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How to help my husband

(14 Posts)
whentriffidsattack Tue 28-Mar-17 09:03:27

-nc but a regular and posting here for traffic-

My husband and I have been together 14 years, married almost 5 and have a toddler. I have suffered from anxiety and depression for around the last decade and more recently have changed medication and taken a hold on my life - engaging in counselling and wellbeing groups which have really helped me. Now, instead of getting in a spiral of depression, I tend to have a good outlook on things and will try to see the positive.

My husband is very inward about feelings and doesn't talk about his a lot. In fact, I've seen him cry, perhaps twice in our relationship. He generally, in appearances at least, is the stronger part of our duo.

Latterly I have seen him slip into low and dark times. This surrounds his relationship with his parents which is fractious to say the least - they rarely bother with him, despite him making efforts, and this has gotten into a vicious circle of him thinking why should he bother if they dont, but still letting it upset him. He also is contracted for part time hours but pretty much works fulltime hours. He has seen the works overtime budget for the year and it looks as though the additional hours he has will likely be little and far between. He will only get his contracted hours of c/26 hours a week instead of 37 with overtime.

He is worrying about supporting us, both financially and emotionally. I do still have my dark days, yesterday being one where I just wanted to walk out of work and tell them to stick their job. I am honest, perhaps too honest, in telling him how I feel and he says he is now worrying incase I do do that.

He had a really bad day at work yesterday and said that for the first time in 20 years he had the worst day ever. He said he actually wanted to cry.

He feels that the world is on his shoulders. We have a good life. We are financially comfortable. Our son will soon be getting 30 hours a week nursery finance so our outgoings will reduce a fair chunk. I have tried to reassure DH that this takes the pressure off him doing additional overtime. I've even encouraged him not to seek out the extra hours and to take some time to himself.

I'm sorry - I am waffling. I am just lost as to what to do. Please help.

ThomasandFriends Tue 28-Mar-17 09:28:57

For a start tell him to stop doing any hours he's not going to be paid for. He either gets paid for the full time he is doing, or he does his 26 hours per week and no more. Can he look for another job, one with better conditions?

Does he have a close male friend he could talk to about it? My DP is depressed, and knew it, but it was only when a male friend mentioned it that he decided to go to the doctor, and was put on ADs. I think there was a certain amount of pride involved - too proud to ask for help off his own back, but too proud not to go when he realised he hadn't hidden his depression from others as well as he'd thought. He realised he'd been treating people badly because of it and needed to do something about it. But he needed a kick up the backside to go.

He's like your DP, though. Rarely talks about what's going through his head, which makes things difficult. Then again, I can't talk ('scuse the pun) I'm just as bad. He will email / write to me if he needs to get something off his chest. Could you encourage your DP to do the same?

The other thing you could do is talk to his doctor yourself. I've done that when I knew DP was going for more ADs, to tell her that his drinking had gone up substantially recently and was not helping his treatment. She didn't tell him I'd had a word, but I know she casually mentioned his drinking patterns and then chastised him when he admitted how much he was knocking back. It made a difference. So I'm thinking if you could prewarn the doctor that he's slipping into depression (at least, that's what it sounds like to me) then next time he goes in the doctor may be able to lead the conversation round to it.

As for you, you may have to hold back on telling him so much about what's going through your head at the moment. Do you have someone else you can unburden yourself on instead? I'm just thinking that that's one less thing he'd have to worry about. And maybe find another job for yourself as well.....?

Are either of you having counselling? I suspect he wouldn't be up for it but I know I found it a great help when I was depressed to be able to let it all out in a safe area.

Take care of yourself. x

whentriffidsattack Tue 28-Mar-17 09:42:58

ThomasandFriends Thank you very much for your open and honest post.

We have both talked about new jobs. Because of DS' nursery times, he feels he couldn't get another job with the same hours (8-4) and a day off in the week. Plus, I wonder too if he worries because he's been in the same job for 20 years that it's put him on the rubbish heap so to speak.

As for me and my job, it's comfortable. Easy. Good money. Albeit I do get quite stressed with it when put under pressure. He worries if I changed jobs we would end up worse off.

I've previously discussed him seeking help from the GP and he won't. He refuses point blank like it's a weakness. Yet he actively encourages me to go! He also doesn't really have any friends. We are both not from the town we live in and his friendships he did have, have drifted somewhat. I suppose that could be part of it too. Because he, like me, gets up, goes to work, comes home. Repeat repeat. He has a fair few hobbies and enjoys them but they are mainly home based. I do think he is feeling a bit stifled as he mentions at times he never gets time to himself. He does. In fact, he gets more time to relax than I do. But I suppose it's perception of that.

I don't really have anyone, same as him. I have a few friends but they're going through their own turmoils and I don't want to put my worries onto them.

I have attended counselling before, and wellbeing groups and they have helped me. The latter finished a few weeks back and I must say, I feel I'm slipping a bit and not as up as I was.

ThomasandFriends Tue 28-Mar-17 10:09:45

Right, well I'm here, you can talk to me! (stern look!!!!!) You don't know me, but that, I find, can be helpful. Much prefer spilling my heart to a stranger, they have no preconceptions and I can't let them down, hurt them, or have them change their impression about me as they don't know me.

How old it he? My DPs mid 50s and I think there's some amount of mid life crisis going on. I've said to him time and again that I know he never expected his 50s to be as they are, and he repeatedly said he had no idea to ruin, (mainly as he didn't expect to live that long!!!) but he has, finally, admitted that is the case. He compares his life to his friends and feels hard done by I think, but then thinks of the ones who have died (a surprising few) and that brings his own mortality to the fore.

Like your DP he didn't have any male friends his own age here for a few years, and that didn't help. Saying that, the one he does have now, whilst being useful in the sense he was the one who told DP he was depressed, has been a let-down in a way. So the reality hasn't met up to the expectation. Which hasn't helped. But he is someone for DP to talk to, so in that sense it's been good for him to have this guy around. Shame your DP hasn't got anyone like that.

I can sympathise with him not going to the doctor's though - as I said, DP didn't until his friend made him realise that he wasn't hiding his depression as well as he thought, though I don't know if he actually suggested a doctor's appointment. I do know that my suggestions to do the same fell on deaf ears. But if you could brief your doctor yourself (even book an appointment just to talk about this) then the next time he goes in for anything the doctor can at least bring the subject up somehow, which may encourage your DH to talk about it if it's not off his own bat (IYSWIM).

The other thing you could do, if he's a reader, is to buy a few books about male depression. I bought some for DP a few years ago (long before he thought about actually getting help for it). I don't think he was impressed per se, and we did send a couple back to Amazon (I kept the ones I thought looked interesting and wanted to read myself) but I left them in his study, and he did read one eventually (when it was his own decision and not mine, as it were). What I did want to get him more recently was a mood diary, which I think might help (at least show him the bigger picture, what influences his mood, etc) but I've not found anything which suits. (I don't want anything which says "depression" anywhere in it, not lots of drawing (not his thing) but with enough direction that he wouldn't have to think too much about what to write.) I'm fairly sure that could help as he's a writer, and keeps an on-off journal anyway.

whentriffidsattack Tue 28-Mar-17 10:27:01

Oh ThomasandFriends flowers

My DH is 45 soon. We have an age gap which in some ways perhaps doesnt help because I am younger and have more vim and vigor (apparently). Plus I do a desk job whereas his is manual and physical in all weathers.

I think in some ways, we both mourn our pre-child life. I wouldnt change it in a heartbeat because our son is just amazing but there are times when it's so nice to just sit in silence. Or not to have to pick up eleventy billion toys.

We tried getting some friends - buddying up with couples we mutually knew but it just ended horribly and we decided we were best off as we were. He does have one friend whom he has known since childhood - he live on the other side of the world but regularly messages us both. Perhaps its worth a nudge in that direction. Easier to talk by text?

He even said to me last night he just wanted to walk away from everything, including our son and me. I honestly said to him if thats how he feels to do it. He told me he couldnt and I get the idea he really doesnt want to but needs time. He is supporting me through my down times and also our son can be difficult when he's that way out which is testing in more ways than one.

Ah yes. Reading. That is a huge thorn in our sides. It came about, probably 6m-12m ago that he struggles to read. That he finds it difficult. I suggested he get help and he refused point blank. Although some less wordy "picture books" for want of a better word might be worth a go.

I really appreciate your kind ears flowers

Crumbs1 Tue 28-Mar-17 10:37:41

Try to focus on positive. You sound like you are doing that and you being a bit stronger may mean his position of caring for you has changed. It's a good thing but sounds like it was something he was good at doing and now that's reduced at the same time work might not want him as much - so feeling a bit redundant and useless maybe? Men aren't usually good at talking about stuff and I'm not truly convinced talking helps much - it can create a negative focus on the problems rather than solutions.
Sounds like you could do with re finding the joy of pre-children a bit. Fun is as essential as oxygen. Could you do something together (dance lessons come to mind - exercise is good for depression, it's fun and you can do it easily as a couple). Salsa, Ciroc type things. Or just regular ' date nights' not expensive but get a babysitter and go for a beach walk with fish and chips or go to cinema and get a huge tub of popcorn.
How old is child? Can they be persuaded to share a new hobby their father? Cycling, fishing, hill walking - something outdoors.

ThomasandFriends Tue 28-Mar-17 10:56:14

Thinking about it, I wonder if part of his problem is the fact that you say that you've recently changed medication and are beginning to get better re your anxiety and depression. Not in a "well it's my turn now" but, because he can finally relax, everything he's had to carry over the last however long can come out. (I'm not saying this to blame or upset you, by the way, please don't think that.) It's just reminded me of how, when I was a university student, I'd fall ill every time I went down to my mother's for the holiday, It was as though my body knew that I finally had someone to care for me so all the stress and illness that I'd been unknowingly been battling for the last term could all come out. And I'm thus wondering if telling him this would help. If he realises that there's a reason he's falling apart (or feels like it) is because his body (and mind) needs to, and is breaking down to heal, and therefore he needs to go with it and not stress about being depressed, but let himself mend.

(Sorry, I realise that probably sounds really airy fairy and new age - I'm not like that really, but the thought came to my mind. Being on the other end of DP's depression I know how hard it is being around someone with depression, especially when you want to help them and can't, and it has had a noticeable effect on me. I've also been severly depressed myself, so I know how awful that is as well.)

He might find it easier talking to his friend by text. I suppose it depends on his friend and their friendship. But you never know, it may be his friend has gone through something similar himself. Don't know how you could get the ball rolling there, though. Speaking to a doctor is one thing (they're bound by confidentiality not to say you've spoken to them) whereas if you spoke to his friend about it there's a chance he'd tell your DH, which may make things difficult.

As for the reading issue, I do feel sorry for him. I wonder if this is also part of his depression, especially with regard to finding a new job. Shame he won't try to improve matters, though I can understand his reluctance. Don't suppose you could sit on the sofa with him and your DC with a book and read to the pair of them on a regular basis? (Obviously, you're only reading to your son!)

Rossigigi Tue 28-Mar-17 11:07:20

You may not think you've made progress but the fact he has opened up a little and said he felt like walking away, can be seen as a positive step flowers

whentriffidsattack Tue 28-Mar-17 11:14:31

Crumbs1 yes, we need to regain the pre-child fun. He's only 2.5 so unfortunately, it is not easy for him to join a hobby with DH. D is into computers, Xbox etc not an easy hobby for DS to take part in.

I think we do need to set aside time, even if its once a month, just for us. I just don't want DH to feel it's obligatory and forced.

ThomasandFriends I think both you and Crumbs1 are perhaps right in that he hasnt had to care so much for me at the moment. I get what you mean too mabout being ill when you can relax. He is 99% of the time ill when he's on leave from work. Usually a cold or such but never ill when working.

Rossigigi I suppose it is progress.

I've asked him how can I help him and his response last night was to leave him alone. So I went up to bed for a bit. When I came back down, he was almost cross at me saying why wasn't I talking to him. I tried to make him realise I had done as he'd asked. He said work is stressing him out and he had gone part time for that reason. I said to speak to his boss and tell them that. I'm a firm believer that if you don't do something, nothing will change. So I reiterated this to him.

I'm hoping he has a new take on the world today.

ThomasandFriends Tue 28-Mar-17 11:25:10

Sorry, I laughed at that. It was the "leave me alone" response you got from him. That's basically what I got told when I asked my DP how I could help him ("Ignore me"). But then I felt guilty the other evening for sort of ignoring him (DP's never been a big talker unless drunk, so when he threw random bits of info to me I didn't pay him my full attention, and it was only later I wondered if he'd actually wanted a chat: tbf he does the same thing to me and, when I apologised the next day he had no idea what I was apologising for, so I stopped the guilt!).

TedEriksen Tue 28-Mar-17 11:32:27

I know where your husband is coming from - I was very happy and settled, with one DS and one on the way, when my Dad died. It precipitated a depression which I am still living with today and which has affected my relationships with my DW and DS'. I made some very bad decisions (personal, professional, financial) at this time and was at a catastrophically low ebb many times. I also have very few friends and struggle to connect with people.

While it has never gone away, it has been made more bearable by reaching out to family and professionals. I spoke to my GP, and also to HR support at work, and undertook some counselling sessions which were offered. I was also prescribed ADs for a short time. I didn't tell my Mum the full extent of this, but told her enough that she offered to take on some childcare for us (my working pattern to accommodate DCs was a factor).

I have struggled to trust DW with this - she criticised me for taking ADs, and didn't take me seriously when discussing my working pattern and hours being stressful ("well, I do x, y and z and I'm fine").

So I guess my advice would be to gently draw him out and take seriously what he says (it sounds like you're doing that already) and encourage him to look for support - there's more out there to help than you'd think. Making changes, even small ones, where possible does help.

whentriffidsattack Tue 28-Mar-17 12:50:18

Well, we have more progress. I told him last night to speak to his boss as things will not chnage unless he does that first. And he has spoken to both his manager and deputy who appear to have listened to him and will try and make some changes to take the pressure off him. I've told him I'm proud of him for doing that as it's a huge step for him. I've asked him what else would make him happy and he said he doesnt know. That he just has constant stress. I've suggested he tales some time out of the house each week to do something. I have found since I've started to do that it has helped a great deal and I'm more than happy to organise the house. I suggested he go and see the GP but he says he's fine at the moment. I've said to him whenever he figures out what he needs/wants I will support him - we can get through this.

I just hope it's enough. I didn't tell him that bit

TedEriksen Tue 28-Mar-17 14:36:43

That sounds very positive - talking to his manager and deputy is a HUGE step, as your work supervisors and colleagues can be the last people you want to let on to that you're struggling. It's great that they are supportive and will look to make changes.

Hope you are looking after yourself as well as the situation will be a great strain on you.

whentriffidsattack Tue 28-Mar-17 14:45:25

I'm still breathing Ted

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