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Hard to let go of resentment of depressive partner (v long)

(20 Posts)
harrap Sun 12-May-13 10:03:42

Maybe this should be in relationships and I don't want to make anyone feel bad but I thought this might be a starting point. I would really like some help from those who have suffered from serious depression or others who are in relationships with those who suffer serous depression. I am in a long term relationship with a basically good and kind man. We have one child.

My DP (in fact his whole family) is prone to anxiety and depression. Looking back over the years I can see a pattern during which my DP is fine then gets very anxious, takes on too much work and then slides into depression. Time goes by and he recovers and things get back to being reasonably happy and harmonious and often very lovely.

My problem is that when he is depressed he is self absorbed, withdrawn, stops communicating and latterly really hostile in a passive aggressive way.

My DP became very depressed about six months after our son was born 6.5 years ago. Not to put too fine a point on it he was a shit to me until his depression started to lift say about 18 months ago. It was obvious I had become the enemy- forcing him to work all hours and keeping him from his son [I work outside of the home too BTW] all of this was completely irrational and he now accepts this.

About nine months ago I found out he had slept with an old girlfriend twice (during the time he was at his most ill) and that discovery was a catalyst for him finally admitting he really has got problems and was going to lose me if he didn't do something to tackle them and he finally started to see a therapist. We had a some very deep heart to hearts and I know that he had been really quite ill.

He asked me not to judge him on how he behaved when he was ill and I understand logically that he really was having some kind of breakdown. But the only way I have been able to keep it all together has been to distance myself from him. His sleeping with someone else is not great but nothing compared to the way he behaved towards me and his total denial that there was anything he could do about the mental state he was is in- it all felt like he was trying to kill me, he suddenly appeared to hate me but would neither leave nor do anything about it.

I really stopped looking to him for emotional support or anything really- I didn't leave because I barely had the strength to think about how to do it and could hardly believe what was happening -I knew deep down he was ill and I love(d) him.

I too became extremely anxious and depressed but did something about it (I took ADs and found a therapist) and I coped.

My DP now is trying to make amends, as I say he is seeing a therapist and things are so much better he really is like a different person.

Thank you for reading this far- the point of all this is that despite my understanding he has been ill (and having some insight into depression myself) I find it very hard not to feel resentment and that he does not deserve my forgiveness and support- to be completely honest part of me wants to hurt him like he hurt me. Of course now there is all the added baggage of the "affair" (2 one night stands). I know I have my part to play in making this relationship work- I am by no means perfect and I am ashamed to say I find it hard to really accept that he could not have, "pulled himself together" and taken some responsibility for the way he was feeling earlier.

I'm struggling, I feel resentment and sympathy almost simultaneously. I need to understand what really deep depression can feel like especially for men. How do I get over this resentment?

Ilikethebreeze Sun 12-May-13 14:54:03

Yikes.
I have noticed, even on the MH board, that quite often, others have posted about help in supporting depressive husbands, and no one has posted.
I could be wrong in saying that I also think, even as recent as 2 weeks ago, that someone tried to start a support thread. Not sure she had any replies.

I personally dont have experience with this. So my answer would be quite trite at best.
I dont know at what point depression can be used to excuse behaviour, and at what point it cannot.

imo, you may need some sort of specialist to answer the question.
As, I can see, that especially in your case, it is an important question.

Would you be able to have an appointment to speak to the therapist yourself?

You could ask your husband, but I am not sure he would be able to answer it himself reliably and truthfully either.

harrap Sun 12-May-13 15:00:17

Thanks for replying-I will try to find the post you mentioned.

Decoy Sun 12-May-13 22:49:11

Do you think it might be helpful to see a couples therapist together?

The Relate has resources and contacts.

MaryRobinson Mon 13-May-13 12:49:53

When you say "he asked me not to judge" can that be paraphrased as "he asked me to pretend to him that I didn't know, not to mention it, or in any way hold him accountable, whilst at the same time deal with all of my own emotions alone and utterly without his support?" For me that sentence pushes him out of "depressive" straight to abusive.

Have you put any consideration that regardless of his MH, he may not actually be a very nice person, and that in the circumstances you don't owe him anything.

orangeandemons Mon 13-May-13 19:42:31

I have suffered extensive anxiety and depression. Quite badly at times. At no point did I feel the need to sleep with someone else. In fact the opposite, I felt so so shite that I clung to dp, but had zero interest in sex.

Lack of communication and withdrawal is normally. So is irritability, but not sure that hostility is. That's just my experience. Dp used to say it was like living with a ghost, sort of there but not really.

Depression is an illness, but is not an excuse for hostility and infidelity. They sound more like excuses than symptoms

ColouringInQueen Mon 13-May-13 21:55:56

Hi harrap. My DH was very depressed last year. I found it very difficult.. I was frustrated with him for having "letting himself get into such a state". I was angry cos I was in effect a single parent for most of last year and it was a tough year on many fronts.

It made me depressed and anxious and have for the last 3 months been doing ADs and counselling. Its helped me get past the anger. My own depression has helped me realise that its not usually possible to "Pull yourself together" when you're depressed. I was also very irritable when I was depressed. Not sure about the one night stand thing, but its not outside the realms of possibility that he did open up to his ex, she listened, was sympathetic and one thing lead to another without any thinking going on. But that's just my perspective.

Are you still having any therapy? It might be helpful to help you deal with your feelings of resentment. And when you're a bit calmer, maybe couples therapy too - which I think will prob be on our agenda when I'm a bit more stable. Sending lots of sympathy though - I found a depressed dh for six months was terribly hard. Years in your case doesn't bear thinking about particularly as it sounds like he was very pretty tough on you. So I can't tell you how much is excuses and how much are symptoms ultimately but hope you at least know you're not alone. All the best x

namechangingishard Mon 13-May-13 22:04:15

'He asked me not to judge him on how he behaved when he was ill and I understand logically that he really was having some kind of breakdown. But the only way I have been able to keep it all together has been to distance myself from him.'

Rings clanging bells with me. I have been with dh ten years, he has depression and a thought disorder (psychosis). It is bloody hard not to take personally what he says during his periods of illness, and then to have to turn round and take to heart what he says when he is well. It can be so painful. I feel so lucky not to have experienced dh being unfaithful sad although he has told me, when he is ill, that he is attracted to other people, or that there is some major flaw in our sex life. I do end up feeling either pain or indifference for long periods, and it can take some time for me to 'thaw'. It all does leave scars, you can't just bounce back from it.

The best suggestion I can make is to get some support from Rethink - see what they have in your area - they may have some counselling.

I have read part of The Noonday Demon about depression (can't remember the author) which was really amazing, I recommend it.

harrap Tue 14-May-13 07:41:27

Thank you all for replying. Mary R, yes I have thought he is not a very nice person -indeed he was a not very nice person to me and, whatever the cause -he was emotionally abusive. However I also know that he is usually an extremely lovely person. We have been together for a very long time-the ex was someone he went out with when we split up for while years ago (again now I can see that split was precipitated by a breakdown on his part and he accepted he needed to "see a psychiatrist" at the time). He can be like two completely different people. In some ways it would be easier to just think he was an unfaithful, abusive shit, I'm really not in denial, but I know that is not the whole story.

I guess I am struggling with the usual feelings of a woman who has discovered her partner has been unfaithful and the realisation that her partner really does have/ a propensity to, serious mental illness both of those things are a shock and need a readjustment.

He said when he slept with the OW he was in a "nihilistic state" and he felt like nothing mattered- I know, I know that sounds like bs and a novel excuse for a shag and I'm sure she would be flattered to hear that too. Nonetheless, knowing what a state he was in at the time it does ring true. Not an excuse but something of an explanation.

I think we will have some couples therapy in the future- I'm still a bit too knackered for that at the moment.

Colouring and namechanging thank you both for sharing your experience.

Name changing I will get that book- and what you said really makes sense to me.

When my partner is depressed he says not only unpleasant things but things that are demonstrably irrational, I also suspect he hears voices - in fact he has said he does but in a jokey way. As I say looking back I can see he has had serious "episodes" at time of stress before and this one appeared to be triggered by having a baby- although of course it was me who actually had the baby!

This all sounds a bit grim, infact I'm not feeling bad day to day just trying work it out, and DP is falling over himself to be nice. In some ways distancing myself from him has been very, very good for me because I used to be overly emotionally dependant on him and I actually feel much stronger.

Thanks again. It really means a lot to receive such thoughtful replies.

ColouringInQueen Tue 14-May-13 10:01:13

Hi Harrap, you're welcome. As you say there's a lot to take on and adjust to. I just wondered if he'd seen his GP and is on any medication? I am not a MH expert at all but some of your comments about recurrent episodes, hearing voices, very different personality make me wonder if there's something a bit more than "ordinary" depression eg bipolar? but as I say I am speculating hugely, but I do hope you're getting some good medical support and at least that the GP knows about his back history. Take care x

cestlavielife Tue 14-May-13 16:11:17

i he was that ill and depressed how was he able to go out and find someone to sleep with? strange dynamics... one migh expect someone ona "high" to go have sex with people...

anyway - get him to GP. has he a proper diagnosis? is he prepared to take meds when he going downhill?
get him to be open.
get referred to a fmaily therapist who deals with this kind of illness.

if he is prepared to be open you can both agree strategies on dealing with his illness and list/wirte down what you both wil do. then you will both know your boundaries and where the land lies...illness is not a carte blanche to behave appallingly...if he "cant help it" then you maybe need to agree that he eg will go live elsewhere for some or all of the time he is ill. espec if you have DC.

you need to discuss openly if you happy to accept him sleeping around when he "ill" with all that implies (STD risk etc) .

it might be worth asking his therapist if you should both together see a separate therapist to talk about the long term implications/boundaries or if i is appropriate to see his therapist together.

joanofarchitrave Tue 14-May-13 22:07:24

I do think the shagging around while depressed makes a kind of sense - you have to respect yourself to think it's worth maintaining your own moral standards, if you think that you're a worthless piece of shit anyway, that your wife is probably planning to leave you and that you will be likely to kill yourself within a week or two if you can raise the energy, what difference does it make if you fuck somebody else, you're already disgusting? That kind of thinking. Irritability, anger, all potentially symptoms of depression.

It sounds as if he may have auditory hallucinations at times, and perhaps is terrified of the idea (hence the laughter). They do say that the difference between people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and those without is that those without aren't bothered by the voices in their heads (i.e. it's so common as to be normal!) I don't know what I think about medication. I have seen dh without it and that was the weirdest month of my life, so strange and slightly alienating though it is that a single pill can alter someone's personality completely, awful though the sideeffects can be, we have both reached a point where we will take the bad side every time in order to get the semblance of a liveable life that medication provides.

I wonder if I'm the only one who mutters 'shut up Stephen' whenever I see Stephen Fry on the telly, as I slightly blame him and his 'I don't need meds, me' documentary for dh stopping his meds and going on that weird journey, which half killed me and nearly lost me my job (there are still threads about it on MN somewhere).

calmingtea Thu 16-May-13 09:31:07

IMO you need to take the focus off whether depression is a valid excuse for being horrible and cheating on you, and treat him like an equal. By that I mean start considering whether you actually can accept this behaviour, has it crossed your boundaries, is it something you can live with. You need to consider your own feelings in all of this, and the effect all of it has had on you, as at the end of the day you are only responsible for yourself, in the same way your H is responsible for himself and his behaviour.

harrap Thu 16-May-13 14:08:51

Once again all helpful replies.
Joano I think your first paragraph sums up his mental state at the time. Indeed he said he felt "disgusting and repulsive" - he really meant it.
Calming tea, I agree -up to a point- I'm not really trying to find an "excuse" (although it probably sounds like that) just trying to understand. But yes he is responsible for his behaviour and I have learnt that I am responsible for my happiness- luckily I have some fantastic friends and a good life. All this has taught me to prioritise my own mental health.
I'm still seeing my therapist, she's been doing a lot of ACT (acceptance commitment therapy) don't know if any of you have experience of it?

Penny2012 Tue 08-Oct-13 20:01:22

I just wanted to say hi as I have been watching this thread for months to bookmark it.

My husband of 5 years has left me, our son (of 8 months when he left) our dog and our home as he has major anxiety and symptoms of depression. He has severe food intolerances which affect his mental state severely, too.

His anxiety means he can't plan anything and is withdrawn and irritable all the time. He is emotionally flat so he can't feel any love for me or our son. He has no positive emotions whatsoever and so can't feel any connection between us nor any empathy for anyone.

I realise now how unhealthy our relationship had become and that long term I will probably be happier without him, but right now I'm still experiencing the crushing pain of heartbreak and loss for a man I love with all my heart and would do anything for.

I have called mind, rethink and lots more local mental health services and come up against a brick wall with all so I have booked counselling for myself at Relate.

I would really like to speak to people in a similar situation.

Harrap, how are things with you now? Did you find anything helpful that I could do?

Thanks for reading x

harrap Thu 10-Oct-13 23:35:00

Hi Penny, I'm really sorry about what you are going through.

I think you are doing all the right things.

What really made a difference to me understanding my DP really was ill, I stopped blaming myself and thinking, "well if I only did this or said that" he would go back to normal.

The next thing that helped me was to start taking citalopram, that serotonin lift gave me the space to distance myself from him. I took it for about a year and had no trouble stopping-the chances are you too are depressed and anxious to a degree so I would really urge you to look into getting a little chemical support.

Finally I found a very good therapist for myself.

Ultimately though my DP got better-which isn't much help to you save to say that if he hadn't I definitely would not have stayed, it was just too painful.

I/We are in a much better place now-although I'm not sure I'll ever totally forgive him for spoiling the early years with our son. I now he behaved as he did because he was ill-his behaviour changed from loving to hostile over a very short space of time but I still feel resentment if I let myself go there. Just the passage of time means I go there less and less.

Has your husband always been the same way or did he change?

Again, I don't want to upset anybody or make anyone feel bad but living with a depressed partner can be so very painful as you know the person you love is in there somewhere. I really feel for you but things will get better.

Penny2012 Fri 11-Oct-13 19:31:50

It's such a relief to hear from you. You are the only person I've come across who gets it. People say they understand and they are trying to but they really can't.

From his point of view, he says he has come to the realisation of how ill he is. He now realises that he has made all his life choices in response to his illness, to cope. He is massively anxious and thinks he basically married me so that I would look after him. That I was the first person to come along that met the "minimum standard" (of looks and intelligence). He had always been the focus of our relationship until we had our son and then as he took a back seat and of course physically things were on hold so he said that not having sex for so long exposed the void in our marriage, that there was nothing between us. He used examples like "we don't read the same books, we don't like the same programmes" as reasons.

In actual fact what I think he meant was that whatever I was feeling, he couldn't feel anything whatsoever and the lack of things in common was an irrelevant point that had become large in his head because he couldn't experience any joy from being a father or parents together. He couldn't go out and enjoy any family activities and was often too poorly to have any sort of conversation with me when we happened to be alone. He hadn't (still hasn't) got the energy to look after our son for very long so the normal joys of fatherhood are totally lost on him.

He is very self obsessed - almost narcissistic - and conversations with him nearly always revolve around him and his illness. This is partly because getting through each day being him is a battle. One at the end of which he hasn't got it in him to give to anyone else.

Because he is emotionally flat, he can't experience any emotion and is therefore without empathy. The consequences of this for a marriage, are huge.

I am a very clear headed and positive person and am coping as bravely as I can. I still breastfeed our son (13m) so I don't want to turn to medication yet. I have relate counselling booked for myself.

Up until now I've been very clear headed about things and knew my heart would take a while to catch up. In the last few weeks, the support I had been receiving from everybody has faded, and I have been talking about the situation less. This lull in constructive talk has led to my heart taking over my head a little bit and pulling it around with my emotions.

It's so hard to know what I think and feel. Although I know deep down that it would be best for us to break up completely, I can't help wanting to try every last thing I can to make it work by getting him the help that he needs and seeing if he can get better.

He has made it very clear that we are over. A huge part of this reason is because he can see how much damage has already done to my life. In his words, he has hijacked my life for the last eight years. He knows how negative and unsupportive he has been as a partner. At the moment he says he does not know what he thinks or feels. He says he feels like he is in a bubble and can't look forwards or backwards he is very confused.

Thanks for reading all that!! Xsmile

harrap Sat 12-Oct-13 16:15:53

Thank you for saying I get it. Of course no one ever quite get's someone else's relationship (or their own for that matter!) but I think you are right people generally don't understand what it is like living with a depressed partner, it is very confusing.

I so wanted every thing to be right. I have been with my partner for a very long time so I had a lot of good times to look back on. That made things more difficult in some way he just refused to see there was ever anything good about us or life in general-even though he had the child he longed for. That kind of irrational thinking is very hard to deal with and I suppose one of the things that really made me understand he was ill and cracking up.

What I would say is really try not to take the hurtful things he says to heart (very much easier said than done I know) because a lot of it, if not all of it, will be the depression talking.

Ultimately it really sounds like your relationship has been sapping your energy- Your separation is sad but for the best in the long run and you do sound pro-active and positive and I kind of envy you breast feeding-my DS is well past that!

StrugglingNow Thu 13-Feb-14 19:19:06

Hi Harrap and Penny2012. I came here looking for something on the web where people had shared similar experiences. Penny2012 I have been through an almost identical experience and Harrap your story also dongs a lot of bells. It's very hard.

anothernumberone Thu 13-Feb-14 19:33:14

I suffered from depression for quite some time. I have to commend my DH for how he managed me. He was literally as hands off and dis enabling as a person can be. If I was in a bad way I could talk to him, he would step in with the practical stuff but he absolutely refused to take on my problems as his own. He supported me to get counselling, he encouraged me but he made sure I knew it was up to me to address the problems. I think he had it right. I had 2 years of counselling and I am literally a different person. I have not looked back and I firmly believe that DH's attitude had a big part to play. I hope I do not strike a nerve but I think to a certain extent you are enabling him. It is not right depression or not to cheat. It is not ok not to address his issues and it is certainly not ok to treat you badly year after year. I think you need to take a step back and make him deal with his issues.

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