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Trouble Coping with Wife's Depression

I have been married to my wife for nearly 9 years. Her Mother had narcissistic personality disorder and her entire family is pretty disfunctional. Things got worse after we had our daughter 2.5 years ago. By her first birthday my wife and her Mother were not talking because her Mother refused to play by our rules. Her Mother died unexpectedly last September and not a single person in her family said a word to her about it. In fact, we haven't heard from any of them since.

My wife has had serious situational depression for about 18 months. She has been seeing a therapist regularly but there is a great deal of anger that she has toward her family and her Mother that she cannot express to them. I am the lucky recipient and the constant target of her anger, sadness, etc.

She has not cleaned in 18 months with maybe one or two exceptions. She has cut herself off from all of her friends. She talks incessantly about how worthless she is, how horrible she feels. We used to have a good time together but now she hardly leaves the house.

She often directs her anger towards me, which the therapist says is natural. It is my job as her supporting spouse to take her rage and be the punching bag. This is extremely difficult for me. She places blame on me for things I did not do and if I say I did not do them she turns it into me being defensive. Before you know if she is threatening to leave or kick me out.

I love my wife more than anything but I have now become depressed. I need sleep, some time off and someone to talk to. She blames me for not supporting her the way she needs me to and I can't even bring up the fact that I feel terrible as well, because her seeing my anxiety or depression will be too much to handle and will make hers worse.

I don't know what to do and I feel like I am losing myself in all of this.
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replied March 19th, 2013
Extremely eHealthy
I am sorry to hear about your troubles.

Sometimes I think doctors and therapists tend to be too touchy-feely by over-analysing stuff mostly for their own satisfaction or education rather than trying to heal the patient or educate them into accepting and moving on or dealing with the world as it really is and not as the patient would like it to be.

It is possible there has been a slight mis-diagnosis in your wife's case as being depressed tends to remove the ability to be angry and the will to debate who is guilty of what and so forth.

If the current therapy/treatment is not showing results after such an extended period I feel it is time to try some new directions.

It is difficult for anyone to know exactly your wife's thoughts and feelings. She probably had a long list of things she wanted one day to say to her mother, things about the past and more recent behaviour that she needed to get off her chest. Her mother dying has prevented this ever happening. I expect your wife feels frustrated and angry at being foiled in such a way. It is also natural for there to be sadness and shock.

If, even in her most private thoughts she ever wished harm to her mother it is possible she now feels guilt. It is likely no one will ever know the full extent of your wife's thoughts and feelings in this matter and it is probably not important they do so.

We all have regrets and guilt and anger we must bear until the day we die. We all must learn to accept we are human and are not perfect.
Any therapy with hope of success must teach your wife her thoughts and feelings cannot be resolved and teach her how to accept and how to bear the burden and carry on as others do.

There are drugs that will help. A low dose beta-blocker could cut her adrenalin production down so she feels things less acutely and for some people a two week course is like sending the emotions on vacation. These can be taken at the same time as regular anti-depressants, if indeed she actually needs them.

Hypnotherapy could be a tremendous help if your wife is a good subject for hypnosis. Even visiting a clairvoyant can provide a huge reassurance and be beneficial.

If your wife is actually depressed it means she is addicted to misery. Her mind will be like a hamster on an exercise wheel going on a journey to nowhere and she will be mentally exhausted.
Any therapy that is going to be successful is going to get her mind off that wheel and break that endless cycle of thought.

Having a resident punch-bag will not be suitable therapy, I feel. Depressives need bullying, blackmailing, bribing and cajoling into doing the things that will be good for them and that means friends and family who will ignore the miseries and over-run objections and if necessary be assertive even to physically frog-marching a sufferer out into the fresh air or a social gathering or to a restaurant to eat a feel-good diet and then to keep reminding them in the days following how it wasn't fatal and how she secretly enjoyed it, etc.. etc.

I suggest you look again at the desired outcomes and the treatment that will bring these things about. I suggest you refuse to discuss things endlessly without conclusion and I suggest you cease putting up with any bad manners from your wife. There was a time when she felt rules were important and it is time for a renaissance of those times.

Above everything it is likely to be activity and achievement that provides the greatest contribution to therapy. If she is physically able to do something then she should be doing it even if you have to take the cleaning/food preparation to her and pile it on her and around her.

If she doesn't like the new assertive you who is going to stand no nonsense then you should refuse to leave. She must leave. Getting angry about something else and packing to leave will be great therapy. If she gets that far then don't forget to congratulate her achievement...

Good luck!
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replied March 20th, 2013
Community Volunteer
Hi KVast: Very often women do not get along...A Mother and daughter combination can be one of the worst there is...I believe your wife feels guilty because of her Mother dying and is taking it out on you...She didn't like her when she was alive, but feels guilty now that she is dead...As you said she didn't play by your rules so she was probably mad about this too...By this I mean her Mother...

I would tell your wife to get her act together...Tell her you love her, but will not be beaten up anymore...She is not responsible for her Mother's death and to get off the guilt feeling...She has a life and must now find it...The reason her family never got ahold of her was because they were mad that she and the Mother never made up...Your wife was right...She was no longer a child that had to mind her Mother...

I only say this as I have walked this walk in life...Take care...

Caroline
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replied March 24th, 2013
Sometimes I find it very helpful to write things down. Just as I am sure you felt a bit of relief writing in this forum so too maybe your wife would benefit from writing some of her feelings down in the form of letters to her family and maybe even her deceased mother. In the privacy of those letters she can release all the emotions she is holding in or placing on you. Even if she does not send them, it will allow her to finally face the emotions she doesn't realize she needs to accept and address before she can move on. I once heard a quote that says "you don't get over grief, you get through it". You too can write her a letter expressing everything you expressed in this forum and allow her to write her emotions down as she truthfully feels them towards you, not just as she expresses verbally. You will be surprised what a relief you can find by writing things down. Sometimes I write them down and then stick them in the fireplace, so I know I came to terms with what I needed to and now I have put it in the past. Hope some of these suggestions help. Best of luck =)
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