Depression and relationship - a see-saw link

A

Asdir

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#1
Hello, I have had depression on and off for years, but one of my worst bouts ever was caused by my partner having an affair, and then continuing that affair whilst I went through a complete mental breakdown, complete with suicide watch. Once I had several months of therapy and I started to get my mind back together the affair ended and they have been faithful ever since, that was four years ago. Since that time we've looked at all the issues of cause and have tried to find better ways forward. My partner was really unhappy and lonely at work and was in a dead end job. So I increased my work and supported them through a uni course, they now are qualified and have a job they love. We worked on new frriendships, and fixed relationships with their daughter. We saved and saved and I sold a lot of my stuff so we could travel to the place they wanted most to go. And our relationship improved no end. Ahh you know there's going to be a but!!

But...... I cannot get over the fact that they left me, abandoned me when I had my breakdown and have refused to talk to be about it, and. in fact, refuse to talk about my depression at all. I had a major panic attack at New Year and ended up being cared for by ambulance crew whilst my partner stood to one side. That event has never been talked about. And I need to talk about it. My partner looks after me if I am physically unwell, they cook for me, they shop, they buy me things. They tell me every day how much they love me. But they will never, ever talk about my despression. And I am becoming worse because of that, I know.

If I am in a good spell we are a really close couple, but when I get down I'm on my own. They even walk out of the room if I cry. I feel like a naughty child. They say they do not what to do or what to say and that they cant handle the mental issues.

I have put myself back under my Drs care and I am having therapy again, but my partner is not aware of this at all. They know I went to see my Dr but they never asked why.

I dont want to leave them, we've been together so many years. But how can I get them to talk to me?

Thank you for letting me say all this, been carrying it around and decided today I'd put it down for a while.
 
maxitab

maxitab

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#2
Hi asdir....this is really hard.
Two things...we are hard wired to avoid pain, in ourselves and in others, and even then, physical pain or hurt that can be seen and done something about is much easier to deal with because that is the second thing - we are programmed for flight ( do something) or flight ( run away).
With mental distress it is very hard to do something about it, very hard to realise that listening makes one hell of a difference......so they take the second option, they run, leave the room, refuse to engage.
My suspicion is that it is very upsetting for them to listen to you more especially so since 'there is nothing we can do'. I think that is what they mean when they say they don't know what to do. They are clearly 'doing' oriented, they are happy to shop etc, practical things are okay......
Can you tell them what a difference it makes to be listened too.....Can you say that you realise it is hard to hear and that they want to be able to do something about 'it' and that the best way to do this is to just be there, in silence is fine, so long as they don't abandon you? That listening, calming you, is actually 'doing' a great deal?
There are some really good leaflets published by Mind - I think they are free. They explain what depression is, and what it is not, and how to help someone.
Sometimes people give more authority to the written word, more so if it comes from a reputable source.
I left my leaflets in the loo.......!
One thing, I know it is not your fault and you probably feel justifiably angry over their actions to date, but expressing that anger to them is not going to help. Try to find a way of expressing that elsewhere....I find twisting a damp towel when there is no one around is a very satisfactory displacement action! Make noises to accompany it if you can......
A couple of books?
Depression for Dummies.
Emotional Intelligence.
Do please come and share with us here too...until (hopefully) they can realise what supporting someone emotionally means......
 
A

Asdir

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#3
Thank you. I appreciate what you say, and how it has been said. It is a good insight into the other side, so to speak. My partner feels partially responsible for my breakdown and therefore finds it even harder to let me talk about it. But as hard as I try I cannot escape a need to talk about it, talking truly, truly does help me and I feel I cannot move on and be free until I have covered the ground and asked the questions. I have found it simpler to forgive the affair than I have to forgive the not listening. I am angry with them for abandoning me, you're right. But please believe me I have tried and tried and tried to ask them to listen, not even talk, just listen. Or maybe just ask how I am some days. Or just say, how did you get on at the Drs. I feel worthless to be so invisible.
 
maxitab

maxitab

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#4
Asdir, I presume you have asked them why they are unwilling to do as you ask........do you think you could ask them if they feel helpless...they did say they didn't know what to do, and I think it is very hard to get across the notion that listening is doing something....they will need to hear that again and again.
Also, do try the thing about other sources of information, from Mind or Sane.......Another thought occurred to me last night...or rather at 4.30 am this morning!
Sometimes people avoid being with or find it hard to listen to others emotions because they are so afraid of their own, or afraid they will fall apart if they start to acknowledge them.
The Emotional Intelligence book is a good one for that.......
Have a search on the web too, sometimes there are good ideas...even typing in 'getting relations to listen when I am down' has some good sites.....
Also, keep sharing here......You are not alone, the forum never closes.I am about to go to a meeting but I'll be back on line later......:hug:
 
A

Asdir

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#5
Yes, I have asked, both calmly and in arguement to be honest, and they always say they dont know what to do or say so its better to say and do nothing. They say that I am upset no matter what they say. But I try and explain that I am more upset when left alone in silence. Its a pattern we've been repeating for years. I'm trying to break it but I think its breaking me. If I am really truthful with you (and with myself) my initial reaction to your very good suggestions of ways forwards was 'why should I keep trying when they (my partner) doesn't'. And that surprised me a little, but it shows me that I am verging between looking for a way forward and giving up on us both. I will look at the EI book, I studied that a little when learning meditation, its an interesting slant in things. Thank you.
 
maxitab

maxitab

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#6
It is very unfair - we have the condition then we have to educate, deal with the stigma, be understanding when no-one is offering that to us. I get so hopping mad about this!
I am wondering if there is a mediation service or a counsellor, or someone, who can come together with you all and help you to sort it out, or one day you might go POP and that would not be good, I know, I have done it!
If you look at stories of recovery, they have one thing in common - someone listened/was there for, the person concerned.There are lots of recovery stories on the web, you can look at the Recovery Devon website, you can also print off research papers off the web all of which say the same thing. Be relentless in putting these in places where they will be seen......

This is from the Mind website......
What can friends or relatives do to help?
The very nature of depression, which brings a sense of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness, can prevent someone who's depressed from seeking help. They often withdraw from friends and relatives around them, rather than asking for help or support. However, this is a time when they need your help and support most. Perhaps the most important thing that you can do is to encourage your friend or relative to seek appropriate treatment.

Try not to blame them for being depressed, or tell them to 'pull themselves together'. They are probably already blaming themselves, and criticism is likely to make them feel even more depressed. Praise is much more effective than criticism. You can reassure them that it is possible to do something to improve their situation, but you need to do so in a caring and sympathetic way.

People who are depressed need someone who cares for them. You can show that you care by listening, sympathetically, by being affectionate, by appreciating the person, or simply by spending time with them. You can help by encouraging them to talk about how they are feeling and getting them to work out what they can do, or what they need to change, in order to deal with their depression.

If the person you are supporting is severely depressed, you may be faced with some hard decisions about how much to do on their behalf. If, for example, they are not looking after their physical needs, should you take over and do the shopping, cooking and cleaning for them, if you are able to? Or should you try and encourage them to do it? There are no easy answers to this situation. It will help if you can find someone with whom you can discuss these and other issues.

Supporting a friend or relative who is depressed can be an opportunity to build a closer and more satisfying relationship. However, it can also be hard work and frustrating, at times. Unless you pay attention to your own needs, it can make you feel depressed, too. Try and share the responsibility with as many people as possible, and find people to whom you can express your frustrations. There may be a local support group of others in your situation. You could also talk to your GP or another healthcare professional about getting help for yourself and your family.
 
wendolene26

wendolene26

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#7
I've tried to encourage my partner to talk about how I'm feeling with me, to the point where to start with when he came home from work and asked me how I was, I would be blatently truthful and not the usual "yeah fine darling, and you". To start with you could see him thinking "crikey, what is it she is actually telling me", so i'd say to him that we agreed I'd be honest about how I'm feeling as it's the only way we can both deal with it. There are of course days when he asks and I say "yeah, fine" then promptly burst into tears or sulk but then I don't think there's much getting away from that.
 
TiredTina

TiredTina

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#8
Ive actually given up trying to get my husband to talk about how im feeling. In the beginning, many years ago, i really did try to talk to him about it but i have always received the same response: He says if i had a broken leg then he could see there was something wrong with me but because i suffer from mental health illness then there is nothing to see. He says that it is not that he doesnt believe me but that he just doesnt know how to handle it or what to say. If he asks me how i am most of the time i say im fine but even on the rare occasions when i have said that i was not feeling good he didnt take the conversation further so what is the point! He comes from a family who have never really shown their emotions so that has been instilled in him.
 
M

mum&wife

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#9
Hi Asdir

As you know I am on the other side and it is interesting to see how isolated you feel by this.

It seems your partner is ignoring the problem, hoping it will go away. They say they love you which I'm sure is true but perhaps don't know how to deal with it and what to say.

I am guilty of this myself sometimes. Because you know you can't 'fix' it, you tend to try and get on with your own life and hope your partner will just magically get better sometimes. When things are miserable at home it is easier for a partner to get out and 'pretend' things are normal. I admit I dread weekends when my partner is home because the whole atmosphere is dragged down whereas during the week I can pretend things are normal because he's at work and not around.

I'm not making excuses for your partner, you need to be able to cry and talk in front of them, but maybe they don't know how to let you. Have you directly said I want to talk about this, or will you please listen so I can get things off my chest.

They will also of course feel guilty for abandoning you at your most needy which is again why it is easier for them to just try and ignore things.

It may be that like me, your partner needs a place or person to talk themselves so they can be better equipped to know how to talk to you. As a partner you are always terrified of saying the wrong thing. So sometimes it's easier to say nothing.

Best of luck, I'm sure inside your partner really cares but just doesn't know how best to help you.
 
M

mum&wife

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#10
One more thing. I know for us, sometimes I or he will just say - "want a hug?"
It's kind of a way of showing empathy for each other without having to actually start off a big conversation which you don't know how to stop or start anyway.

If we didn't have our cuddles I think things would be much worse. Help you to feel close even though you really don't understand what the other's going through. Also sometimes he will say 'no' to a hug which is fine and I tell him that's fine. Sometimes we need to be by ourselves too.
 
A

Asdir

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#11
Yes, thank you all, good and interesting points, and its both good and also sad that I am not alone in this. For me I actually am the one to use the broken leg example - I say if I had a broekn leg you wouldnt expect me to live life as normal and not get it fixed, so why not with my mind? I also say 'I wouldn't expect you to fix the leg, but you might take me to the hospital, or maybe help me carry soemthing, so can you just listen and talk and help me carry my depression'. The answer is no apparently!

I have actually got to the point of refusing hugs as I cant be there for them in a loving way when I feel I am invisible in all other ways. Its got to the stage where I am sorting out the spare room with the thought of seperate bedrooms.

I know they need support and help, and I try and be there for them and listen to all the things that have happened in their day, and I listen to them if they get upset, or if they get cross with someone. I am just fed up of carrying my load alone. So, yes, dumping it here where I know you'll all be ok with it :)
 

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