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How do you live with someone who is depressed?

(17 Posts)
TheyCallMeMimi Wed 28-Sep-11 20:47:03

DH has had severe depression for 4 years. On meds, getting counselling, seeing psychotherapist but he's still as depressed as ever - possibly, getting worse.

If you live with someone who is depressed, how do you respond when they simply ignore you when you come home from work, and routinely drop things into conversations, like "you're lucky I didn't go and hang myself", or "you'd better get used to being alone" etc.

Of course I've tried reassuring him and tryign to suggest positive actions, but he rejects all I say. Tonight for example he insists his life is over, that his current employer has ruined his life and that he'll never work again. He keeps talking about doing violent things to "the b*st*rds who did this to me - they have to suffer what I'm suffering". (Background: he's being forced into early retirement in March aged 56.)

There are many evenings when he hardly speaks to me. Can't think when he last wished me a good day at work, or asked how my day was, for example.

I relaise this is trivial compared to what many of you are going through but I find it wearing to be dealing with this day in, day out.

purplepidjinawoollytangle Wed 28-Sep-11 20:57:46

No that does actually sound horribly self-obsessed of your DH.

I still haven't fathomed out why DP has stuck with me (coming up to 2 years of relationship which begun about a month after the incident which triggered my PTSD) but it's probably because he can see me making an effort. I whinge about feeling sick, tired, blah blah blah but I also make sure I smile and ask about his day.

Depression is not selfishness (although I'm not suicidal) and is not an excuse to put someone else on a guilt trip!

bibbitybobbityhat Wed 28-Sep-11 21:00:42

I completely disagree that this is trivial! I am so sorry you are both going through this. It sounds as though your dh needs an urgent reassessment of his treatment and his meds. It is utterly miserable for you to have to live with this. Heartfelt sympathies.

SpanishPaella Wed 28-Sep-11 21:08:21

frankly i would play along

if he says "you're lucky I didn't go and hang myself" i'd say oh yes dear , were you too busy today, or "you'd better get used to being alone" - yes dear, at least i will have the remote to myself for once.

i would assume he was saying these things for attention and sympathy, I cant be doing with melodrama and woe is me.

ImperialBlether Wed 28-Sep-11 21:41:03

What was he like prior to this, OP? How long have you lived with him?

My ex was very depressed but didn't talk like that. I couldn't have put up with it at all.

The hardest thing about living with someone who's depressed is that you feel so depressed about life yourself. I felt like my shoulders were slumped when I was with him at that point.

peterpan99 Wed 28-Sep-11 21:42:28

i would agree that depression does not mean that you can be selfish and ignorant. Unfortunaley there are too many people who expliot illness to suit them (i am not suggesting this is your husband just expressing an opinion)
My father has struggled with depression for many years, but is always considerate and loving towards me, my sisters and his wife. He has told me once of a situation where he was suicidle, but would never use suicide threats flippantly in every day life.
That is emotional blackmail.

purplepidjinawoollytangle Wed 28-Sep-11 21:45:32

His behaviour does sound a lot more like attention seeking than what my experience of depression is...

kunahero Wed 28-Sep-11 22:09:20

I lived with DW's 'severe' depression for 6 years but she never once tried that sort of selfish mental abuse.
She would occasionally say she wished she was dead but never threatened anything.
Being her husband I htought it was my 'job' to sort her out and make her happy and not being able to do so started to make me depressed so I had some counselling and that helped me to see that it was nothing to do with me and all i had to do was be there, hug her and be a strong shoulder for her to fall apart on.
Eventually with ADs and counselling she has made a full recovery and I have the amazing woman I fell in love with back and having dc has made her even happier though i did worry about pnd but it never came.
What your dp has does not sound like classic depression to me though I am no shrink. He just sounds like an abusive bully to me. If he has benn being treated with all those outlets then I would have thought he would have shown some signs of improvement. Can you be sure he is taking meds, keeping counselling appts etc?
Maybe try going back to gp for blood tests to see if there is some other cause.
Good luck this must be awful for you.

marykat2004 Wed 28-Sep-11 22:15:37

My DH has had depression forever, sometimes I wonder how we got together. But he never says stuff like that. he just spends long periods of time in bed, doing nothing, no house work, has to be told to wash, etc. But he doesn't make those comments. I guess it's different for everyone. My DH has good times, too, not always in bed all the time, but over 15 years has spent more time in bed than most people. Anyway, this is not trivial and I do hope you and your DH can make things better. How many DCs are there..?

FabbyChic Wed 28-Sep-11 22:30:28

Depression is a selfish illness, the person who suffers does not mean to be as selfish as they come across, but it is darn hard to be normal and think of others when you live your life in a dark black hole 20 metres under ground and with no way of getting yourself out of it.

Your husbands meds are not working, they need changing.

My meds work for me and have turned my life around, I was sick for 7 years, Im working again full time and am back to normal.

Depression is a killer.

Help him to help himself, therapy is really shit to be honest, he needs better meds.

TheyCallMeMimi Wed 28-Sep-11 22:48:10

Thank you ALL so much for your kind thoughts and comments!

He definitely is taking the meds. He's been on different types, different strengths, etc. And he does go to both counselling (which he seems to get soemthing out of) and also to the psychotherapist. He doesn't say much about what passes between them and I don't press him, although obviously I show interest when he does talk about it. The psychotherapist (female) asked me to go along one day. I tried to be as positive as I could while I was there, not in a false way but I was trying to show her that I was trying to help him by saying positive things and trying to get him to see there was light at the end of the tunnel. At the time, I thought she was impressed that I told him 'sometimes you have to make your own light'. Seems it may have backfired though: after the next session, he told me that her impression was that I didn't think he was as bad as he thinks he is. [hits head with palm of hand in frustration! - this was not my intention!]

I can identify with the going to bed thing. He does that quite a lot.

DCs are both away at uni. Both know he's depressed and have seen him (and heard him) at his worst.

I have to be careful though, NOT to (pretend to) agree that being on my own would be a Good Thing, because he already says 'you'll be better off without me' far too often for my liking ('you'll find someone else..').

What was he like before this? Prone to stress, and mild depression, but nothing on this scale. He's a perfectionist who identifies very closely with his work.

He seems to be in the depths of despair and self-loathing and I don't know what to do.

He tells me that the psychotherapist 'thinks I'm wasting her time'. Oddly(!), on the day I was there, we seemed to hear things differently. He 'heard' her say there was nothing she could do for him. What I heard was that he had to make the effort to put the bad situation (which is at the bottom of this current bout of depression) behind him so that he can move on. He told me one day that she is trying to get him to alter his perception, but that he doesn't want his perceptions altered, because he knows 'the truth'!

I want to help but have no idea what the protocol is ... I don't know which of the many medics I should contact or even if that would help? And what could I possibly tell them that would make them change how they treat him?

Thanks to you all again.

4c4good Wed 28-Sep-11 22:53:36

Therapy isn't shit. It depends on the skill of the therapist - you have to persevere to find the right person. Mine helped me save my life.

I have been in both camps. Coping with a suicidal partner and then becoming, several years later, severelyt depressed and suicidal myself.

This was interesting. I did all I could think of to help him, including praying on my knees to a god I didn't believe to heal him when he was sick and I lived in that chilling dead atmosphere for a very long time keeping us both going financially, emotionally and physically - his depression lifted eventually but he remained a self absorbed and thoroughly unpleasant person.

When I became depressed though, partly due to teh strain of being his carer, having a demanding professional job, a long commute and no-one to turn to for support - I was cast adrift - he couldn't deal with it and I suffered agonies before realising my only salvation was in myself. So I got myself help, and paid for my own therapy after several agonisingly unpleasant experiences with clueless practitioners.

We separated. I have my own happy network of friends now and I can see very clearly how dragged down I was both when he was ill and afterwards. He still misses no opportunity to be cruel and unpleasant - in fact I have had an unwelcome reminder of this only this evening.

I've learned it's better to add kindness and goodness to the world as and when I can where it is most needed - I listen and offer support to people I know who need it because I know how awfully lonely it can be to be in a relationship and alone.

I do wish I ahd followed the bald advice of someone I met years ago. I described the situation and he said 'leave - you are on a hiding to nothing,' I didn't, of course, romantically assuming I could prevail. In the end I stayed at great cost to my own mental and emotional health.

I also learned that, certianly in my case and possibly in many others - depression does contain an element of choice, of volition. I chose not to stay stuck. I am not saying that is true for everyone, however.

workshy Wed 28-Sep-11 22:57:30

My now ex was depressed for 11 of the 13 years we were together

the reason we split was because there was no longer a distinction between his depression and his personality

he used to say he would kill himself, that I was better off without him, never asked me how I was, had a nice day etc, would not speak for weeks on end and would be in bed by 7pm most nights

you couldn't tell him anything, he was always right and the world always worked according to his logic, and if it didn't it was because everyone else was an idiot

I couldn't live with that day in day out and feeling like I was walking on egg shells every day for years

have you googled narcassitic personality disorder? may be a better fit?

4c4good Wed 28-Sep-11 22:58:28

Oh yes OP - hearing the same thing differently - how familiar that is.

And how right you are about 'creating your own light'. That is exactly spot on - what I did for myself and what my ex decided not to do for himself.

TheyCallMeMimi Wed 28-Sep-11 23:19:42

4c4good and workshy - finding things that chime in both your posts. Thanks. Food for thought.

4c4good Thu 29-Sep-11 00:18:30

All the best dear OP - I feel for you so very much. x

seriouschanger Thu 29-Sep-11 00:33:14

It does sound a bit more than depression? A bit attention seeking. Trouble is if it isnt and you ignore him then if he does something you will never forgive yourself.

What if he goes into hospital for a while for assessment? Tell Doc he is verbalizing suicide more...leave it to the professionals to treat then and you get some well deserved respite and hopefully a better treated condition.

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