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Need some honest advice - DH is suicidally depressed and I had no idea

(39 Posts)
pseudonomic Sat 23-Jul-11 00:03:24

I have namechanged. Some of you know the first bit. Please do not out me.

DH suddenly left me. We'd had a few rows but nothing major. 24 hours later we talked and talked and talked some more. It's taken a week but the situation has been emerging.

He's depressed - I knew this. But he revealed to me tonight he's thought about suicide many times over the last few years. I had no idea it was that bad.

We're going to RELATE - starting next week. He says they will be able to get him some help. I want him to go to his GP on Monday because I'm really scared for him now. sad He's always pooh-poohed me saying he was depressed but he's now agreeing.

He's not sleeping well, we are living apart, but he's seeing me and the kids every day. He's coping reasonably well with the day to day but he's just flat all the time. He will smile for a moment but it's fleeting.

I don't know anything about depression really. I've always been a really up sort of person. I've had bad times and been down obviously but never anything more than a couple of hours of misery you know?

I have absolutely no idea what to do to help him. Or what he should do to get help.

People round me are saying I should not be with him because he walked out on us but from my point of view, he's mentally ill. I wouldn't leave him if he had cancer and it made him unable to live normally, why would I leave him if he has a problem with his brain which made him act irrationally?

I don't know what I'm asking here really, other than some reassurance that it's good that he's acknowledged this problem. I don't know how to deal with it at all though confused sad

Eurostar Sat 23-Jul-11 00:07:00

Definitely encourage him to the GP - he needs a proper assessment, this is not what Relate are set up to do.

pseudonomic Sat 23-Jul-11 00:09:39

Thanks for replying, I know it's late and most sensible folks have gone to bed smile

I think the RELATE person will probably say this too - I am not sure he will accept it from me at the minute sad

Anapit Sat 23-Jul-11 00:14:41

well done you for consideriing depression as analagous to any other disease you don't choose to get/ can't make go away by force of will.

This is THE main thing you need to know about depression. It is a killer disease that sadly kills a lot of young men every year .

He MUST see his GP. Good luck to your whole family

Anapit Sat 23-Jul-11 00:16:01

his depression will definitely have affected how he views himself AND your marriage.

HarrietSchulenberg Sat 23-Jul-11 00:16:06

Agree with Eurostar - he needs to see a GP and quickly.

All you can do is support him and be there for him. I think your attitude is spot on regarding his illness, and you are very brave for sticking with him through this. Having spent a large chunk of my life with someone who suffered from depression and talked about suicide with frightening casualness, it is desperately draining to give that support whilst holding everything else together, but it is VERY good that he has acknowledged his problem. That really is the first hurdle.

pseudonomic Sat 23-Jul-11 00:17:05

He's not young. I don't think he will attempt to kill himself. I do think he's going through a breakdown though. It's unbearable to see someone you love just turning into this shadow of themselves. sad

pseudonomic Sat 23-Jul-11 00:19:50

He's blamed me for years for everything because he was filled with self-loathing. I was very aware of it Anapit.

And I don't feel brave - part of me feels I'd be better to just bugger off with the kids and leave him to it because it's so hard to go through this with someone. But under it all, I remember what he was like when I met him and for a few years, before it all changed. He was such a lovely man. I'm hoping he's still in there somewhere. sad

flangeismyfaveword Sat 23-Jul-11 00:26:44

If he is admitting to you that he has thought of suicide then i think that may be a bit of a good sign...although I understand that it deinately wont feel like that to you. I am so sorry that I have no real advice to give you other than that you are doing the right thing by treating it as an illness as that is exactly what it is. He cannot help the way he feels but you can help him to not act upon those feelings. you need to be there to help him over the weekend and on Monday I think you shoyuld go with him to the GPs to stress exactly what he has said as I fear people often play these sort of thoughts down. Good luck to you luv.. I hav been where you are and it is not easy... Big unmumsnet Hugs and love to you all x x x

cestlavielife Sat 23-Jul-11 00:27:33

he has chosen to leave you right? so is his choice.
but he is still seeing you andDC each day - maybe he realises this is best way, so you get the good bits. maybe it is better he gets better while lviing apart. being around 24/7 depression is v hard for you/for DC.

if you think there is any immediate risk to his life you can call 999. you can speak to local police number and ask them to check on him. you can get him to go to A&E where he will get an on-call psych or psych nurse to see him.

you can tell or write to his GP in confidence with your concerns so they can decide how or whether to act on that information.

if he is suffering clinical depression right now then relate for couples counselling is probably not the right thing - he needs therapy, maybe meds etc - via GP .

fwiw, my (now)exP first talked about suicide/ending it all in 2005. his worst was 2007 where he had a major episode anixety self harm etc. he threatened to kill himself. 2008 he became very agressive, when i finally elf tiwth DC he threatened to end it all. he didnt. during 2009 and 2010 at different times he ahd bouts of depression and said he would kill himself...he is still here ..... some people talk about it for attention/cry for help/ etc.
some talk about it to try it on get reaction.

some talk about it because they are actualy planning something...of course you dont know what is really in his head..... all you can do is get him to GP and psychiatrist for assessment.

call MIND and talk it through.
talk to your GP about it.
if you concerned on the weekend then take him to A&E.

you can go with him to GP- ask about crisis number which he can call anytime day or night for support. he needs specialist support. you dont treat a cancer yourself - you seek consultants to treat it.

dont take on too much alone.

burgerclub Sat 23-Jul-11 00:30:24

I'm 3/4 of the way through a bottle of wine so apologies if this is a bit garbled ;)

Definitely, DEFINITELY encourage him to go to his GP, the sooner the better. If he puts up an argument, try rationalising it to him like this: if he's genuinely got to the point where he thinks that his own kids would be better off without him, he obviously rates himself very poorly overall, right? He thinks very little of any of his character attributes if he truly thinks his children would benefit from his death - he is clearly convinced that he gets EVERYTHING wrong, and he's bad at EVERYTHING, so why is he so certain that his current ability to assess his own character is so accurate and valid, if everything else about him is so shit?

The nature of depression is such that it can make you think that what is often your most significant and harmful symptom - self-hatred - is your one true insight. It's not.

Please do encourage him to get help. Even if it doesn't save your marriage, if he really is depressed it would be the most humane thing to do.

Best of luck to you both.

pseudonomic Sat 23-Jul-11 00:34:10

thanks cestlavielife - I'm sorry you've gone through a similar situation, that must have been really tough. sad

I don't think he's about to do anything stupid. I've got someone staying with him and keeping an eye on him so he can't anyway. But agree he needs assessment as well as talking therapies. I'm going to talk to him about it tomorrow. But I don't want to overwhelm him and for him to leg it again. He shouts and retreats when he can't take in what I'm saying.

I understand what you are saying about 'you don't treat cancer yourself', but I know he's frightened of the idea of medication. And frankly so am I a bit. sad
But I also don't think this can be fixed without help.

God I sound more confused than he is. sad

pseudonomic Sat 23-Jul-11 00:38:11

burgerclub - right now I'd welcome the last quarter of a bottle smile

Tonight was the first time he'd actually said the word depression, describing himself and it was the first time he talked about suicide. I asked him to clarify what he meant about 'there being no point' and he said he'd thought about it a few times.

I'm so angry with him and I'm trying to deal with that all at the same time as this.

cestlavielife Sat 23-Jul-11 00:44:52

it's saturday tomorrow unless you have doctor surgery open on saturday then no point pushing it - just make the appointment on monday morning and march him there and attend appt with him if he lets you.

why you scared of (his possible) medication?
again to use that analogy - if he had cancer - treatment would be scary too but you would understand it was best thing...
he needs something right?
and if he so bad - then talking wont help unless he has the meds to stabilise and enable him to take in what is being said.
anyway would be for him and GP to decide - but dont discourage him.

my exP does the meds when he so bad he on the floor and his behaviour is really bad - so eg contact with Dc is stopped - but then refuses the talking therapies.

if he has someone with him then maybe you take a break?

spend some nice time this weekend with DC and not thinking or talking about his depression?

the DC need to spend time around non-depressed and happy people doing fun stuff and laughing. they need some normality. take them to park/seaside/out/have a bbq with friends. take a break. take time out.

attack his depression on monday. it will still be there ...nothng you can do to change it over the weekend...

pseudonomic Sat 23-Jul-11 01:03:13

That sounds like a good plan. I'm going to see my parents tomorrow anyway.

He's good with the kids. He always has been though he's been tired and not really good company lately.

I don't know why I'm worried about the meds. He's got alcohol issues, I guess I'm worried they'd permanently change his brain. But that may not be a bad thing in the circumstances. But I don't want him to stop being him IYSWIM?

burgerclub Sat 23-Jul-11 01:04:02

OP - I'm not surprised you're angry with him, to be honest. Anger is always the first reaction I have whenever anyone I love confesses to suicidal ideation ("you selfish CUNT" being the usual mental expression of said anger.) I also feel very angry with my acutely suicidal self when I think back to how it could, and very nearly did, go for me.

Still. I think you have to do your best to bear in mind that there is nothing diva-ish or attention-seeking about suicide: it is almost always primarily about "sparing" your loved ones the "burden" of coping with your horrible useless dead weight self. Releasing oneself from unbearable psychological pain is also a motivating factor, obviously, but in my experience the overwhelming motivating factor was putting my loved ones out of the perceived misery of having to cope with my depression. Nothing stroppy about it, just a sense of overwhelming guilt and duty.

I've finished that bottle of wine now (sorry!) so I might be speaking more harshly than I otherwise would, but... You're "frightened" of the idea of medication? Why? Do you like what's happening to him? Do you have any better ideas? Are you a doctor? Ever taken anti-depressants? Have you got perfect insight into all the side effects of all medications ever licensed, and therefore "know" that psychotropic meds are especially "bad"? I just... would you be scowling and turning your nose up at insulin if he was diagnosed as diabetic? Because... frankly... I think you know where I'm going with this.

pseudonomic Sat 23-Jul-11 01:13:55

I know nothing about depression. Nothing.

Nothing about the drugs either.

Other than the ravings of people who have told me they hate their meds. But generally this is when they suddenly stop them, so perhaps they are not quite right in the head either? confused

Eurostar Sat 23-Jul-11 01:19:29

Am curious as to who these "raving" people are you know who say they hate their meds?

pseudonomic Sat 23-Jul-11 01:22:20

Ah not me if that's what you were thinking. No I shared a student house when I was at uni with one manic depressive and one person who, well I never really knew what it was but I know she was on Prozac and dropped out in year two. Back then I was slightly pissed on a regular basis though and you know you have these inane late night convos? That's why I only know a bit.

FuzzpigFourFiveSix Sat 23-Jul-11 01:23:44

Just marking my place now as I'm off to bed, will try to check in tomorrow.

Agree that GP is essential, relate are not trained for this. Good luck x

AitchTwoOh Sat 23-Jul-11 01:23:53

oh love, you poor thing. he has had a lot to deal with in his life, and so have you. it does sound (not from here, but otherwise) that he has quite a considerable dependence on drink as well, did you talk about that regarding the depression? the two can be very inter-linked, i believe.

pseudonomic Sat 23-Jul-11 01:30:31

Not today but previously. Today I frankly nearly fell off the sofa when I realised how sad he is sad

I must be such an idiot not to realise how bad it was. I just thought he was a grumpy bastard who was being antisocial. sad

If you are who I think you are, I won't out you but is there a possibility that he isn't telling the truth and this is just a new mind game?

He HAS to go to the GP. Relate won't be able to help him if he's actually suicidally depressed. He HAS to get a psych evaluation.

And you are NOT an idiot. How are you supposed to realise what someone else is thinking if they don't tell you and don't act upon it? You can't. This is NOT YOUR FAULT.

If he knew it was that bad, he should have gone to the GP some time ago. He seriously needs to stop blaming you for any of this, man up, take some responsibility and get it sorted ASAP, for his children's sake, if no one else.

Sorry if I'm sounding really harsh but I really don't want you to start blaming yourself again for what is essentially his own problem. Please don't get sucked into that again.

garlicbutter Sat 23-Jul-11 02:05:45

Hello, lovely smile

As I think you know, I have clinical depression following a couple of breakdowns. Forget about self-help bollocks like mid-life crisis; it's a potentially fatal mental health crisis. They rarely look like they do in the movies.

Firstly, you're right that it's great he's decided to acknowledge a problem and see his doctor. Unfortunately, he will probably downplay the severity of it when he's there. We do this, not out of pride, but because our world-view is already so grim, we see ourselves as worthless and the entire universe as similarly depressed. A healthy person, listening to us, wouldn't get what a hugely different perspective we're coming from (this includes doctors!) because we present our feelings as normal - they are, to us - and can even be funny about them. A lot depends on your GP personally, and also on the practice's catchment area; I got the most empathetic treatment in an overcrowded London district, where practitioners have more cause to understand stress-related illnesses.

I took advice to write down my real feelings before seeing the doctor. This has to be done privately: for obvious reasons, we try to hide our honest thoughts. It helps a lot when you get to the doctor's - if you find you can't talk, you can hand your mind-dump over and wait for a response. It's OK to cry (that's for him, though it's also okay for you!)

You can't mend it. Neither can anybody else, though people who have appropriate knowledge are invaluable guides towards recovery. It's hard to describe depression. It's like living in a colour-desaturated world, where it's always dark and there is no future. Horrid beyond horrid. Suicide looks like the only logical option: there is no point, just no reason to carry on trudging through the dark. I'm a hundred times better than I was back then but, in truth, I still don't see the point. Main difference is, I now believe I will!

Medication is not a cop-out, it's a lifesaver. Ignore anyone who insists you can do it with herbals and exercise. Exercise is helpful but, at my worst, I did well to walk thirty yards - and I often had to do it in my pyjamas! Antidepressants are really hit-and-miss. It takes six weeks to find out whether your prescription suits you and three or four months to tell whether they're working. The patient is not the best person to tell if they're working, unless they have a strong reaction one way or the other. It takes a good, listening professional.

Big joys can strain your depressive to the max. We'll put out all our best responses, then be exhausted by the effort for days or weeks. Tiny joys, like the ones that interest small children (a butterfly, a pile of autumn leaves, a jigsaw, tidying a row of something) are more useful because they give us an opportunity to be mindful - to exist, just for a moment, in something honest.

You can't mend it.
You are not responsible for it.

The best example I've ever seen - and I've seen a lot - of a depressive with a working relationship was a journalist, who wrote of his "black dogs" and how his family copes. His wife ignores him. She makes sure he's fed & watered, shoos him into the shower once a week or so, and otherwise shuts the door on him. He has a young child, who knows it's okay to go tell Daddy about stuff, but just to walk out again if Daddy isn't well enough to listen or play.
This keeps the writer and his wife sane. From what he wrote, I imagine his wife's doing a great job of keeping the child sane wink

Depression is 'catching'. Don't involve yourself with it. If you can, stay kindly detached. If you can't, there's no shame in quitting.
I wish you both the best of luck and the best of help.

garlicbutter Sat 23-Jul-11 02:07:00

Thumbs, I share you - er, doubts in this case. But the logic is the same. Compassionate detachment.

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