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DH with depression - support for partners?

(4 Posts)
Butterworth Sat 20-Jun-15 08:06:09

Just looking for a bit of support/advice really.

My DH has moderate to severe clinical depression and has been mildly depressed since we met (8 years ago). 18 months ago we had a baby and I had several health complications after the birth, resulting in PND for me. I gradually got better with help and therapy, but my DH has never really recovered from the trauma and had a breakdown in April. He went to the GP and is taking sertraline which initially had a positive effect on his mood. However, following another stressful patch this month he has really gone downhill. He's referred for talking therapy but the waiting lists seem to go on forever.

Day to day he is tired (I think the ADs make him sleep a lot), snappy, anxious and irritable. I can see he's going through the motions and isn't really "living". He isolates himself and deliberately avoids social situations. In his spare time he reads or watches movies but doesn't seem to do anything that brings him joy. He won't exercise but does play football once a week which he loves - the seasons over now so he's miserable again. He loves our DD and cares for her really well - but that seems to use up his emotional energy and our marriage suffers as a result. I have to be careful with him all day - there are flash points (like in the morning) where he is so fragile and anxious that the wrong comment or loud noise can make him white out/shut down. He usually goes off and does a mindfulness exercise at this point which is a huge leap forwards, but it does mean he is in a bad place all day.

On the positive side he is a lovely, charming and thoughtful man with a very sharp mind. He had a pretty horrific childhood (he described his mother as a terrorist who convinced him she controlled his thoughts and feelings and could read his mind). Since we've drawn back from contact with his family he's finally been able to get some headspace - his brother and sister have a cultish attachment to the mum and have their own issues but fail to see the impact of their childhood on their lives. Over the years they have been scathing of my DH and frequently use emotional blackmail to get him to do what their mum wants. Since he started saying "no" they have been accusing him of being cold and uncaring. The whole situation is deeply toxic and obviously has had a huge effect on DH's wellbeing.

Anyway. I realised last night after a 2.5 hour "chat" with DH which ended with him curled into a ball in a catatonic state that this situation is beyond me, and that I need to escalate his medical attention and seek support for myself. I haven't told any of my friends yet although I do meet with a therapist every other month or so. We are also going to couples therapist in the autumn. My DM knows and is sympathetic but is 200 miles away. What I really need is something like a support group for people with a depressed partner. Does anyone know if these exist? Or is there a place here on MN where I can share?

Sorry for the essay and thanks for reading!

LionRichie Sat 20-Jun-15 10:07:56

Sounds like you're carrying the weight of your whole family. Your husband is lucky to have your support, you sound like a lovely person. Haven't tried them myself, but have you looked at specific depression forums such as I know that they encourage those with depressed friends/family to join up. Hope your DH gets the help he needs.

NotAJammyDodger Sat 20-Jun-15 10:23:44

You mentioned that the ADs initially had a positive effect on his mood. May be an increase in medication may help from his GP? It certainly sounds like he's in a desperate place. But well done you for spending the time to talk with him. It must be awful for you to see him like this.

Depression is really tough on partners, not least because you worry and you feel helpless and lost as to what to do or say that's the "right thing".

You are doing all the right things. Waiting lists suck! Are you able to consider a private therapist at all. Keep posting if it helps, it's good to share - you are not so alone. Best wishes.

SwearyGodmother Sat 20-Jun-15 10:28:42

Speak to your GP. DH is today on a carers workshop for people living with those affected by eating disorders (I have atypical anorexia) which is put on by our NHS trust. There will be another session in 2 weeks and plenty of support for him, so these things do exist and are funded by the NHS. The other place to look might be local churches or similar, even if you're not religious, this is often the kind of thing that is offered. Even MIND or the local Samaritans might know of resources locally.

DH also has a decent employee assistance programme at work and can have 6 free counselling sessions every year so he signs up for those on occasion to offload. Can your employer - or your DH's employer - help with this?

I know it's hard living with a spouse with mental illness, huge kudos to you for carrying this load. Please find the help and support you need.

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