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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What do I do if my partner with depression is pushing me away?

    My husband of 5 years is showing all the signs of depression in men. He bottles his thoughts and feelings inside until they explode and your left thinking where did that come from and he seems like an entirely different person.

    He left one night after i tried to get him to talk about recent behavior. he said things like hes a disappointment, hes abusive, he doent feel like hes done anything good in our relationship. Everything he said was putting himself down. In my eyes hes an amazing partner i have no complaints!

    hes pushed me away saying its over. i wont give up, i know what we have. he wont admit having depression but says hes just a bit down because he needs to go back to work.

    he wont text or call hes taken himself camping by himself and only being around acquaintances, what do i do shall i text him now and then to say anything in particular or give him a bit of space to perhaps realize something isnt right?? i want to do the right thing to help us and not make it worse???
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  • 16

    Thanks

    I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about … View Profile

    It sounds like your partner is really struggling at the moment, and the negative, critical way he's talking to himself is not only affecting him, but you as well.

    The most powerful thing you can do for him, for yourself AND for your relationship is to tell him what your concerns are, and how they are affecting you. If he responds to this by saying he's a disappointment etc. simply let him know that this is not the case, that you're worried he's not coping, and that it's normal for people struggling in the way he is to need more help and support - this does NOT mean there's something wrong with him.

    Sometimes when men won't get help for depression on their own, the way ahead can be to persuade them to try relationship counselling. Relationship counselling can address underlying relational issues that your husband may feel are contributing to his difficulties, and can provide a bridge for him to then access extra assessment, treatment and/or individual counselling for his depression, if need be.

    If your husband is unwilling to seek help, either with you or on his own, don't be afraid to let him know that this is concerning to you, and what you're worried may happen if he continues the way he is going.

    Finally, you may need to seek out help for yourself. You are in a very tough situation and it may be important that you have someone to offer extra support to you, and help you think about ways to take good care of yourself, and to hold your ground re requiring your husband to access the help he needs.

  • 13

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    I am a Melbourne Relationship Counsellor and Family Lawyer who is skilful in helping people get out of the pain of relationship distress and create … View Profile

    It sounds like it is a really tough and scary time for you both. It's a mark of wisdom and courage to seek help when we need it and important to be able to recognise when that moment comes. Giving your husband some space seems important but it is also important that he knows how much you care about him and how much he means to you. It may really help him if you let him know how much you understand how tough it is for him right now and that you are really there for him, whilst also acknowledging his legitimate need for space. It could also be helpful for you to share your concerns with him about his wellbeing and perhaps you might take the lead here and let him know you would like to get some help for you both to support yourselves through this difficult time.
    It doesn't matter whether or not he admits to having “depression”. Labels such as “depression” can be very shameful especially when one already feels like a failure it can just be like one more thing to feel bad about ie having depression. So don't worry about what he admits to or what he doesn't. Just let him know you want to seek support for both of you and how much you would appreciate it if he would join you. Asking for help for many people is very scary so let him know when he is able to do this how courageous he is being in getting the help he needs. It may also help to validate his going camping as a great survival skill, that he was able to honour his needs in that way, but to let him know that it would also assist your relationship if the two of you together could address some of the underlying issues. Perhaps if he cannot seek help for himself he may be able to accede to the request for your benefit.
    It may also help on another level if you can ask yourself what happens for you when he “pushes you away”? What is the story you tell yourself about this and what are you communicating to him even on a subconscious level about his need for space? Get clear about all your own fears and projections and this will also help you through this difficult time.

  • 15

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    Deniser

    HealthShare Member

    My husband is suffering depression n he left in dec20012 to sort himself out he lives out of his car in the riverland. He doesn't txt or contact me occasionally he emailed. He came back for two wks in jan as my mum passed away then heeds again. He won't get help but I decided that I was not going to stop contacting him. I let him settle for a couple of wks and now every morning I wish him a good morning tell him I love him and at night the same tho I might add a few things I have done thru the day. I won't let him forget about me. Sometimes he answers me and that is getti g more and more often I phoned him last night and tho he couldn't talk as he was feeling bad he txt me later said he was sorry he couldn't talk n that he promised to call when feeling better. So I suggest u start with txting and b patient he may not answer and make sure the msgs r positive good luck

  • 14

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    David Lawson

    Counsellor

    We all have times when we need to talk with a person who really listens to us, someone outside our family or social circle - … View Profile

    Us blokes can bottle things up real good. If success means I must feel good all the time or be successful (being unemployed is a huge downer as I cannot provide for my family so therefore I am a big failure) then sooner or later that will fail. most men think counselling is admission I am a failure or a whimp (code for not a man). At present he is trying to make sense of life and life at present is not where he thought he would be when he was younger. Send him a text each day saying morning and letting him know what the kids, pets, friends are up to. He may not answer but you are including him.

  • 5

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    Adrian Harris

    Social Worker

    Clinical Social Worker and Couple / Family TherapistFounder of Harris CounsellingAs a counsellor and social worker, Adrian has devoted the past decade to building and … View Profile

    It sounds like things are stressful between you, and it seems like it may be connected to more of a pattern of how you are relating to each other, not necessarily anything sinister that either of you are doing purposefully toward each other. 

    Couples often get themselves into this kind of tangle when they think about their partner’s actions more then actions that are occurring between them. For example, his experiences of depression may be resulting in you becoming reactive to how he is responding to you during this time and vice-versa. When he becomes depressed, what do you do in response and how does he responds to this? Is something you are doing reminding him of experiences within his family of origin? and vice-versa. For example, when he drifts away from you, does this remind you of a time when you felt abandoned by a parent and lost all feelings of safety?

    Counselling can be a great way of better understanding your interactional pattern, restoring relational bonds and moving your relationship into a safe place for both of you. Finally, attachment injury of often a pre-cursor to anxiety and depression in adulthood and working at the relational level may be an important step in restoring your connection towards each other. 

    Wishing you all the best

    Adrian 

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