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Old 16-10-2019, 07:44 PM   #1
andy665
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Consequences of caring for someone with depression

I know I have posted on here about this before but felt the time was right for a beginning to end (hopefully) summary of my experience of trying to support someone who was suffering from mental health issues, not really looking for advice, absolutely not looking for sympathy, more a case of sharing my experiences with others and if it can help just one person then it will be a post worth writing

Met my second wife back in 2002, we were both divorced, no kids - things moved quickly and within 4 months of meeting we had bought a house and were living together, married after 18 months.

I invested in a business and got royally shafted financially - this forced a move away from West Sussex up to Shropshire which it turns out was a great move - really settled here and its most definitely an area where we are happy but at the time it was tough emotionally and financially

We always planned on having a family and in December 2016, less than a month after my much missed dad passed away my wife announced she was pregnant, this was approx. 10 months after suffering an early miscarriage

The pregnancy went fine - zero issues, financial issues were being dealt with, most of them shielded from my wife as it would not have helped and there was little she could have done anyway.

In Aug 2007 we became proud parents of a wonderful little boy and the future seemed bright - how wrong was I!!!

About 6 months after having our son my wife started to change, slowly at first but it accelerated into a massive full blown depression, not being helped by her completely refusing to see that she was suffering and needed help.

Months turned into years and things got worse and worse - heavy drinking, stealing money from me, buying loads of crap and her getting into debt, going missing for a few days at a time, overdoses, seeking attention from other men, verbal abuse etc etc

Like many people suffering from depression she was able to hide it from the outside world, she held down a decent job, friends and family thought she was generally ok and when she let the mask slip she blamed me - saying I was controlling and abusive, which many people believed (and still do in certain cases)

Slowly but surely her / our friends turned their backs on us - fed up of my apparent abusive behaviour towards a totally blameless wife. In reality our family was falling apart, our marriage was disintegrating and I was desperately trying to almost singlehandedly bring up our young son, hold down a job and keep my family together.

My wifes behaviour got worse, she was caught drink driving (I will never attempt to condone or justify this), she was unfaithful and had started to call the police and accuse me of assault - I lost count of the number of times the police came to the house - no action was ever taken against me and for the most part they were very understanding and perceptive of what was really happening

By now, my family and our few remaining friends were all pleading with me to leave her, take our son and create a new life away from her - easy to say, for me, impossible to do. Despite her behaviour and the hurt being caused she was my wife and I still loved her, I could see she was gripped by the depression and that underneath she was still the person I met and fell in love with.

In 2016 things had got so bad I called in Social Services and got our son put on a Child Protection plan - I needed help and support, social workers were absolutely awful but I had support from an early intervention and family support worker who is still in contact with us and helped us enormously.

Things got so bad I spoke to our GP, the police etc to see if I could get her sectioned, I honestly felt like she needed to be detained for her own safety - nobody was interested, the line was always the same "she has to ask for help" - it was incredibly frustrating, I could see she needed help, they could see she needed help but she thought she was fine and why would someone who thought they were fine ever ask for help - in her mind, everyone was ganging up on her, we had the problem, not her

I got Social Services involved not only to get some support for myself but also to act as an independent witness, so that if I needed to apply for custody of our son I would be in the best possible place to achieve this - all the time hoping it would not be necessary.

My wifes mother always backed her daughter and gave her a hiding place - it absolutely did not help as she was told repeatedly by her mother that it was not her fault, it was ll my doing and unbelievably - allowed her to drink copious amounts of alcohol there.

It sounds like life was hell - it was sometimes but there were always enough times were my wife was acting normally enough for me to cling on to the hope that we could work through this and get her better.

Completely out of the blue, in August 2018, my wife changed, no idea why or what triggered it but she started to confront the depression, some 10 years after first sinking in to it.

Not surprisingly things moved slowly, but very gradually she was being normal for longer and longer periods of time - the drinking slowly reduced, the erratic behaviour and abuse reduced and here we are now 14months later

Oct 2019 - we are functioning really well as a family, no more abuse, no allegations of assault, no Social Services involvement, massively reduced alcohol intake (max of 1 bottle of wine per week)

Are we out of the woods - I'm not tempting fate, she still has "black dog" days but they are becoming less and less frequent and their intensity is much reduced. One major thing I learned is to take a step back, realise you cannot solve everything at once, identify the quick wins - focus on those and it paves the way for other wins and ever so slowly you can pull things back from the brink

Looking back I'm proud I stuck by her, our son is now 12 and at last has a decent relationship with his mum, something he craved for far too long. Would it have been better for me and our son to have walked away - I honestly do not know, in some ways I would simply have replaced one pain for another (of loss of my wife and my sons mother)

I am now starting to have some "me" time - I'm definitely not the person I was 12 years ago, older, wiser but deeply scarred by what happened. I sometimes feel angry that there was very little support and help for me, copious amounts of help was offered to my wife (which she did not take) but as the carer of a depressed person there was absolutely nothing for me apart from the family support worker who saw us for maybe 30 mins every 2-3 weeks.

I realise that I invested all of my time and energy into looking after our son, keeping my job, supporting my wife that I spent virtually no time looking after myself, now that the pressure is easing I am looking at myself and not particularly liking what I see - I'm more cynical, more insular (I always was to be fair - I have Aspergers so quite introverted), more short tempered and will avoid conflict like the plague but I'm hopeful that time and some good old fashioned stability and normality will see me starting to accept that I am who I am now

I'm sure I'm not alone in going through something like this and I'm sure that others have had a much worse time but all I'd like to say is that if you believe in someone or something - do not give up - even when everything looks lost there is still a chance it can be recovered - the easy option wold have been to walk away but I'm so glad I didn't

I do believe passionately that lots more needs to be invested in mental health services, that it needs to be discussed much more openly and that the support should not be just for those with the mental health illness, those closest to the person are often suffering every bit as much

Last edited by andy665; 16-10-2019 at 07:50 PM.
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Old 16-10-2019, 08:14 PM   #2
nbray67
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Top man, enough said.
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Old 16-10-2019, 08:19 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by nbray67 View Post
Top man, enough said.

Pretty much
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