To give up trying to help depressed DH?(72 Posts)
This is maybe more of a WWYD.
My DH is depressed. He has been for about 2 years at least, although neither of us spotted the warning signs and he has never been to the GP about it so it's not officially diagnosed. He is really, really, really low, finds zero enjoyment in anything, has isolated himself almost completely (cut contact with his parents, lost contact with friends) and he wants a divorce and to leave me and the kids. He's lost so much weight, he looks awful, his cheekbones are jutting out and he has a kind of grey colour to his skin.
However he refuses to see the GP, doesn't want to take medication, believes he can't afford to take time off work (we would find a solution for money if we had to) and has a refusal for every single suggestion that I give him. He's seen a therapist but it hasn't helped so far and he says he's not going to go back after this evening's session.
Despite us divorcing I still love him and care about him. We're still in the same house as neither of us has anywhere else to stay so I see everyday how down he is and it is breaking my heart into tiny pieces. I am so helpless. I want to help him, I want to get him to see how ill he is but even when I'm sobbing and begging him to go see the dr, he still won't go. He does seem to take in everything I say though, but doesn't agree to doing anything about it. He honestly thinks this is just his lot and there's no way out.
My question is not really AIBU, it's more what can or should you do when you see your husband go from a lovely, happy go lucky man, to a deeply depressed shell of a man who wants a divorce and to leave his family? When I married, I married for life, through the good times and the bad, through sickness and health, so in that respect I shouldn't give up. But on the other hand, this divorce is happening now, and he is doing literally nothing to get help despite my pleading. I have tried everything. Is it ever ok to just stand back and allow this to continue? I'm scared he does something stupid...
Have you agreed to the divorce?
Could you refuse to go through with it unless he sees his GP?
How is this affecting your children?
Living with someone with a long term illness is very difficult.
To be honest, I would agree to a divorce because he won't seek help, not because of his depression.
You have my sympathies.
You know that you could call his GP and talk to him about your concerns, right? Might be worth a shot. Maybe beg/ ask / demand GP do a home visit - it spunds like ypur dh is too far gone to help himself and he really needs medical help. But ultimately yes - your dh can continue to refuse medical intervention and you do not need to stay and witness his decline.
I could have written your post op but I don't have any answers so
Something similar happened to me a few years ago with my boyfriend (now husband), he lost his job and went on a downward spiral from there. He refused to go to the GP which confused me as I know he would have been diagnosed (with stress and maybe even depression) but he was one of these that believes medication doesn't solve anything.
My advice to you is to go to a mental health centre or clinic of some sort and speak to a counsellor or therapist when they have a few minutes spare, if you turn up (you've got to be willing to wait) and speak to a receptionist they should be able to put you in contact with one. This is the best thing as is it obvious he won't go there himself, if you speak to someone and explain to them how you're feeling then they will be able to help you cope with it as it must be taking it's toll on you too. You might not be able to get your husband back immediately (as it is a process) but he might come round to going to speak to someone if you do it first.
I hope you get this sorted as I know how terrible it can be to be in this position. xxx
I don’t have any answers either but had to end a long term relationship due to this myself - it was his inability to get help that was worst -refused counselling - drugs - everything - it was like another form of self harming
I don’t know how old your DC are but don’t underestimate the impact of his depression on them and their lives
My DF has suffered depression all his life although he does accept medical help - it still blighted my childhood
My DC were so much happier without ex DP being depressed around them
I still love him and try and help him albeit from a greater distance but have to protect myself as I know he will never change
The kids are 3 and 5. I do worry for them.
I'm sorry to read so many of you have also been through this or are going through this. It's such a horrible thing. Some days I am so ANGRY at him for not getting help, for throwing away the life we've built together when there could be another way. Other days I'm just so sad.
I have spoken to our GP but all she did was prescribe some homeopathy to pass on to him. Of course he rejected that idea too.
I have agreed to the divorce, yes. I have given all of me for such a long time and got nothing back, there's only so much of that you can do before it breaks you down aswell.
The pp who said it's a form of self harm is spot on.
I think you need to look out for yourself and your children, you can't make him get help as hard as it is it sounds like you have encouraged him as much as you can. No treatment will be effective if he doesn't participate in it anyway.
If you have concerns about his immediate safety you should have a mental health rapid response service in your area (NHS - GP surgery will have details). They will come out and help him if he is having a crisis.
However you might find that he won't make any positive steps until he hits rock bottom and he isn't there yet. And sometimes when we think we're supporting someone we're actually enabling them.
Sending you lots of support.
I know personally how hard this can all be. My husband has a history of depression and there were about two years of him being extremely low. I tried suggesting he seek help, but there were always the excuses "I'm just stressed from work" "I don't possibly have time to go to a therapist, I work crazy hours".
It may sound passive but I had to adopt the approach of focusing on my happiness and the happiness of our 2 kids. So for at least a year I attended numerous events/ school commitments on my own. I had to resolve myself that he couldn't bring down the rest of us and only he could help himself.
One night he was being a dick so I called him out on it. I think my exact words were "Fuck you!". I think the penny finally dropped for him. Within a week he saw our GP, started CBT online, then attended about 4 months of therapy. He also started anti depressants. A year later and it is like night and day. He's back to the man I married.
Think the purpose of my post is to say, stay happy for you, stay happy for your kids. your husband is the only person who can help himself. I suspect as the divorce (and moving out of your house) approaches his penny drop moment happens.
You're divorced? One of you needs to move out. This isn't healthy and won't help
You can't help him if he refuses to help himself. Of course you can offer support but you can't be expected to cure a mental health issue anymore than you would expect to cure a physical one.
You can't help him. Prioritize yourself and DC: let him sink or swim. Sorry but you have tried your best and if he won't do anything to help himself, there is no point in you and DC being dragged down with him.
Just to clarify we're not yet divorced. We've said we're getting a divorce and I'm looking for a place to rent, for him, and have a meeting with a lawyer at the end of the month.
It's not what I want. At all. But as a lot of you have said I have to think of mine and the kids happiness too.
And yet a part of me still wants to keep pushing him to get help. I feel like I'm grieving, as though the man I married has died...
Hugs to you. My DH has depression, and I know how dreadful it is to live with someone who has become a stranger, and so unlike the man you fell in love with. My DH has been on meds for nearly a year now, and they really did make a positive difference right from the start. He didn't want to go on meds (and I wasn't sure about them either) but I couldn't face the situation any more and basically issued him an ultimatum - I felt that anything would be an improvement. I feel now that the good days are outnumbering the bad, and, more important, that I have got my husband back!
This is something you have to do together - tell him you will help him, but he has to help you to help him.
I wish you every luck.
My DH was like this and it all came to a head one day. At that point I said I'm taking charge now and this is what will happen. Which included, among other things, that I was making an appointment for the GP for him and I was going to accompany him (I knew he'd 'make light' of it otherwise) and, if need be, do the talking.
For him, it was like a huge weight had been lifted - I could physically see his shoulders go down.
That was the beginning of a long road. And very bumpy at times. But we got through it and are all the stronger for it.
However, I suspect it was all about the timing and that can be pot luck.
Do you think your DH would respond better if someone else was making those initial steps for them?
Thanks so much for these messages Saddlesore and Gatehouse.
I have just had a conversation with him, funnily enough, where I said, right I am making you an appointment at the doctors and I'll come with you. He's NOT happy about it and keeps saying he's not convinced about meds but I've got him to go by saying he needs to inform himself about the different options / doses etc with the dr and then he can make an informed decision. He's against ant depressants because of one memory when he was 11 of some guy who seemed drugged up and someone told DH it was because he was on ant depressants!
Oh please, please, please let this be the first step in the right direction. I can't bare to see him like this.
I know its not a panacea but could you keep feeding him, good wholesome food, lots of leafy veg, I know I clutch at straws, but it won't do him any harm and may help a little, theres so much evidence now of the connection to bacteria in the gut affecting mental health and good bacteria need lots of colourful veg, or fermented foods...it was your comment on his skin made me think, some people when they are depressed just eat the bare minimum or unhealthy things...like I say it won't hurt and over a few months may help a little.
Very best of luck
Thanks Artiface, I didn't know about that atall. He actually has stomach problems so that's interesting.
Just a thought as depression & weight loss can be signs of pernicious anaemia & I saw how low & irrational my DD got before we finally got her diagnosed, so there’s a chance it’s relevant to your DH too.
I’m adding a link, but even if it’s not this, you could maybe use it to push him into going to see the GP by telling him how serious it can get & your don’t want your DCs to lose their DF so young. My DD ended up in a wheelchair before she was finally diagnosed, so it is a disabling, life threatening condition if left untreated. Maybe it could frighten him into action & if it’s not this, then at least the GP has him to look at other things. That said, this is a possibility & treatment with injections can turn it around...
Just seen your comments on him having stomach trouble- definitely get him tested, that’s a big risk factor for this
WAIT. The GP suggested HOMEOPATHY WTF???! Please don't go back to this doctor! Homeopathy is sugar water plus pacebo effect.
He needs real, actual help, as I'm sure you know!
So many people have this idea that ADs turn you into a zombie and it's just not true. OP, if you have the energy, would you be able to research on his behalf? Or at least send him links.
Mind website has a list of anti-depressants and information, here. Modern anti-depressants are so much better than they used to be and there's lots to choose from, so if one isn't right there's others to try.
There's also info about helping a family member here.
I don't know what kind of therapy he's been having, but CBT one that can help depression. You can find an accredited therapist here: BABCP Find a CBT Therapist. If it's not going anywhere with his current therapist, it doesn't mean it never will. Lots of therapists do CBT by phone or Skype these days, so he wouldn't even need to leave the house.
Good luck OP, it sounds so hard. I agree that if he won't do anything to help himself, then at some point you need to protect yourself.
This one may need a cup of tea to sit and read it with!
He's against ant depressants because of one memory when he was 11 of some guy who seemed drugged up and someone told DH it was because he was on ant depressants!
So he's basing his opinion on the one incident of a guy who, on the evidence of another random person, may or may not have been on anti-depressants, all of which is viewed through the eyes of an 11 year old.
Do you think he could be persauded how ridiculous this is and could you convince him to try medication for an agreed length of time and that you will go back to the gp with him if he really feels like a zombie?
I haven't read all the replies but can give you my point of view as the depressed spouse.
Someone mentioned this is a form of self harm. I strongly disagree with this. No one who is this depressed wants to feel this way. It is an absolutely crippling feeling. You feel helpless, completely unable to help yourself and believe that nothing will/can help you.
About therapy, while it is/can be very helpful, it makes you face your problems and that opens up a can of worms. Even if there is nothing in your past to deal with, the reality of your current depression or state of mind and life is brought to the forefront and you actually have to face it rather than avoid or deny it, which is a coping mechanism.
Op, im not saying you can or should do anything for your husband. You sound like you are a very caring spouse and mother for all the decisions you've made thus far.
I guess I just wanted to say that he is not doing this to himself or to you or the family. It is a genuine illness.
I'm not great at articulating my thoughts, so I hope you don't take the above to mean that I think you don't fully understand the nature of your husband's depression.
Honestly. I would have given him some tough love.
He’s happy to lose everything because he won’t see a doctor? I’m not saying he should just pull himself up by his bootstraps, but if he loves you, if he loves his children, then owes it to them to try something. If he won’t - well, then I’m sorry I agree with a pp to leave him to sink or swim.
You’ve been dealing with this for a long time, you have a responsibility to yourself and your children not just him. Focus your energy elsewhere as he clearly isn’t capable or willing to do anything.
I have walked in your shoes and one thing I need to let you know is that this is not your fault and that while there are ways you can support him, his treatment outcome will depend on his condition, his treatment and what he does about it.
You cannot love someone to be well.
You cannot do this. I tried and nearly ended up in the hole too.
Your idea about the informed choice is a clever one. I really hope it works out, the illness may not be leading to logical choices and having an impartial third party, particularly one with a bit of authority, may help. Contacting Mind or similar would also be a support to you.
What I did wasn't advisable, I actually threatened to leave, then actually left. Unsuccessfully I did make him taking up his recommended intensive, full-time outpatient treatment as a condition of returning - I'm not proud of using blackmail even if the end result was helpful. It was done out of desperation.
We're coming up to two years after that and he's still in therapy, but does manage to work and is finding ways back to life. It has not been easy and his kids have suffered because his illness - we've all done our best to support them too.
And I also took some time away on a trip once he was back in work and more stable to recharge my batteries, that helped too.
Really sorry that you are facing this
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