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Depression codependency?
January 5, 2009
11:41 pm
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Kim T.
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I would like some feedback about my husband who has been depressed/anxious for almost 5 years. We have been to many Medical doctors, psychiatrists. counselors, 2 hospital stays, many, many combinations of meds, ECT treatments, A Shaman, hypnotherapist and a partridge in a pear tree πŸ™‚ and I see no consistent improvement. He says that he "can't" make himself do the things the docs and counselors tell him to do to help himself and he continues to cling to me (like a child). This behavior has practically killed our relationship and has turned it into almost a parent child relationship, which is very unfilling for me. I am wondering if anyone else has been through a similiar situation and can offer some feedback as to how you handled the situation and were you able to resolve the issue? We have been married for almost 23 years and had a good marriage for the first 18 years - I am just losing hope that I will ever have a "normal" relationship with him again and it is heartbreaking for me. Any input is greatly appreciated!

January 6, 2009
12:05 am
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serenity
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the cure is to tell him to leave or to leave yourself.
My husband wanted to be a child in our marriage. He would buy toys and read comic books while i worried about our finances or strategized our next move in order to survive. He had little orginal thoughts unable to make smart choices, he would always expect me to decide. I grew tired of this and practically had a mental breakdown. It was too much being responsible for myself and my child and him. I couldn't do it anymore. told him he had to leave, that our relationship was unhealthy. I helped get an apartment and then i stepped back. I let him do the rest. He is actually doing great, bills are paid by him for the first time in 15 years. he is buying his own clothes, food etc. he is surviving without me, just fine. When i go to his house to pick up our child, i feel this is the way things are supposed to be. It feels right. We have a responsiblity as a soul to grow and expand and anything that keeps from that is wrong. Just my thoughts, hope this helps.

January 6, 2009
1:12 am
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_anonymous
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Kim- You have been married to him for a long time. What happened that caused him to become depressed?

Unfortunately a human being is not like piece of furniture that can stay the same over a long period of time. We physically, mentally, emotionally change everyday. It sounds to me like your husband is ill and has a serious problem that is affecting his ability to mentally function. Unfortunately we dont have control over our brains and like the rest of our body it can break down and malfunction. Doesnt make you a bad person. Now if he had his legs amputated do to an accident or cancer you would be able to see and understand that he will never grow legs back and walk like a person who has legs ever again. Your husbands brain is not able to function normally. This could be due to a problem that is out of his control. I dont really believe that anyone chooses to be depressed or enjoys it.

You asked if you will ever have a "normal" relationship again?" Since the past is dead and gone and tomorrow never comes I would have to say dont stay with him for his potential. You cant have a normal relationship with someone who is not normal and who is behaving irrationally.

Just because he needs someone to take care of him doesnt mean that person has to be you. You can look into some kind of home care, day treatment program or assisted living.

My husband was a depressed, drunk that behaved like an out of control teenager. On all kinds of psych meds, etc. One day I had to ask my self if it was enjoyable. I dont think I have to tell you what my answer was. One day I kicked him out and told him not to come back unless he had money to pay for his share of the house hold expenses. It was sad to see him outside at night in the cold with no car. I dont know where he went for the night. I think to some abandoned shack with rats. Then he decided to come back the next day and pay the rent. I told him thank you and gave him his own room. Its like if someone cant put a roof over their own head or food in their mouth then they dont deserve to have those things. As long as you keep providing for him he has nothing to strive for. I just want to know why you feel so responsible for him? He wants you to be his angel but what are you getting back in return?

January 6, 2009
9:19 am
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atalose
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Kim,

Ditto everything Destinystar said. She said it perfectly and I can’t think of any thing else to add.

((Destinystar))

((Kim))

Atalose

~~Hope has a place, but not above reality~~

January 6, 2009
9:54 am
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caraway
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Kim,

I read and understood this a little differently than what others did. Are you saying that your husband really is sick and has, at no fault of his own, become more like a child or dependant than a spouse?

I think that other advice is on the money if he is just being selfish and lazy, but if he is sick, then I would think that this is where the, "for better or worse, in sickness and health", part comes in.

Mental illness is a very real thing and he may not be able to shake it. Keep trying and looking for answers.

Good luck,

Cary

January 6, 2009
10:49 am
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Kim T.
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Thank you all for your input!! My husband was a firefighter for 20 years - he was rarely sick while working and not depressed - he was a little anxious at times, but I thought that was just the job. When he was 50 he was offered an early retirement offer and he took it! He was looking forward to early retirement since we met, so he was very excited to start a new life. We moved to a vacation cottage at a very beautiful mountain lake location. Our daughter was a Sophomore in high school at the time. Our plan was for me to get a chance for a career in real estate and he would take over a lot ot the repsonsibility for our daughter and get a part time job to keep himself busy. The part time job did not manifest but he did take care of our daughter. On his 51st birthday he got a cyst on his testicle (which is very painful) and had trouble sleeping and was given pain killers and a couple of rounds of Cipro (a powerful antibiotic) During the following months I noticed him acting depressed (crying spells, afraid to be alone, anxiety, etc) so I took him to the Doc - this was the first try on an antidepressant (Effexor) that just made him agitated and did not relieve the depression. Since this time he became a completely different person! We were married for 17 years when this happened and had enjoyed a loving, romantic, prosperous marriage and friendship. Since then our relationship has slowly erroded away into what it is today.

January 6, 2009
10:55 am
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Kim T.
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I guess I do want to be his angel because of the great love we had for each other for so many years - an unrealistic desire, I know, because after 5 years I should know by now that I don't have the answer that he needs.

I know he has some type of mental issues but he is also very unwilling and unable to follow a schedule or push himself past his comfort zone. I am afraid to leave him because I am afraid that he may do something stupid to himself, but I know that is not my responsibility or fault if that happens. I don't want to get addicted to waiting for him to find the "right" medicine (if that exists) or false hope or thinking that he can be like he used to be - I am 48 and I don't want to waste what is left of my youth on a fantasy!

I am venting and I appreciate having this safe place to vent.

January 6, 2009
12:20 pm
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fantas
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Kim T,
As one who has dealt with depression I can tell you that your husband may not be able to get the right medication and he may live the rest of his life struggling with this. I think you should seek a support group for families dealing with mental illness and learn how to cope better with this. Before deciding to leave him, remember that your daughter may inherit this gene as well and end up depressed herself. How would you wish for her family to treat her? This would be a good time for your whole family to learn healthy ways to take care of themselves while dealing with this.

Having said that, it sounds like your husband can do more than he is doing, and this is where you draw your boundary. He is not a child and you need to make sure that he doesn't insist on being treated as one. Expect from him what he can do to the best of his abilities, but don't do everything for him. Perhaps you all can go to family therapy and discuss how you can, as a family, manage this situation. I think if you set boundaries and stand firm, he will respond. If he can say that he is not able to do what the doctors suggest, then he sure can try it. I think if you saw some effort on his part, you might feel better.

While the decision to leave is yours, I think the 17 years of great love is worth fighting for. In this day and age, this is truly a gift to you. I'd say, give it one more good try, not caretake, and then see where you are maybe in two years.

What does your daughter think about all this?

January 6, 2009
3:19 pm
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Kim T.
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Thanks, Fantas!

You are right in all that you say - I had a bout with depression and panic disorder after my daughter was born - I was lucky in some ways because I am a fighter and I refused to allow depression and anxiety to rule my life! I took an antidepressant for about 4 years and went to counseling for 2 years and worked out my issues -Today I am able to keep from going down that road again through daily exercise, proper nutrition, prayer, etc. so I guess it is even harder for me to understand why my husband cannot fight his way out of the darkness?

Our daughter is 20 and she misses her father so much - they were very close - she was his little Princess, but since his depression he has not shown her much attention. He rarely can carry on a oonversation with her (or me) except to complain about how he feels. (He is very self-centered about his illness). She is also a little angry and confused but she is coping well and goes to counseling. I have thought about her risk of inheriting depression issues and she does already have mild obsessive compulsive disorder and some sleep issues but she is managing it well, for now. I know I would not give up on her and I hope that her future husband would not either. She and I both go to counseling but my husband will not go himself or when he does, he does not follow their suggestions.

It is ironic that you suggested giving him 2 more years because I had already decided that I would give him until the end of 2010 to learn how to manage his illness. I think 7 years is long enough to wait - Our daughter will graduate college and I will turn 50 in 2010, so that will be a good time to make changes for a new life for myself, if necessary. I hope that we can work this out together, but I will do what I have to do then. Thanks for listening!

January 7, 2009
4:49 am
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orphan_annie
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Kim, My heart goes out to you. I can imagine that life as a firefighter put him in an awful lot of situations where he saw things he would rather not have. A friend of mines father was a firefighter and he became an alcoholic to numb the things he saw. Sounds like you are primary caregiver to a man that has been emotioanlly beaten. He needs to talk and maybe you are the only one he trusts. I suppose the reality is that you have tried to hold him together and at some point in time it may be beneficial to take off the kid gloves and lay things straight. Tough love doesn't work well, in my perspective, like wise with ultimatums. I honestly believe the best method is to set some sort of rule that says that depressing things are off limits. You love the guy but you are putting yourself on hold, which I understand completely, so you can accomodate his needs. Become selfish baby! He might find that You are worth living for and pull himself out, by himself!
I suppose if he has something to look forward to he may not look at life with such a dismal sense of defeat!
Good luck!

January 10, 2009
1:29 pm
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Bella1969
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Kim T--

Sorry to chime in so late here (busy week at work), but my interest was piqued when you mentioned that the spouse was a former firefighter.

I am having similar issues with my spouse of 13 years, who is still working as a paramedic. I have gone as far as contact an attorney because his mental issues (depression, drinking, and far worse) have begun to take a serious toll on not only the marriage, but also my sanity.

After my haranguing, he started seeing a therapist this summer who diagnosed him with (among other things) PTSD. He did not follow medical advice, and continues to spiral down.

I am not clinical, but have a feeling that what your spouse encountered in his working life may have been suppressed (as many emergency responders seem to do)and is now surfacing, based on life changes, i.e. retirement. As you are aware, a camaraderie exists within EMS and they are able to express themselves to each other, when no one else really understands. Could be he no longer feels he has an outlet for that, yet still has some unresolved feelings about trauma he encountered in the past, or simply miss the adrenaline that results from helping people in drastic situations.

Does he keep in touch with any former co-workers? Is there a way to have him socialize with them a little more, rather than simply clinging to you?

I wish you the best, and hope that he can get some help. In the interim, take care of YOU...don't let this drag on until you're resentful of the years lost to his depression.

{{Hugs}}

January 10, 2009
10:25 pm
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Kim T.
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Bella,
Thanks for your kind words! My husband was a Firefighter/EMT and he did see a lot of things that were hard to deal with and I agree that there is a great bond of support among the men - some of his co-workers have tried hard to get him to do things with them, but he has such a shame factor - he doesn't want any of his fellow firefighter's to see him the way has become. He is embarrased that he is not like he once was, strong, happy-go-lucky, commanding - and he misses the adrenaline rush too - thats why he can't find a job that he likes - no excitement.

I do feel for him, but I am so tired of the roller coaster ride - I just want to let go and find a place where I can rest - he is exhausting and unpredictable - I know that we had a great love and a happy marriage for many years, but it has been so long I can hardly remember the happy times. I think I am in the depressed stage of codependency, not reached acceptance yet, but I do not want to keep living like this! I have done all of the "right" choices - counseling, prayer, church, exercise, nutrition, etc. but he doesn't want to or won't do what he needs to do to help himself - I cannot change that. He needs professional help and he has every opportunity and great medical coverage at his disposal - his answer to every suggestion is "that it won't help him because his illness is different".

I wish you well with your husband and I hope that you are able to resolve your problems. Emergency workers are such loving, giving, people, but tend to try to escape the real world when not on duty. My husband was in AA for 13 years and that was the happiest and most sucessful time in his life.

Hugs to you! Kim

January 11, 2009
8:16 am
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Bella1969
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Wow-- I know exactly what you mean about finding a place just to rest-- I was give the option to work from home this fall and took it, just so that I could keep tabs on the husband. It ended up being a horrible mistake-- I have since started going into the office 5 days a week just to get away from his bizarre mood swings and behaviors.

I am in the same place as you-- I keep wishing there is something I could say or do that would make my spouse wake up and take a good look at what his life has become, and what it has done to me, as well. I feel so terrible that someone else is going through this too.

As I mentioned, I did consult with an attorney, but the news was pretty grim (based on the laws in our state.) It is a set back, for sure, but I have learned that I need to keep moving forward to take care of myself. It's really hard to take steps that seem self-serving when your loved one is obviously in crisis, but after living for months trying to "fix" him, only to have him deny problems or not follow up on promises, I started to feel like I was in crisis, too.

One thought I did have for my own husband that may be an option: is there possibly an EMS training facility close to you? We have one, and I think if my husband were to consider teaching other medics (less physically/emotionally stressful) he may have more focus and a plan for the future. Rather than drinking and wandering aimlessly around the house (my husband is now out on leave for his depression/other issues, but is not pursuing help in any meaningful way, that I can see) sharing his experiences with "newbies" may give more meaning to his life.

Regardless of what happens, I just know that the incessant arguing and crying (me) has to end. You are obviously a very caring person, but I have learned from all of the insightful people on this site that we cannot force our loved ones to behave in a way that is healthy, the initiative has to be their own. I am really struggling with letting go, but am also battling depression borne out of frustration and fear for the future.

In short, you have every reason to be concerned, confused, frustrated and angry. Keep posting-- I've found it to be the most cathartic outlet I have found πŸ™‚

Take care!

January 12, 2009
12:45 pm
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Kim T.
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Bella,

It appears that we are both in the same boat πŸ™‚ I am sorry that you are experiencing the same pain and frustration as I, but it does help to know that my feelings are normal and that I am not crazy! I have been in such an abnormal relationship for so long that I question my own sanity, at times. So far I have been able to function with the depression, but I still have a daughter in college so I will not let myself get too depressed - she still needs my support and some financial support as well. I have a wonderful employer - he is very understanding and kind and my co-workers know that I am unhappy and tell me jokes to keep me going - they are much like family and I am so GRATEFUL for them and my job. I would already be in a mental ward if I had tried to stay home with my husband!!! When I get home he follows me around the house like a child wanting attention - even when I do sit down and pay attention to him and have dinner, he still wants more! Is your husband like that? I feel like a prisoner in my own home and that is what I hate the most about my situation. I can understand the illness but the behaviour is beyond my comprehension.

There is not a training facility nearby - I have made numerous suggestions for jobs, voulnteer work, church functions - he is not interested. I am trying to focus on myself more - am taking a photography class this month and I work with the teens at church. I also have lunch with my friends on a regular basis and that helps me to stay focused.

I wish you well and I hope that something will "click" for your husband and help him to see how much we will be losing by continuing with his behavior. I'm sure, like me, you would rather have a happy husband than a divorced one!

Hang in there!
Kim

January 17, 2009
9:46 am
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Bella1969
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Hi Kim--

We are in the same boat. My husband does get out, but I can't stand to do anything together with other couples as my husband not only demands a lot of attention from me, but also dominates the conversation when we have company to the point of being offensive.

When I am at home, he seems oblivious that I am working or doing anything that doesn't directly involve him and demands my attention constantly (even when I am watching TV or talking on the phone.)

I have finally begun splitting rent with a colleague for a little apartment closer to work, and stayed over a few nights this week. It was heaven πŸ™‚ I was able to go to bed when I wanted (my husband stays up very late, and invariably begins some type of drama as soon as I get into bed.) I actually was able to read a book (without him knocking on the bedroom door to ask me some inane question that he has decided needs my immediate attention.) These seem like such little things, but I have started to recognize a pattern with him that has slowly eaten away at any inner-peace I once had.

Before I left for work and the apartment though, I started gathering some personal items and could not find the bottle that held a prescription I had been given for tension headaches 2 weeks ago (it contains a narcotic.) I looked everywhere and finally found it with my husband's medicines. I don't function well with strong sedatives, so I had only taken one pill. When I found the bottle this week, over 20 pills were missing. I questioned my husband about it last night, and after several denials, he finally admitted that he had taken the bottle out of my purse and "taken a few" of the pills this past week. For once we didn't argue, but I told him that, whether he chose to admit it or not, I was aware that he had a problem with substance abuse. He looked miserable, but I've decided to just be forthcoming about his behavior, while trying not to be overly emotional.

The good news is that he has another appointment with his psychiatrist on Monday, and I hope that he mentions this behavior of self-medication (with prescriptions and alcohol.) I am finally understanding that I cannot control what he does or admits, but can only take care of myself (or children, although we don't have any.)

I'm glad you have a great support system at work, and have found other ways to get out of the house. Somehow, the spouse's crazy version of reality becomes our own if we don't have space. Just know that you're not insane, just living in an insane environment at the moment πŸ™‚

Work has been very busy these past few weeks, but I would love to hear from you whenever you need to vent (even if I can only find my way to this website sporadicallly right now.) Although I hate that you are living in such a mess right now, it is comforting to know someone else understands.

Take care!

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