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 Post subject: His depression
PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:31 am 

Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:13 pm
Posts: 38
I wonder how others have got on with life with their partner who is depressed. Stopping acting out and the realisation that he has been living in a way contrary to his values has exposed himself to the reality that he is depressed.

His symptoms:
Not washing for days, wearing the same pair of pants for 5 days and nights, skin picking, picking eyebrow hair, complaining of not sleeping well, complaining of headaches, being grumpy or low in the morning and not getting out of bed straight away. No attempt at initiating sex (as ever!) despite it being hw from our therapist. Not getting jobs done, not wanting to do jobs unless they can be done perfectly.

What can I do to help? Yes, look after myself but after this?

He has not acted out for about a year (according to him). I believe he is beginning to see how his old ways were preventing him from being an adult.

He still struggles with taking responsibility for his own decisions. He really likes his counsellor and finds he can talk to him whereas he says he can't to me!

 Post subject: Re: His depression
PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:09 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 5:26 am
Posts: 78
Hi Connie33
I think probably a lot of us partners have had to deal with our husband's depression. You are right to take care of yourself. I think a large part of your role is continuing to take care of you, as it sets the healthy example, and to listen and validate his feelings. But you also have needs and it sounds like expectations have been discussed, at least in some areas. Part of the "healthy example" we set for our spouses is in openly communicating our needs, our concerns. I think once you've heard him and validated his needs, it's perfectly fair and healthy to tell him what you need to see to be assured that he's on a healthy path. Is your husband actively pursuing recovery or positive change? Do the two of you have a contract? Are there clear expectations and boundaries in place? The reason I ask is that those things help tremendously. My husband and I had a "weekly chat" which evolved over time. It started out focusing on acting out behaviors and steps to replace them - sharing my needs, his needs... what's going well, what's not. He hated it in the beginning because the focus was mostly on him and what he was doing wrong - because he hadn't figured out yet what to do that was healthy. But I also used that time to take responsibility for my own attitudes and feelings. We also had a written contract that spelled out expectations, boundaries and consequences. And we went through them together to make a list of shared values/expectations. I can provide a little more detail if it helps, but the value in this is that if you find time to agree upon what's healthy and good for both of you, and you can get it on paper, you can refer back to it later as an agreement. My husband stayed depressed for awhile. And a lot of anger was thrown back and forth in both directions as I struggled to hold him accountable to his agreements, but once we had a plan in writing that we worked out together, the frustration, on my part, went away - he knew I was right when it came to those items that he didn't follow through on, because he knew he had agreed to them. He knew he was 100% responsible for his perception of me in those moments that made him frustrated, and eventually he began to do what he needed to do more and more consistently. What does this have to do with depression? It slowly brought him back into being involved in day to day life, and that began to pull him out of his funk. It's simple, but not easy. We hold our spouses accountable to those things they and we know they should be doing. If they don't follow through with agreed upon expectations, we follow through with agreed upon consequences. In time, we learn to do these things without getting emotional, and that's really good for us. But it only works if the expectations are clear and detailed enough. And by the way those can always be revised. This is what worked for us. Let me know if I need to explain things further. I know this is difficult, but it gets easier with systems in place and with practice. I hope this has helped.

 Post subject: Re: His depression
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 7:38 am 
Partner's Coach (Admin)

Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:07 pm
Posts: 5200
Hi Connie33,

To echo what lmartin shared, the best thing you can do is role model self-care and other healthy copying skills. Apart from that, there is little you can do. You can suggest he seek some professional assistance in dealing with his depression. As with addiction, he will have to find it within himself to take initiative to work through this. You can be supportive, pointing out positive efforts and encouraging him to continue taking such positive steps. However, this should (in my opinion) be balanced with also making sure you are taking care of yourself and that you are not going to pull, push, or coddle him through this. It might useful to think of it as encouraging a baby who is learning to walk, first encouraging him a lot when he takes baby steps, but gradually weening him off of such praise when he should be learning to take clear steps on his own. Depression is not easy to deal with, for the person going through it but also for others close to that person-especially when you might be able to see what needs to be done, you know they are capable, but they are not taking action.

Having recently broached the possibility of my own depression, I read a workbook (given to me by a counsellor) that was designed to help a person work through their own depression. Not surprisingly, the work was similar to what we do here in the workshops--vision, goals, daily monitoring. But, unless I was willing to do the work for myself, I wasn't going to get out of it. And, unfortunately, when we are depressed, we tend to be drawn to things that are sad or depressing that maintain our depressive moods. The concern for a person with addiction (actually, a concern for anyone with depression) is that they will begin to self-soothe in unhealthy ways (i.e. ways that are against their values, or that will contribute to eroding that which is important to them).

I guess the best thing I can tell you is "be the change you wish to see". He will follow, or he won't, but you will be living according to your values which will protect you from violating or having your values eroded in the process. And yes, setting boundaries is good. You may wish to talk to someone to see what is realistic in terms of "helping" him though his depression. Learning about depression will help you better cope with his state.

Be well.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)

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