Severely depressed husband

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
hi, I haven’t posted before but am really finding things difficult. My husband’s mental health has been low for around a year, and several times previously in his life but this seems like the worst - he has felt suicidal at the end of last year and again recently. He has accepted some support (including new meds but they don’t seem to be doing a lot even after 2 months). He said he will not go to any counselling or therapy as he hates talking to people, he has done some CBT and counselling in the past but says it did not help. He rarely will even talk to me about it as he is just not a talker. I am very worried about our children when he is this low as I am not sure he can fully look after them, he is not violent to them but overreacts to things and is too strict, he has no patience or empathy. I feel like I need to be around to take this pressure off and not leave him alone mainly with our oldest (9) as they clash. But this is an impossible situation as I have to work so can’t always be there. My husband has been off work for several weeks now and has started to stay home all day, sometimes drinking, doing nothing but on his phone and watching tv. He does some things around the house and for the children if need be but he is getting worse and the stress is really getting to me, causing me to be anxious whenever I’m out. I feel desperately sad and worried for him but also worried for my children. Any advice or understanding from anyone would really help
Hi - only a very quick reply for now, as dashing out. First, welcome. Second, please read other threads in this Mental Health section as a lot of what I, and perhaps others too, will tell you is what has been said to other's coping with someone with Mental Illness.

I'm afraid the time has come for 'Firm Love' - setting boundaries, and setting 'demands'.

Your first responsibility is to your children, not your husband, and his should and must be as well, too. Which means you have to give him the ultimatum - irrespective of his own feelings or preferences, EITHER he resumes talking therapy and seeks changes to his meds to make them more effective, or you leave the marriage, and take the children with you.

Your children are entitled to a happy childhood - if that is to be without their depressed dad casting the blight of his self-pity over them, so be it. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but, like I say, HIS first responsibility is to his children, not himself. He has to force himself to do things he does not want to do - that his depression is telling him he 'needn't bother with', etc etc.

The very fact he does not like talking therapy shows how vital it is for him. 'Stuff' is buried in him, festering away, and has to be 'lanced' by facing up to it.

'Slumping' as he is doing now in the house is the very worst thing he can be doing. To be honest, signing someone off work for depression simply gives the depression a chance to get a real, nasty hold on them. 'Idleness' is the WORST for depression!

Check out the practicalities of you leaving him - sadly, getting HIM out of the house is going to be difficult. He will try 'everything' to keep you there, and putting up with him. This is not the 'true' him, but the malign 'depressed' him, who just wants to 'slump' into misery and self-pity. Depressed people are often VERY 'self-obsessed', 'drowning' in their own misery, refusing and incapable of seeing what they are doing to others.

Yes, we have compassion for them - but not endlessly so. We cannot ENABLE them to stay as they are. That's why I talk of 'firm love' and 'boundaries' etc etc.

He has to choose - his family (children and you), or his depression. He's not an idiot- he's someone with free will, and has to CHOOSE to make the effort required to tackle his mental illness effectively.

Do YOU have any idea what he is depressed about? It comes from somewhere, after all!: Childhood trauma, genetic tendency, any idea???? (Did he even want children, for example? Not all men do - competes for attention to THEM!)(sorry, bit cynical!)
PS - glad he's doing 'something' in the house. He needs to do a LOT more. Stop cooking/cleaning/having sex (if you are!) until he pulls his weight. He won't 'volunteer'.....

Sadly, for now, you have to be more of a parent to him than a wife.

Depression is self-perpetuating, and he will simply disappear down a hole in the ground, a bottomless pit. That's why the 'firm love' has to be set in place.

Things CAN improve, but HE has to make the effort (as well as you! ie, to 'force' him to make choices etc etc)

That 'slumping' is THE most dangerous thing he can do.
Hi jenny, thanks for taking the time to reply to my post, I really appreciate it. His depression as far as he knows / doctors have thought is genetic (lots of family history of depression on his mum’s side) rather than due to previous trauma, which I think is part of the reason he does not think it will help to go to therapy, however this also gives him the chance to be a victim that this is happening to and not try that hard to fight it when he is feeling really low. You’re right about the tough love and I know I need to do more of this for my own sake and for the children, but I am nervous to give any major ultimatums as he has felt suicidal recently and I do not want to push him back to that point
Not totally ignoring you! Will reply 'soon' - so sorry - this section is at the bottom of the list, sigh.

PS - 'depression' can be a 'habit', and it can also be 'learned'. My SIL with chronic anxiety has taught chronic anxiety to her daughter, who thinks it is 'normal' to be anxious about everything all the time. It's learned behaviour.

A friend of mine recently told me that because her parents had rowed vociferously and very noisly and agrressively all through her childhood, when she had her first 'spat' with her new husband she, too, went over the top. He asked her why she was being so vehement and dramatic, and she explained that that was just the way married couples argued, wasn't it?......she'd simply accepted it as 'normal'.

Just a thought!
The other thought is - WHY are the rest of his family depressed? It might not be genetic!