You need to leave him as soon as you can. It will be better for you, and more than likely better for him. He needs someone who can be a bit more educated about his disorder and support him as much as he needs. Passive aggressive care givers/ care takers are never the answer. He is in pain so agonizing that you can’t even imagine what is in his mind. Best of luck to you both.
conurepete, your OP hits way too close to home.
Except for the musician part (I’m a computer tech), my ex-wife could have written the same post. Even the time frame is pretty close - married 6.5 years, together eight, no kids. And three years was about how long it took me to drag her down into the gutter with me. My depression wasn’t quite as bad before that time.
I’m afraid I don’t have much advice to offer. If I did, I guess I’d still be married. It’s a horrible situation. You’d probably be happier without him. As to how he’d feel if you left him, well, I guess that’s pretty much up in the air.
In my case, I’d say that I’ve been worse off without her and she’s been better without me. It’ll be nine months tomorrow since the day she announced her decision. She’s happily in love with someone else. I’m unemployed, painfully alone, living back at home with my parents at age 27, and currently lacking the energy or will to look for another job.
It’s hard to even get out of bed in the morning. Yes, I know that’s probably the most overused cliche related to depression, but there’s a damn good reason for it.
After she left, I developed horrible anxiety I’d never felt before, and it still hasn’t gone away. I take far more Xanax than I’m supposed to (popped a milligram while writing this post, in fact) and I self-destruct a little more each day.
Sounds corny, but the thing I miss the most is just getting a damn hug. Excepting the occasional drunken male friend “I love you, buddy” hug (they don’t help), I haven’t had one in many, many months.
I guess the reason I liked the hugs was that it gave me some kind of connection with humanity. I walk around with a perpetual frown and I see the happy people chatting and laughing every day. Logically, I know that many of those cheery faces belie pained souls, but emotions don’t really operate on logic. No matter how hard I try, I cannot maintain the happy facade that so many others are able to manage; it’s exhausting. My face always betrays my sadness. I’ve had strangers walk up to me with genuine looks of concern and ask if I was okay.
Once I rear-ended a lady in slow traffic and caused a bit of damage to her car. There were no injuries. As the police officer was taking his sweet time to write my ticket, the woman noticed my neverending frown and assumed it was related to the accident. Several times she tried to assure me that it wasn’t really a big deal. Finally, I had to come right out tell her that I suffered from depression. Upon that revelation, her compassion seemed to know no bounds. I gave her my insurance info, but she didn’t even report the accident. Though I damaged her car and the accident was completely my fault, she didn’t want a penny. I only spent about twenty minutes in her presence and never saw her again, but I’ll probably remember and be grateful to that woman for as long as I live.
I’m not exactly sure why I added that little story or what it has to do with the OP (I guess the Xanax is hitting me), but it does serve to illustrate one of your points, conurepete: depressives can be some of the most self-centered people on Earth. I’ve spent pretty much this entire post talking about myself.
Unlike many non-depressive, yet self-centered people, we don’t generally do this on purpose. At least I don’t. My self-centeredness comes in the form of constant self-analysis - digging through my brain, trying to figure out what made me this way and how I can change. It doesn’t really seem to help, but every happy person I see serves as a reminder of what I’m missing out on in life, and so it is difficult not to to avoid contemplation (or worse, dwelling).
I wish you the best of luck in your constant struggle, conurepete. I know it seems futile and it may very well be, but I really hope you can work things out, and that your husband doesn’t end up on the same miserable path I’m currently walking.
Should you ever find yourself wanting an impartial view from someone who’s been on your husband’s side of the fence, my email is in my profile.
And again, good luck. You’re going to need it.
The problem is, how do you set limits with a person who has depression?
Get out. Get out now. Do not pass Go, do not collect 200.00. I lived with a bipolar person for years, had two kids with him. Dealt with the manic episodes he loved so much because it made him get creative and productive while he wrecked the cars, ran off for days pretending to be Tarzan and then the kids and I would go to the hospital to watch him freak out, tell me our one year old son was really over a hundred years old and had been telling him what to do while he was bonkers. Then dealt with the depressions where he wouldn’t do anything and I was afraid to leave him alone with the kids–because if HE wasn’t hungry and didn’t care about anything then NOBODY got any care. He wouldn’t take his medication because it meant losing the manic times. I dealt with trying to recover from a nasty car wreck, on crutches living in a second story apartment with no car and no way to get groceries since I couldn’t ride my bike–on welfare since I lost my job when I was hospitalized for a month in traction–but HE was depressed because John Lennon got shot. Me, I wasn’t allowed to be upset or depressed in spite of my injury and fear of what might be around the next corner. Somebody had to keep the kids from freaking out–my job, don’tcha know.
Finally I couldn’t stand it any more and kicked his sorry ass out. Without me covering for him and keeping him more or less on the track he had no choice but to take his meds faithfully. Then he hooked up with a woman whose psychological issues made his look like candy, and HE became the caregiver. Yeah, he’s still bipolar and twenty five years or so of lithium has left him pretty affectless, but he can keep a job and take care of himself and her and her son, and turned out to be a pretty good dad in spite of it all. I sincerely doubt he would have made that change with a competent person around to take care of his life. I sincerely doubt I would have managed not to commit suicide sometime during my children’s minority–it was pretty close the day I threw him out.
Love is no excuse for dragging someone else into the muck and mire of psychological issues and the depressed will drag anyone and everyone down with them as long as there’s someone there who’s draggable. If he dies behind his own depression, it’s his sovereign right as a human to do so and yours if you want to stick around and help him to it–and maybe yourself while you’re at it. If you don’t want to die just now, get the hell out and let him deal with his problems himself. We all die alone, it doesn’t prove your love to go with.
Sorry if this sounds a bit harsh, but truth often does. You can’t save him, he has to save himself and if you’re enabling his behavior he will NOT STOP on his self destructive course. Trust me on this one. Maybe someday after he finds himself and figures out how to live right, you guys might hook up again under better circumstances, but I wouldn’t count on it. I think it’s much more likely that you’ll get to like living in the sunshine and won’t want to go back to the cave once you’ve left. I’ve no taste for it and it’s kept me clear of the depressive types for over thirty years.
And, oddly enough, I found that my own bouts with depression pretty much cleared up without an example around to follow. Happy begets happy, sad begets sad…
Well, no manic episodes, I wouldn’t put up with that. He does hold down a job. Beckwall, why do you think I am not educated about depression? I have it myself, and have lots of education about it. He is educated in depression, too, but you can’t learn your way out of it (well, I almost can: I know its all about my seratonin getting a little out of whack every 10 years and never letting my weight go below 120 lbs).
I appreciate you all being here to let me vent, I feel like a good deal of pressure is gone. I get really bummed and hostile when he gets suicidal. I am his wife, but I Don’t see my job as care giver / care taker. I think part of the problem has been that I have been too supportive and understanding, and not “needy” enough myself. Because someone has to hold everything together, and while I am willing to take turns, I get tired of it being me.
I do need to set limits, especially with letting his emotional state get to me.
On the up side, he cleaned the house yesterday.
As someone who has suffered from depression and has an anxiety disorder, you can’t let people start using you as their primary source of therapy. If her husband has depression, that’s awful. But that doesn’t mean his wife’s whole world should revolve around how to make him better, especially at the cost of her health and well-being.
If he can’t or won’t get treatment, why is it fair to ask his spouse to do everything to keep the marriage going?
Mentally ill people do not get a pass for most things. Setting limits would be no verbal abuse, no guilt trips (heck, non-depressed people have trouble with some of these), no threats like, “if you don’t call in and keep me company today-I’ll commit suicide”–not saying that any here have done that, just an example. If said depressed person refuses to return dialogue or even engage in eye contact with you, that should be stated and the non-depressed person’s needs reiterated. “Josh, when you don’t acknowledge that I’m talking to you, I feel hurt.”
The more able partner should never act as the whipping boy or the dumpee. That just feeds the self-centeredness and the poor communication, IMO.
IMO, the OP needs her own counsellor–to act as a safety valve for her, a non-judgemental ear and as a reality check. It is very easy to get sucked into the depressed person’s world view–which is never pretty.
Mr.stretch, is that you? It can’t be, because we’re still married, but it sounds so familiar.
Neutron star, I hope you can quit trying to figure out what made you this way. Because you will never figure it out and it wouldn’t change anything if you did. You are this way, and the only thing that matters is finding something to help you deal with it. If you need a shoulder, my email is in my profile.
Conurepete, I’ve spent the last two years trying to fix mr.stretch, only to finally give in and take his counselling appointment, which I spent six weeks getting for him, when he decided yet again that he wouldn’t go. Counselling has helped me deal both with my own depression* and mr.stretch’s depression. And it has helped me determine the limits of what I can and should do for him and how long I should let various behaviours continue.
Mr.stretch has a whole slew of problems, but currently the depression and anxiety are the ones most like to take him down…the other day he didn’t answer the phone for three hours and I was ready to come home from work to make sure he was still alive. He just started new meds; I hate new med time.
*my depression is a million times milder than my husband’s and is under control with meds and my counsellor. She rocks!
Of course you’re right, but distracting myself from those thoughts only makes me feel like there’s an elephant in the room. It’s difficult to think about matters unrelated to pachyderms when Dumbo keeps sidling up next to me.
Much appreciated. I know I need help, but nothing I’ve tried (about fifteen different medications, two phychiatrists, and two psychologists) has done a thing for me. Each failure makes me a little more pessimistic about future treatments. It’s frustrating, to say the least.