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Help understanding depression

(18 Posts)
MadeForThis Thu 04-Apr-19 13:33:47

Please be kind and I hope that nothing I say offends anyone. I have no previous experience with depression so I'm really looking for advice and experiences from people who have dealt with it before.

My sisters husband has been diagnosed with depression. They got married a year ago and he was diagnosed in the year before that. Given medication which he decided to stop after the wedding. I have no doubts about his depression and consider it to be a dreadful illness.

What I'm really looking to understand is how much of his behaviour is down to the depression and how much is just him choosing to be awful.

What's been happening for the last two ish years is a lot of drinking. Pretending to go to work but really going to the pub all day with his friends or alone. Off sick from every job as it's too stressful then quitting. He's had 3-4 jobs in this time. Office admin type.

He doesn't come home. Stays out drinking with friends or his mums house. She's an alcoholic. Threatens suicide when drunk. Lots of shouting and storming out of the house. She's missing work because she doesn't know where he is. She's also drinking a lot herself and mostly only calls me when drunk to tell me what's happening. When she's sober she usually won't talk about it. I live in another country.

The latest is that he has taken out several pay day loans for a few thousand and used the money to gamble. His brother has a gambling addiction but sought treatment and hasn't gambled in a few years.

My dilemma is how to advise my sister. She's distraught. Never knows what's coming next.

In the middle of this they are talking about trying for a baby. He has a young teenager from a previous relationship who his sees for and hour of two every few weeks. Normally in the pub. He has never had overnight access. This was court decided. She goes to his mum eow and he sees her when he wants.

How much of this behaviour is down to depression? as he says it's all because he's depressed. But he won't go to gp again or restart the tablets.

I'm so worried for my sister and what her life is at the minute.

bibbitybobbityyhat Thu 04-Apr-19 13:55:56

I don't blame you for worrying about your sister. Can you send a very heartfelt and caring email begging her to divorce this man? He seems to be an alcoholic and gambling addict with no interest in getting better. He will only drag her down while she stays married to him. Plead with her not to TTC and start divorce proceedings. Reassure her there is no shame in admitting you've made a mistake in your marriage - thousands of people do it - and you are ready to talk through anything with her when she is sober.

sotired2 Thu 04-Apr-19 13:59:55

I think alot of it sounds like it could all be linked. When depressed alcohol is often used as a way of self medicating . And then it spirals. Sounds like he is now not only depressed but also has alcohol and gambling addictions issues too. Which along with depression will hamper his abilities to hold down a steady job.

I would advise your sister to put on hold baby plans as this will only add to everyone's stress and not help but to sit him down and tell him straight he has issues and needs to seek urgent medical help. That she will support him but only if he gets the help she will come to GP and help him explain the issues he's having. But that he has to take any medication/help offered. I think she will have to be cruel/harsh in this situation or he will keep coming up with excuses to spiral further into the depression/addictions.

pocketcucco Thu 04-Apr-19 14:03:12

I have depression as well as a few other diagnosed mental health conditions and have done for over 20 years. There was a period where I drank too much to numb the pain and depression can make you act out of character but when I started doing things that I realised hurt myself and my loved ones I sought out help and actively worked to change, which is the huge difference here.

No mental health issue is an excuse for continuing harmful behaviour. Even if it's the reason behind the behaviour, he clearly is aware of this and if he's not actively trying to change this, then I think your sister needs to leave and look after herself. It very much sounds like she is depressed herself and the best thing for her would be to leave, focus on herself, and heal.

If he's not willing to get help then there really is no hope. He may reach a point eventually where he wants to get help but it is not fair for your sister to have to put up with this until then. It will only make her depressed too. Please advise her to think about putting herself first.

goose1964 Thu 04-Apr-19 14:05:19

I managed to go to work for years with depression. Being an idiot is not part of it.

LordVoldetort Thu 04-Apr-19 14:07:07

Depression can certainly make you think do abnormal things and this could be linked to it but he really isn’t trying to help himself and his behaviour is destructive.
The problem with asking others if this could be down to his depression is hard to answer as the symptoms are quite personal (I was depressed for a few years and I didn’t drink or gamble)

Regardless of if this is his depression or not, it’s not a great environment for them to consider bringing a baby into. Children can cause a strain on even the ‘healthiest’ of relationships.

I’m not sure how you can be of help to your sister as you have said she only speaks about it when she has been drinking which is never the best time to have a conversation about relationships/children. My advise to her would be to tell him that he needs to go and get help for his depression, this could either be in the form of an ultimatum or as a support type thing.

Do you know why he came off his medication?

PlainSpeakingStraightTalking Thu 04-Apr-19 14:07:27

TBH the only advice I'd give your sister is "divorce him". Im realtively tolerant but I woint put up with a drinker or a gambler (or a druggie)

In the middle of this they are talking about trying for a baby. - your sister needs he head looked at if he decided he's father material.

But she wont listen to you she will enable his behaviour.

How much of this behaviour is down to depression? as he says it's all because he's depressed. But he won't go to gp again or restart the tablets.

Of course he wont - he's given himself carte blanche for poor behaviour and shes enabling it.

He'll drag her down.

MadeForThis Thu 04-Apr-19 14:13:59

These two responses really summarise where my head is. I'm jumping between begging her to leave, hating how badly he is treating her and trying to understand that it's connected to depression.

I spoke honestly to her before they got married and told her she should walk away or at least postpone the wedding. She didn't want to hear it. She's late 30's. Has only been with him 4 years but I think she's scared to start again. Thinks time for a baby is running out.

She's successful professionally but has always drank like a teenager. She's admitted that she has issues with it but has no interest in actually dealing with it.

I wish he would leave and get himself sorted. If he cared about her he wouldn't make her suffer like this.

She pays all the bills. Is in debt from the wedding. Yet he's taking out ridiculous payday loans so he can gamble. He works minimum wage jobs that he regularly quits as they are too stressful.

How do I support her? If I said everything I thought she wouldn't speak to me again. I don't want her to feel like she can't talk to me.

But he seems to think he can do whatever he wants and blame it on depression. I'm trying hard to see both sides of things. I've never dealt with depression before. But surely he's making a choice in his behaviour? At a minimum he should he seeking help?

BipBippadotta Thu 04-Apr-19 14:23:10

It doesn't matter whether he's depressed, does it? You can be depressed and also be a twat. The two aren't mutually exclusive. You don't need to stay with someone who is behaving appallingly because they are also depressed.

MadeForThis Thu 04-Apr-19 14:28:58

I'm feeling a bit vindicated in my anger at him. I was concerned that I should be more accepting of his depression.

He sent me a message last night once he realised that my sister had told me the latest drama saying that it's not as simple as it seems. My sister is hard to live with. He's not a bad person.

I've managed not to respond as anything I say now when they are sober will not be taken well. I've asked her if she's ok and told her she can always talk to me. Just got a thanks back. He has updated Facebook to show them out for lunch, drinking and smiling.

How can I make her see sense?

pocketcucco Thu 04-Apr-19 14:29:16

It is difficult because people can become very self-destructive when depressed and it sounds like he is very much stuck in this mode which is awful for everyone around him.

Would she consider an ultimatum of sorts? That he must go to therapy and take his medication or she will have to leave. And to be honest, her leaving might be the best thing for him as he might realise what he has to lose.

MadeForThis Thu 04-Apr-19 15:35:13

I hope she'll listen to me and not get caught up in the fantasy of both of them against the world.

Ihatehashtags Thu 04-Apr-19 15:44:02

Some of it sounds like depression and some of sounds like he’s a prize arsehole.

He shouldn’t have stopped taking his meds. His rate of relapse now is a lot higher than if he’d taken them for two years continuously.

It doesn’t seem he wants to change or get help and is dragging your sister down with him.

If I were her I would insist he goes to regular counseling and takes medication. If he refuses she needs to leave.

MadeForThis Thu 04-Apr-19 15:52:45

I don't think she has the strength to leave. She has a good circle of friends in her city but they have all married and settled down in the last few years. She was the last single one. I don't think she wants to go back to that. None of her friends like him.

I think she prefers to pretend that he will change. That he is a good guy with depression rather than a lazy manipulative alcoholic.

How will she cope with a child? He has already said that she should go back to work after having the baby and he can stay home and look after it. She's just his meal ticket isn't she?

bibliomania Thu 04-Apr-19 16:05:15

If wanting a baby is the underlying issue, I think that's what your conversation should be about. It's worth asking her that if they split up, how will she feel about potentially handing a baby over to him for a weekend at a time. If she wants a baby, she'd be better off using a sperm bank.

MadeForThis Thu 04-Apr-19 16:24:28

I think she is worried about time running out to have a family. I hope she has the strength to give him an ultimatum.

The best result is that they both sort out their issues and live happily ever after. But that seems unlikely.

Does anyone know of any online support groups I could recommend to her?

She wouldn't speak to anyone in person or over the phone. She's a real introvert sometimes.

She needs to face up to her own issues with alcohol. But she really needs help with dealing with his depression. I've told her that she needs to speak to her gp and maybe arrange counselling but she refuses. She confides a lot in his mum but she's obviously biased and has her own alcohol issues. She knows all her friends and family don't like him so she tries to hide it from us.

I'm hoping if an independent group could give her advice she might listen. Even if it's just coping mechanisms rather than alcohol. When he goes missing she drinks.

Thanks for all the advice so far.

pocketcucco Thu 04-Apr-19 16:43:11

One of my friends grew up with an alcoholic father and always vouched for Al-Anon which is a support group for family members of alcoholics. On their website they have podcasts with people discussing living with alcoholic family members as well as access to online meetings so that might be worth a shot? I'd imagine that they deal a lot with depression and listening to others' experiences might make her see the severity of her situation.

The Mind mental health charity also has a web chat option to chat to someone about mental health issues and Bipolar UK has an e-community that may be helpful.

MadeForThis Thu 04-Apr-19 19:54:36

Thank you. Hopefully some independent opinions help her.

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