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help: what to do with depressed wife?

 
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2005 10:49 pm
I see that you haven't read the terms of service here, ultrahealingcarol. We argue points of view without resorting to calling each other foul names - or at least we try to.

In any case, calling Debra or anyone else such a negative name doesn't improve the effect of your post.
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Eva
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2005 11:15 pm
We're telling you this because you're a newbie, and we'd like to see you stay around here for awhile, ultrahealingcarol. Name-calling will get you thrown off A2K. It's a clear violation of the Terms of Service that you agreed to when you signed up. It's okay to say someone's thinking stinks...you just can't attack them personally.

(BTW, neither ossobuco, Debra_Law nor myself run this board.)

Please try to calm down. This thread was meant to deal with samo's problem, not yours. You and Debra both need to remember that. You've both been unkind.
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Debra Law
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jun, 2005 02:14 am
When Your Partner is Depressed

Quote:
One of the central defense mechanisms people use to deal with depression is denial. People, understandably, do not like to admit that they are depressed. Sometimes they express it by developing chronic symptoms of fatigue, backaches, digestive problems, and other bodily symptoms. Others just act depressed and flat out deny that there is anything wrong. Life is too short to live it out with someone who is depressed, in denial and refuses to get help.

While denial is a maladaptive choice for a truly depressed individual, it is an unfair choice for a person with a family or a partner. I get numerous questions from people with a depressed partner who refuses to seek help. Sadly, the problem is a fairly common one. . . .

[Clink on link to read entire article.]

There is usually a strong, underlying current of anger and pent-up hostility present when someone is depressed. Refusing and rebuking your suggestions that they seek treatment is one way of expressing that anger. It is maladaptive, but effective, for misery loves company and you will surely be miserable living with a depressed person determined to stay depressed.

It is never pathological, in my opinion, to demand that someone with a psychological problem get help for himself or herself. Depression is a serious illness and it needs to be treated that way. Treatment is imperative to ensure the well-being of both the partners, as well as the family. Life is not fun with a depressed person, and unless something is done to rectify the situation, it will go on that way indefinitely.
0 Replies
 
Debra Law
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jun, 2005 02:21 am
Helplessness can drive you crazy

Quote:
Many depressed people don't do much to help themselves. It is the nature of the disorder to make people passive; they do little to help themselves because of their generally erroneous belief that no amount of effort can change things. . . .

Don't let someone else's depression become your life focus. Do maintain your own quality of life. . . .
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Debra Law
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jun, 2005 03:00 am
Depression Support Group

Quote:
. . . The ill partner must recognize and accept the illness and be willing to receive treatment, and, if possible, learn to manage the treatment of the illness. If the ill partner is unwilling to do these things, it may become impossible for the family to continue support.

The family is not required to throw away their own lives for someone who refuses to cooperate. These are limits and they must be enforced without feelings of guilt. Educate yourself concerning every aspect of the illness. Education brings compassion. Ignorance just encourages anger, fear and prejudice. Grieve your loss. You need to allow yourself the time and energy to experience the entire process of grieving. Get help for yourself to cope with this incredible challenge, either from your own counselor or a support group.
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aidan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jun, 2005 04:23 am
Really, really helpful Debra - for everyone- as this issue affects a lot of families. Thanks
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samo
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jun, 2005 10:41 am
wow
thanks for all your opinions and I didnt mean to start a fight in this topic. Embarrassed

I would like to know if there are two kind of depressed people, the one that are chemically unbalanced and clinicaly determined depressed, and the ones that just make themselves depressed. I'm just trying to figure out what kind of depression my wife has. most of the times I think she just make herself depressed, like she just dont want to change her life style after 26 years of bad habits, the problem is that she grew up in a divorced family and nobody really took care of her so she end up doing whatever she wanted not having someone to tell her is wrong or not to do it. so I think that since now she's living with me and things had to change she just is in denial of changing her usual lifestyle when she was single. sometimes she does things thinking if she were single..not realizing that we are now one in marriage..and things affecct me as well....for instance.. she would just leave all of her clothes all over our bedroom, and I would ask her to please pick them up, she would say okokokok I will pick them up, just give me sometime.... time?? the clothes have been on the floor for 2 months. she doesn't realize that her things affect me as well. but that's how she use to live nobody telling her nothing. so I don't know at this point what kind of depression she has or if medication will help her for sure.


One thing is for sure that living with her is draining all my enery out, it's like dragging a huge rock every single day. sometimes I even get depressed just for the fact I don't what to do with my marriage or I never expected to think of divorce this early, sometimes I feel dissapoinment too.

I still have hopes for all this, I will starting my therapy soon and hopefully it will a good start to get better.

I think what it makes me mad the most is that all the time we were dating she pretty much lied to me, she just was not the one Im living with right now, she told me she wanted to this and that and change, and promised this and that, and now all that is gone. it's not fair for me, depressed people cannot go in live and play somebody else's life just like that.


thanks again for all your comments
0 Replies
 
Debra Law
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jun, 2005 12:54 pm
Samo:

You should demand that your wife seek professional help and cooperate in treatment. If she refuses, you will eventually have to decide whether you want to throw away your own life on someone who refuses to help herself.

Get therapy for yourself and focus on your own health and well-being.

Best wishes.
0 Replies
 
hsbnd10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jun, 2005 11:04 pm
samo,

I feel for you. I have been married to my wife for over ten years. For many years, my wife had some of the same issues your wife does, and she still struggles with them from time to time today.

The TV watching, the munching on junk food, the manipulating-she did all of those things. Luckily, we went to a church where some of the counselors (who we began seeing around the 7th year of our marriage), started getting through to her. Our marriage had come very close to being over.

I had to insist that the main thing that my wife was vegging on (TV) be removed from the house (at least ALL forms of broadcast or cable TV-we would still watch stuff on VCR/DVD). Importantly, she had agreed with our counselor to try this. Yet that doesn't mean that she was perfectly pleasant during the process-some pretty nasty moods would seize her from time to time. Yet, eventually she was able to wean herself off the tube. She now admits that she was addicted to it.

I suspect that much of the problem here is spiritual. I haven't read all the fine print on the forum rules, but I will try to use common sense in infusing religious beliefs into the forum. That said, this "spell" that is over her will have to either be broken or the marriage will have no future.

Sooner or later, someone will have to confront her about what she is doing and ask her the tough questions. Do you want to go on living this way, do you want to make this marriage work. If so, you will have to agree to some of your crutches being removed. TV, junk food, and guess what? FAMILY.

For someone to take off and go to daddy or mommy when things get rough is a sign that these parents are just too close. My wife also did this. She wanted things to be the same way they were when she was a kid. If I began to challenge this, she could find safety by going to visit her parents. This issue must be addressed and may best be solved by moving out of "reach" of her parents. To me this would mean that parents are at least 4 hours away.

At the same time as you are dealing with her issues, you would do well to be well versed in the needs that she has as a woman. While none of this may be your fault, you will have the best chance of success in your counseling if you are being the best possible husband. There is plenty of reference material out there to help you with this. (I found HIS NEEDS, HER NEEDS by Willard Harley to be very eye-opening for me).

Whatever you do, deal with this before having any children, children don't deserve divorce and the suffering that goes with it.

Somehow, someway, all of us in this culture will have to make some major shifts towards foundational spiritual beliefs and traditions that bring greater simplicity to our lives. The sacredness of life and marriage in the west seems to be all but gone. I think we will all get closer to finding answers to these questions if we will turn off external forms of entertainment (TV, stereo, internet) and begin to learn the value of creating "life" out of the people who are around us in our families and in our communities. Yet. whatever we do, our solutions will have to be common solutions if we all want to be on the same page so that we can all "live together" in this world. That is how we live life isn't it?

BTW, many people believe that an unhealthy diet plays a major role in people having unhealthy emotions. You might want to consider that as well. Knowing how to eat healthy is actually pretty easy, it's just a little more expensive and not always convenient and fast. But it CAN make a BIG difference in people feeling emotionally stable.

God Bless and Stay Strong,
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aidan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2005 02:07 am
You make some really good points hsbnd10. Especially about tv as drug in our society. The last three years I lived in the US I was working at a really stressful job - it was stimulating and rewarding and I loved it - but it was just emotionally draining. Every evening I would come home and after I had cooked supper and cleaned up the kitchen I would just collapse in front of the tv. Many times, I would not even be aware of what was on - it was almost like a soporific - it would just lull me into this almost vegetative state. We moved to England last September and for various reasons decided not to have tv. It has been the best decision we've ever made. Not having tv as a diversion has enabled us to grow closer as a family and freed time for us to develop other interests and relationships. Not to mention that we are not constantly exposing ourselves to all of the consumerist, materialist propaganda (commercials) and the gratuitous violence and mind numbing drivel we used to spend literally hours a day watching on tv.

But it's amazing how addicted people are to their technological "drugs". As a teacher, I have had parents constantly bemoaning the trouble their child has gotten into on the internet, or that this or that student literally can't get up in the morning for school because they've stayed up all night playing computer games or watching tv - but it never occurs to them to take the computer or tv out of the child's room. And when you suggest it - their response is, "Oh, I couldn't do that". Sometimes I think it's because it would mean that they ,the parent, would then have to try to fill the void somehow and actually give up some of their time to interact with the kid. Though it's ruining their lives, and poisoning relationships, they can't conceive of giving it up.

I think you hit the nail squarely on the head.
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Debra Law
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2005 02:04 pm
I agree with hsband10. Get rid of the "material comforts" that allow a the sick person to VEGETATE on the couch. She's addicted to watching television in order to escape the responsibilities of her own life. Television provides mental stimulation without requiring physical exertion. It allows laziness and apathy to become an addictive lifestyle.

Why get off the couch and wash the dishes, take care of the laundry, sweep the floor, interact with your spouse, or go out and find a full-time job when you can sit on the couch and watch ten hours of television? If the television or the computer or the video games, etc. weren't there to occupy the sick person's mind, wasting away ten hours of listlessness wouldn't be so attractive anymore. The mental stimulation of sweeping the floor would finally be appreciated.

Don't enable your sick partner to waste away her life in a vegetative state. If she was addicted to alcohol as a means to escape life, wouldn't you scour the house, find the alcohol, and pour it down the sink?



Debra_Law wrote:
The situation might call for "tough love." You might have to remove the "material comforts" from your home--the things that make it so easy for her to vegetate in the house. Remove the television and remove the computer from the house. Make three essential demands:

1. Demand that she find a counselor that will actually help her and that she go to counseling sessions on a regular basis.

2. Demand that she get on a regular schedule (no more sleeping until 2:00 in the afternoon). The regular schedule includes going to bed at a reasonable hour, getting up at a reasonable hour, and getting showered and dressed right away in the morning. (No languishing around the house in pajamas.)

3. Demand that she get a full-time job.

Let her know that you're not going to enable her depression anymore and that she has three months to fullfill your demands OR you will be seeking a divorce.

Essentially, she isn't going to get better if you enable her to continue on in this depression. This is your life too, and you're entitled to demand that your spouse take the steps necessary to become a healthy person.
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samo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2005 05:19 pm
Yup
Thanks for your words hsbnd10, they remind me of my everyday life.

One thing you are so right about is taking action before any children come around. you are right about they don't deserve go thru an unhappy parent's marriage or a divorce. So far I'been 9 months in this marriage and how things are going I'm not planning on having any children... besides because of her same situation there's no intimacy, so I doubt that anything is going to happen. you are about thinking creation of life first.

one thing that hurt me the most is that they don't realize thru the emotional pain they are putting us thru. in my case she pretty much tried to be someone else while we were dating so I never realized of all these things, but I noticed it anyways but she made promises and unfortunaly I felt for it. it's just not fair for us.

I thing I want to make clear for people her that might suffer of depression is that I understand that life for you is not easy, and that is painful as well, but you cannot drag a person into your world of depression, that's being selfish, she knew before hadn there were going to be changes, she knew that before the wedding and if she said I do for the marriage she said I do the changes to, it's like if you marry someone with cancer you are agreeing to go thru all the pain and concecuences of it. it's just not fair for me that she wont aknowledge all the things she agree to when she decided to marry me. now my life is all upside down because of her. I also wanto make clear that I love her and love her for who she is, and do things for the love I have for her.

Manipulation is one of her common tools to make me feel guilty, lately I've had more control over my feelings and I know that I don't need to feel guilty.


The munching on junk food is present everyday.... one day I decided to buy some icecream so we could have a treat for after dinner from time to time. I usually don't buy icecream because I'm tryin to loose some weight and my wife is over weight so I don't want to make things worse, but I wanted a little treat for us. well she was eating that box of icecream as it were water, she was having icecream for breakfast, lunch dinner..the whole thing was gone in less than 2 days. I told her I got the icecream so we could have a little treat from time to time after dinner, and because of her eating the icecream that way is one of the reasons why I dont buy any icecream at all. of course she got mad at me and told me I was trying to control her and so on.. making me feel guilty. now I know I shouldn't feel guilty for that. it's not normal for her to devour a whole box of Icream in 2 days, that's the same with cookies or any junk food that there's around. I usually like to buy a box cookies to last a least a week so I can have a little treat now and then, so I find myself hiding them from her and that's not right.

What I've been doing lately since Im the one doing grocery shopping I just don't get junk food, no chips or coke, none of that. but it doesn't matter she would go over her dad's because there she can eat all the junk she wants. she says it makes her feel good. I said it wont make you feel good when you get diabetes..and so on...

her mom is an issue too. my wife would do something wrong like not going to work just because she doesn't feel like it, and her mom would tell her that it's ok, when it's not!

she promised me that she was going to go back to school last spring... of course another lie. there are some many thins she has promised and failed to do that cant count them.

she gets up every day at 1pm no matter what time she goes to bed.

as hsbnd10 said they just want to keep living the same life style they were living with their parents. one of my questions is why get married then, if you didn't want to change your life style why did you get married for, because if it were for true love you were doing the things you had to do so you don't ruin your marriage.

I usually work butt off doing some overtime at my work so I can have some extra money, well once she got mad at me beacuse I was spending money on me, she said it was not fair... yeah what a joke huh, she barely works to pay her bills, and I work my butt off every so we can have all we have in our apartment and when I decided to get me a treat with my overtime money she says is not fair and of course makes me feel guilty.

so as you see it's a complex situation. I've learned of how not to feel guilty for things I should not. Even with this situation I've learned how to be a better husband and listen to my wife's needs. but as someone said it's my life too and I cannot let her depression take over me too.

I'm doing all the work to get us a counselor, both or us and a shrink for her, that's going to be the last shot I'll give to this marriage. I'm 27 years old and a whole life to live with a lot of goals ahead and I don't want to get sunk in this hole I feel I am in right now.
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Eva
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2005 06:52 pm
I'm glad to hear you're looking for a counselor, samo. I'm sure that's what you both need.

We are well-meaning people here, but we are not marriage/family counselors. We are all bringing our own history to this thread, and you need a trained, objective mental health professional to evaluate your situation. They can tell you the best way to handle things. We can't, obviously. Debra_Law and I don't even agree on the best way to handle depression! She's an attorney, not a psychologist. I've worked on staffs with a lot of licensed counselors, but I have no training in the area myself...just personal experience with depression. Lastly, we've only heard your side, not your wife's. So we're really not capable of giving your relationship a balanced evaluation.

A2K is a very good sounding board, however, and there are a lot of intelligent, educated people here. You will find a lot of sympathy, but not necessarily professional advice. That is what you need. Please check back in with us and let us know how the counseling is progressing. We do care.
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Debra Law
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2005 07:17 pm
Love and support only go so far. A depressed person isn't going to get better unless she participates and cooperates in a meaningful plan of recovery.

A spouse should not ENABLE his sick partner, whether that sickness involves alcoholism, addiction, depression, or whatever, to remain sick. Tough love is still love.

A spouse is acting properly when he demands that his sick spouse take constructive steps to get better. It's NOT necessary nor proper for a spouse to throw away his own life and happiness on someone who refuses to lift a finger to help herself.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2005 07:26 pm
The only thing I am presently disagreeing with you on, Debra, was the comment a while back re throwing away bottles from the alcoholic spouse and the relation between that and getting rid of the tv.

I agree there is a relation but I am not infavor of the non alcoholic or non depressed spouse doing it. While it is your business, it is not your choice and I am unconvinced it is any more help than hindrance in resentment.

I think in practical terms it should be the person who has the
difficulty's choice, and in basic rights terms it should be his or hers as well.
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JPB
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2005 07:57 pm
Hello Samo,

My first husband suffered from clinical depression. Although he was well when we married, he apparently had earlier bouts with depression and fell to heavy teenage drinking to self-medicate. I think your wife's addiction to TV and junk food is her mechanism of self-medication to help relieve her depression.

My ex's first deep bout with depression after our marriage was terrifying for me. I didn't know what to do to help, I didn't know what might make things worse, or what might make things better so I was supportive but, for a long time I didn't try to force him in any particular direction. I was aware of his suicidal thoughts.

Unlike your wife, my h was fully employed. He was finding it difficult to keep his focus on his job and he became worried he would be let go. I would call him at work every morning around his break time 'just to say hi', but I was really calling to make sure he'd made it to work and hadn't taken his life or, God forbid, someone elses by staging a car accident on the way to work. My life was in a similar, but different, private hell as his was.

I began to encourage him to seek professional help. It took some time, but he eventually agreed to talk to the on-site social worker at his workplace. She immediately referred him to a psychologist. The psychologist immediately referred him to a psychiatrist. He was prescribed anti-depressants and was weaned off of them four months later. His depression had lifted and he was fine - happy, mentally healthy, and looking forward to the future. He suffered other bouts of depression over the years, the second one being about three years after the first, but he was then able to recognize the feelings and get himself into treatment before the depression took over his life, or more accurately, both our lives. His was clearly a case of a biochemical imbalance induced clinical depression.

I think you should encourage your wife to get professional help. She has to get to the point where she wants help or it wont be effective. She has to want to participate in the treatment in order for it to work. You can't force it on her, but you can encourage her. In the meantime continue to be supportive. I don't think you need to keep your feelings about how this is affecting you to yourself. Getting a counselor for yourself is a great idea. A professional will be better able to guide you as to how much of what you are feeling should be shared with your wife. Be aware though that you can't get counseling for your wife by sitting in the chair for her. The therapy you seek needs to be for yourself and your feelings and what you need.

Best wishes to you and your wife.
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Eva
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2005 08:12 pm
Agreed, osso. It has to be her choice. If she feels bullied into treatment, it'll never work.

I disagree most strenuously with Debra's "tough love" stance with depressed people. Depression eats up all your mental energy. It's often more than a depressed person can do just to get through the day. Forcing them to make a major decision is totally beyond their capability. They will crumble.

Clinical depression is a mental illness. They are fragile. You wouldn't ask someone with a broken leg to run a marathon, and you can't expect a person with depression to be able to make major emotional decisions. They haven't the energy to do it. Their decisions are not good ones.

Samo loves his wife, and he wants to save his marriage if possible. I don't think demanding and forcing is the right approach at all, unless he's asking for a divorce. And I don't think he's there yet. We shouldn't push him that direction by implying that his wife has chosen to deceive him.

I think there are kinder, gentler ways to improve his situation. Instead of throwing out her TV, junk food, waking her up every day at 6 a.m., demanding that she get a job and possibly making her suicidal, I'd suggest he have a heart-to-heart talk with her instead. Out of love. "Sweetheart, I can tell you're not a happy person, and that hurts me so much. I want to see you happy, and I will do anything it takes to help you. I just can't stand seeing you this way. Will you please go with me to see a counselor? I want things to be better. I want so much more for us! I want us to have a great future together with a house and kids and great jobs and trips together some day, but it will never happen if we keep going like this. You see that, don't you? We need help. Will you go with me? Please say you will."

Tough love is absolutely appropriate for people who are belligerent and rebellious. Or for people with chemical addictions whose lives are threatened. But I don't think it's appropriate when dealing with clinical depression. It's like killing a housefly with dynamite.



(Edited: Just saw J_B's last post. Absolutely agree about Samo's wife using TV and junk food...as well as excessive sleeping...as self-medication. Classic responses to depression, all of them. I'm glad to hear you and your husband managed to survive his depression, J_B. And I think it's great of you to write about it here so Samo will know that it's possible to get through it and have a happy marriage. There is hope!)
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2005 08:42 pm
Me too, and me too, and re anti depressants, I am for them with guidance and counselling accompanying them, just a human who has watched friends and family go through these situations.

I'll have to go back and look at Debra's post re what I was agreeing with, but let me jump to the idea that dealing with this now is right.
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2005 10:23 pm
Agreed! There is never a BAD time to deal with depression! It runs in my family, so I have a lot of experience with this. I have suffered from it, off and on, myself. Antidepressants have helped me when I needed it, and I strongly recommend counseling as well. On the other hand, when I was once at my lowest ebb, someone tried to force me to decide whether to stay married or not, and I became suicidal as a result. I just couldn't deal with the pressure. Later, through counseling, I learned that I shouldn't have expected myself to be able to handle everything at that point. I was much more fragile than I realized. But then, slowly, I got better. Life is wonderful now.

I'm not saying this to scare Samo. I just want him to realize that IF his wife is depressed (we should defer to a professional diagnosis here), she is ill, not simply deceitful and manipulative. It's natural for him to react to her behavior, but through counseling he can come to a better understanding of what causes the behavior and how best to respond to it.
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samo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2005 10:45 pm
thanks for all the advices. professional help is on the way. however I want to say and be honest, I don't know if I am going to be able to hold on and go thru all this situation any longer. I'm willing to go to any kind of therapy both for my wife and me, but if she decides not to go, or if it's too hard for her to make a decision or if she gets suicidal, I don't know if want to hold on to this relationship anymore and as I said before I love my wife to death, but I have to be honest and I dont want to spend my life in a rollercoaster of emotional situations, and I want to get profesional help because I dont want to feel like nasty canasta you know.. the bad guy of the movie or guilty for divorcing her, I also have the right to choose if I want to live a healthy relationship and live. for now I will give it my 100% with professional help I hope my wife does the same. I cannot live on the emotional edge all the time, I'm the kind of person that problems in marriage affects all around me, work and school, Im not the kind of person that goes to work and leaves all the problems at home, Im a really sensitive person and anything that affects me emotionally affects me evrywhere so it's crucial for me to be healthy inside and emotionally stable to carry on with my life.

All of us have the right to choose a better and healthy life
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