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He Doesn't See What It Does To Me

My fiance suffers from depression & anxiety. I adore him and even though there's no question of whether I'm there for him or not, sometimes it feels like things are totally one-sided. I know he wants to be there for me & is frustrated that he sometimes isn't, but there are also times where I think he uses his mental health as almost an excuse or even a kind of "get-out clause". If I'm honest though a lot of the time I think that's just my frustration at not being able to do anything to help coming through. He tells me it's amazing that I support him so completely but I just don't know where supporting ends and enabling (for want of a better word) begins.

I'm bringing up two children with autism and everything can be a struggle, so I sometimes need more support than he feels he can offer. I try my best to be understanding, but when he tells me "I just can't be around anyone right now" and then goes on a night out with his friends it feels like he's making excuses. Again, that's probably my frustrations coming out - both my frustration at not being able to help and my frustration at having to rely on him when deep down I don't know if I can. That sounds like an awful thing to say. It upsets me even writing it really because he'd be so hurt that I feel that way. I just can't be sure that he'll be there when I need him - not necessarily through any fault of his own, but it's still hard to deal with.

On one hand I know it's very difficult for him. I suffer from depression as well, so that side of things I can completely relate to. On the other hand there are times where, rather than making an effort to feel better (which is often the only thing that helps him if he's having a really bad day) he makes excuses to shut himself away. I do understand that sometimes he needs to be alone - I feel the same at times - it's just difficult to be supportive when he's going through a period where he won't come to my house. Supporting someone over the phone or the internet is hard. It's impossible to hug someone whose down via a phone or computer, for a start. The other difficulty is that sometimes he needs a little tough love - he'd agree with that himself, and has done several times -but that's something that's virtually impossible when it's not face-to-face because it's such shaky ground and it's so hard to be sure the things I say aren't being misinterpreted as an attack.

I can't go anywhere in the evening because of my children and the only thing I do that is completely for myself is attending a course once a week, but that's reliant on him looking after my children. My daughter can't be cared for by anyone else because she simply doesn't have enough contact with anyone else. At the moment I just don't know what to do. A part of me daredn't even bring up my course because he's had a couple of really bad days and I'm worried that he'll think I'm being selfish if I ask if he thinks he'll be up to it. But at the same time there's already enough uncertainty in my life, and plenty of stress too. I feel selfish saying that it's only 2 hours that he'd have to cope with my kids for, but it's hard for me not to feel that way because I never ask for anything more than that from him.

How do I know what's reasonable and what isn't? He makes it sound as though I'm thoughtless and selfish if I expect anything at all from him when his anxiety has been bad. But how long can someone keep running away from the things that make them anxious? If I'm totally honest I can't see how he's going to get better if he never faces anything difficult, but I'm not inside his head so I don't know how it feels to him at those times. I've had panic attacks myself, mostly not bad ones apart from one which was horrendous and lasted more than 24 hours. I know his attacks are bad, and I remember what mine felt like, but I also remember that he left me to take two buses home on my own and didn't come to see me until the following lunchtime. By the time he arrived I was so bad he took me to hospital. He apologised for not having come sooner but said his depression had been bad. I definitely know how that feels but when he needs me I'm there in a second, even cancelling plans with friends to go to his house and make sure he's OK.

I suppose the main problem is the age-old thing that you can't see inside someone's head so you just have to act on instinct. The only problem for me is that the whole situation has left my head spinning and I don't know which way's up any more

Timidexcess Timidexcess 26-30, F 7 Responses Feb 28, 2010

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*hugs* :( I feel for you

Hang in there hun. My partner suffers from depression and anxiety. I do what I can to support him (emotionally) too. He's had attacks so bad that it's also ended him in the ER, only to discover a few hours later in the ER, nothing is wrong. He cycles. Sometimes, it's real bad, sometimes, he goes months being okay. Sometimes, I've gotten so frustrated that I've wanted to leave, but he's doing his best to get help, so I have to commend him for it. And, I do love him very deeply, we do have a bond so, I think this is my Path, helping him; he's also going to be stepping things up to see a Therapist, so I think with that he'll be able to get the right meds (Paxil doesn't seem to be working very well) and be able to work towards 'working it out', so we, and I, are hopeful; he only started having anxiety and depression after almost dying from Valley Fever, so there is a true "root", psychologically, to his Issues.<br />
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My man is high-functioning, however; yours seems maybe not so much; I'd agree with everything that light has said here; think carefully before you commit to this man for a lifetime....no offense; it's just that with your children, you need to have someone that can handle your situation and support you. You do enough, you don't need more stuff piled on you!!!<br />
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Sorry, fiance, not husband yet. My dear, giving advice is way easy, taking it is way hard. But from where I sit, if you marry this guy, you are going to have three kids, not just two.<br />
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I know you adore him, I know you love him, but he's not able to deal with your situation. My ex gf had one austistic child that I cared for for three years. Evan took everything, and I mean, everything out of me. I didn't have the coping skills to deal with him, and he was a high functioning austistic boy. <br />
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My ex gf was frequently depressed and hostile, between her problems and that of her son, I eventually needed to leave. I simply wasn't strong enough. <br />
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You need someone who is going to be there for you. A depressed person can barely be there for themselves.

Bringing up one autistic child is a challenge. Bringing up two and having a depressed husband is more than anyone can stand alone. Problem is, a depressed person can also be like another child. They can't give you the support you need because they are too busy fighting their own demons. <br />
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You need all the support you can get. The simple fact that you are writing on this site means you are still able to function. I don't know what I can do, but please feel free to message me any time. I've had a lot of experience with both depression and autistic children.

He is getting support yeah. He wasn't but over the last few days it's just been too much for him to cope with unless he got something in place. It actually made a massive difference when he stopped drinking anything with caffeine in. It's a day by day thing but he's already a lot better than yesterday. Hopefully things are looking up. <br />
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I'm in contact with quite a few parents of children with autism or other disabilities. It's always a help being able to talk to someone who understands even if that's all the support they can give. My daughter's school is incredibly supportive as well which is a great help. If I have any problems with her behaviour I know I can always ring them for advice.<br />
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Thanks M

Is your husband in treatment for his condition? You may not ever find out what's "Reasonable" but you can both agree that he needs active treatment for his condition if it is so debilitating to his basic ability to function. When he withdraws, tell someone (like his therapist) so you aren't the only person trying to help him.<br />
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You need support as well. He may not be able to be that for you. I'm sure you feel this already but if that is the reality than your family needs to put a different support structure in place. You can't hold your breath and hope the he miraculously changes. Raising 2 autistic children never made anyone less anxious or cured depression. Makes you tired and isolated and worn down. If you haven't done so already find a group of parents of children with autism in your area. Maybe other have dealt with similar challenges and may be able to offer some guidance (or babysitting from time to time).<br />
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Please don't give all the power to the mental illness. You can't will it away but you can exercise and get on the proper meds and really work hard in therapy. Nothing is going to change without your husband taking ownership of his condition and working to be present for his family.<br />
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I wish your family health and peace. Good luck to you all.<br />
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M

It's good to hear from someone who genuinely knows hows what I'm going through. I do try to get time for me, it's just very hard with all the other things going on, which I know you understand! At the moment getting a job isn't an option but I'm hoping it will be eventually. I used to work in a charity shop voluntarily but in the end I just didn't have the time to spare. It really was a lifeline though! <br />
Lots of love, and I'm here to chat too if you need to anytime xxx