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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone, I've been lurking here for a while. This is my first post; I think it's going to be a long one but I will try to be as concise as possible.

My husband and I have been married for 17 years and we have an 8-year old daughter. I gave up my job as a teacher when I got pregnant and was a stay-at-home mum for 5 years after she was born. I became depressed when she was a year and a half old but was experiencing various physical symptoms at the same time and didn't understand what was wrong with me (early morning waking, constant fatigue, very heavy periods, etc). It was terrifying and the doctors couldn't do anything to help me apart from offer antidepressants -- hormone tests, blood tests etc were all normal. I spent the next several years pursuing physical causes; I looked into seasonal affective disorder, mercury poisoning from fillings (which I had removed), healthy eating and vitamins and supplements, adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, and all sorts of other things I can't remember at the moment. I never gave up trying to get well but this was going on for years. The diet/vitamins route seems to have helped a little but not hugely.

Eventually I got to a point where I was getting by OK, though I wasn't 100% by any means. I was struggling to find part-time work and decided I would train as a psychodynamic therapist in order to help other people who had experienced depression like I had. It's helped me in a way that years of individual therapy might not have and I learned a great deal about myself (2 years down, 3 to go). I believe the root of the depression is low self-esteem, coupled with being stuck at home most of the time with no adult contact, and financial worries. I've been wanting to work part-time for the past 4 years and haven't found anything permanent, and it's been 2 years since I've worked at all. I was able to do some volunteer work before the summer holidays and started getting out to exercise by walking; I've had to give both of those things up this summer while I stay at home with my daughter.

My husband has been very supportive throughout. I lost my libido and endured some long-lasting physical problems because of different medications I'd taken for the depression, and I'd always had issues with sex in the past anyway (struggling to be able to trust and let go), so our sex life died. He told me a few times that this was difficult for him and that he felt like his only function in life was to pay the bills, but I didn't know how to respond. I knew our relationship was in trouble but I thought I'd get myself well first, then I'd be able to deal with that.

Last May my husband finally told me in all honesty that he had been coping for 8 years, the sex had been a problem for longer, and he didn't know how much more he could take. That was hard to hear but at the same time I appreciated it as a very serious wake-up call. I had had 2 years of training in therapy and decided that if I didn't put it into practise then, it would be too late. I discovered that I could enjoy sex for the first time in my life, and I was learning to feel and accept my own feelings without fear. (I'd had abusive parents and there have been issues for me to work on from that.) I have a problem with compulsive overeating, which had been very bad the past year due to stress and worry, but from that day I resolved to eat healthily and get my body into a state where it could be attractive again to my husband. He has been losing weight himself and I know it's important to him that I try too.

Unforeseen by both of us, though, my husband had a lot of intense buried feelings from all those years where we'd lost intimacy. He became very angry and resentful about the time he feels he lost. He doesn't have many friends, isn't particularly close to his family, hates his job intensely but feels trapped in it (this has been a problem through the whole of our marriage), and I think he relied a lot on me to help him feel good, to give him good times. I've tried to put myself in his shoes and I think I can understand where he's coming from, and I feel awful about it. He loved me and wanted to be a husband to me, and (though he recognises that I was ill) he feels like he was rejected and unwanted all that time. I think he's experiencing a midlife crisis as well, which I believe is what influenced him to have the initial talk with me last May. He says he's angry at himself for not having left me years ago, wishes he'd had sex with other women. He's angry that money has been a problem for years, continues to be, and will be while I finish my training. He's resentful that I trained to be a teacher at the start of our marriage, now I'm training to do something else, and all this time he's been doing a job he hates. (There were opportunities in the past for him to re-train or change jobs but he always had an excuse for why he couldn't.)

I've tried to use all the skills I've learned in therapy training, but mainly that's consisted of me trying to "contain" this and stay calm, not panic, and try to handle this in an adult way even though we're both in awful emotional pain. I've told him that he needs to seriously think about whether he wants a life without me (and our daughter). He knows that a divorce would force me to stop my training and try to get a full-time teaching job, and that I would move out with out daughter (he has had little part in bringing her up), yet he's unsure of his feelings about me. He said love is there but it's not the love he "should" feel as a husband, and he's majorly pissed off at me too. Sex has become difficult again because of this, and it's hard for me to enjoy it when I know he's so angry at me and I'm not sure whether he loves me or just wants me the hell out. He doesn't know himself.

This has been going on for 4 months. He's depressed all the time, can't concentrate on anything much. He sits in a chair across from me and sighs and cries. He refuses point-blank to see a counsellor or accept any kind of help, which he insists is a waste of money. I'm stressed almost all the time while he's at home because he's so low and angry. Going out with his friends helps a bit for a while but it never lasts and it appears to just be a temporary distraction. He has said many times that he wants to vanish or die, that he can't take anymore. I was terrified at first that he wanted to kill himself but I don't think he would do that, it's more like he just wants to escape and keeps wishing he could walk away from all his problems. I know he blames me for making him feel rejected, and for us not having much money, and that guilt is making it hard for me because I don't know if he'll ever find it in his heart to forgive me.

Day after day goes on like this. I look after our daughter, play with her, take her out, try to have a normal life. I try to conceal the effects of the constant emotional turmoil, and sometimes I feel like I have to hide her from daddy's depressive moods which she would not understand. I often say "daddy's in a bad mood, I think we'll have to do this ourselves." He says no one loves him and he's a worthless person. It is like a knife through my heart because I know it isn't true, I tell him so, but he listens to little or nothing that I say.

I honestly don't know what to do. I am planning positive steps to overcome my own depression, which at the moment is nothing like as bad as his. But every day is very hard and I feel like crying all the time. I love my husband but I don't know what I can do to help him, and knowing how he feels about me hurts so much. If I had loads of money I still don't think I'd want to divorce him, don't know if he'd feel the same way. I've been hoping that this will get better, given time, but the pain is just awful.

Maybe it will help just to know that people are reading this who will understand and tell me that I'm not alone. Any advice would of course be appreciated. Thanks for reading x
 

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My wife is in deep depression too and will not go see anyone. When you are distant (sexually) you only reenforce his feelings he is not wanted. I have dealt with this problem for years, we can feel when something is genuine or fake. I would say you guys need MC together. He is desperate for your love and attention and says things he probably does not mean in hopes for a response.
 

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I agree with Observer, MC is a very good idea here.

There are forms of couples counseling that have been shown to actually get rid of mild to moderate clinical depression, just by helping couples really re-connect emotionally.

Healthy sex also comes back for most couples too, with good MC.

Does your hubby provide a reason for why he thinks counseling is a waist of money? Sometimes surfacing and addressing faulty assumptions about the science-proven benefits of MC can help get someone to go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thanks for the responses. MC was one of the first things I suggested, specifically with Relate. The argument I kept running up against was that we can't afford it. We put aside a chunk of money for university for our daughter in better days and are having to face the fact that we will have to start dipping into it ourselves in emergencies. I consider this to be a worthy cause to use some of the money on but he insists we should not. I've asked him several times what's more important, extra money for our daughter's education or the fact that she actually has a father? It just makes him angry, it's like talking to a brick wall. (We've had to use some of the money recently to have a new fence built in the garden to replace an old rotting one, that seems to be OK to spend it on, but not counselling.) He's absolutely determined to work through this himself without help and it's been colossally frustrating. I've lost count of how many conversations have involved him saying he can't go on anymore, me begging him to get help, get counselling, and him blowing up at me. Maybe the fact that I'm in counsellor training myself is making him think that I'm only insisting on this option because it's my "thing." He also says that repeating the whole story to someone else and getting upset again is not something he wants to do.

It's hard to know how best to cope. I feel very strongly that counselling could help him. He did see a counsellor about 13 years ago to work through his feelings about the death of his mum when he was 6 and he doesn't think it can help him any more now. He's got low self-esteem and has felt rejected by many people throughout his life, including his family, and what happened with me inadvertently seems to have rubbed salt into the wound, which just isn't healing. It's been a bit better lately because he's kept busy, and every now and then he decides he wants a cuddle with me. But he says he feels awful all the time underneath and he has nightmares and can't sleep properly.

I'm still fighting my own demons too; I've been at home with my daughter all during the summer holidays even though I'm pretty sure the root of the depression I've had for years is that I've been isolated at home, lacking a sense of accomplishment and basically a life for myself. I tried hard to be a stay-at-home mum devoted to my child but I learned the hard way, and it took me years, that I won't be happy unless I go out to work at least part of the week. I'm trying to find a job but in the mean time I've just spent 7 weeks having to give up volunteering and exercising because I am caring for a young child 24/7 with no help available from friends or family. (I'm waiting for my counselling course to start again this October; it's been a frustrating 6-month hiatus.) I've gone back to eating lots of sugar every day because it kind of drugs me into a stupor and kicks my endorphins in so that I don't feel so much like crying all day, but that is a problem in itself for all sorts of reasons, not the least because my husband has lost a lot of weight and is looking good, has an issue with my own weight, and I made a heartfelt promise that I'd do something about it. I've promised myself that I will again now that school is starting up for the autumn and I will have time to myself to exercise.

I also find myself starting to want to stay away from my husband and avoid sex, the same as all those years before, because I fear I'm not attractive enough to him, and I'm not sure what his feelings are toward me. I'd only just learned how to trust him enough to relax and enjoy the experience but it's hard not to want to clam up again after all the hurt he is now causing me -- I'm afraid this is going to turn into a carousel of misery unless we can find a way forward soon.
 
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