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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.
227 Replies 227

815
Community Member

Hi geoff,

Thanks for your reply. The balance is hard. But not unachievable. As you said, it can change day to day. And that's why I said that we are OK, mostly. Not always, not everyday. But mostly. And while we both have a willingness to communicate and work together, I am hopeful that we will keep travelling this road together.

I am sorry that things didn't work out with your ex wife, however in a way, it has worked out. As it seems that your relationship is better now and you are able to communicate, even though not as a husband and wife.

I guess that is the other important message for people our there reading and following our journeys. Things will improve and change. Maybe not in the way that we initially expect of hope, but there will be happiness again. There is always hope.

stillcoping
Community Member

I have been following this thread for some time now. It has been very comforting to see put into words snippets of exactly what I have been experiencing.

My husband has been struggling with depression his whole life, but he is suffering a lot worse right now. The past 3-4 years have been a struggle and very traumatic to say the least. I am thankful that this past year has been progress despite the ups and downs. That's given me something to hold on to and I've learned so much about myself and what helps me cope.

I am posting because my husband has just had another nervous breakdown and has locked himself in a room of the house since yesterday. He'll emerge very briefly, but has been aggressive when I have interacted with him so the best I can hope for is to see/hear signs that he's alive and try to avoid conflict/him (which isn't hard as he's trying to avoid me).

He's said it in the past many times, but this latest round he's mentioned a lot that I am not good for his mental health and that we shouldn't be together, that my actions don't show him that I care. I treat him with respect, cover his responsibilities when he can't take care of himself or our toddler, cook/organise shopping, am always available if he needs to emotionally offload which is multiple times a week...

So I'm feeling over it right now, and starting to buy in to what his depression is saying. Maybe we would be better off apart because then I won't have to put up with emotional abuse when his depression flares every few weeks, and the constantly living in anxiety over what his mood might be.

Finding it hard to stay positive in this current crisis. Scared about what the future may hold. Trying to keep calm and collected for me and my toddler. Missing my partner.

Hi stillcoping
 
Welcome to the forums and thank you for being a member of this open, kind and helpful community. We are glad to hear that you have found the forum helpful so far.
 
We know that it can be incredibly difficult to share our story, so we want to say thank you for showing such courage in posting and sharing that experience - you never know who will read this post and feel less alone on their own journey as also for you too.
 
We are sorry to hear that your husband is experiencing depression and it must be tough for you navigating the best way to support him through this.  It can be a common assumption that depression causes abuse or namely, emotional abuse.  While this is a serious mental health condition, it is not the cause of the emotional abuse ; it might help to think about whether your husband behaves like this in other areas of his life, for example, work, time with friends or family and so on.  If not, this indicates that he is in control of his behaviour and therefore makes the choice to speak to you in the way that he does.  You may find it helpful to contact 1800 RESPECT by telephone on 1800 737 732 for more information around this and to keep you and your little one safe.
 
We are also here 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or via our webchat.  Our team who answer the phones are ready to have a supportive and non-judgmental chat whenever you need it.
 
Thank you again for joining us here and for starting this conversation. Please feel free to come back and update us on how you are feeling, if you are comfortable.
 
Kind regards,
 
Sophie M

geoff
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hello stillcoping, when a spouse has a breakdown, then they can lock themselves away mentally as well as wanting to be alone, but if you're afraid of the response he may give you and if this continually happens, then a suggestion it might be best for you and your young one to move elsewhere, this may be temporary or if there is no improvement then for a longer period, because unless he seeks help this could keep happening.

Your health is very important and must be considered first.

Best wishes.

Geoff.

stillcoping
Community Member

Thanks Sophie M and and Geoff for your kind, welcoming and insightful words.

My husband had booked himself a doctors appointment a few days prior to the severe crash so I drove him there today and we didn't speak much. The doctor was the right amount of care and concern, and not pushy or falsely positive (much better than the one that recommended deep breathing and exercise). While we were there the doctor outlined an emergency plan and it became clear that my husband doesn't trust anyone in his support network to help, including me. Hence the withdrawal.

I am thankful that with the help of some short-term medication and mostly avoiding contact, my husband is not currently behaving aggressively. However, he is still locked in a room of the house. I don't feel comfortable leaving him for an extended period at home right now but I am lucky that I do have a safe place we can go if me and little one need to.

Regarding Sophie_M's comment on emotional abuse, my psychologist has definitely said a similar things to me many times but it finally clicked today after reading your post and going to the pharmacy today to pick up a script with my husband. The pharmacist made enthusiastic conversation with him about the history of the drug and my husband engaged normally. A different story once we got back to the car and I tried to talk to him. So that's not good...

Anyway, as difficult as it is, I feel like this week is going to be waiting and surviving and hoping the symptoms of the breakdown ease. I went ahead and booked him a follow up doctors appointment and an initial appointment to see a mental health social worker in a weeks time so just focusing on making it to those. Hopefully me booking the appointments doesn't flare up his control/trust issues...

Has anyone had experience with a mental health social worker before? It sounds to me like more practical life management rather than turning inwards like a psychologist.

geoff
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hello stillcoping, it's good the appointment went well for your husband with the new doctor, because to exercise and do deep breathing may not be everyone's 'cup of tea', so to speak, and it wasn't for me when anybody suggested this.

After I was released from hospital, social workers came to see me and their main aim was to get me to stop drinking, which didn't happen as I hadn't decided myself that I need to give it away.

Now it's almost 3 years since I had a drink.

I hope nothing adversely happens by you booking these appointments and if this does happen then the chances of him going could fade away, I hope not.

If this does happen then you could suggest to him, that he is able to talk to someone who wants to help him on a 1 to 1 basis where no one else will know what's being said.

I do hope he does go to them, and please keep us up to date.

Geoff.

815
Community Member

Hi stillcoping,

Thank you for posting and reigniting this thread. I am glad that you have found some comfort in knowing that, you are not alone in this journey.

It's hard not to feel all the emotions reading your post, and remembering all the really dark moments. Your last paragraph especially, about being scared of the future, worried for you and your child, and simply missing your partner. To me, this simply shows you care.

I'm glad to hear that has been some progress since you first posted, and that the situation hasn't gotten worse. As I've said many times on here, it is important to look after yourself, so hopefully you have some personal and professional support too. While I believe in holding onto hope, that things will improve, I think us as carers also need to be realistic about the support we can provide and what our partners are willing to allow us to do.

I guess we just need to be patient, and as you are doing, do what you can to get through each day or the next appointment.

Take care of yourself. Know that you are not alone, and that the community is here to support you by reading your posts, replying and when we can. Please keep us updated if you feel up to it.

quirkywords
Community Champion
Community Champion

815

I wonder how you and your husband are going. You give so much support others and your compassion and time are appreciated .

Thanks for your insights Geoff and thanks 815 for your thoughtful words and for checking in.

I am slowly but begrudgingly getting used to the label of 'carer' which seems increasingly appropriate for my role. My husband is still in bed but the door isn't always locked anymore. He's eating the basic food I make him, taking short visits from our toddler, but has no drive to leave the bed/room.

This week has just been a day at a time. It hasn't helped catching a cold which has meant me and toddler have been mostly stuck at home the past 3 days. I am taking care of myself as best I can but the longer this goes on the more I can feel the situation wearing on me and things are dropping off. It's hard to live in a band-aid solution for an extended period of time.

I can sense my support network is getting tired of this situation which is understandable but not helpful. I called a girlfriend to offload today and she spent the whole conversation trying to convince me to go and stay at my parents rather than listening. I messaged a family member and while they're willing to help, they seem to be coming at it from a 'how could he do this' stance and reacted to something they just presumed but I didn't actually say... so I'm not getting the emotional support I am looking for and feeling a bit cut off from my support network at the moment, even though I know I can rely on them.

We have the the appointments tomorrow and my husband is willing to go. I'm not expecting any miracles but I just want them to be helpful and hopeful and not dead ends.

geoff
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hello stillcoping, once you want to open up to somebody, the worst part is when they take over the conversation by saying 'well I felt like that last week', it breaks your momentum and wished you hadn't told them anything, and how many times does this happen, unfortunately, too many.

Good luck with the appointment today and would be interested to know how it goes.

Geoff.