Living with depressive person?

domySeptember 5, 2007

Hi to all,

just as the title says; wife (28, as me) is going through a depression, she is being treated by a professional and she is taking medications, but thruth to be told I don't see much of an improvement (this has been going on for some 3-4 months now).

How do you live with it? Has anybody experienced it? I'm starting to get guilt feelings, even though she and the doctor say I'm not to blame. I try as best as I can to support her, show her my love, do whatever I can, but this feeling of her is just not going away. I feel powerless and frustated.

To make things worse i just started my master degree (full time student), so my time available for her and her daughter will greatly diminish.

Sometimes she accuses me of not understanding how she feels, and she's right. I have never gone through something like that, so I can't possibly "know", I can only "immagine" as best as I can.

How do you cope with this kind of situations? Any experiences out there? Help...


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domy, I think it's great that you want to walk alongside your wife in the best way possible. Have you asked this question of her therapist? Maybe he/she could shed some light for you. Or perhaps at least they could refer you to someone who could see both of you together, as it's no longer something that's isolated to her...her condition is clearly affecting you too.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 5:27PM
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I know exactly how you feel. my husband has had depression for quite a while, and I don't know how much longer I can take it. I feel like I'm drowning half the time, and I definetly feel like a single parent most of the time. He sleeps for days and days, ignors all responcibilies, and has put us in finacial ruin due to his not wanting to work.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 8:59PM
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Depression just doesn't happen. There is a cause. It can be a chemical imbalance or an event or events, pain where it is dehibilitating, to cause the spiral down. What has changed that may contribute to how she feels?
Perhaps if you talked to her therapist one on one, you could get some insight to better understand her condition. There may be things that can be changed that would help her. Does she have any interests now that could be pursued. Are the rooms in your home a color that enhances the depression. Will she go "out" and does she have a way to do so?
I think sometimes when things just seem WRONG, we overlook the simple solutions. I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 1:16AM
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Is there some organisation that you could phone to ask for help ? Like one of those couselling services. Depression is a big problem in my country, so there are a lot of services to help people and their carers.

You have a problem as well, in that, you must learn how to best deal with this situation. You can't really be expected to know, without some sort of understanding as to what is going on.

I wish you well. Its tough, I know.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 3:41AM
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IMO, (for whatever it's worth) it seems too me that there are varying degrees of depression. The most serious, being the person who needs to be hospitalized because they are simply shut down and not functioning and sleep all the time, and when they are awake they are disengaged from life, and everyone in it. I once read that it is like being out of your body, watching your body go through the motions, but feeling completely disconnected from everyone, including yourself. Feeling completely hopeless.

But I also believe that there are a vast number of people who believe they are depressed, and are treated for depression, but they really are discouraged (perhaps they are unhappy with their spouse, in-laws, job, lack of good friends, don't like their house, feel bad about themselves for some reason, etc). They find it difficult to find joy in anything they do. Sometimes it is easier to be depressed than admit we are deeply angry at ourselves, or a spouse, or a parent, or a sibling, etc. Sometimes feelings of depression are created by problems involving others that we feel powerless to solve, that is affecting our life in a negative way, and we can't figure a way out of the situation, and therefore, it can feel hopeless. In this type of a situation, it would be to dig deeper and find whether she herself is willing to find if there is someone she is really angry at, or disappointed with. The hardest one to face, is being deeply angry at ourselves for something. The second hardest to face, is being deeply angry or disappointed at a mom or dad, because we feel such a tangled mess of emotions of love, hurt, anger, guilt over the anger, etc.

Sometimes we can help ourselves feel better, by getting active (exercise) because as they physically get to look better, they begin to feel better about themselves. Another area would be to address the way your living environment looks. As someone else mentioned, fresh uplifting paint colors, and some simple fabrics to make the room look pretty, can make her feel good whenever she walks into the room. Can she sew, or do you know anyone who can sew, who can help her make her home fresh and give her a project to work on?

The 3rd area, is she alone all day with her child, or is she among people? This can have a huge impact on how she feels. How old is her little girl? Does she go to preschool? If so, is your wife forming friendships with some of the other moms? This would be especially important since you are going to be gone such long hours.

And last, could she set some goals for herself that give her something to look forward to?

I wish you happier days ahead, as you help her to heal.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 9:00AM
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I like bnicebkind's ideas about community - being in relationship with healthy people can sometimes do more than any chemical treatment. Domy, perhaps that's somehting that could be helpful for you, too. From your words it sounds like you need support, too.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 11:44AM
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Has she tried a different medication? Or just the one she's on that doesn't seem to be working so well? Some people need to try 3 or 4 or 6 different anti-depressants before finding the right one.

Exercise and getting involved are great ideas with or without medication -- but both are hard to start when you are depressed. Can *you* take the lead there?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 6:15PM
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"Exercise and getting involved are great ideas with or without medication -- but both are hard to start when you are depressed."

That hits the nail on the head.

Getting oxygen into the bloodstream is the single most powerful thing you can do yourself to alleviate depression;

when the synapses in the brain don't fire correctly, the person gets depressed.

Think of the timing in your car's engine;
when it's "off", the engine misses & doesn't work right.

oxygenated blood going to the brain makes it function more efficiently, & the synapses fire more accurately.

The big trick is...
getting the aerobic exercise.

A depressed person just doesn't think it'll do any good.

This is where a jogging buddy, especially one who isn't afraid to be a bit pushy or bossy, is a lifesaver.

Same with social involvement;
social interaction stimulates the brain...
but you gotta go "out there", & a depressed person doesn't think it'll do any good.

Again, a partner who'll get the depressed person to shower, dress, & get in the car can be a lifesaver.

I wish you both the best.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 2:22PM
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Although it is believed that depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, that can be corrected with medication, I believe that there are many people who are depressed and being treated for depression as a chemical imbalance, when IMO, the depression for many is caused by profound discouragement in themselves, or in their life, or a deep anger at themselves for decisions or choices they have made, or anger at another. It can also be triggered by finding oneself in a situation that they feel powerless to change, and a sense of hopelessness overcomes them. I believe that it can come from a damaged self image that may be accurate, as in they might be angry at themselves for a big weight gain, or the image may be inaccurate (as in anorexia) where they see something no one else in the world sees. As in they may be obscenely skinny, and yet see themselves as overweight.

They may be hurt deeply by a parent, in law, ex or someone, and they feel powerless to solve the problems, and it triggers a hopelessness, that them overwhelm them, and it feels easier to escape into depression, then to face and deal with what is really bothering them, and to face it head on. And perhaps they have tried, but the people responsible do not respond in the way they need them to. Perhaps they refuse to be accountable for things they have done, or twist things, so that the person victimized, is blamed and re-victimized yet again.

The discouragement may overwhelm someone, creating feelings of depression.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 4:30PM
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bnicebkind - what you say seems to make sense. I've been feeling depressed and moody lately, which I have been attributing to menopause. I'm also having marital issues. Now I wonder if it's chemical or that deep discouragement/disappointment you talk about. I have a self-esteem problem, my weight is creeping up, I do feel powerless/hopeless, and don't know where to start in fighting my way back.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 9:03AM
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My first thought to "start in fighting your way back" was to find a friend to walk with every day. Better yet, several friends would be even better. Actually, they can simply be neighbors, who may turn into friends as you walk together. It will help you not only get exercise, so the extra weight starts coming off, but will help you be among other people to simply walk, and talk every day.

I then wondered if that walking buddy were your spouse, would it begin to help you in your marital issues?

Everything I read, and hear from doctors, keep repeating that exercise if the most important factor in heading off depression. I imagine that we also begin to feel better about ourselves, when we being to lose some of that extra weight. And yet I wonder for those who truly hate to exercise, does it still have the power to make us feel better if we hate doing it?

But we also know people who look great, but still struggle with depression. Perhaps it still comes back to personal problems like their marriage, or a parent, or family situations they too have no ability to change, and feel powerless to solve the problems, and yet these same people are a part of their life that they must deal with, and the behavior of these other people has a continual impact on their lives.

And it is discouraging. And at some point, discouragement can turn into depression, where it begins to become difficult to find joy in anything.

But I do believe that at some level, there is a thought process that we can refuse to entertain. Where we make a conscious choice every time a disturbing thought plagues us, we first think if there is anything we can learn from this that we need to learn? For example, I had a situation where a relatives behavior was hurtful over an extended period of time. But I would never speak up, or confront this person, because I hate confrontation. I just kept letting it pass, and trying not to let it bother me. And she continued this behavior, and her behavior kept escalating. Now, the feelings I had toward this person built up to such a point, that I found it difficult to be in the same room. I learned from this that my failure to respond and speak up, instead of nipping it in the bud, helped create a much larger problem, than it should have ever been allowed to get to.

Yes, I was innocent in that I was the victim of the behavior that was meant to hurt. But I learned that my lack of response was wrong too. Because I did not "have a voice and use it", this snowballed into something that has been hard for me to forgive her for. It went on too long. It (on some level) damaged my good feelings for her. Had I spoken up, and nipped it in the bud, it would have been easy to forgive and move on. Does that make sense? And so by reflecting on the problem, I learned something I needed to learn. That in some way, I could have (and should have) handled a situation very differently. I thought I was being nice. Taking the high road. And perhaps that would have been OK if I were able to actually let the comments go, or consider the source, but I was not able to. I replayed them over and over in my thoughts, getting angrier and angrier at her, but never letting on that I was angry with her. And she kept at it. Until I could not even be around her. It would have been so much healthier for me, to nip it all in the bud, and speak up. So I believe that we first look at what is bothering us, and consider if there is something we need to learn here about ourselves. To actually consider what we can do differently that may help a problem.

But there do exist those problems that are like frustrating puzzles, that we are powerless to change. We try different things but nothing helps. And we get discouraged, because they affect our life, but they appear to not have a solution.

Several pop into my mind.

The sibling who is unemployed, or leeching off and elderly parents savings, and you cannot do anything about it, and yet you worry one day that when the well is dry, and your elderly parent(s) broke, that it will be your problem. The leech that used up all their money will not offer to help them at all.

Or a spouse that gambles all of the family money, leaving a family high in debt, and facing losing everything.

Or a spouse you adore, and your young children adore, who is involved with someone at work.

Or a sibling that abandons his/her children and runs off with their new lover, and if you don't step up to the plate, the kids (who you love) will end up in foster care. You already have 3 children, and now you are supposed to raise his/her 4 kids, so you end up raising 7 kids, while your sibling is living the high life???

These are problems people face (just a few that pop into my mind) that we did not create, but can have a huge impact on our life. And discouragement, and depression can often follow.

So if we become depressed is it a "chemical imbalance" or simply life's problems can be overwhelming, and we feel powerless to change the situation?

IMO, I think that depression can be a manifestation of problems that lead us to feel hopeless in changing them. I do not believe that all depression is a chemical imbalance, in fact I think a lot of people being treated for a chemical imbalance, have problems that seem unsolvable, and a sense of hopelessness overwhelms them.

If they can try and re-direct their thinking, to positive thoughts, I believe they can help in their recovery, so that they do not "spiral" down into actual depression. If you have examined a situation from every angle, and learned what you can from it, than the next time you find yourself dwelling on a problem, make a conscious effort to re-direct your thoughts to happier places.

Does any of this make sense?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 10:51AM
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It makes some sense to me.

Although, I do usually believe that a chemical imbalance is present in most cases of depression. I thought I heard that the chemical imbalance of depression could come from the stresses of life (even lack of sleep, etc)... Meaning your stress and how you choose to react or not react to it, can itself be the cause of the chemical imbalance. So, the chemical imbalance may not be something that people are born with or that is innately there in many people, but is rather something that can develop and cause depression. Although I would guess genetics could play a role too, where some may be more prone to gettting a chemical imbalance or may just genetically be more emotional or cynical thus creating a bigger possiblity.

Because we can be in situations that more or less can create this chemcial imbalance with ourseleves, I would guess that it may be possible for many people to change their attitude or situation thus making the chemical imbalance return to normal especially if they haven't been depressed for very long. Although, I think in more serious situations, medication is usually needed. There does come a point where some people are so down and out that they end up in a situation where they just really can't help themselves.

I believe there are some studies that suggest that depression in children becomes somewhat "wired" in their brain (literally changing the shape of certain areas and such) -- thus often causing them to be a depressed adult no matter how happy their life may be. Sad to think of....

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 1:09PM
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"your stress and how you choose to react or not react to it, can itself be the cause of the chemical imbalance"

Right, we're more susceptible to health problems when we're stressed or anxious, when we are ill, when we're especially exhausted.

High blood pressure can be caused by genetic predisposition or a high fat diet...
& by stress, worry, & anxiety.

Auto-immune problems are another good example.

Allergies caused by pollen & such are often worse when a person is stressed out.

Many people have outbreaks of hives when they're under stress, when they're especially exhausted, or when they've been ill.

Fever blisters are caused by a virus.
just a virus.
but when I was in school, my fever blisters always broke out during final exam week!

It takes immediate intervention to alleviate the immediate problem, & pro-active management to prevent future "outbreaks".

When the blood pressure is through the roof, you have to get it under control at once.

When your allergies act up, you have to control the symptoms & ease the pain:
take aspirin, drink juices, use a saline nasal spray, etc.

When you have hives, use a salve to stop or ease the itching.

When you are depressed, you have to get your synapses firing efficiently.

After your blood pressure is under control, your allergies have calmed down, your itchiness has abated, your depression lifts, then you have to change the "aggravating" factors to prevent future problems or at least minimize the effects.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 1:39PM
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