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Not coping with partner's depression -Carers UK Forum

Not coping with partner's depression

Share your ideas about the practical side of caring.
My partner was diagnosed with a terminal condition 8 years ago. His condition is getting steadily worse, but very slowly. I want us to make the best of the years we have left together, but he is stuck in depression. He refuses to come out with me even though he is still able to walk. The only times we go out together is when he has a hospital or GP appointment. He has no friends. He complains about everything non-stop until I want to scream. He sits in his chair watching television all day. I spoke to our GP about him being depressed and the only response was bring him to see me. He refuses to see a counsellor or try physiotherapy. I just can't get through to him and I feel we are pulling in 2 different directions.

The only way I can cope is to go out of the house, out of earshot, and tell myself this is my time and I won't think about him until I get home again. This feels wrong, but it is impossible to break through his bottomless self-pity and have a proper conversation with him. He talks at me, not to me, and it is like a battering ram going at my head day in and day out.

I can cope with the extra physical workload of caring, but I feel like giving up on him mentally and letting him stew in his own self-pity. Does anyone have any tips?
I know where you are coming from can I suggest (from one who ignores her own suggestions) that you maybe becoming depressed and need a little help with it.

I think this time of year is terrible because I know that as winter comes closer I am going to be able to go out less and less and to a certain degree I am panicing about being in all day.

I can only send you love and hugs not a lot of use but thiink of them in the sense of at least someone cares
Hi Marriage
I'm sorry to hear about your husband, that sort of news can be pretty devastating
Marianne3 wrote:The only way I can cope is to go out of the house, out of earshot, and tell myself this is my time and I won't think about him until I get home again. This feels wrong,
No, actually this is exactly the right thing to do. He is depressed, but you mustn't let it drag you down too. You need some 'me time'. Can he be left for a couple of hours? If so then go swimming, or join a pilates group, or sewing bee, or anything that you enjoy. When you are at home could you go outside and do some gardening or go into the kitchen and bake?
I'm not saying do this all the time, but try and find some regular spaces for yourself.

Unfortunately, when someone has depression, nothing will change unless they want it too and you can't make someone want it if they don't.
I'm wondering if you are just plain exhausted with everything? I've been a carer for 35 years, and know when I've simply been a "Clapped Out Carer", when anything and everything becomes too much effort. Sadly, for me, trying to soldier on for too long without support left me with a serious life threatening condition. Don't let this happen to you. Contact Social Services and ask for a Carers Assessment, to be done away from home and husband, so you can be open, frank and honest, and have a good cry if you need to. Find out what is available in your area for you, both in terms of respite and Carers Groups. Try to find a way of getting away from it all to recharge your batteries, it makes such a huge differences. Maybe then he will appreciate what you are doing for him more too?! You don't mention how old he is, this may have a bearing on how he feels.
hi Marianne, sorry to read that your husband is suffering from depression on top of everything else. When I was caring for Mum who had COPD she struggled day by day with all the problems she had but it was the depression that she had (and is quite common with copd sufferers) that I found the most difficult to cope with.

Having that "me time" is so important but not always easy to achieve I'm sure.....my aunt who also had depression used to write all her worries down the. Throw away the paper as if she was throwing away her problems. no miricle cure I'm afraid but it helped her.

Hoping you and your hubby get some good days soon...

Bell x
Thanks for all the suggestions. I can still leave the house (although that may change in a few months), I belong to a couple of local groups and also to a carers' group. But it is the feeling that we are on different paths. I feel we should investigate anything that might help, and also I batter my head against a brick wall trying to cajole him into coming out for an hour, even if it is only to have a cup of tea somewhere. He wants to sit and moan without lifting a finger to help himself. He never thinks to put the TENS machine on, it has to be me that takes it out of the box and puts it on him. Why? The gadget is there on the table and he just can't be bothered. I have run out of sympathy.
I'm not surprised. Does he have a Lifeline? Then he could call for help if there was an emergency, and you could feel OK about going out. If he can't be bothered to get the TENS machine, then why are you getting it for him? It took me ages to understand that effctively I had become in charge of mum's life - she was totally housebound in her own house, with endless demands for me to do anything and everything she couldn't. Despite the fact that she had carers 3 times a day and I had health problems and a son with severe learning difficulties!!! With counselling I learned to "manage her expectations". Would this help you? I don't know whether your husband is still "ruling the roost" at home? It would help you emotionally if you felt he really appreciated what you did for him, helped as much as he could, and understood you need to get out for your own health. After all, if you were no longer able to care for him, through choice or poor health, his situation would be very different.
I am now not coping with my husband's severe depression. He seemed to get better, watched TV, read and now he is back in his bed in the dark clutching his face and being unresponsive. It causes irrational fear in me. I feel it is my fault, that I was never good enough. He is also one of those very shut in people, very introverted and is not someone who shows emotion. So you never know where you are with him. Trouble is we have no support from family other than from an elderly brother who lives a good distance away. I sometimes get so angry and discouraged and find myself getting depressed as well. I am in the process of arranging for him to go to a retreat hospital but his brother scuppered it and said he wanted him nearer himself. Before he said it was not a good idea so now I am doubly confused. It also destroyed any self-esteem I once had and that was always tiny. Does anyone else feel that way? Retirement has not helped him even though he can still do some of the work voluntarily. Any advice out there on how I should approach him. I have tried the tough love, the super gentle and kindness and in between. He is also obtaining his need for control by not eating properly. He always needed to be in control and it seems this is now focused on his stomach (feelings) as he hates feelings/emotions. How do I stop from absorbing his moods - I am one of those people who pick up- very useful sometimes but not in this instance. I 'd say this has been coming on for four years, the worst is in the past two. He had a previous episode 10 years ago over a work issue. I never thought it would ever return so the shock of that is considerable. Enough of me except to say does anyone know why others shun people who are brain ill - it is the poor brain that is out of kilter and not some weakness. I am appalled by the way people, relatives, and friends just don't want to know. if they did it would help no end. Look forward to response. Thank you. Blessings to everyone suffering.
me again. Any comments on this experience: I go to a hypnotherapist to help me cope. She gave me a cd which has erie music on it. It has a visualisation and she said to use it daily. I put it on and it drove my husband nuts. I reckon this is the severity of his nihilistic stance. The idea behind the tapes and visualisation is to change the way the brain copes. I am not too good at it but it is relaxing and I found it made me drift off into sleep. The other problem is that he needs sleeping pills to sleep and I can sleep easily. Is it natural for me to feel so frustrated and at the end of my tether? Then I sort of get my act together and on it goes. Any comments help. I do not know what I would do without this forum.
Only a very brief reply for now - you mention that your husband likes to feel in control, and that you have little confidence in yourself, and low self-esteem.

Sadly, men who like to feel in control often specifically select women who have little self-confidence and low self-esteem, as it makes them easier to control! I'm not saying he's a 'nasty' man (in fact, men who like to control situations tend to be very weak people, which is why they need to feel in control - they may also, more sympathetically, have conditions such as Aspergers which makes the outside world threatening to them, so they like to ensure that everything in their own life is 'just right' ....including other people!).

Also, I wanted to point out that it is utterly irrelevant what his brother wants - if you want your husband to go to that particular hospital, and if he wants to go, his brother's views aren't worth tuppance halfpenny or less!

I would also suggest that, however helpful your current therapy is (and I hope it is), you might well find that counselling that targets 'assertiveness' would be good for you, to build your self-confidence. That will help you no end to stand up for yourself and stand your ground.

Always remember, you have a RIGHT to a happy, contented life. You have skills and talents that are valuable, and you are worth just as much as any other human being! It may have been your parents who made you feel lacking in self-confidence, but whatever caused it, you don't need to stay that way.

All the best for now, and sorry this is a rather cursory answer, and doesn't address your husband's state of health, but I think at the moment the focus should be on YOU, and how to boost your confidence and sense of self-worth, so you are not at the mercy of other people!

PS, if you sleep easily and your husband doesn't, I would suggest separate bedrooms! It really helps in loads of marriages (it helped in mine!). Sometimes we think 'oh no, that's dreadful', but a good night's sleep is essential, and if your husband can't sleep, then there's nothing worse for him seeing you snoozing away peacefully!