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DH recurring depression & anxiety, don't know how to help him

(6 Posts)
ParisWhenItSizzles Tue 02-Dec-14 07:45:05

DH has suffered from depression & anxiety, including panic attacks, for longer than I've known him. He's been on & off medication since his teens for this but hates taking it. He's lost jobs as been unable to go in due to stress/agoraphobia/panic attacks. He was then unemployed for a few years & managed to get funding to go to university. However it's now come back again & he didn't tell me again as he thought I had "enough on my plate"

We had a big chat last night & went through his reasoning behind this & I think (hope) I've got him to see that not talking about it doesn't help anyone... but we've had this conversation before. I'm the sole wage earner & I feel trapped in supporting the family at present. I can't get another job at such a good wage in the current job climate (been trying for years), it's not fab money but it's enough to live on. But, I hate my job & it's stressful. University was supposed to be a step towards us getting away & me being able to ultimately move career/quit work & have another child, which we'd both love & isn't possible at present.

I hate the situation we're in. I get so frustrated with DH as he never puts his health first, he eats rubbish & stops taking his medication without telling anyone & leaves it until he's nearly agoraphobic before he will even admit he's becoming depressed again. He's weirdly controlling about certain issues - his food being the main one. He totally can't cope with any change of plan in what he's going to eat, & often can't choose for himself either, which makes going out for a meal a nightmare. But, he's lovely. He's supportive of me, even when he's down. He's been wonderful about some fairly major issues I've worked through over the past few years, & he's a great dad to our child.

NanaNina Tue 02-Dec-14 16:16:28

Does your DH know the roots of his MH problems - I ask because I wondered if he'd ever considered therapy, which can be helpful, especially if you know the cause. I suffer from intermittent depression and anxiety and it can be severe at times and it's all so unpredictable which makes life very difficult to say the last.

I wonder if going to Uni was the right thing, though I can see that the long term plan was possibly for him to re-train, but the course itself might have precipitated the stress. I think it's possible (no evidence) that men find it harder to deal with MH problems and see it as a sign of weakness - this could be why he stops taking the meds? Do the meds keep the demons at bay? If so, I think you need to have a cast iron agreement that he does not stop taking them. I had my first severe episode of depression in 1995 (and 3 months on a psych ward) and took the meds for the next 14 years - made a complete recovery, and then decided I should come off them, which I did with the help of a psychologist, very gradually, but 3 months after coming off them I suffered a major relapse (another 3 months on psych ward) and I haven't made a complete recovery this time. I always regret stopping the meds as I don't think I'd be in the position I'm in now if I hadn't stopped them.

I can see you are in a really difficult position and can see no light at the end of the tunnel. Is there any way you can ease the finances - taking a lodger maybe? The food thing is odd - sounds a bit like OCD - have you considered this though not sure how to manage it - sorry I can't be more helpful. MH is a torment and I'm glad your DH is lovely and you sound lovely too.

ParisWhenItSizzles Tue 02-Dec-14 20:25:59

Hi Nana. Thanks for the response. Sorry you've had to struggle with this in your life too, I'm sorry you haven't been able to get back to where you were previously, MH-wise. Hopefully you will eventually.

No, he doesn't know the roots of his issues. He has tried counselling a couple of times, & it helped, a bit, but until he is able to realise the cause of the problem, which I don't think he is, it's not really going to help much. He does say that the meds help, then he feels better, so he stops taking them after a while, gets worse, doesn't tell anyone until he's really struggling... it goes round & round. He does have periods when he can cope without them but he's not really happy, it's just about coping. He hates taking them.

Uni is actually going fine, he's doing really well & it's just about all that he feels he is doing right at present. However that will all change if he continues missing lectures - he's been keeping up with work from home for now.

There is no way we could take a lodger, we have a small rented house with no spare rooms.

Yes, I have considered there is a possibility of something like OCD regarding the food. He is also a hoarder, which is a problem in our small house. However, I can't make him do anything about that or speak to the doctor as he's an adult & he gets embarrassed if he feels I am butting in, he is very defensive about it, he obviously knows it's not 'normal'. I wouldn't have a clue how to go about getting him assessed for these issues, which are separate from the depression IMO but do add to the general stress of it all. I assume he would need to ask for an assessment & he's not likely to do that in this lifetime. He hates feeling like he's under scrutiny of any kind.

NanaNina Tue 02-Dec-14 23:37:11

Oh my DP is also a hoarder - bigtime! We've been together for over 40 years and have 3 grown up sons with their own families. The hoarding has got worse over the years and nothing works - we have separate bedrooms only because of the hoarding and his bedroom is horrendous, truly - it's almost as bad as those things you see on TV except I don't watch them. My CPN (who I see monthly but more often if necessary is lovely, and she says hoarding is part of OCD and has been classified as a mental illness. Not that that helps much! He has one room downstairs more or less full of his stuff and his bedroom but I have to keep a careful watch on the shelf near to the sofa he sits on (we have separate sofas as well!) as he puts all sorts of things on there - it's meant to be for books and photos but just looking at it now there's a tape measure, a torch, a woolly hat and gloves, lots of old receipts (he keeps them all) a plastic box, 2 plugs, some cable, pile of coins, pliers, paperclips, empty plastic you get the idea? Sometimes I freak out and he has a good tidy up, but then the same thing happens all over again because he won't throw anything away. Junk mail gets put up there, out of date appointment letters, anything and everything.

He is also quirky about certain things, and takes about 30 mins to iron a shirt as he can't bear any creases at all and gets really upset if there's a stain on any of his clothes, yet his bedroom is like a tip. He also counts his underpants and will sometimes say there is a pair missing!! He also gets incredibly agitated if he loses something and turns the house upside down till he's found it. And yes DP is also very defensive about the hoarding and it often ends in an argument if I start to talk about it. I'm not a control freak when it comes to tidiness and can cope with a fair bit of "stuff" but nothing like his level. I don't think he'll ever change to be honest. We're both in our early 70s and he's much healthier than me so will probably outlive me and I imagine he will turn the whole house into a tip. I've warned our sons about this, as if they didn't already know!

I wonder why so many people hate taking meds and I think this might be more true for men, I don't know, but I see a lot of women on here who are the same. I honestly think that there's a real stigma still attached to MH issues and that makes us feel much worse, as so many people just don't understand. My DP is very supportive and I don't know how I'd have managed these past 5 years without him, junk and all!

What is he studying at Uni - presumably he's missing lectures as his MH is going downhill. Can you get him to agree to take the meds as this is probably the best way forward for him. The trouble is that with depression and anxiety there are often many fluctuations and I can feel fine for a week or so or even a few weeks if I'm lucky and then I'm back in the mire again. But this I think is the nature of the beast and it doesn't mean that we should stop taking the meds when we feel better.

JaneAHersey Thu 04-Dec-14 13:15:18

I suffered from panic attacks anxiety and depression without realising it till I was 34. When I went into a psychotherapeutic community I was made to realise how my negative behaviour was impacting on my family and this motivated me to change.

Perhaps group therapy would be useful so that the person is confronted with and challenged about their behaviour. This may sound harsh but it's all part of learning to be less introspective and more in tune with those around you.

ParisWhenItSizzles Tue 09-Dec-14 01:09:34

Thanks for the replies. DH & I have had a lot of talking over the past couple of days & I didn't really hold back. (Was kind, but possibly more honest than I've ever been.) I really hope he takes it on board this time. He's promised not to stop taking the ADs without first discussing it with me & the doctor. I was very clear that I've got to the end in terms of internal resources & don't know what else to do.

On the plus side, I did tell him how I felt about both our sets of parents. Held nothing back (again tried to be kind but very honest). Very relieved to find we are in agreement on the many issues here. It's good to know I don't have to disguise how I feel about that any more.

We are trying to deal with the accumulation of stuff together. I don't want him to feel that I'm imposing on him. He needs to do it, or he'll just keep collecting.

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