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Topic: How do I help my depressed husband 😢

9 posts, 0 answered
  1. Mel Re
    Mel Re avatar
    3 posts
    20 August 2021

    Hi Everyone,

    I am in need of some advice and help please.

    My husband and I have been married for 5 years.

    My husband has depression (diagnosed prior to us meeting) and it seems to be particularly bad at the moment.

    Whenever I try to talk to my him about anything that I'm not particularly happy with I get the response -he hates himself he never does anything right and he may as well go die.

    I generally try to avoid bringing up any subjects as I tend to be left feeling unheard and I then need to make sure he is ok.

    Of late I have noticed more and more that he is unable to hold a conversation with me, I can be in the middle of talking and he will cut me off and start talking about something completely different. It feels like he has so much on his mind that he doesn't concentrate on anything anyone is saying.

    He seems to also have a lack of motivation, sex drive, is very negative and just spends anytime he can getting lost in his phone. (This is how he winds down )

    His anger (not physical) and patience have also long gone.

    We have talked many of times and he has promised to see someone but never follows through on it. Or I will get reason why it is bad and he knows what to do (exercise and eat better) but then never does.

    I'm starting to feel a lil stretched, constantly am trying to make sure everything is perfect so he has nothing to worry about when he gets home but there is always something that he finds and that is what he will focus on and won't even realize that he has got to come home and just relax. We both work full time.

    Im Just not sure what I can do anymore to help.

    Any advice or perspective would be appreciated.

  2. geoff
    Life Member
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    geoff avatar
    15281 posts
    20 August 2021 in reply to Mel Re

    Hello Mel Re, can we offer you a warm welcome.

    It's not easy for a spouse or a partner to understand why all of a sudden their mate has become depressed because you believe there is no reason, everything seems to be perfect, however, this illness can approach anybody for no specific reason, it's that strong, so neither of you are to blame, if I can give you a comparison, if 2 people are watching something on TV then suddenly one of you laughs in hysterics while the other person doesn't find it funny at all, that's in a strange way how depression works, it just grabs you and it's so difficult to explain.

    It's so hard to try and have a conversation with someone who is suffering from depression, they don't hear half of what you say, maybe they pretend to but normally couldn't repeat what you've said, and say they do need to see a doctor, but aren't able to actually do it until they decide themselves they need to.

    One thing that we learn is that the more we ask them questions the more they will close up, simply because they have no answers and don't understand why suddenly they feel like this.

    As he also works full time, this could be an excuse for him to go and see his doctor, especially if he feels that time off may benefit him, then let his doctor direct him in being able to help him.

    I'd like to hear back from you when possible.

    Take care.

    Geoff.

    2 people found this helpful
  3. therising
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    therising avatar
    2177 posts
    20 August 2021 in reply to Mel Re

    Hi Mel, I join Geoff in warmly welcoming you :)

    From my experience, depression definitely offers a very different reality. While I left chronic depression behind me some time ago, as of late (with certain lock down challenges on top of other things), I can feel days where I swing from one reality to another. When I say 'reality', what I mean is perception. A single thought can hold the power to swing perception. If a thought relates to 'I'm hopeless at this', for example, all of a sudden it's like the brain will compute 'hopelessness'. Kind of like 'Am I hopeless? Is this true? Let's see...what else am I hopeless at'. Cue a long list of searching moments of hopelessness. Then it's like 'Okay, there's your proof. You're definitely hopeless. See all the ways you're hopeless'. If this sort of internal dialogue hangs around it becomes depressing. It can go even further...'Not only am I hopeless, I'm also stupid, difficult, lazy...' It can be a mind altering list that leads to proof seeking through a computer (brain) that's dysfunctional to some degree.

    If the brain isn't complex enough, let's throw in feelings. The ability to feel what you think or what you imagine is a great ability when it's working in your favour. When it's not, it can be deeply depressing. Just say you look at working full time as an opportunity to not just pay the bills but to save for all the things you imagine will vibe you up in life. In your mind, you clearly see the new car of your dreams, the holiday, the new wardrobe of brightly coloured clothes. It's so incredibly exciting. Just say, in your husbands mind, the thought 'I hate this job' triggers imagery of a different kind. What he imagines is repeating going to work in a job he hates, for years to come. While he may consider the holiday, he may also be imagining we'll never come out of repeatative lock downs, so what's the point of looking forward to anything. Two very different realities. No matter how many times you try reassuring him, you might find you can't change the imagery in his head. Even further complication...If we're raised or conditioned to imagine the worst, we can get pretty good at it unfortunately.

    I'm wondering whether asking your husband what he thinks about, what he imagines and how he feels about what he imagines, will open him up to helping him make sense of things in some way. Do you feel triggering him to imagine taking time off work, might be the trigger he needs perhaps, at this point? Is he exhausted?

    1 person found this helpful
  4. Mel Re
    Mel Re avatar
    3 posts
    21 August 2021 in reply to geoff

    Hi Geoff,

    Thanks so much for your reply.

    Sometimes it is hard not to blame myself And In the heat of the moment will say I shouldn't have said anything and probably makes it all that much worse.

    He definitely struggles to put things into words and most of the time isn't able to put feelings into words other than he hates himself and thinks he failed.

    This has been super helpful for me and will comment under the additional post below also with more info so it's not all repeated.

    Thanks again

  5. geoff
    Life Member
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    15281 posts
    21 August 2021 in reply to Mel Re

    Hello Mel Re, and thanks therising for your support as well.

    I can totally understand how difficult it is for him to put 'things into words most of the time', he might be thinking a lot, but can't express and particularly doesn't want to, this is what makes it hard for anyone suffering to say 'they love you'.

    I know it's as difficult not only for him but also for you because you seem to be stuck in a void unsure what you should do, but please remember you need to look after yourself and your doctor may be able to give you several options to take care of yourself and suggestions on what you can do.

    Please keep in touch with us at any time you want.

    My best wishes.

    Geoff.

  6. Mel Re
    Mel Re avatar
    3 posts
    21 August 2021 in reply to therising

    Hi Therising,

    Thankyou for taking the time to reply.

    Between yourself and Geoff, you have provided me some very insightful information.

    It turns out I may be lacking largely in my knowledge towards depression.

    What you have described between the alternate realities very much hits home. This is exactly what happens and he then can not see when anything good has ever happened and feels as though everyone would be better of without him.

    I can see when it starts to happen most of the time, however there is definitely times in the heat of the moment it doesn't register with me and I'll continue to ask things that will make the situation worse.

    He really struggles when he is feeling as he is to put into words how he feels. He isn't able to tell me if he is overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated. (When he isn't down he can) the normal cycle for us is once he comes back out of a really bad low, it pretty much pretend it doesn't happen and enjoy the good times. He tends to feel embarrassed by it and as though the has disappointed me.

    His mum also suffers from depression and my understanding is she has had it since he was born and looks at things from a different perspective ( calls it being devil's advocate).

    He has mentioned to me also that he wonders if he may have asperges.

    Between yourself and Geoff you have both given me more understanding than I have ever had and I will be forever greatfull.

    You have both provided me with information that has given me the opportunity to speak with my husband this morning not in the way I would normally address it.

    I was able to approach him and rather than come across like I was interigating him. I was able to provide him love and understanding. He was able to tell me that he can't feel any of it at the moment and he can't see past the bad things.

    I provided reassurance all day with no expectations and when he got home from work asked him for permission to sit with him and just tell him good memories to try and focus on.

    By the time we went to bed (separately as h doesn't feel as though he deserves a bed) it was just a little bit better than the night before.

    It's really hard to not take on the blaming myself that it is my fault and I know when I do it makes him worse.

    And this morning he was able to come to me and ask if he could lay with me and just broke down. Small steps.

    thanks again to you both for the perspective and a better understanding.

  7. TwoHeads
    TwoHeads avatar
    8 posts
    21 August 2021 in reply to Mel Re

    Mel Re,

    So encouraged by your love and concern for your husband. The first thing i'd underscore (as others have mentioned) is look after yourself. Are you ok? Please be mindful of how you take on the responsibility for how others feel. This is not only unhelpful for your husband but also for you. Take responsibility for you, and by all means love others but their problems are theirs. Hope that doesn't sound unkind.

    I know from other spouses that completing a Mental Health first aiders course was really helpful - i was only talking to a wife of a fellow depressed bloke on the weekend. I'm not sure how / where she did it but a quick google shows there's plenty of places to do this - some workplaces will even sponsor you to complete the course.

    Lastly, the get help page on this site is really good. the captain obvious discovery for me was that exercise and diet make a big difference, so you could drag him out for a walk every day? Not looking at you directly is also easier for a bloke when talking about tough stuff. Campfires are ace!!

  8. therising
    Valued Contributor
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    therising avatar
    2177 posts
    22 August 2021 in reply to Mel Re

    Hi Mel Re

    Your husband is so lucky to have you :)

    I've found navigating depression to be incredibly skillful. While developing skills in staying out of depression I can still feel the moments in life where a new skill or a whole new skill set desperately needs to be adopted. I mention this so that you don't come to doubt yourself in moments where what used to work may not work under a new set of circumstances. COVID and lock downs in Melbourne are a perfect example of developing a whole new skill set:

    • With more time to think, developing skills in not thinking is a must
    • With less access to things which naturally bring joy to life (going on holiday, a trip to the beach or up to the hills, connecting with friends etc), developing skills in finding joy closer to home is a must. Easier said than done at times
    • With more triggers surfacing, skill development in better recognising triggers is a must
    • With a wave of agitation and disappointment coming in every time a new lock down is announced, learning to ride the waves and even master them is a must. This one I've found to be enormously challenging. I feel there's not much choice but to see this process as 'each wave announcing the need for more skills, more self understanding'. A tough graduation

    The list goes on.

    Not sure if it will help but I found getting a feel for things to be of help. It may sound a little simplistic but actually takes a lot of work. Getting a feel for things can help create a trigger list to reference. For example, do I feel a lack of sleep to be triggering, a lack of exercise, a lack of a sense of achievement, a lack of understanding or compassion from others? Can I feel when I'm in a new challenge, one I maybe can't fully identify yet? Do I feel the need for someone to help me through this challenge, one I feel I can't master on my own? Can I feel a sudden down shift, for whatever reasons? Am I the sort of person who feels everyone else's feelings? Being empathetic can be highly mentally and physically exhausting and triggering for some because they're feeling all the time. Learning to feel a need or feel a lack and trusting in what you feel is skillful. So hard to do at times

    Instead of asking 'What do you think is wrong, leading you to be so down?' try asking 'Can you sense or get a feel for what it is that's bringing you down?'

    When your husband came to you and broke down, do you imagine what he was feeling in that moment was love and relief? Btw, this brought a tear to my eye :)

  9. therising
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    therising avatar
    2177 posts
    22 August 2021 in reply to Mel Re

    Forgot to mention, if your husband feels he may have Aspergers, look into it. He could be 100% spot on. Some people have expressed having felt completely liberated through such a diagnosis, through finally being able to make sense of so many of the struggles they've faced. They've expressed feeling like a whole new person. If you go down this path, make sure to recognise the incredible abilities of someone on the autism spectrum, with one super incredible amazing natural ability relating to a truly brilliant imagination. While they can imagine the most incredible things a lot of us just can't, this can come with a down side if it's not managed strategically. People on the spectrum can be amazing entrepreneurs, inventors, artists, writers, etc with the ability to express what they clearly see in their mind. Because of this strength or ability, they can easily and clearly visualise the worst also, if they're not careful. It is a gift that can feel more like a curse at times.

    :)

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