My husband is depressed and I don’t know what to do
C.M4321 - Mar 13 2023 at 07:43
TL/DR: My husband is potentially going blind after lifelong eye issues and is getting severely depressed. What can I do to be supportive and help his mentality?
This is my first post ever and I normally wouldn’t post anything like this anywhere. But my heart is breaking for the man I love more than anything and I don’t know where to turn. I’m hoping that maybe someone can offer advice or anything to help me.
My husband was diagnosed with glaucoma when he was a baby. When they caught it, it had already damaged his left eye beyond repair and was making its way into his right eye. They caught it in time to save his right eye, but he is completely blind in his left eye. Throughout his life he has struggled with being visually impaired but has always had enough site in his right eye to be able to do things such as work, drive, etc.
One of his favourite things to do in this world is drive. Since he isn’t legally blind, he was cleared to get a license and is a really good driver.
In recent years, he has noticed that his sight was declining a little bit. When he got checked out, he was informed that he had a cataract issue and would likely need a surgery at some point. However, it wasn’t bad enough for them to be concerned enough to do it right away. Where he has no sight in his left eye already, they wanted to put it off for a bit as there’s a chance he could lose sight in his right eye as well from the surgery.
Here’s where it goes south. He was working one day about a month or two ago. While he was on the job, he said he felt like something went into his right eye. We didn’t think too much of it at the time and flushed his eye with some water. But the feeling wouldn’t go away. A couple days later, his eye was crusty and teary a lot more than it should have been. He went to the emergency room right away to get it looked at, but they couldn’t find anything in his eye. So he then booked an appointment for the next day with an optometrist. They too said they couldn’t see anything in his eye and proceeded to swab his eye and prescribe him with eye drops and wipes.
Over this last little while, he has noticed that his vision has declined drastically. He has been to the optometrist a couple of times since then and they are in the process of referring him to an ophthalmologist. At his last appointment with an optometrist, they checked out his cataract. They said it looked to be okay, but that he no longer has enough vision to drive. They believe he is going blind. This has DEVASTATED him.
I have never seen him in a state like this. I’ve been trying to be as supportive as I can be, but nothing I say or do is helping. I’m not blaming him at all either. This news has shattered his life. I am however at a complete loss. I wish I knew some form of magic to make this go away, but I don’t. I’m just really hoping that someone somewhere can help me navigate through this. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’ll always be by his side 100%, but I don’t know what I can do to be supportive beyond that. Has anyone else been in a similar position? What can I do?
I'd say that the first thing for you to do is to take care of yourself at this time. You've been "always by his side 100%", you wrote. This means that you've been a very good wife/ a very good partner to him. The loss of his sight is of no fault of yours AND it is devastating not only to him, but it is also devastating to you: so much so that for the first time in your life, you submitted a post asking for help.
What you described is a crisis situation, for him AND for you. Don't forget yourself in the equation. You need help too.
Please post again, share more about how you feel and what is going on. Maybe over time, here on your thread, there will be some help for you, and for him.
Thank you for this. I know that he needs help, but I guess I never stopped to think about myself in this situation. The truth is, I’m very stressed out. I don’t want to talk to him about it because I don’t want to make him feel like him losing his sight is an inconvenience or a burden to me. If tables were turned, I know he would do the same for me.
I’ve just been running through many situations in my head. We’re really hoping that when he sees the ophthalmologist that they may be able to do something to help. But if this is the case and he is going blind, it will change a lot of things. Mainly his profession. He’s a labourer and goes to work on oil rigs and construction sites mainly.
As for myself, I just want him to be happy. I hate the thought of him thinking he’s a burden to me. It’s the fact that I have no idea how to support him that’s bothering me. This is something I have never dealt with before so I’m not sure if I’m actually helping or just making it worse. He tells me that he’s glad I’m around and I am helpful. But sometimes I don’t feel that way.
I know when push comes to shove, we’ll be okay. Being blind isn’t the worst thing that could happen. It will just change the way we have to live. The uncertainty right now is beyond stressful. But we’re a team.
Thank you, Amie. I really appreciate your response and I’ll do what I can not only for him but for me as well. Because you’re right… I do need help.
Hello again, C.M4321:
You are very welcome.
"I don’t want to talk to him about it because I don’t want to make him feel like him losing his sight is an inconvenience or a burden to me"- talk to him about it in moderation- avoid these two extremes: not talking about it AT ALL, and talking about it TOO MUCH. If you don't talk about it at all, it's like the problem doesn't exist (but it does!); if you talk about it too much, it's like the problem is bigger than the two of you can handle together.
Let him know that it is a serious problem (and therefore his distress about it is valid), and that it is not more than you can handle together("we're a team").
"if this is the case and he is going blind, it will change a lot of things. Mainly his profession. He’s a labourer and goes to work on oil rigs and construction sites mainly"- IF he is going blind, then he'll need to get busy and feel productive and useful in a different way, a way that does not require sight.
"I hate the thought of him thinking he’s a burden to me"- when you help him, help him with kindness in your face and tone of voice, so that he can see that although you wish (of course) that he didn't need your help, you are still grateful that you are able to help him, and that you find contentment in your ability and usefulness.
"It’s the fact that I have no idea how to support him that’s bothering me"- when you do talk, talk to him as calmly and as practically as you can. If he goes blind and you are physically helping him, while helping him, talk to him confidently, respectfully and practically, in a matter of fact kind of way (like a competent nurse would talk to a patient, not like .. a scared little girl who is overwhelmed).
"He tells me that he’s glad I’m around and I am helpful"- you can ask him in what ways you are helpful to him, and in what ways you are not helpful, take his input and get better at helping him.
"Being blind isn’t the worst thing that could happen. It will just change the way we have to live. The uncertainty right now is beyond stressful"- you can start planning for the possibility of a post-sight life for your husband. When you plan, the distress lessens.
"I do need help"- we all need help and we should help each other. When I get overwhelmed, the Serenity Prayer helps me, it says, paraphrased: Help me to accept the things I cannot change; to have the courage to change the thing that I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference- apply this prayer to your life, will you? And post here again anytime.
Ask HIM what he needs and how he needs to be supported and comforted. And if he doesn't know - try things until he does.
Definitely keep talking to Amie. Get it all out and on here, free up your mind to make room for the impending change. :)
PS: He's entering a gateway into a (to all intents and purposes) whole new life experience. "The Scary Unknown"! BABY STEPS. If I've learnt anything in life, it's this:
We are incredibly adaptable and resourceful beings, which is why we dominate the planet despite we're bodily wimps. SOMEONE in his ancestral line(s) will have suffered and conquered this (it's been in his genes, right?). So his mind WILL have a programme for it, for dealing with it. Quite possibly beautifully - we don't know! Once the blindness happens, that CLICK will happen and he'll start to steadily feel he's got a different mindset. And it's not that other senses get stronger and significantly more enjoyable to experience, it's that, without the main sense - vision - the other senses get given FAR more attention by a mind no longer almost constantly taken up with visual data. I'm talking, things like, great music will no longer be an accompaniament...too rich not to focus solely on! AND so on. You might want to start calling all relevant support charities - for practical preparation support/advice at least, including what equipment/aids - if you haven't already?