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Supporting a partner with depression(25 Posts)
I'm sorry in advance if this isn't the right place to post this - this is actually my first post on MN and I'm really desperate for some advice if you can help me.
I've been with my partner for about 9 years, he has struggled with depression at times throughout our relationship but right now it feels like everything has come to a bit of a head. This time he is talking about suicide - although saying he won't do it, but that he wants to. Over the relationship I have tried to encourage him to seek help - he did go to see a therapist for about 12 months about 5 years ago but says it did not help him.
He finally went to the GP this morning and has come back with some anti-depressants and advice to seek counselling. I feel pleased that he has finally gone to see someone, although I booked the appointment and took him there myself - I'm not sure if I did the right thing to push him to go, but I just felt I myself couldn't cope anymore with the situation. I feel that if I don't make the appointment for counselling and take him myself, then he won't go - I'm of course happy to do that for him, but is that going to help him if he isn't driving it?
I really want to support and help him, but I'm finding it a real struggle myself to cope with the situation. I don't want to burden him further with my problems but I just don't know what to do for the best. Everything I do seems to be wrong. He wants me to leave him alone but then he wants hugs, but then if I try to cuddle him at another point I am pushed away and snapped at. I can't speak to him, if I speak to him he often doesn't respond at all. I have tried leaving him alone and tried asking him how he'd like me to be (like leave him, cuddle him) etc and he doesn't know - just that whatever I'm doing at that time is not right. I don't know what to do. I feel lost and confused - we don't have any family close by for support so I want to do the right thing for us, but I just don't know what it is. It doesn't feel like there is an end in sight to this situation and I'm so overwhelmed with it.
If anyone has any advice for me, I would really appreciate it. I know it's selfish to think about myself instead of being able to support him naturally, but I really am trying my best - it's all I can do to get through each day at the moment without breaking down completely. This is actually the first time I've been able to express how I'm feeling at all really (not many friends here) and I'm just sat here sobbing about it all.
He has just arrived home from work, gone straight to bed without a word. I don't know how to help him.
chosenatrandom I don't have any great words of wisdom but don't want to read and run . Have you been on Mind's website as they have info for carers of those for mental health problems.
You're in a very difficult situation being pretty much on your own dealing with DH's illness. You did completely the right thing in making him see the GP. It is not selfish to think of yourself- it is actually really important. You are under a great deal of strain and the last thing you want is to end up depressed as well. Can you talk to your GP at all? As it sounds like you need support yourself.
I've got depression myself…and I know that if you're in the pit of it everything just feels wrong, which might explain your DH's behaviour a bit. Apparently men are more prone to show irritability than women if depressed? I can relate to the going to bed thing…sometimes you just need to hide. I think all you can do really is remind him that you are there for him. However, being snapped at etc isn't going to do you any good- you don't have to put up with being treated poorly…best to tactfully extract yourself from the situation.
hopefully medication might improve things a bit-do you think he'll take it?
Thanks so much for replying.
It's good to hear that I'm not doing something really wrong, like I say I don't really have anyone here I can talk to about it. It just feels like I've lost my best friend - normally I talk to him about everything and now I can't. Has left me feeling very lonely.
I think he'll take the pills. I'm not sure of he will see a therapist or not.
Couldn't read and run. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression in October. I got medication from the GP which I took. It made me sick and worse initially but I persevered. I can so relate to your husband and I can remember screaming at my partner to leave me alone when all I wanted was a hug. There was no reasoning with me and the slightest thing set me off on either a massive rant or a suicidal silence. I started to feel better in December and am in counselling since the new year. No advice really other than hang on in there and with the meds he will feel better but it takes time. It's has been the most terrifying journey for me and my partner.
It's really hard to not feel confused or ever know that you're doing the right thing when all the feedback you get is negative. I think the key is to have a good circle of support yourself, so that these other people can help to reset your compass. So that you know which way is up... As much as you love him, you need more than average 'away time', just so as not to lose the sense of perspective.
I found this book helpful: www.amazon.co.uk/How-Survive-When-Theyre-Depressed/dp/0609804154 - but real support from real people is even better. See whether you can find at least five people who you can confide in (possibly your Mum, your best friend, online friend etc) - that'd be a good way to start. You can't use the same person for your rants all the time as it's quite wearing for the other person to listen to 'I said, he said...' conflicts which end up to be a big deal somehow! I also had counselling, myself, just to cope with DH's depression at the darkest times, my counsellor was particularly helpful in terms of helping me to be assertive.
Thanks everyone, I really appreciate you sharing your own experiences with me.
I'm glad you are feeling better since December, kathryng90. How you describe is how it has been between us - everything is wrong and seems to frustrate him more. - 2 nights ago I thought we were getting somewhere as he was starting to talk about it but he started hitting himself in the head which absolutely terrified me. Once I got him to stop and calm down I have just sort of been in fear of pushing him over that edge again. That's what finally made me call the doctor.
stuffeverywhere - thanks for the link, I will look that up. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I don't have 5 people I could talk to. I'd struggle to find one. I have a best friend who I only speak to on the phone as she lives in another country. My family live elsewhere and were not close enough. Our only friends here are couple friends if you know what I mean - I wouldn't feel right telling people who are as much his friends as they are mine about his problems.
Perhaps you're right and I should try counselling myself
I can only add that I genuinely didn't know what I wanted. She asked every day what she could do and I didn't know. I cried constantly or just couldn't get out of bed. Between us we have 4 children and it was them that stopped me ending it all. I can't believe now how awful it was. And for my partner I am amazed she's still here! I would go from pushing her away to not wanting to be a foot away. I hope it gets better for you. I didn't realise at the time how hard it was for her too.
That must have been so hard for you, Kathryn. Can I ask what was the turning point for you when you started to feel better in December?
That book explains a 'depression fallout' - depression-like symptoms that the supporting person/relative is experiencing. It's like second-hand smoking. It kind of makes a case for supporting your needs.
Re friends - I'm not surprised. It's difficult to: 1) have time for other people when you're in the midst of this all-consuming dark cloud; and 2) courage up to share with others how things really are. But you must do it. GP and counsellor can be the first point of call, then you can supplement it with friendships that make this whole thing about you staying sane sustainable long term.
That makes a lot of sense, I've been feeling guilty for feeling so low myself when I should be thinking about him. It's good to hear that it isn't unusual to feel this way.
I will look to finding a counsellor and go from there. I don't know where to start with friends though. I don't want to sound like I'm not taking on board what you're saying because I am, I just really have no one.
I am trying to make friends here by doing some evening classes, but I haven't met anyone yet.
I think it took that long for the meds to kick in. Also had some time off as a family and it all helped. Also began to see some sense in what my counsellor was saying. I have always been a strong independent type and have never relied on anyone. Was a real shock to me but looking back I can see this has been coming on for a couple of years and the general feelings of 'oh I don't feel myself' just grew until I couldn't cope. We have relationship issues and differences like she wants to travel and wants another baby and I don't. We have booked some couple counselling for when mine finishes and I hope we can work it all out. On a side note she has also said that its a big strain trying to be there for someone with depression and she has a supportive family and lots of friends. You must struggle.
The past 24 hours have been really awful. He went to bed about 4pm yesterday as soon as he got home - without speaking to me at all. But a few hours later I heard banging and when I went in the bedroom he was stumbling around half asleep trying to find the bathroom but actually dreaming he was climbing walls or something. Had to help him to the bathroom and then put him back to bed - then realised he had taken a sleeping pill. He didn't tell me he had even bought any, so I really panicked when I saw the box and the state he was in that he had taken a load - but he hadn't. I went through the packets to make sure how many were missing. I was so upset and angry that he wouldn't have even told me what he was doing so I would know and not worry (considering his comments recently around suicide). I can understand objectively why he wouldn't have said anything from what I know of depression, but on a personal level I can't help feeling hurt and fucking pissed off with him.
When I went to bed myself a few hours later he got up and went to sleep on the sofas. I don't know why, he wouldn't come back to bed or swap places with me.
Today I didn't go to work - I was so upset and tired from lack of sleep I just wanted to be myself to digest everything but then he decided to stay home to and he has been stuck to me like glue all day. At first I thought - great! He wants to talk, or just to be close - but he doesn't. He's just been snapping at me all the time and even throwing his phone and belongings around when he lost his temper (not at me, just across the room). I just needed some time on my own and I couldn't get it. I have a project due tomorrow that I can't do by myself, he was going to help me. It's not important, just a silly part-time thing but it means a lot to me and is pretty much the only thing I have to focus on that's positive right now.
Sorry to rant on! Just needed to vent.
It's tough. You need help. Not because you're weak, but because it's fucking hard to carry on like this for any length of time! It breeds uncertainty and anxiety, and gradually makes you unable to plan anything.
Most people have support from their partners, but this is not available to you right now, so you need to find support for you elsewhere.
It sounds like you could do with some support of some sort. There might be telephone support lines as a starting point for relatives of people with depression and behavioural issues (which he has if he is throwing things). I don't live in the UK but I am sure there are depression agencies that can offer you good advice and support as a starting point. Or counselling for yourself to help manage the situation.
It's not great for someone to be taking a sleeping pill at 4pm in the afternoon. Do you think he needs more acute help than just the GP. Does he not work or have a job?
You also asked about a turning point earlier on. One way of dealing with it is to ride it out, most depressive episodes subside after 6 months or so, and the person is in a better place to make a change then. Medicine helps to get people to a state where they can deal with depression through lifestyle changes etc, but sometimes just waiting it out works too. It is not ideal or recommended but still...
Do you have children?
sadie9 I don't live in England either. H is a freelancer so he doesn't answer to anyone over working hours.
I'd like him to see a therapist but he is convinced it will be a waste of time. I'm hoping once the meds kick in he might feel differently. Perhaps if I'm going on my own and saying positive things about it he might also reconsider?
StuffEverywhere no kids, it's just us.
Thanks everyone for your comments and advice. For the first time in ages I actually feel like somebody is listening to me.
depression fall out is a really good book.
It's about living with family members, mothers, wives, husbands who have depression and the effect it has on the whole family. It was a light bulb moment for me reading this book.
Don't forget yourself in his illness op
I've just downloaded a copy, going to start reading now.
Perhaps if I'm going on my own and saying positive things about it he might also reconsider?
It might. It might not. It kind of depends a lot on how deep his depression is, and only a little bit on what you do or how you talk about it. If he doesn't want to go, and isn't committed to the idea, it is definitely a waste of time and will not work.
There's a difference between being not interested and being skeptical. Some people are skeptical and not very hopeful that counselling will work but they try it anyway and they commit and they give it a 'proper' go and attend at least a minimum number of sessions that could work (even thought they don't like it or don't believe in it). That's ok.
But many more try one or two sessions so that their partner / family gets off their backs, and announce it bullshit without really trying. You want to avoid this scenario. That's why pushing too hard is not wise.
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