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My wife and I haven't been married very long but we've been together for almost ten years. I'm 33. In the beginning things were great. Over the years I was apparently falling deeper and deeper into depression. I was always overly stressed, overly pressured, and for almost the entire period I was watching a sibling slowly die from breast cancer.

I always loved her more than the world itself, but problems started manifesting themselves physically...it's like my brain and body were disconnected. Mentally I always wanted her more than anything but physically my body was just tired, beaten, numb. Over the years we've talked, and it killed me the times she cried out of frustration. I always searched for an answer, to find what was wrong with me...but my approach was always wrong. I thought it was work and would set "milestones" for myself...if I can just achieve "X" the stress will go away, if I can just make a little more the financial stress goes away and I'll feel better. But it never did. I always tried to reason with myself on what the problem was, and I spiraled deeper and paniced more each time I found I was wrong. I thought I was working toward an answer, but instead I was always prolonging the problem.

Lately I've been reading and thinking a lot, and for whatever reason it became crystal clear: I had to make wholesale changes and get some help. I was focusing my energy in the wrong directions and had to change. So I did. I came home one day, umprompted by any recent conversation, and told her no words can express how sorry it took me so long to "get it", but I "get it" and don't want to live like this anymore. I was tired of simply feeling like I existed and not giving her the love and attention she deserved due to my own issues.

Two days after telling her this I found her crying downstairs, she said she was so frustrated for so long and was now angry that I finally had this epiphany. She resented the fact that I never listened to her and it took me this long, and she told me it's like she's gone numb. She says she still loves me but she doesn't want to be sad anymore. We're not separated or divorced, but she says she's trying to figure out what to do. She says she still loves me but she's lost her faith in my ability to change. We've both been seeing therapists, I've had two appointments and she had one this past Saturday. Mine is helping me get to the bottom of what caused everything, kind of a closet cleaning. Hers told her she needs to focus on herself and suggested maybe we need time apart.

It's been five weeks and five days since I drew the line in the sand myself; five weeks and three days since she broke down. Talk about timing. I keep hoping to get through to her and start to reinstill that faith, but her defenses are so tight at this point that forward progress isn't possible. She's trying to figure out where her head is but she says she doesn't want to hurt and be let down again. I know it takes time, I don't expect an overnight change, and I know in my heart this time I'm not going to stop what I'm doing...but she doesn't believe it. I love her more than life itself, always have. She's about the only thing that kept me going a lot of days through the years. I can never express how sick it makes me to know I've hurt her, and if she'll let me I want to spend the rest of my life showing her how good it can be and how much she deserves, not how far I can fall.

I know what I've done, and albeit unintentional I know that I've wronged her. And honestly, I can't blame her for feeling this way. I know I put us here...I can't change the past, and I'm so incredibly sorry it took me so long to realize how to fix my problems, but I always tried to deal with it as best I knew how. She said she's not upset because I've been sick, she's upset because it took so long to figure out how to fix it. Throughout it all I only wanted the best for her, I never meant to knowingly hurt her like this. I always thought i was working on it...next thing I knew years went by. I don't know what to do, except for what I have been for the past five+ weeks. This is the person she signed up for, not the one who was wallowing for years. But she's been unresponsive so far. She notices, and appreciates it, but she thinks it's all just going to stop at some point again. Has anyone been in this situation, on one side or the other? Any advice is appreciated, and thanks in advance.

Sorry for the long post, that's the first time I've gotten this all out.
 

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My wife has chronic depression, bipolar, PTSD, etc, etc. Not sure what life has been like for your wife, but for me, I can honestly say I haven't had one 24 hour period of peace, haven't felt like I was number 1 to her for even an hour, not in the 11+ years we've been together. Though you may have the diagnosis, both of you have suffered. Would you choose to suffer with your illness if you had another option? She has always had the option to just walk away from it.
She's laid her soul bare for you for years and basically became invisible...a non-entity, while you focused on your own pain. I know this wasn't a deliberate choice but the effect on her was the same. If she walks, who could blame her? She signed up to be a wife, not a caregiver. I hope you get well or at least learn to manage your illness and find a measure of peace. With or without you, I really hope your wife finds a place where she is relevant, her needs are met, and she gets to thrive as her Creator intended.
 

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Hello PA in VA, I can sympathise with your situation, though unfortunately I cannot give you any answers. My own depression started when my daughter was a toddler (she is now 9) and because the symptoms were so physical, I didn't understand what was happening to me. It took years for me to get to the bottom of it and I'm still not there yet because much of my recovery is going to hinge on getting a job, and I have been trying unsuccessfully to do this for a long time.

Once I started to pull out of the depression a bit, though, and my husband saw this, he reacted very similarly to the way your wife did. He suddenly realised how resentful he was of all the time he "lost" through feeling like he didn't have a wife, being unsupported and lonely. I never stopped trying to get better but it dragged on for so long. Like you, I assured him that I understood what the problem was and would keep trying to put it right. While I continued to look for a job, I tried to bury my depression symptoms as best I could because it was clear that he didn't want to/was unable to cope with them anymore -- but it never worked very well. I am still desperately lonely, isolated and constantly worried about money, and these things don't make me a very good partner or housewife. I am unmotivated and generally feel like I'm always carrying a load of lead on my shoulders.

What I would recommend is for you and your wife to have some heart-to-heart discussions where you both have the courage to discuss all options, including separation, and find out where each of you stands. The situation with my husband has gone on for a year and a half now; he is deeply depressed most of the time himself and apparently he only felt like his "normal self" again a couple of months back when I went to visit my family in the USA for 2 weeks. Yet, he says his life will be over if we split up, have to sell the house, and I take our daughter with me to move in with my parents in the USA. He says he loves me but I wonder how much of it is an unwillingness to face up to what would happen if we split up. Every day I have to live with the knowledge that he is miserable and blames me (and I am responsible for much of the situation, but it takes 2 to tango) yet he feels utterly trapped and would rather live in misery than take any action. I'm beginning to think that it's going to be up to me to help him see that he can have a life without me, which hurts a lot, and it will hurt him more if I take his daughter away -- but I have no job in this country (UK), no family or friends, no support.

He should have left me a long time ago TBH. The pain of the past year and a half has been terrible and unrelenting, and that's saying something after the years of depression I experienced. Don't let your situation drag on like mine has. Maybe yours will have a better outcome, sounds like your wife is reluctant to trust but maybe is willing to give it some time and see. Best of luck to you, and let us know how you get on. x
 

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PAinVA, my STBXH suffers from depression/anxiety, which became manic about 3 to 4 yours ago. He became mean, verbally abusive, and paranoid. I've often thought there was more going on with his mental illness diagnosis, but if there is he's refused to allow me in. His choice. He quit work, believes the world is all against him. He started EA/PA and that was the last straw for me. I said I wanted a divorce, and he never fought it. If he wants to come back I have no way of knowing. We rarely speak, and he has done nothing, nothing to indicate he is changing. At this point in your relationship your actions will speak much louder than any words. After being subjected to extended abuse and neglect, words are absolutely meaningless. Actions count. You want her back, ask her out on a date. Take the time to actually make a plan, be on time. Take her home with no strings attached. Follow through with everything you say you wll do. Send her flowers. Do something. Because she will not believe your words anymore.
 
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