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Help with coping with depression in a marriage

(10 Posts)
SoHeartless Mon 24-Feb-14 13:55:21

My DH has been depressed for a year but he’s only recently come to terms with it and started getting help. We have been married for 6 years and it was a happy marriage before this. It was all triggered by the death of a sibling.

I have tried everything I could think of to help him. I read books on depression and joined some mental health forums and I have encouraged him to stop drinking, to take exercise ad to get lots of rest. I drive him to all the appointments and try and be / say / do whatever I can to make it better but I do often feel completely defeated and like a failure.

He does seem to be grateful that I am there and he thanks me for my support but at the same time he pushes me away constantly. He’s withdrawn from me emotionally for months now and sometimes I get a feeling that he wants me to go away or like I irritate him. I went away for a week to take our daughter to see my family and he described us being gone as a relief.

At times he’s said things which have made me lose all my confidence in myself and our marriage. He has said he’s not sure how he feels about me anymore and that he doesn't feel the way he used to. He doesn't have any emotional intimacy with me at all anymore and I can't really share with him my feelings or thoughts the way I used to do.

We have a beautiful 5yo daughter and she thankfully keeps me going and I have been going for long walks every day, trying to see friends and getting counselling for myself too. Without our daughter I think I would have become depressed myself.

I am very lonely and missing my connection with my husband. I want to support my him because I love him so much but I feel like he hates me sometimes. He's very cold and I feel no emotion at all from him towards me our our daughter. He hugs me, kisses me and plays with her but it feels like he is going through the motions and his smile is false or weary.

Has anyone here had experience with this that they could share? Tips for getting through it or something to give me a sense of there being light at the end of the tunnel?

Scarbella2 Mon 24-Feb-14 14:40:21

I have a husband who constantly dips into depression. The first time I was like you, rushing around him, getting him help etc. the second time I was angry - I couldn't look at him without thinking "what's wrong with you? You have me and two healthy dc!" Now when it happens I can see it coming and say so out loud, and then just get on with minding the kids and act as normal around him. Now I know these dips may not be as severe as what your husband is suffering from. And your dh has had a family bereavement so that is another factor.
But in this situation I think I was feeding the "oh no, what's wrong with me?" in his head iykwim?
I don't honestly know if this is the right way to handle it but it stops me from going crazy and let's me keep normality for the kids.
I'm sorry if this ramble doesn't help you.

aw11 Mon 24-Feb-14 14:58:40

You both sound like wonderful supportive women! Your men are lucky to have you, I hope they are making an effort to get better.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Mon 24-Feb-14 15:10:46

I once read that the longer a non-depressed person lives with a depressed partner, the higher his or her own risks for depression. When he is distant and cool, that’s just the depression talking. It’s not really him, it's definitely not you.

I'm sorry I don't know the answer, OP - is it possible for you both to have counselling, together and separately?

SoHeartless Mon 24-Feb-14 15:25:30

Thank you aw11 thanks

Scarbella2 I have anger too. I try and control it but sometimes I get very angry but mainly because of the selfishness of the illness and the way he seems completely unaware of the effect it has on the rest of the people in our house.

Of course it helps, thank you. It helps to hear from anyone who has had a depressed spouse and also from anyone who has been depressed. I want to understand how he feels but I can't seem to get it.

I think if it ever recurs I would be in a much stronger position mentally from just knowing that it will eventually end and I will be a bit more like you.

It hurts so much when he says he doesn't feel emotions or when he says he doesn't know if he loves me. Before all this happened I felt very loved all the time and I miss that feeling. I keep wondering what is wrong with me. I try and imagine what this means but it's very difficult.

He is getting slowly better after it spiralling to a very low point so I am trying to keep faith that with the treatment he might go back to being more like he was.

SoHeartless Mon 24-Feb-14 15:33:34

Cross post there DonkeysDontRideBicycles thank you for your comment.

I would love to have counselling with him but he's only just started counselling individually and as his depression is quite severe I don't think now is the time. He's very foggy I am not sure he sees our marriage as a priority at the moment.

He doesn't want to even tell me what goes on in the counselling sessions. He used to tell me everything until 3 - 4 months ago when the depression got very severe. That makes me panic that they are talking about me. This is what I mean about losing confidence. I used to think I was a great wife but now I am not sure if I have done something wrong or something like that.

Elocampane Mon 24-Feb-14 16:15:32

OP, having suffered from depression myself, and having an OH with severe depression, I can heartily recommend that you read

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/adventures-in-depression.html?m=1

and

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/depression-part-two.html?m=1

Scarbella2 Mon 24-Feb-14 16:20:20

My dh was going to counselling too but he gave that up. He actually told me that the counsellor said it was all my fault which really annoyed me at the time but now I realise the counsellor didn't say such a thing and he was just lying to get out of going. I dunno because I am not gojng through a bad patch at the moment I feel strong but I know how it gets to you.
My mantra is to protect yourself and the kids- you can only do so much for people and I have stopped bowing and scraping. I shrug off the bad moments, pick up my bag and head off with the kids for the day. As you say the selfishness is unbearable, so sometimes I blow up which makes me sound really unsupportive, doesn't it?
Be kind to yourself

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Mon 24-Feb-14 16:56:44

Just a thought OP, not sure how fast the site traffic is in the Health category if you want to check experiences in the Mental health section, someone there might be able to relate to this.

SoHeartless Mon 24-Feb-14 20:30:24

Thank you Elomapane. That analogy about the toys really helped me to understand.

Scarbella2 I can understand how it must get to that point after a while. In my DH's case, although he's been depressed for a year it's only been bad for a few months so I haven't ensured as much as many people go through. To be honest I just want to see him feel better. It breaks my heart to see him hurt but I do get angry too.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles thank you for that. I might also post there and maybe some of those with experience of the illness can also share information. Anything helps!

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