Supporting my wife through depression
My wife of ten years has been battling depression for the last seven years or so and been taking meds and seeking medical advice for the last two and half years. Recently, it has been exacerbated by work and she is really find it tough. She woke the other day and sobbed because she'd 'woken up'. I'm trying so hard to help her get better but I'm afraid it's starting to affect me too. I'm conflicted with wanting to share my feelings but shielding her too; I know she will feel guilty and responsible for my feeling this way. Similarly, I don't feel like I can discuss it with many people either.
We have always been a very loving and supportive partnership but that's starting to strain. Our physical relationship has been dry for the last 3 years and I feel like I'm literally carrying everything and dealing with my own stresses and pressures alone. Marriage is a partnership and right now I feel like I've lost my partner.
I try to self-care but I feel guilty for doing things that bring me pleasure - I feel like I have to say no a lot to myself and the requests of others. I actively volunteer with a youth organisation and have told them I can't make the retreat this year. I'd love to go but I know she'd struggle without my presence at home. I've started putting off doing things I want to do because I know it will put a strain on her.
I love my wife dearly and I will support her to the ends of the earth to try and get better, but I'm starting to fear the impact it's having on the marriage and myself.
Any advice would bd hugely appreciated.
You need to have a sit-down talk with your wife. You don't have to be rude, and it can be a bit light-hearted, but has to be serious and come from a place of "This is the situation."
Right now your wife's issues are starting to bring you both down. Tell her you love her and want to help her get better, but that you need to be able to continue to function and make a living, too. There is nothing wrong with stepping away from the problem more to clear your head. Sometimes that can even help you gain a new perspective and think of other ways to tackle the issue.
If she has a regular therapist, maybe she needs to visit more frequently.
So, basically, you had a 3-year Honeymoon which then suddenly turned into a 7-year kinda hell.
That makes sticking with the rough, that much harder than if the ratio had been the reverse, i.e. 7 years of smooth, only 3 of rough, I'm sure. I mean, what gives you the power to stick around is the generous pile of love sheets in the corner, reminding you that THOSE were The Norm and this is The Anomaly. You've only really had the room and means to bond - and get to know her - by 3 years' depth. Not much bonding, not much info (by which to set store). In fact, despite depression is, more often than not, never the victim's fault/doing, it's hard to want to snuggle up to, isn't it? And if you're depressed - you can't even motivate yourself enough to wash your own hair, let alone participate in a night of stroking someone else's (so to speak)!
"I feel I'm literally carrying everything and dealing with my own stresses and pressures alone"
That's because you literally are. LOL. Or did you mean, you've been literally carrying everything and dealing with your own stresses and pressures alone for so long that now you're even starting to feel its effects?...hence you then say:
"I'm afraid it's starting to affect me too."
To which I would say: Only just? Wow. Well, you obviously were already pretty strong and self-disciplined when she met you?
WHY don't you? Because of the topic nature or because you don't have anyone you're close enough to for such an intimate or heavy conversation? And is having no close friends one of the reasons WHY you daren't call your marriage a day?
Wanna know how to get closer to someone, fast? ASK FOR A FAVOUR (THIS CASE, TO LISTEN TO YOUR PROBLEMS). If you don't believe me, just ask Dale Carnegie (;)).
Here, therefore, seems to be the Lemonade you can make from this here giant Lemon. For starters, your problem, due only to your situation, is simply - you're not having enough regular fun (including to look forward to each week) and sense of achievement versus having too much ANTI-fun (with nothing to look forward to) and ANTI-achievement. Her emotional overwhelmment had resulted in your practical overwhelmment...which was fine before you starting feeling emotionally overloaded on top. Correct?
So isn't it ironic, Alanis, that your wife's current struggle (with her past, I'll bet) is side-serving a purpose for YOU, Mr Lonely - specifically, to give you a way to cease that sense of loneliness outside of the confines of your marraige (ta-daa!). ;-) Someone up there likes you.
The difference between a positive person and a negative person, is: a positive person sees opportunity in danger or trauma, whereas, a negative person sees danger or trauma in opportunity.
A lot of men (foolishly) do this the minute they're married: Never bother to phone their male buddies ever again...because they've GOT what they wanted most in the world: a wife and family-to-be. And that was all friends were for: someones to go on the prowl for a gf/wife with. Was that you? Is that why you don't now have a bessie male friend you can confide in?
"Our physical relationship has been dry for the last 3 years"
What - not even a fumble?
Seriously? I mean... THAT ALONE will do it, kick the will to stay out of you! Whether you like it or not!
And yet you've stuck around...
Do you suppose that your inner wisdom KNOWS this challenge could be really good for you if only you can harness yourself and it?
But, look. We WANT things to work out and be how we imagined and planned, but.....Life sometimes has other ideas, and half the time there's nothing you can do about it. If you're NOT strong enough to go all the way then - how stupid to even try. You'll end up PULLING, possibly RIPPING mental muscles - and what good would that do you (or anyone)? If you ARE, then - give it a go! All life expects you to do is TRY.
Did you know that this is all a person has to do to please their special someone? ...just TRY, genuinely, to do your best? Best MEANS best. If best doesn't work then the task is impossible. End Of.
So QUIT that needless guilt and make a purely Spock decision, based on FACTS FIRST, with just a soupcon of feelings. I mean - she's already weakaned by emotional overload. So you have to counter that with LESS emotion taken into consideration than normal. You can't BOTH be slaves to your emotions OR THE SHIP WILL CRASH, CAP'N! So...
1. HAS she - hand-on-heart - got the scope to get through this and back to her true self, do you sense?...if you had to put big money on it, I mean?
2. Have YOU - hand-on-heart - got the mental muscle enough to keep going (but taking it one or two montha at-a-time) and seeing how long you can keep going? Do you WANT a superb workout as'll leave you mentally ripped and ready for an even bigger (is there one???) challenge (like a promotion..because now you're a lovely softie AND hard bstd, all-in-one)?
3. Can you fashion support mechanisms to-suit - e.g., not just here, but find or start a forum (preferably local), specifically for husbands/spouses of depressives? Co-victims make friends with one another rapidly AND DEEPLY/PROPERLY. Because this bonding basis is about morals, and bonded morals equals friends-for-life (because morals are mostly indelible/unbreakable for-life).
4. Can you discuss your need for a sex-life with your wife? Would she be willing to let you out-source (with her control or input to ensure it's respectable and professional, e.g. escort service of the kind where bonding and running-off together is prevented against as well as prohibited)?
5. Your own idea ;-)
You need fairly regular sex and you need some fun (distraction as well as antidote) and you need to know there is a light at the end of this tunnel (yup) so that you can activate your turbo in the knowledge that, YES, your perseverence via these clever coping & release mechanisms, WILL achieve the logical result.
But - back to your wife.
Is someone at work - or her bosses - bullying her?...and re-triggering hurt and trauma from when she was bullied in the past?
Back to you again.
"Marriage is a partnership and right now I feel like I've lost my partner."
Naaaaah. Stop panicking. She's just otherwise engaged...with REALLY HEAVY BAGGAGE, full of a lot of nasty crap...which she has to re-sift through (if she ever did to begin with?...which, it appears not)...which is ugly and painful and poses almost as a re-living of it all. So if someone IS picking on her at work - that would then wholly explain why she's THAT far down on the floor.
Was she strong when first you met her and for those first 3 years? And had she been depressed before?
" I'd love to go but I know she'd struggle without my presence at home."
Can't a family member or one of her gfs look after her or keep her company on such occasions? Does it have to be you? I mean - have you ever stopped to consider WHY airlines advise you to 'put your own oxygen mask on before helping others on with theirs'?
PS: could your wife not leave or change her job...or go part-time?
And is she a nurse?
Oh, and - you might find this interesting:
I haven't had so much as a fumble for (drum roll)....FIVE YEARS! And (stares at toes)...5 months, I think? And I was always the type that fumbled A LOT!
I don't miss it a jot! In fact, I feel liberated! More time to do more important, more interesting things!
I can't even believe I'm typing this or ever would! But it's true.
How come? How come I like it but you don't?
Answer: it was my choice. (I felt I'd probably done too much, ROFL...didn't want to wear a hole in it!) ...Nah, but seriously.
It wasn't your choice. But if it was - you'd be as happy and unbothered by it as me!
Did you know (nottalottapeopleknowthis) that sexual energy/urge and artistic energy/urge are the one, same energy?
...which, logically, means that Renoir, Matisse, Beethoven, etc., ...couldh't get girlfriends! ;-D
What I'm saying is - have you ever tried anything artistic because right now, I'll bet you could produce something surprisingly good.
Worth a punt? New, fun project?
Anyway, answer my questions if you'd be so kind and - then I've got more coping mechanisms than you can count! I'm a beeping expert on recovering in record time from depression. The last one wasn't even psychological, it was pigging Long-Omicrom! Bloody FELT real, though, jeez...definitely the worst episode I've ever experienced and wouldn't wish on my worst enemy!...don't have to tell ME about waking up and bursting into tears because I didn't slip away simply and easily in the night, jeez, Louise...
A lot of people everywhere are depressed today, as well. You two are not alone by ANY stretch of the imagination.
What DO you think about joining or starting a "spouse of depressive" club or forum?