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Saturday, February 27, 2010 Spouse is depressed, Community Member, asks

Q: Spouse in denial about his depression

What do you do about a spouse that is in denial about his depression and won't seek treatment or admit that he even has depression?

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Answers (4)
John Folk-Williams, Health Guide
2/28/10 2:20am

Hi -

 

I lived for many years doing what your spouse is doing right now. Unfortunately, a lot of men do this to cover fear or hurt as they run into problems caused by depression. There's a sense of losing effectiveness as the inner pain takes up more energy. My response was to bury it and start blaming my spouse or work - I became more irritable about everything, sometimes flying into a rage. My wife naturally was hurt, often getting angry right back. There wasn't much she could do - and I doubt there's much you can do to - to change what was happening to me. But she did keep trying to talk to me and make it clear how hurtful and damaging my behavior had become and urged me to get treatment. Most of that did not get through but sometimes it did. The words I could hear were about her own feelings rather than any accusation or attack. But she also made it clear how close she was to giving up and leaving for a time until I could figure out what was going on. Those are the things you probably need to say to your spouse for your own good - and consider counseling for yourself since there is always a lot of fallout from your spouse's depression that is damaging to you.

 

I wish you well - and feel free to keep us posted on what's happening.

 

John

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Judy, Community Member
2/27/10 4:49pm

This isn't easy to deal with, to say the least.  I don't know what your relationship with him is like, but if you could wait until he is in a halfway decent mood and just talk with him about your observations, how the things he says and does make you feel without blaming him, he might be a little more receptive.  Also, here's a sharepost by John Folk-Williams addressed to partners of depressed men that you might find helpful.  Perhaps you could even have your husband read it.  If things get worse and he absolutely refuses to even have it checked out, maybe you could get him to at least have a physical and then tell his doctor ahead of time what's going on.  Or there may come a time when you have to set some kind of ultimatum so that you don't get hurt or depressed yourself.  You could talk to a therapist just for your own support and insight.

 

I do hope your husband will eventually realize that something isn't right and that he's not the first man in the world to need help.  Let us know if you need any other information or if you just want to vent, that's just fine.  I wish you the best and hope you'll keep us posted.

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John Folk-Williams, Health Guide
2/28/10 2:20am

Hi -

 

I lived for many years doing what your spouse is doing right now. Unfortunately, a lot of men do this to cover fear or hurt as they run into problems caused by depression. There's a sense of losing effectiveness as the inner pain takes up more energy. My response was to bury it and start blaming my spouse or work - I became more irritable about everything, sometimes flying into a rage. My wife naturally was hurt, often getting angry right back. There wasn't much she could do - and I doubt there's much you can do to - to change what was happening to me. But she did keep trying to talk to me and make it clear how hurtful and damaging my behavior had become and urged me to get treatment. Most of that did not get through but sometimes it did. The words I could hear were about her own feelings rather than any accusation or attack. But she also made it clear how close she was to giving up and leaving for a time until I could figure out what was going on. Those are the things you probably need to say to your spouse for your own good - and consider counseling for yourself since there is always a lot of fallout from your spouse's depression that is damaging to you.

 

I wish you well - and feel free to keep us posted on what's happening.

 

John

Reply
Peanut, Community Member
3/ 5/10 1:02pm

I have lived with it personally for many years due to my childhood situation. I have learned to deal with mine in a positive way now.  I am also the wife of a depressed husband and because of his actions, I am also now depressed myself (again).  My mother-in-law died in July 2009.  We live in Alabama and she in South Dakota.  My husband has been wrecked with grief, guilt, regret, ect.  He has blamed me for things he knows I had no control over for 8 months now.  I have tried to give him his space, I've tried to let him know in a positive way that he is loved very much, I've gotten mad, I've tried to make sure he comes home to a loving environment, I think you get the picture.  I went to my doctor and had myself put on medication and I started seeing a counselor several months ago because I felt myself spiraling downward.  I have seen drastic changes in him.  Lies, secrets, hatred, anger, lying about trips (work related) These are things that are not like him at all. He says that he's tired of trying to make everyone else happy.  He says he's not happy and he's hurting because of me.  Three days ago I picked up his work phone and looked at it.  He left it unlocked (government phone) and I had been suspicious of some of his activity on his phone for a while.  I read several text messages that were inappropriate conversation with another female.  I was too stunned to try to figure out who she was.  I just felt like I had been punched in the gut. Certain sentences from those messages continue to replay in my head constantly.  He told her that he cherished their talks.  She talks about wanting him sexually as weightloss?  I love you's were exchanged. She also talked about her significant other.  I know where my husband is about 98% of the time and he's home every day at the same time and stays home.  I can only guess that he's met her on one of his trips.  He swears that there has never been any physical contact (I know for a fact that he's having trouble in that department) and it was just a way for him to vent.  He says that he hasn't talked to her but a couple of times and the rest were texting, but says that it's not been constant. When I found this, he has apologized several times and said that he told her not to contact him anymore, that I knew about it, and it was wrong of him to hurt me.  Naturally my trust level has bottomed out.  Last night he told me that he felt that to save the love and respect he has for me, we need to part ways. He said that he's afraid I will hurt him and he'll end up hating me and he doesn't want that to happen.  He says that he's not opposed to counseling, but getting him to go has been non-existent.  He went once and wouldn't let me in the room with him and told the counselor what he didn't like about me.  But that he loved me. I have come to my limit and I have crashed. (HARD) I have come to a point where I feel like I can't survive this.  But, after long thought, I still love my husband very much and I told him that I'm not giving up.  I can't.  We've been married for over 18 years.  Two wonderful children and our first grandchild on the way.  He says he doesn't think he feels the same.  He's empty and tired. I know what those feelings are because I've been there and I can see them in him.  Can someone please give me some advice? How can I help him get help.  I can't stand by and watch him throw us away.  He is my best friend. 

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The Depressed One, Community Member
7/13/10 10:50am

Oh my God... I just sent my wife away for a similiar reason. I'm the one that is depressed. I'm the one who did not give enough. I'm the selfish one. Today, my wife flew home to be with her family. I am Govt as well. I cheated... and I know that is the reason for my guilt, my lack of loving nature, my reason for crying as I write this. I sincerly write this to you to let you know he's done something he feels is unforgivable. He feels... if you were to find out how badly he screwed up, you'd hate him. I sent the best thing that ever happened to me because I'm childish... I'm afraid she and the people we know will hate me. I feel, and your husband may too, feel that leaving you with your health, and for reasons unknown will help you the further you go along the road. If you had found out that he cheated and likely caught an STD, you'd be irate, possibly unforgiving. I chose not to sleep with my wife because of this. I know what I have, and it would be completely... what's the word... horrific I suppose... of me to give something like to her when I know if she just went away with her health, maybe I could eventually heal myself with piece of mind. Maybe it would be better if she knew? That way, hearing her cry as I walked away at the airport I would know while she is still hurt, she WOULD KNOW she made the right decision for herself. Instead, because I am a coward, she'll always wonder what she did wrong. Sigh... I'm sorry. I also know this from experience. Just because he experienced sexual problems with you, doesn't mean he'd have them with another woman. That's not your fault either. It's men... when danger or somethign shiny and new comes along, we feel like we're in our 20's again. That would wear off with time, and we'd likely get the same result. Partially because we're never satisfied. Based on my new experience, I have a great deal of newfound respect for woman. Men are selfish. Alabama, take your time, breath deeply, and begin to heal without him.

Reply
John Folk-Williams, Health Guide
2/28/10 2:25am

Hi -

 

I lived for many years doing what your spouse is doing right now. Unfortunately, a lot of men do this to cover fear or hurt as they run into problems caused by depression. There's a sense of losing effectiveness as the inner pain takes up more energy. My response was to bury it and start blaming my spouse or work - I became more irritable about everything, sometimes flying into a rage. My wife naturally was hurt, often getting angry right back. There wasn't much she could do - and I doubt there's much you can do to - to change what was happening to me. But she did keep trying to talk to me and make it clear how hurtful and damaging my behavior had become and urged me to get treatment. Most of that did not get through but sometimes it did. The words I could hear were about her own feelings rather than any accusation or attack. But she also made it clear how close she was to giving up and leaving for a time until I could figure out what was going on. Those are the things you probably need to say to your spouse for your own good - and consider counseling for yourself since there is always a lot of fallout from your spouse's depression that is damaging to you.

 

I wish you well - and feel free to keep us posted on what's happening.

 

John

Reply
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By Spouse is depressed, Community Member— Last Modified: 07/16/13, First Published: 02/27/10