helpful. It talks about understanding depression and how to help those you care about.
Writing a letter to your husband sounds good. I think it will also get your thoughts in order. Don't rush into it. Consider what you are writing before giving him the final edition.
Being with other people when we are depressed is good. As you have discovered, your husband functions better in the company of others. I think this partly because he does not want anyone to know how he feels and partly because this is expected of him. Is he tired when you are on your own again? Keeping up a front takes lots of energy.
I am presuming your husband is working from home at the moment. That's probably contributing to his depression. Plus all the lock down provisions. I am in Qld and finding our relatively easy provisions at this time still have a great affect on me. Because of my age and medical condition I need to stay away from groups of people. I can go shopping and my family can visit me but I cannot do many of the social things I could do once. I am struggling at times.
Depression is a horrible thing and I sympathize with your husband and how he feels. I also thought no one close to me cared what happened. In reality my children were very worried and tried to help as much as possible. I just could not 'see' them. Perhaps this is your husband's view. When missep recommended beyond blue or Lifeline it was to suggest you could talk to them about what was happening to you and your husband. You also need support. I think knowing about depression is a good start.
Please continue to post here.
Hi White Rose (Mary),
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my post.
And thank you for pointing me to additional information. I am slowly realising that the more I can find out about depression, the better equipped I might be to help him. I guess it is something that I should have done some time ago, but I have been lost in a fog of confusion myself. And I feel guilty every moment for this, because I feel like I should have been focusing on him.
I have drafted many letters to my husband, but have not sent them. Because I have been taking the option of trying to talk to him as I felt it was more sincere...And to be honest, despite the fact that I like to write in my spare time, I have felt vulnerable in putting pen to paper with my own thoughts to him. I sometimes feel that sending him a letter makes it easy for him to not read it or ignore it. And I guess I'm also scared of the rejection of that. And I know that at some point I need to get over that and put my vulnerability out there...
We have both been working from home since late March. As I mentioned it was OK for a while again when we had restrictions lifted for a while and we were able to have visitors or visit our family/friends. But this latest set of restrictions has made things really bad.
The thing about my husband is that despite what he thinks, he is a very strong person. Each and every day he is still here for us, and he gets through his work day and spends time with our daughters helping with remote learning as well as their extra curricular activities that they have been able to continue from home.
I have also gone on the online chat to chat to someone about what we are going through and I will continue to post here and keep seeking help for myself. It has been a very difficult road but I will continue to keep hope.
Dear 815, welcome to the forum - I am very new to it myself. Reaching out, even to virtual companions, can help so much in realising that there are others going through similar difficult times. I wanted to share an experience my husband and I had and what I did about it as it might give you some ideas. I wanted to talk. He didn't. So I wrote 'the letter'. I was very honest about my own feelings and was very clear about what I wanted from him. It took a lot of thinking to make it 'clean'. I didn't want it to be about the past or dragging up old, unfinished business. And I wrote it with love and the intention and expectation that it would help us. When I was satisfied with it, I made two cups of tea, made sure he wasn't engaged in anything important, and asked him to come and sit with me. Then I read out aloud my letter - pausing in places so that I could look at him and gauge his reactions and allow him to comment. I am happy to report that the outcome was great. We were able to talk together about the hard stuff.
So you might share in your letter some of things that you have shared here - that if you haven't reached out as much he might like, it was because you were so confused and didn't know what was best. Or whatever sounds right for you.
Good luck with this long and difficult journey - but not one without hope. Depression can feel like there is no hope - but that a feeling not a fact.
Thank you so much for your reply, and for sharing your own experience.
I know every situation is unique, and what might work for one couple may not work for another. But the biggest reason I posted in here was because I wanted to hear stories of others' experiences and so I am very grateful to hear yours. And I am so happy to hear that you had a great outcome.
I am hopeful.