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Wife signed off work for depression, what can I do?(25 Posts)
My wife was signed off work for stress and depression by her gp yesterday, for two weeks. I want to help my wife recover, but don't really know what to do. Any thoughts?
Well, the obvious one is talk to her!
Don't just ask her if she'd like cup of tea, or if there's anything you can do.
Sit down together, sympathise, tell her she must have been unhappy for some time and that you would like to help and you need her to be honest.
Talk about potential lifestyle changes that might make her feel better about herself and her work / life.
Try and work out together what would help her recover - often when people are signed off they feel they must remain at home. But her recovery may include trips out, trying to find the enjoyment she used to in things.
Does she/ can you afford a counsellor? The NHS mental health services are so stretched that unless you are severely mentally unwell there is limited help with a huge waiting list. Finding someone to help her talk things through and develop coping skills is pretty vital.
Best wishes to you both
Wow quick responses, thank you both
I've just looked into private counseling prices - not as expensive as I'd thought, at £35 a session for one person or £45 for two people, I think a few sessions would be ok but we'd have to justify spending that much and maybe juggle some things.(its easy for me to justify spending money on getting her help, but I'm not sure she sees it the same way, especially as it's her who is earning while I do childcare and she's often overly selfless).
She seems able to talk to her mum ok, but I'm not sure if shes comfortable with saying everything.
Yesterday she spent the rest of the day after being signed off, doing gardening and playing computer games, which she seemed to enjoy.
She doesn't seem to want to talk yet, I think she just wants a bit of space to think/not think and just enjoy doing things - I tried starting conversations but she didn't seem to want to go anywhere deep or difficult.
I think the most important thing is to understand that you don't have to fix things, infact whatever you do it isn't going to make everything feel ok for her and thats not your fault. Its just the way depression is. Ask her what you can do for her. Keep letting her know she is loved. Listen if she wants to talk. Most importantly keep things normal, talk about normal stuff rather than all the focus being on her being poorly and getting better. Just pottering at home can be extremely theraputic.
And maybe look at what the stressing factors leading up to this have been and what things will help her to destress. If its work stress, what can her employers do to reduce it.
Good sounding advice from PP.
My 'DW' was off for 6 months but I failed to 'get it right' whatever I should have done (we did do gardening and stuff) but she claimed the stress was me not work.
NHS 'help' practically non existent and far too late. Currently heading for the 'big D' as I failed to improve.
Go for independent counseling asap if you can to at least get assessed.
Best of luck
Thanks outabout. I have a feeling I might be one of a few factors causing stress - like it's a bad combination in our lives that isn't good for either me or her and she's the first to be diagnosed with an mh issue, that we've not been handling a tricky situation as a team. Her work has been stressful, lots of rubbish management of a project by her boss with her getting the flak and having to pick uo the pieces after the excrement has hit the air circulation device so to speak. We've also moved house recently too (with a toddler)
My experience was that it took a very long time to get better. Two weeks is no where long enough. If there are any workplace issues, she needs a councillor on her side. the occupational health people are engaged by the emoloyer and are not here to look after her.
Just be there for her and let her sleep a lot.
When I was signed off my GP told me to only do stuff for me. It was a revelation, it helped me learn what I needed for me.
I now believe that each of us has a primary duty to look after ourself. From that base we can work and look after others.
You say that your DW is very selfless, to me that's what needs to change. Try to help he see that.
The concept and practicalities of 'loving and caring' seem to have different meaning for males and females which is/was an issue for me, and may have some bearing on you. Being the SAHD you are probably doing the washing, shopping, cleaning, child care and all in between to a high standard but even then your DW may not see that a 'quite enough' as you may not have hugged or listened to her enough.
I really hope you can nip this in the bud and talk with DW and get things on a more even keel.
I was judged to be part of the stress problem and not the solution, you need assistance to make sure you are on the 'solution' side.
I'm sorry you're thinking about this as 'failing to get it right' and 'failing to improve'. I'm assuming this is what your DW said to you?
When love dies it's incredibly sad, but it should never be someone's fault (aside from domestic violence / abuse of course).
I suffered huge anxiety and stress many years ago in my early 20s when I suddenly realised I didn't love the man I was engaged to be married to. It wasn't his fault at all. I was unable and unequipped to deal with the emotions that were flooding me, and couldn't talk to him.
OP - counselling for your DW would be good I believe.
Happy I agree with your primary duty concept. That is something she doesn't quite understand. I've tried to help her understand this before, its like that concept is so alien to her it doesn't compute. Maybe a councillor is more equipped to help that sink in??
outabout I read something similar recently about the concept of love being different, although it was that different people have different ways of expressing love and different best ways of having love expressed to them. Like there's a few categories that people will mostly fall into, along the lines of: a) prefers hugs and kisses, b) prefers giving & receiving thoughtful presents, c)prefers kind gestures/surprises; there might be some others. I mostly fit into a wheras dw seems to mostly fit into b. Which isn't ideal as I'm not good at getting gifts and my budget at the moment is a bit constricting.
Something that she has expressed it that our house isn't tidy enough, - we moved a few months ago, and with her work being manic and involving lots of overtime and weeks away, she's not been able to contribute much to unpacking and getting things organised. All of what I consider to be the essentials are done, and organised in a way that works for me, but there are still some boxes around of stuff that either I don't feel comfortable making the decision of keep/bin or where to put it, or it's stuff that is a very low priority (beneath doing stuff like DIY on the house). So yesterday, on DWs initiative, we sorted through some stuff, put stuff we want to keep away, and made a big pile of bags of stuff to take down the tip. Hopefully getting the house a bit more homely will help, but thats probably just one of a few factors. I'm going to keep letting her lead what she wants to do, and helping her with what shes doing - if we're doing things together then that gives opportunities for talking in a natural way, whilst having time for us to do things together. Hopefully soon I can carefully bring up the idea of counselling to her, to figure out any other things that are stressing her.
Yes - a councillor probably could help your wife get it.
My experience was that I had an automatic voice in my head saying 'don't be selfish' as soon as I considered how I felt, what I wanted. Looking back it came from childhood.
My doctor's direct instruction to only consider myself was a godsend and the outcome has been a much improved life for my DH and children as well as me.
I hope your DW can come to see that she needs to look after herself so that she can support her family.
And yes the tidying - that was a huge thing for me, so therapeutic to have a calm organised space - used part of my time to build a new bed with storage under.
Phil, the concept you mentioned upthread is called Love Languages. See this. Complete the test to discover your love language.
If your wife appreciates gifts, do you think a lovely bunch of flowers would cheer her up today?
I'm coming to the end of some time off work and the first week I was signed off I tackled loads of tidying/sorting jobs that had been hanging over me. Made my head so much clearer.
Good luck you sound so supportive.
Sorry just seen about your budget being tight. Daffodils are so cheery and only £1 or so in the supermarket. If you think she'd like that, a pound can't do too much damage. You could pop them in vase/water at home and present them to her then. They don't look particularly fetching all tied up with elastic and labels
Hi Phil, I think you are doing all the right things by the sound of things. I have chronic mental health problems and my DH is amazing, I don't think I'd still be alive without him as I was so very poorly with depression a few years ago. He has always just 'been there' for me which is the most important thing. He talks if I want to talk, he helps distract me if I want to be distracted, etc. You are right you should let your wife lead generally unless perhaps she's very acutely distressed. Tidying and sorting sounds great, I know I get a lot more stressed and anxious when I don't feel our house is tidy/organised enough and the tasks seem more manageable if I'm doing them with DH to help rather than on my own. A good diet, exercise, sun and fresh air etc can all really help. Maybe you could all go for a nice walk together each day if the weather is good enough if your wife would like to? It's really helplful to get out and about I think rather than being trapped at home.
Hi everyone, I thought I'd give an update on how things are (although this turned into quite big post including some revelations for me). We've done quite a bit of sorting of boxes, so now our house is feeling a bit more homely, which is certainly making me feel a bit more comfortable and seems to be helping her feel comfier. She seems to be gradually getting happier each day or two, although there are little outbursts of being more stressed with small things than is normal for most people (although she's been a little bit prone to being overly dramatic for the whole eight and a bit years I've known her, and from what MIL says she's been like that since teenage years, and it's just one of those imperfections that make her human that are out weighed by positive things although normally those moments of drama are less frequent)
I've noticed that although she's sticking religiously to her slimming world syn limits, she's skipping breakfast alot (often due to sleeping or staying in bed until lunchtime, but sometimes due to being overly focused on tidying/sorting or playing with DD ) shes also skipped lunch a few times. When I try to reason with her to eat she either makes an excuse (that I can immediately think of solutions to) or tells me to not nag/she's independent and doesn't need me telling her what to do.
My MIL has told me that DW has been feeling embarrassed about our house being messy and that DW probably wouldn't say it to me. I'm not sure if I should be concerned that she wouldn't directly say it to me, or maybe she did and I was oblivious or she did during some argument at some point and felt that was telling me despite it being lost amongst hostility - its been a while since we've had a big argument but about a year ago to a year and half ago we where having some pretty nasty arguments and a few of them went way out of hand (both of us have done each of these in different arguments: screaming profanities at each other, talking over each other, slamming doors, walking out the house in a rage, dragging up old/supposedly finished arguments while uninvolved family/freinds are round. Some of these arguments ended with one or both of us in tears, one of them ended with me in a panic attack on the floor after storming off. Ok so now I write all this there are definitely some unresolved problems between us, we are definitely not good at making compromises or ending disputes)
Has she seen a therapist/counsellor?
If the issues she's dealing with are not just exhaustion and being overwhelmed by a messy house (and it doesn't like it) and then she will be feeling poorly again soon once work pressure is back.
Invest in a counsellor, it is money very well spent!
She doesn't want to see a counsellor, or at least won't talk about the concept to me - she sometimes changes her mind on things without telling anyone though. A good recent sign of things is that she is thinking about changing jobs, within company but away from the stressful areas. Her work have changed her duties a bit so she has less of the stressful project for more of other projects - so she's still helping the major project she was on but it's not her main task now.
For anyone else having problems, or partner having problems, DW was shown this link - that diverted to an app when opened on my android tablet - www.ntw.nhs.uk/pic/selfhelp/
Contains help for sufferers and their partners. (I've not read far into it al I don't yet know how good it is, but it's something)
Phil my husband is dealing with this exact news today. I have been put on ADs and told some time off is in order. This is what he has done so far:
- answered three calls from me during the day and been calm, factual and accepting
- reassured me I'm not going mad but if I was that would be ok we'd deal with it
- told me it's my decision if I take time off work but it could help
- told me seeing my GP was my decision nobody could make me but it might help
- picked DD up from nursery
- taken DD downstairs to let me sleep and asked if there's anything he can do or bring me in the meantime
I couldn't ask for more. I think space is key but let her know you're there for her.
Hi puppymouse, sounds like your husband is doing good. There seems to be some improvement in my wife since she's taken the time off - so I'd definitely recommend it, although her situation is perhaps a little different in that it was her manager who suggested she see her gp about her mental health, so he probably would have been expecting her to need to take time off. My previous comment has a link that has self help guides from the nhs with guides for the person suffering and for the partner of a sufferer - I've read about half of the one for partners and it seems good, so perhaps you and your husband would benefit from reading the relevant guides on that link As you say space and being there for them is key.
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