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DH thinks he's depressed. I'm not sure how to help him(22 Posts)
Hi. I'm a long time MNetter but don't post much. I've had a look through some of the threads in this section but I think it is more appropriate to ask for advice with direct relevance to our situation. I'll try to give the details as well as I can but happy to add anything if anyone thinks I've left something out! Sorry if it gets long!
DH came home from work last Friday in something of a state. He was stressed and said he's very unhappy, wanted to leave, can't remember being happy and then burst into tears. It was heart-breaking. We have 3 children (nearly 8, 6 next week and 3.8). I am a SAHM having been a city lawyer pre-kids. We met in our last year of uni and have been together 17 years. He says our life together/me/us are lost and we don't "do" anything anymore. Our sex life is ok (from my view) but he has a higher sex drive and is unsatisfied - feels I don't "want" him. We talked alot over last weekend and he has admitted that he loves me and our family and he doesn't want to leave but he feels that he doesn't deserve to be here, I could do better and that he'll let us all down. I made the point that over the last few years we have had 3 babies and that doesn't leave much time for anything else. Now they are getting older we should be able to get more of our own lives back. He thinks Friday night was a cry for help - so do I!
The history to Friday's outburst is that he has been having problems particularly related to work for about 6 years or so. 6 years ago he was badly bullied by his boss and constantly belittled. This was around the time our second child was born and I was fully focused on a newborn and a not yet 2yr old. We weren't getting much sleep and I was quite reliant on him at home. He sought help from a counsellor and continued to see him for about 6-12 months. About 18months later he was made redundant (Jan 09). Whilst this was a relief it was also stressful financially - I was 2months pg with our 3rd child. Since then he has been made redundant another 2 times! He is now in a good job which he is happy with although he doesn't believe he is good enough for it and says he's waiting for them to realise and sack him!! He has next to no confidence. Things were particularly stressful at work over the end of year and into January with things going wrong (nothing to do with him making mistakes but he had to manage the process IYSWIM) which seems to have knocked him over the edge. He has gone back to his counsellor about 6 weeks ago but doesn't feel that this is actually helping him. He hasn't slept through the night since the New Year so he's exhausted.
This last week we went out for dinner so we could talk without interruption/tv and also just have a nice evening together. He said he has looked up depression/having a breakdown on the internet and that he could tick ALL the boxes! I have suggested that he go to the GP and perhaps find a better counsellor. I am wary of ADs as I know nothing about them and I worry about dependency and side effects.
Anyway this is getting long, sorry - any thoughts and suggestions gratefully received as I'm making suggestions such as meeting up with friends, doing some sport, us going out more etc but it all feels abit simplistic! Quite honestly I also feel like giving him and shake and telling him to pull himself together Sorry.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Thank you for your reply. I haven't actually told him to pull himself together, only thought it (once, on Thurs, when he sighed a lot during a phone conversation!).
I'm not surprised he's struggling given the stressful last few years both at work and at home with babies and toddlers. I did suggest to him that he get back in touch with his counsellor back in Jan. He (and I now) isn't convinced the counselling has helped given where we are now. I've also suggested we go together to a different counsellor as his depression seems to be affecting/is affected by our relationship.
He seems much better when he's at home rather than the working week - been keeping himself busy this weekend helping me with laundry and cooking. But he's short-tempered and impatient with the children . And he says he feels sad most of the time .
Hi 3HotCrossBuns, sorry to hear your DH is having such a tough time. I too would strongly recommend him seeing his GP. It sounds like he's had a lot to cope with over the last few years, and last few months on top of bullying which can be very damaging.
My DH was in a similar position to yours last summer (mostly work-induced)and I finally got him to the Doctor who assessed him as depressed and recommended ADs (Sertraline in his case) and also referred him for CBT. He is now a changed man, has made a total recovery and actually feels that the process he has gone through has made him stronger. If you can try and encourage him to be kind to himself and rest (if poss) and if you think it would help maybe talk about it in terms of what you and he would do if he'd broken a leg - just this time its his head that's got poorly.
It's really good that you're talking openly about the whole thing and if he can continue to do that that's great. ADs are not addictive and can be very helpful in helping with things like insomnia (which in itself doesn't help) and taking the edge off the symptoms of depression so that someone (with support) can then start undertaking things - like counselling/CBT/exercise etc that will also help to improve things. Believe me he's not in a position to pull himself together at the moment and is probably cursing himself for not being able to.
I also echo UA's advice re: looking after yourself and seeking support - its really important. It can be wearing being married to someone with depression and you need to take care of yourself in order to be a mum and wife. Hope that doesn't sound too preachy!
Wishing you and he well.
There is a really good book called "living with a back dog" here. It really helped me when my dh was going through this a couple of years ago. He also went through a period after being made redundant of then starting new jobs and then either losing them or leaving them. We have come out the other side, still together though there were times when I thought it would be the end of us. Your dh is still there - the depression is an illness and he can get better - but it will take time and possibly medicine.
Hi, sorry to hear that things are not good at home at the moment. Your husband saying to you that you as a couple don't do anything anymore and him wanting more sex than you and him not feeling wanted is also a cry for help that to him he is not happy with your relationship at the moment. I understand from what you have said that work is also part of the problem but do you think he could be heading for a mid life crises?
Thanks for the replies overnight. I appreciate you taking the time to post on this.
I agree - there's probably a mid-life crisis in the mix too!! 1 of the things he's unhappy about is our relationship . I think he's very unrealistic about family life, esp with young children. Our youngest starts school this Sept and I've said that this will be a new stage for us. He can't see it at the moment. Also I feel cross that his unrealistic expectations of me (why aren't I the same exciting 20 something I was when we fell in love? ) are clouding his view of what I see as normal growing up/old! He has come out with all the cliches unfortunately. He does swear there's no one else involved and I believe him - no way could he cope with the pressure of an affair! I am slightly concerned that I'n hiding behind the work stress to avoid difficulties between us as a couple. And I'm worried that if he gets well, he'll then be strong enough to leave
I do agree he needs a rest. Not sure how to go about that, he refuses to tell work. And I understand that, he's only been there 6 months and he doesn't feel secure. We're going skiing next weekend for a week so hopefully that will give him a break from the routine at least.
We're off to the in-laws today so I'll struggle to post again. But I'll check the thread occasionally.
I hope you all have a Happy Easter!
Sorry, also meant to say to Sam100 and ColouringInQueen - it's reassuring to hear that other people have successfully come out the other side of their DH being depressed and are still together. I don't know of any other husbands being depressed, only PND mummy friends! So that's helpful to hear. And I'll take a look at that book. My cousin was on ADs after his wife left him but that's not quite the same situation!
I don't think relationship counselling is going to help whilst he's struggling with his own mental health. For one thing, you will feel unable to be completely honest about how he's making you feel (because it will further upset and confuse him) and without honestly it's effectively not counselling for the two of you as a couple. You also say I'm worried that if he gets well, he'll then be strong enough to leave. Maybe that's true but he needs to be well, that's priority one. What follows from that is a series of events you can't control. Hopefully they will be good ones but if they're not, you can be two well individuals taking care of your children in perhaps a slightly different configuration than the one you planned.
I wouldn't borrow trouble; he needs to see his GP.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
I think he needs to take charge of his own mental health and go to see his GP. You can't do the work for him.
(And yes, I've had depression too.)
Hi 3HotCrossBuns glad to hear you've got some time away together. fwiw once I'm feeling better DH and I will be looking at ways we can improve our relationship - it's slid a bit the last couple of years, even just making regular nights out for us etc... But as tribpot said, he needs to be well before you can really look at how to improve your relationship. Hang in there.
A quiet few minutes whilst the in-laws take the sugar-high kids to the playground!!
I note what you say about prioritising DH's MH before thinking about our relationship. I do think its intertwined with his depression though - he's keen to make sure we have regular nights out, just us. And to try to get back a little of "us" as adults separate from our parenting functions. Perhaps if I go with this for now and see where we get to before embarking on any couples counselling (if necessary). I agree his well-being takes precedence over everything else. Doesn't stop a small voice in my head worrying about what's next though! There are issues in our relationship that neither of us can change and that will be a challenge.
Anyway, we both think he's been having MH issues/stress etc on and off for quite a long time - probably at least 6yrs, since the bullying incident, so it's quite difficult for either of us to know what is him normally, iyswim. Poor chap is feeling very lost at the moment though. Deffo a trip to the GP on Tues!
FWIW Rulesgirl, you're talking rubbish.
Stress of being bullied, stress of being made redundant twice, losing enjoyment in life, feeling that you're not good enough and all of the rest are classic causes and signs of depression.
I won't pick apart the rest of your post as its not really worth my time, but what you've written is not what the OP is describing.
Thank you Babyheave! It's not just me hiding from any relationship difficulties (although I am aware I might be doing just that!) DH himself is concerned about his MH, took himself back to the previous counsellor 6-ish weeks ago and has been googling breakdowns and depression - not the actions of a married man who's had his head turned by another woman (I hope!!). I don't doubt that our relationship is part of the problem but its tricky to isolate all the components of this. It's also easier for me to focus on his work stress as the root cause - yes, cowardly and foolish I suppose.
Today has gone well enough although I caught him looking sad at kids' tea time and a bit teary eyed. He escaped upstairs to start bath time, I followed to check he was ok, his answer was "just sad". His family and mother in particular are concerned at his weight loss (about a stone or so since the New Year) but he said it was cycling to/from work! Hmmmmmm.
Oh well, tomorrow is another day!
Its really good that he's recognising that things aren't right and wants to do something about it. From what you've said I'd say that the work stress is the key here, especially feeling that he's not good enough - hardly surprising after recent history.
Its hard on the partner of someone with depression. It was for my DH when I was really ill last year and our relationship was very strained, but now the depression is better, our relationship is as well. This is why trying to 'fix' relationships when someone is ill is a bit futile as you can't know what is being caused by the depression and what is down to the relationship itself.
I would echo babyheave's advice too. Sounds more like depression, maybe there's a bit of relationship concern in there too, but it's not the main issue. Treating the depression will enable you to then improve your relationship. Will he go and see his GP? All the very best.
My (now ex) husband had a lot of trouble with depression so I have some experience of this. I would say that the thing that characterised it for him was for him to be totally inward looking and not social at all. There were times when we had friends round where he'd stay up in the bedroom as he couldn't put on a social face and chat to them. He also didn't want more sex; I believe it's very unusual in depression to want more sex. I believe it's also very unusual to want to socialise more. Most become very, very introverted.
However, I found out then that he had been having an affair for several years and this was adding to his depression. I think he'd got himself into a position of self loathing and this, combined with his depression (which was a family trait and he definitely suffered from it) led to him living a life that left him feeling very unhappy.
He said one of the things that made him feel worse was that I was a coper. He saw me as strong and he resented this at times, even though he relied on me.
You were a city lawyer; does your husband see you as really capable? If so, he might see you as capable of resolving his problems and resent you for feeling OK yourself.
So back to real life for DH today after the bank holiday weekend. He really had to force himself up and out to work - he was awake a bit last night worrying about things going wrong at work, getting sussed for actually being useless then getting fired and thereafter being unemployable (due to previous 3 redundancies) . There are (as far as I can tell) no 'real' grounds for these concerns. He has rung the GP and has an appointment for late this afternoon so we'll see if he gets prescribed any ADs and/or counselling.
I note what ImperialBlether says about being withdrawn and I would say this is perhaps true of DH with others outside of our family unit. However since his "outburst" 10 days ago, he's been very tactile towards me and is wanting to be held a lot. Almost clingy. Ironically we've probably had more sex! He says he's feeling guilty about the horrid things he said, I didn't deserve it and he doesn't deserve me - he can't believe that after what he said my reaction has been to try to help him. He's apologised about a million times! I've asked him if there's anyone else 'confusing' his feelings towards me/us and he says no. He wants to be at home - although I do think that because he wants to hide!
It's true that I am a 'coper' and don't get anxious much - I'm much more a 'worry about it when it happens' type whereas my sister worries about every eventuality! Drives me mad. I always thought DH was more level-headed than he seems to be currently. Unfortunately I don't really understand MH very well and, whilst I don't want to sound unsympathetic, I do feel that he should stop wallowing, if that makes sense. So DH's problems will be a learning curve for me too. I have ordered the Black Dog book from Amazon!
Thanks for your responses.
Your poor DH. But poor you also. Depression affects everyone who comes into contact with it, and this definitely sounds like depression.
If he gets prescribed ADs, please don't worry. They help a lot of people, and can make a massive difference, just in terms of chemically adjusting what's going wrong. As other posters say, I think you probably do know men who have suffered from depression, but just were not aware. I didn't have a clue about my Dad's depression when I was younger.
You're making a brilliant effort by reading up and seeking advice on how to help him. As someone on the other side of the fence (I'm depressive and feel awful about how it affects my DH, who works so hard and often can't see why I'm crying when our life is good), the most important thing I would say is just... hold him. Help him to feel safe and drown out the crap that's going on in his head. Just be gentle, take him for walks, let him know you know you're there for him. If this is the first time he's had such an episode, it will be scary for him. If he'll agree to it and you have someone to look after the DCs, go with him to the doctor. Depression's not about wallowing or not trying hard enough to be happy (though I can see how it would look like that). It's an illness, and it hurts like hell. He will come through with the right help.
My DH has had depression for the past ten years. The comments about the high sex drive and not doing anything anymore are exactly the same as he comes out with during a breakthrough, along with a few "midlife crisis" ones.
He also has problems at work although boss knows about it and is supportive.
Sorry but he needs to handle this, go back to his GP and get reassessed.
I had to threaten to leave before DH went to his GP. Don't be afraid of ADs though, they do give you some normality back although there can be breakthroughs when they're sometimes less effective.
You also need to take care of yourself and your DCs. You need to understand that the changes and situations that they see can be because the brain chemistry is out of whack and it doesn't represent what's actually going on in the world or anything that you've done.
I've had many days when he's been an absolute bar steward and those thoughts have kept me going when I've been in tears.
You also need support - try going on the SANE forums as well, there are people on there offering a shoulder when things get rocky.
Sorry if I sound negative but ten years has taught me there's no magic wand and when things get bad you need to let them go into the dark space and come out when they're ready.
PM me if I can help anymore. Sorry if this all sounds a bit direct and negative.
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