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Living with a depressed partner support thread?

(35 Posts)
Loks Thu 30-Mar-17 18:05:35

Is anyone else living with a depressed spouse?

My husband has been depressed his whole life

It's like he's fading on me. He doesn't like doing the things he used to. He doesn't want to be intimate. He seems to want to just be left alone but then says he's never been so lonely. I just don't know what to do. I seem to annoy him more than help lately.

How do you deal with it? How do you detach enough to stay sane but deal with watching someone you love struggle so much? Are there threads somewhere on mumsnet you can point me towards? And if not, do you fancy talking about it here at all?

[Message edited by MNHQ at OP's request]

ThreeDovesAndSomePinkChampagne Thu 30-Mar-17 18:45:24

I try to take this kind of thing to heart (see pic). So I really try not to go into overdrive trying to "help" but try just to be present.

That turns out better for him, and is lot less stressful for me.

I also have "batten down the hatches" mode for withdrawn times, so the stresses of having to take most of the strain practically doesn't get to me:

1. Have a system of easy foods to have in house e.g. a roast chicken, cooked potatoes, bacon, roast veggies, dish of bolognese. This is both so I can cook quick meals for both of us without it being a lot of fuss, and so he can throw himself together something nutritious when I am out.
2. Get all shopping delivered.
3. Try to make sure we get ultra ahead of ourselves with house work at times he's fine, by doing stuff like spring cleaning/deep cleaning together well in advance. So if things go to pot for a month it's ok.

If he's physically withdrawn, I get a massage once a week because it helps me cope with him being less affectionate.

Eatingcheeseontoast Thu 30-Mar-17 18:51:15

I'm just starting on this with, thank god, lots of support from his parents. But it m struggling with a DP who is so depressed and absorbed from losing his job.

I do wonder where my support is and when I pick up from his parents after work where my down time is and who is looking after me?

I'm reading up about it and trying to make sure there's food and he's doing things but it's really bleak.

bobbinogs Thu 30-Mar-17 19:04:40

Hi, I know a lot about this. I've been married for 15 yrs and my husband has battled with depression and anxiety of varying degrees of severity. He takes medication long term now and that helps a lot.

I recommend a book called Depression Fallout by Anne somebody. She looks at how depression impacts on relationships and how depressed people can behave in hurtful and damaging ways towards people they love. It looks at how you are not to blame and you cannot cure the disease,and although your DH is ill there must be clear boundaries about what behaviour is acceptable and understandable,and what is not.
Detachment is necessary sometimes and it's a dynamic I still struggle with, you need to prioritise your own mental health, sleep eat exercise and treat yourself, don't try too hard to help, just be there and be kind, to him and to yourself.
It's really tough and not something it's easy to talk about. There's not loads of information about there. Let his medication settle for a few weeks,maybe keep a diary so you can track its impact. Take care.

Justbreathing Thu 30-Mar-17 19:12:59

I was with someone who suffered severely for years with depression and anxiety and it destroyed us in the end. When you constantly try and be there for someone but none of your own needs are met, then in the end it's very destructive. No words of wisdom. I just know how bloody hard it is. I couldn't carry on. I applaude people who do. The self absorption of it makes it incredibly hard, and I don't mean that in a mean way. I've probably lost the opportunity of ever having a family after all the years I spent.
It's unbelievably shit, sometimes I used to wish he had cancer, so either he would get better or die. Now that's a shitty thing to say out loud.
No one really understands the pain of coping, my dp was very good at seeming ok in front of others.
The only thing I would say is that he needs to be honest and open with everyone about it.

PinkFlamingo545 Thu 30-Mar-17 19:39:43

It's unbelievably shit, sometimes I used to wish he had cancer, so either he would get better or die. Now that's a shitty thing to say out loud.

I think that it is very understandable. The amount of energy that goes into sustaining a mediocre life is soul destroying

Angleshades Thu 30-Mar-17 19:56:59

I'm in the same boat as Justbreathing and couldn't cope with my depressed dp either. We've been seperated for nearly 2 years now and sometimes I feel incredibly guilty for the split. I'll always ask if I could have done more for him and our relationship but I was exhausted and there was no one there for me, I just broke in the end.

It's so painful to watch your once wonderful partner become this shell of the person they were. It was like looking at the same person but no longer recognising them.

I take my hat off to anyone who can live with a depressed spouse, it takes an enormous amount of mental strength. Wishing you strength op.

Rattata Thu 30-Mar-17 20:04:50

The book is called Depression Fallout by Anne Sheffield . There is also a discussion forum (allied with it) called

Lots of archive posts to read through and you can post (like on here) - all sorts of people on there who have been through the mill with their partners.

I think you need to back off - tell him you are there for him when he needs you but get on with your own life and meet as many of your own needs as you can. Your DH will not be able to. Treat yourself as if you are your own best friend. If you focus on DH too much, all your energy will be sucked out and then you won't have the energy needed to keep the family going and could become depressed yourself.

You didn't cause it, you can't control it, you can't cure it.

It is good that he is taking his meds - is he getting talking therapy/counselling as well?

user1490008287 Thu 30-Mar-17 20:34:56

Loks, it's bloody hard isn't it!. My husband has depression and anxiety and sometimes it feels impossible. He has been through group therapy and on medication but he isn't the man I married.

I worry he will disappear completely into his sadness and from a selfish point of view sometimes I get sick and tired of having to hold my shit together.

We are currently going through relate counselling to try and find our way back again because when all is said and done, I love him completely.

Do you have support? Xx

colouringinagain Thu 30-Mar-17 22:52:13

Justbreathing your post really echoed with me. My dh has finally been given a bipolar 2 diagnosis after being v ill, mostly depression over the last 10 years. It has killed our marriage I'm sorry to say and we're now separated. Being married to someone with mental health problems is so so hard. And for us very one way. While being a single parent is v demanding I am ironically less lonely now.

flowers for everyone in this position.

ThreeDovesAndSomePinkChampagne Thu 30-Mar-17 23:00:51

This also helped me

It all got a lot easier:
1. When I stopped trying to fix it- that the most I could do was sometime keep him company in his depression, just as much as I could bear, not any more.
2. When he started being open and honest about it, with himself and others.

I think both of those things need to happen. If he is trying to keep up a good front for others, as in justbreathing's case, then he's not taking proper responsibility for it. It's a fight that the sufferer needs to be able to give everything to- trying to maintain a facade is so, so counterproductive and just such a waste of time, energy, emotions and hope.

But if he is seeking help from people other than you, trying to help himself (this could be therapy, reading, mindfulness, yoga, regular exercise- anything however small that helps him, gives him some space) and, when he is in a comparatively less depressed place, trying to help you with your life, even if it's just by doing some shopping or washing or cooking tea, then I think that is something to build on.

Loks Fri 31-Mar-17 10:46:30

Hello everyone, thanks for your replies. flowers

I'll read through properly and post back a bit later on. I'm definitely going to order that book.

It's weirdly nice to hear from others, though of course I'm sorry for everyone going through it or who's lost someone they loved because of it. flowers

I'm just so tired. I've taken some time off work and I'm just so tired of it all.

Eatingcheeseontoast Fri 31-Mar-17 10:50:51

I found the booklet here helpful in thinking about how to manage

I found the advice about wrapping yourself in bubble wrap was good and trying not to take stuff personally.

I also talked to a friend who has had similar experiences and she said that - simply put - pandering doesn't help.

Hippee Sat 01-Apr-17 00:41:09

It's hard isn't it. I can't remember the last time that DH kissed or hugged me without me initiating it. He spends most of his time asleep after work. I think I am a bit depressed too - can't keep on top of housework, can't cope with things that I used to be capable of doing. I know that if I could keep the house tidier and more organised he'd feel better, but I really struggle to do it.

Jackeve Sat 01-Apr-17 06:57:40

I've only been with my partner 20 months (we don't live together) and I really struggle with the effect his anxiety and depression has on our relationship ☹️. He came across as quite an introverted loner when I met him and I think I was attracted to this after my loud, agressive and possessive ex husband but the way he is makes me feel worthless. I put so much energy into making sure he is ok that my feelings and needs are neglected totally. He has a stressful job but spends most of his time sleeping and he never initiates any form of affection (this has got worse since he started on Mirtazapine) so it feels most of the time like he can't be bothered. It feels like we are so disconnected. I know I should walk away for my own mental health but I love him so much.
It's reassuring to know that it isn't just me going through this. Hugs to you all xx

househufflepuff Sat 01-Apr-17 15:52:35

Can I join? Wish I wasn't adding myself to this thread but I've just found it and thought it might help being with others in the same boat. Namechanged for a fresh start from my other threads as I've been babbling and not making sense to be honest. At least here I hope I can find support from People going through the same thing .Just placemarking for now but will post properly later when I get some time. flowers

Justbreathing Sat 01-Apr-17 16:28:29

I think the problem is sometimes we lose ourselves trying to keep it together for someone else. If your partner is going to counselling then that's a massive commitment from them and very positive. My dp wouldn't go. We can only help ourselves though. As the saying goes, you can't save anyone unless you put your life jacket on first.
That's the main lesson I've learnt from this.
I am still in contact with my ex dp. He's doing ok, and has found some strength to try and improve his life. I swing from being very happy for him to inbelievably angry that he couldn't do it when I was with him. We really could have been happy together. But life doesn't always give you what you want. As I've got older I've realised that. Sometimes when your young you see such a clear plan for your life, and accepting it hasn't worked out that way is sometimes the bitterest pill to swallow
My heart goes out to everyone struggling it really does.
Today has been a particularly sad day in terms of how I look at how my life has ended up

househufflepuff Sat 01-Apr-17 23:04:58

Dh has been very very depressed over the last week or so leading to it getting worse and worse. Tonight Dh has just told me that he has so much love for me I'm the mother of his children and yet he doesn't know if he loves me like he used to do or if he loves me because he cares about me and doesn't want to see me hurt. I feel absolutely so so broken right now. He's always done so much for me and I just haven't done enough back. He's supported me through my post natal depression and I've been so hard to live with. I've always been so scared to just be happy in case something just pops the bubble. And now it's ruined. I'm feeling so hurt I feel my hearts going to just stop. This pain hurts so much and I can't seem to make it stop. Please somebody tell me that god is real. I keep thinking of asking him for help or somebody to help me and get why would he want to help me when there is so much more pain in the world. I'm sorry to put this here I just didn't expect this to be the outcome of why he's been so down.

U2HasTheEdge Sat 01-Apr-17 23:48:52

My husband has bipolar, but his mania is so well controlled that he only gets it in the form of slight agitation and obsessive behaviour.

He is always depressed to some degree though. Either his mood in his boots or he is low level depressed. The much better moods don't last long at all and we always know the extra lows are coming.

It's difficult but I have learned not to let his moods affect mine and because he is so depressed and has been for so many years he is great at taking himself away if he thinks his mood is going to affect anyone else. He is the kindest man ever and very loving but it's no easy ride. Having to spot an impending crisis in time is not fun. Yet no one else can help us with that it seems.

I mostly hurt for him. I don't know how he has done this for 20 years. We know nothing will change, this is it until he dies. No amount of therapy or meds over all those years has helped. I know this might sound awful but when he does die one day there will be some relief that he no longer has to suffer.

He is such a beautiful man and even when he is very ill he still goes out of his way for me to show us all how much he loves us, he is rarely self-absorbed, but I see the pain in his eyes and know this is not going to end for him until he does die. I see his guilt as well and his sense of failure, and no matter how much I tell him he doesn't need to feel that way I know it won't make a difference.

It works because I am great at looking after myself and not going down with him. He would feel even worse about himself I did that.

thanks to everyone.

Ginandpanic Sun 02-Apr-17 08:16:11

Another one here sad

Dh of 20 years . Various ups and downs because of it including him going missing for 3 days. Was hell. We've both been to counselling and he still goes on his own but it is cbt and I've been reading about person centred counselling and that might be more suitable.

I've actually never had any support for myself, I'll look at that book too thanks for the link.

At the moment he won't talk about anything and there's no intamacy. It's a lonely place to be. We eat and watch tv together, that's it. Obviously it can't go on like this.

Justbreathing Sun 02-Apr-17 08:34:47

I think sometimes they try and hide it, for fear of being a failure. For fear of all of the stigma that's around it. (I am perhaps generalising) but I think it's hard for men to admit even having a MH problem. It's seen as weak. And I think women are sometimes so caught up trying to fix that we don't help ourselves. U2 has got it right as far as you can.
I think it's good to seek your own support, in fact vital. As in therapy, because you don't feel that you can add your extra burden into the mix. I would strongly advise that.
House, it sounds like it might be temporary, and there is hope if your both willing. Again I think therapy both on your own and together sounds the way, you can't fix things alone.
Because it isn't an obvious illness, ie there is no plaster, no set time to heal, people outside of your world almost invariably don't know what to do or say, that's why professional is the best route. Some people can live with it, and others can't. Having children obviously makes a difference.
I spent so many years waiting for the person I fell in love with to come back, but if it's lifelong then they probably never will.
But we all change as people throughout our lives and it's how we all deal with those changes that counts.
Burying heads in sand doesn't work for so many things.
Seek support. And it's not your bloody fault
I also spent a lot of time thinking that I was the cause.
flowers to everyone, it's the least understood and one of the hardest things to ever go through
Even after we separated people would say to me, oh your DP was a bit depressed wasn't he. If only they knew how awful it was.

househufflepuff Sun 02-Apr-17 09:16:25

justbreathing thankyou flowers
I will always believe it my fault. I remember when we first met and I was really happy and smiled a lot . When I've smiled since or sounded happy on the phone he's always commented saying "you sounded really good on the phone today have you had a good day babe?"
That the me he wants and the me he deserves. He's tried every single day of our married lives to try cheer me up always staying so strong and happy for us. He admitted last night that there has been a few times over the last 2 years that he's been close to calling it a day... I don't blame him I'm miserable to live with. I am lazy and I've blamed it on my depression and then had highs of buying things that I thought might make things better in the house or push me to tidy a room so I could put the nice things away. To think I've only been someone he's loved in a 'caring' way for so long has really opened my eyes. My average day I would wake up and try pull my self out of bed for the school run often leaving it too late and making the kids late for school or uniforms lost all over the house because of not putting a load of washing in. On his days off work he would always do the school run and never complained. He did it because he knew how hard I found mornings. He would bring me a coffee every morning in bed. I would sometimes nap during the day too to make the night come quicker. Then I would constantly order takeaway spending money and gaining weight very quickly.
I knew I was doing it and yet couldn't stop. It was so easy to give in to the laziness and depression than to wake up and help.
Don't get me wrong I did do chores everyday and cook and clean but I found it a mammoth task to keep on top of because my mind and body wouldn't let me. Again I'm blaming my depression.
So why is it that since this really started with him last week that I've been like a woman on speed?!!
I've got on top of all the housework in 3 days and feel happy for doing it. I'm enjoying asking if he would like a coffee and I'm enjoying looking after him like he has done for me.
Last night I told him all this but said that I don't expect him to believe I will change my ways. I told him it was my turn to make sure he was happy for once and the one thing I can do for him would be to make the separation as easy and pain free as possible. I told him I wouldn't make it Bitter and until we lived apart I would be the wife he always deserved. I told him I would make the decision easy for him to make because I love him so so much that's the least I can do to try make up for his years of struggling to make me happy.
He's said he's confused and out of control and doesn't know what to feel or what to do. He says he's scared.

In a perfect world he would see that I'm serious about making these changes permanently because I would make sanctifies and put in 200% effort to save our marriage. I want to tell him that if I don't make him happy after making these changes that we will call it a day but knowing I've tried. We have a break away for a few days next month booked and a holiday with family in august. I'm praying to anyone who can hear and listen that I can make everything right and fix it before then.
It's not just him I love I love his family too we are all so so close and his parents always say they see myself and their other daughter in law as actual daughters they never had. We all do things together and I love them so so much. I won't just be losing my husband I would be losing a whole family and I don't know if I'm strong enough. Please tell me what I can do to fix all this ...

sandgrown Sun 02-Apr-17 09:29:34

It's really hard not to get angry .Sometimes think DP uses his depression as an excuse for laziness. I supported DP when he was out of work for two years. After lots of min wage short term work he has a permanent job but is taking so.much time off I fear he may lose it .

Loksi Sun 02-Apr-17 10:36:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

U2HasTheEdge Sun 02-Apr-17 11:34:53

I hurt for him. I just need to get back to that place where I've detached more, but then that seems to hurt him too sometimes.

Yes, I am great at detaching. Of course there are times where it gets on top of me and I just want normality. Usually when the lows are so bad for so long and I feel the pressure is too much for me. I bring myself out of it quickly for the most part. I often tell my husband I need to detach because I need to look after myself more and for my sanity I have to take some steps back. He takes it well.

I hope things improve for you both soon thanks You are not a selfish person at all. You are amazing, we are all amazing. Those who ended their relationships because they knew they couldn't deal with it and those who are dealing with it every day. We are all bloody superheroes!

Dh is now going through another medication change, they keep trying but after all these years I'm not sure anything is going to make a massive difference.

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