Husband of a wife suffering from depression .... what can I do?

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ikeingrmi
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Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 5/21/2012 11:36 AM (GMT -6)   
My wife is a wonderful woman suffering from a terrible disease - Depression .... and I'ld like to help her without going down with her - what can I do?

She is a product of an alcoholic (10 years sober) mother who now suffers from dementia so there is no possibility for any sort of reconciliation .... she's not interested in it anyway.

I'm a small businessman who has experienced my share of financial success, however the last 5 years have been financially difficult (but manageable) .... this has certainly been a contribution to both difficulties in our marriage (we're also soon 'Empty-Nesters') and in my wife's depression.

She is close to accepting her 'clinical' diagnosis (A psychologist she is seeing has told her 'it's very likely that you are suffering from some form of depression') but has not yet taken ownership of the diagnosis herself, at least not enough to attempt to do anything about it. The depression has resulted in her alienating herself from most everyone in her life - except for basic daily life interactions .... It's simply to much work to talk with her about anything, so no one does - - which appears to only make matters worse.

Symptoms: 'feeling good' lasts a day or two, preoccupation with her minor ailments (something is always hurting) and a celebration of her legitimate ailments (i.e. accidents requiring medical attention), her problems always originate with someone else, she finds fault with everyone else but never with herself, nobody cares about her or her feelings, life for her has been curse from above, etc.

PLAN - I'm meeting with a Psychiatrist to seek 'coaching' counsel and accountability .... What can I be doing that would be constructive in helping my wife 'deal with her depression' (I don't believe it is something that she will ever 'be healed from').

I'd welcome thoughts, comments and suggestions orientated to my situation (i.e. Husband of a depressed wife).

Thanks -

getting by
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Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 42431
   Posted 5/21/2012 3:05 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi there,

And welcome to the depression forum. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink. I suggest that you talk to her about counseling and seeing the pdoc about this. But you can't make her well. She has to do that by herself. It is hard watching somebody else suffer. But they need to be proactive with their illness and they need to do the work. The best that you can do is get her going in the right direction. But like I say, you can't do this for her. She has to do this by herself. Let her know that you are there for her and that you want her to go to counseling. Steer her in the right direction, but let her take the steps. I hope that things get better soon.

Hugs, Karen
Moderator-Depression and fibromyalgia


fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, depression, allergies

wereyouthere
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Date Joined May 2012
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 5/21/2012 10:19 PM (GMT -6)   
ikeingrmi, this is my first post. I have had depression for the last 25 years. As long as I take my medications i do real good. There are times when I need to see a counselor and I may go to him for several weeks or several months. When I don't take medication it takes about two weeks for me to go right back where I started with this disease in 1983. I start taking my medications and it takes about a week to get back where I'm a functioning whole adult. If you can get your wife to see her primary care physician and have him/her recommend a psychologist or a psychiatrist that can prescribe her the proper medications, and she takes them as prescribed, I do believe she will recover. As long as I take my medications, no one would think I suffer from depression. I don't believe she will be helped without medication. It may be wise to go the the primary care physician with her, this way you will know what he says and suggests. I wish you and her God speed.

getting by
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Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 42431
   Posted 5/22/2012 5:37 AM (GMT -6)   
Wereyouthere,

Welcome to the depression forum. I am glad that you joined us.

Reisha sri,

Welcome to the forum also.

Hugs, Karen...
Moderator-Depression and fibromyalgia


fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, depression, allergies

ikeingrmi
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Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 5/22/2012 12:38 PM (GMT -6)   
Wereyouthere -

Thanks so much for your note ..... I'm hoping that your suggested approach to the Depression issue works! My wife actually is meeting with a Clinical Counselor, however I'm not terribly encouraged so far given what my wife has shared with me about the sessions.

I find it interesting that after 5 / 6 sessions that the Counselor hasn't asked to meet with her patients spouse of 28 years, is that unusual? How does one assess any situation 'in a vacuum?' Even a policeman, when he writes up a report on an accident, seeks the input - observations of those involved in the incident AND those who observed it.

What my wife has share with me to date is; 'She can't believe that I'm still married to you?' 'She thinks that you are abusing me in the way you treat me (I absolutely have NEVER physically abused my wife and NEVER will!) .... she's talking about the fact that I 'go possum' frequently since it seems to be the least painful way to 'share a room, or car' with my wife.

Thanks again for your thoughts and encouragement that medicine may be an answer. I find this particularly interesting since her Father has been prescribed Cymbalt which I believe is a depression medicine.

ikeingrmi
New Member


Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 5/31/2012 6:23 AM (GMT -6)   
Ok ... a follow-up to my original 'Post' from my 'Husband of a wife suffering from depression .... what can I do?

A few updates:

1. My wife has met 4/5 times with a Psychiatrist who was referred to her by our church. One would assume that, given the source of the recommendation, that the counselor would view issues, circumstances and treatment through a 'Biblical Worldview' lens. I'm not so sure that's happening - OR - my wife if sharing information with me that is being taken out of context since the primary outcomes to date that my wife has shared with me is that;
A) The psychiatrist has said she has 'depression like symptoms,
B) That my wife is one of the most complicated 'cases' she has ever dealt with and,
C) that my wife should be seeing a lawyer.

I wouldn't disagree with A or B above, however, I've got serious issues with 'C' ... the see a lawyer (suggesting that divorce proceedings should be started).

'See a lawyer?' - How can anyone properly assess a situation - even a 'professional' - particularly a marital relationship without ever speaking with the spouse? If there's a car accident, a policeman hears from both parties, in a legal proceeding both parties present their case, in business dispute both parties are seated at the table. I realize I'm getting the information through my wife's 'filter' but really .... never talking to the spouse? It should be noted that this counselor has suggested that I meet with a male therapist in the same office?

Shouldn't I meet with the same person that my wife is? I welcome informed and/or experienced thoughts and comments on this issue.

2. I will be meeting this morning with a Christian therapist. My thought in doing so (this is the 3rd time in 6 months that I'm meeting with her) is that I am interested in being 'coached' and 'held accountable' in how to deal with and be an encouragement to my wife. I've tried the 'self-taught and self-motivated' approach and it's failed several times. I figure if the best athletes in the world pursue 3rd party coaching, then why shouldn't I do the same in pursuit of a God honoring marriage and a desire to 'help' myself deal with my wife's depression and possibly help her deal with it herself.

I'm scared, I believe my wife is approaching her personal 'breaking point'. The 'pressures and challenges of life' that lie ahead for my wife and our marriage are huge! My work demands continue to be very high (i.e. long hours), in the next 3/4 months we will become 'Empty-Nesters' as our youngest goes to college, our oldest son will be getting married, my wife's mother (who she assumes a disproportionate share of the care responsibilities for) is suffering from increasingly more severe dementia.

We'll see where this goes but one thing I know for sure .... it'll be me that needs to change to help my wife and save our marriage, I just don't know what that looks like?

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

getting by
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 42431
   Posted 5/31/2012 6:37 AM (GMT -6)   
Ig sounds like your wife has already talked about divorce with her counselor. It is hard to say what was said, as it is confidential. Have you talked to her about going to couples counseling? That way you could find out what is going on in her head. It is a shame that she isn't talking openly to you. How did you find out she was getting a lawyer? Did she tell you that? It sounds like there is a huge lack of communication between the two of you. I highly recommend you going to your own counselor, then talk about couples counseling to her. It is highly unlikely that her counselor is going to see you. That would most likely be a conflict of interest.

I hope that things work out for you. Keep us posted.

Hugs, Karen
Moderator-Depression and fibromyalgia


fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, depression, allergies

Chartreux
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Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 9664
   Posted 6/1/2012 9:36 AM (GMT -6)   
I would take your wife in to her doctor to get a full physical work up, as dementia can run in families and
you should have her checked to see if she might be starting to suffer with dementia and maybe seek out another
counselor for your wife to see, a counselor should not be pushing for your wife to get a lawyer, but should
be helping you both get closer, something seems wrong and maybe you should seek out a lawyer for a free consult.
Maybe look into your wifes counselor credentials...
I hope things turn out for you but you do have a lot to look into and consider...maybe seek out couples counseling
and see if your wife will go with you to that...keep us posted as we do care...
**********************************************
* So many dx's I could write a book* "It would be nice if we could use the edit button in real life"...
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Thru
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Date Joined Jun 2012
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 6/3/2012 4:05 PM (GMT -6)   
Do you tell your wife you love her and are looking forward to it being just you and her again? Do you hug her often and tell her not to worry and that she can lean on you during this hard time? Have you told her it's okay for her to be weak right now, because you'll be strong for the both of you? Do you try to do simple things she enjoys and have fun? If not, do these things immediately and often. As for wanting to talk to her therapist, please put that out of your mind. Her theapist is her safe place to talk, cry, and vent. It sounds to me that what is going on with her mother is taking a toll on your wife. I hope you are 'physically' helping her with this.....meaning going with her as much as possible when she's with her mom. You could be her buffer, so to speak. Since your wife was recently diagnosed with depression, it may be that this is the main source of her problems. I wish you luck!!

I also want to say she's very lucky to have a husband that cares enough to do what you are doing.

ikeingrmi
New Member


Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 6/4/2012 1:19 PM (GMT -6)   
'Thru' ....

Thanks for you note .... it's as if you knew (personally) what my wife was going thru, your comments had a certain '1st Person' orientation to them.

Since you asked some really interesting and insightful (i.e. diagnostic) questions, I thought I'd answer them one at a time and see what it might reveal to myself - and others?

1. Do I tell my wife that I love her? Yes I do, though not often enough ... but I'm working on that. The 'battle' for me in doing this (which I'm fighting daily) is that she treats me in such a way (i.e. Zero affection, Needling comments, Badgering behavior) that it almost appears she' trying to sabotage our relationship. I've determined that it's the depression acting itself out .... not my wife's heart.

2. Do I tell her I'm looking forward to it just being 'the two of us again? ... Yes I do, her response is, 'Once the kid's are gone all I've got left is you :-( She doesn't find any encouragement in that .... she's invested so much in her kid's (at her own expense) that there's little (in her mind) to look forward to once they are out of the house.

3. Do I hug her (See #1 above) and tell her not to worry. I used to but she finds a material amount of her self-worth in being a 'worryer' (it has been dividends for her before) so she has no desire to live a 'low worry' life.

4. Do I try to do simple things she enjoys and have fun? I've not done a good job of this, interestingly the counselor I met with last week seeing 'Husband Coaching' also suggested that I deliberately look for opportunities to do this as well as fine small opportunities to verbally affirm her ..... I'm focused on this in the near term. I've cancelled 2 multi-day business trips so that I can be home to 'help out' with a number of events that involved her.

5. My wife's therapist. A point of clarification, I'm not particularly interested in talking with her - rather - I thought it was interesting that her therapist didn't express an interest in talking (i.e. relational due diligence) to me. I don't want to do anything that would compromise my wife spending time with someone that's there to 'help her' (I'd appreciate a more positive environment than 'you should find a lawyer').

6. Care-giver Challengers (her Mother). There is little I can do to help her with her mother (she's got 2 sisters that are doing that) other than give her a 'warm ear' to vent into after she's spent the day with her. I'll continue to provide that as best I can.

7. Husband. I'm sure, over the years, that I've been a significant contributor to many of the problems / issue's that my wife has / is / will be dealing with. I'm just working to neutralize some of those by being a 'help mate' going forward. That's why I'm seeking 'experienced, wise, biblical counsel.'

Thanks again for the perspectives and insight, they are much appreciated!

getting by
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Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 42431
   Posted 6/4/2012 1:28 PM (GMT -6)   
It totally to me sounds like it is her problem and she has to work on that. Though it wouldn't hurt for you to have counesling in how to deal with the whole situation. I am sorry that you are going through this. I hope that it gets better. I hope that she gets better. Know it is going to take time...

Best wishes,

Hugs, Karen
Moderator-Depression and fibromyalgia


fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, depression, allergies

Kaely
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Date Joined May 2012
Total Posts : 619
   Posted 6/4/2012 9:36 PM (GMT -6)   
Hugging and saying 'I love you' are almost never wrong. (unless she is like me and hates being touched). She is probably being snappish because she is scared right now. It must be so awful for her to deal with her mother. It's hard enough dealing with a sick elderly parent. It's even worse if they have somehow abused you. Maybe after a rough day with her mom offer to run her a warm bath or some such relaxing activity.
You say you keep cancelling business trips, why not go and take her with you? It sounds like your kids are old enough to be on their own for a day or so and it could give her a break from daily woes.
I can understand the therapist not having interest in talking with you. Your wife's counseling is for and about your wife, not you. That's hard to accept for some, but that's the way it works best.
As to the pending empty nest, have you considered getting her a pet? It would give her something to care for and pets can be very therapeutic.
I wish you luck and hope things work out for you and your wife :)
Chronic pain, Depression, Fibromyalgia, Tennis Elbow (both arms), Arthritis (knees and fingers), Diabetes. Ruptured disk L-4, Severe degenerative damage L5-S1, ACDF C6-C7

JPson
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Date Joined Jun 2012
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 6/6/2012 2:44 PM (GMT -6)   
It left me sad, your story. I hope she overcomes it.

ikeingrmi
New Member


Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 6/6/2012 5:13 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for the comments and encouragement .... both are appreciated.

In reading (and re-reading) the notes that have been posted it occurred to me that my efforts to present 'the situation' may be a bit one-sided. In the interest of full-disclosure, as well as my desire to be transparent with those who I'm asking for insight, encouragement and coaching I thought I'd provide some additional bullet points / factoids on me. The thinking here is that in doing this you'll be getting a more 'fair and balanced' snapshot.

Here goes:

1. Small Businessman ... I'm a small business person who has experienced significant success (professionally and financially) - AND - serious financial hardship ... which is where I am now. The fact that I'm alive (professionally speaking) to live another day is, by itself, a measure of success. Think 'Financial Katrina." Notwithstanding the financial challenges that we (my wife and I) are experiencing, we have now - and have always had - a relatively low standard of living so no one (family or otherwise) really has any appreciation for the challenges we're experiencing.

2. Workaholic ... I work alot and love to work. My hours; Monday thru Friday 6:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Even with those hours it's still difficult to get all the work out the door. I've tried to explain to my wife that she's married to a 'Farmer' of sorts. The analogy speaks to the fact that a farmer almost never has a day off.

3. Financial Stress ... Believing that it would make her depression worse, I did not keep my wife informed of the failing family finances (BIG MISTAKE now that I look back). When the telephone would ring and it was credit card companies calling and saying that the payment was late, or the checkbook balance had a 'very low' balance in it my wife 'freeked out' and claimed that I was lying to her (not lying, just now full-disclosre). The lying issue would then trigger memories of her alcoholic mother lying to her about her drinking.

4. Faith ... My faith (i.e. Evangelical Christian) has been and continues to be my source of strength through all the trials in my life (I couldn't ever go to my wife due to her own struggles). Without the confidence I have in God I have NO IDEA how I would cope.

My wife love's the Lord, she - like me - is 'Saved' and will spend eternity with God - - - Praise The Lord! For my wife, her faith isn't as dynamic a part of her life as it is for me - as you might expect, that creates conflict between us :-( Where God is my strength, she questions God for 'giving her this crappy life.'

Ok .... hopefully this information will 'round out' your understanding of the kind of guy I am (with plenty of my own issue's) and allow you to have a little bit more perspective on me - and the marriage I wish to save.

ikeingrmi
New Member


Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 6/12/2012 10:17 AM (GMT -6)   
So that's what it feels like .... last night my wife said, 'I love you' and it wasn't because she felt some obligation to do so. What she said, I believe, came from her heart!

As I've observed my wife - over the last 5 to 7 years - become increasingly depressed (more frequent bouts of depression AND deeper depressed moods for longer periods of time) I've struggled often with how to respond. The struggle comes when I allow myself to take her depression personally. I hear what she says and observe what she does and perceive both as reflecting her feelings towards me - RATHER THAN - understanding that it is the 'depression' manifesting itself.

What a blessing it is when I see and hear my wife's heart 'trump' the disease and her affection for me reveals itself through the depression.

Just in the last week or so there have been a number of 'high stress' family related issue's taken off her plate and with that he ability to decompress .... it has definitely translated into a calmer less anxious (i.e. depressed) demeanor.

Today she's meeting with her counselor, it'll be interesting to hear how that goes given her 'uptick' in mood over the last several days.

getting by
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Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 42431
   Posted 6/12/2012 3:14 PM (GMT -6)   
I am happy that your wife is feeling better. It is hard with depression...

Hugs, Karen
Moderator-Depression and fibromyalgia


fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, depression, allergies

Kaely
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Date Joined May 2012
Total Posts : 619
   Posted 6/14/2012 12:04 AM (GMT -6)   
So glad things are starting to look up a bit for you! I hope it keeps going in that direction :)
Chronic pain, Depression, Fibromyalgia, Tennis Elbow (both arms), Arthritis (knees and fingers), Diabetes. Ruptured disk L-4, Severe degenerative damage L5-S1, ACDF C6-C7
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