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Husband says he's dead inside & there's no hope


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hello you beautiful crazy people,

I hope y'all are well and that the increased sunlight from this glorious summer is at least giving us all a little boost! 

I need your collective sage advice.  Here's what I'd like to ask:  what's the best way to support a SEVERELY depressed spouse/SO who is in a bad, bad place - but not so bad that they need hospitalization for their safety?  Specifically, what do you do when your SO says, "I'm incapable of feeling any kind of happiness and there's no point in ever trying to, because I'm DEAD INSIDE - so I'll just go through the motions of life meaninglessly til I die eventually"?  What in Great Jumping Jesus's name gets you out of THAT mindframe? ....Because that flummoxed the fuck out of me, let me tell you, and I'm at the end of my rope.

My SO is being treated for MDD with a traditional talk therapy tdoc, and he takes Celexa that he got from his primary care doctor.  He was seeing a pdoc, but isn't any more - in fact this is maybe his fourth or fifth go-round through therapy over the years, each of which has ended without positive resolution - usually it ends with the therapist saying, "well, if you can't commit to going any further than this, there's no real point in continuing" (although sometimes H. has said, "I just don't see any point in continuing because I don't have anything left to say and I don't know what else to do.")

(FWIW, I'm mentally interesting also - BP and in treatment with a pdoc, tdoc and meds. We are both seeing a couples therapist together once a week as well; she thinks we're at the breaking point if one of us doesn't start figuring out how to reach the other so we can play ball.)

His depression (like my BP, and like our marital issues) waxes and wanes.  (They never seem to be in sync but they often overlap.) The situation is very plastic - one minute he'll be either violently angry and spitting venom, or mumbling into the four pillows he's stacked on his head like he's hiding and he's four. (Or, if it's not directly his problem, I'll be freaking out, or we'll be screeching away at each other having this horrible time.) And the next minute, everything will be calm and decent, and we'll be smiling and drinking cocktails in the backyard like a semi-normal couple.    Over the eight or so years we've been together, he has gone through periods of being more or less depressed.  This is a very bad one.  ...It's understandable - this is a very very very stressful time on virtually every front.

He gets up and goes to work, although he seems to be going about it a bit zombie-like right now and it's definitely affected his job performance (including some important opportunities) and his professional & personal relationships. He says he doesn't experience true pleasure in anything anymore.  ...This isn't, I know, entirely true.  There are days when he's just himself - when we get a lot done or when we're focused on something - and when he's clearly enjoying himself some, although I have no idea if his feelings are muted.  And our romantic life has actually been considerably more pleasant and frequent. But I can't contradict how he's feeling, or he gets really upset. He is prone to angry, violent (not threatening or abusive per se, but still violent) outbursts and sudden unpredictable mood swings.  He can be set off by the slightest provocation. He is convinced that I am not listening to him, that no one is, and that everyone is selfish and doesn't care about him; he denies that he has real friends and such; or that his work takes any meaning. And he says all the time that he never gets what he wants (in life in general, but especially emotionally) - and then if you try to get him to identify what it is that he wants and isn't getting, he just can't. 

...I can understand that he's really, really sick right now. And that these things can be cyclical, but hopefully the worst of it will pass.

But here's what's worrying me: what he is saying, literally dozens and dozens of times a day:

- "I'm dead inside"

- "I'm completely hollow"

- "there's nothing there"

- "I don't have anything to give"

- "I have no identity" / "I don't exist"

- "I'm completely soulless"

- "there's nothing good about me"

- "I don't want anything"

- "I don't give a shit what happens in life"

- "I don't make a difference to anybody anyway"

- "Nothing matters"

- "There's no point in trying"

- "It'll never be different"

- "I'll never be happy/ it's not possible for me to be happy"

- "I'm giving up"

- "I'm just never going to try to change anything"

- "I can't ever get what I want, so I'll just do what everyone else wants of me"

- "I can't have feelings/I've stopped feeling/I don't feel"

It's not just that he's saying this stuff.  Not one of those statements are new.  This is much more frequent and severe than usual, but he's gone through many periods of repeating each of those mantras during various flareups or depressive episodes over the years. And it's always calmed down eventually (although I suspect it's calmed down by him stuffing his feelings away, and going about  I sometimes instinctively feel hurt by this sort of talk (so nothing's worthwhile, huh bub? then what's our marriage chopped liver?)  but I do recognize that it's not about me, and that the illness means he can't really help it right just now. I used to jump in and try to fix it, or argue the logic behind a distorted perception... I still do that sometimes, but right now I am trying hard to be careful about validating his feelings. I understand feeling all of this stuff from being depressed myself anyway.

What's freaking me out is that he has been putting a lot of emphasis on RESIGNING himself to this situation. He's saying that "there's nothing wrong with going through your whole life feeling dead inside," saying he's hopeless, saying that he's not going to try to get better because there's nothing for him to do.  I've tried to ask, "have you thought about additional treatment or trying something new?" and "so what does your therapist suggest you do?"  and "do you think you want to see a psychiatrist again to get the meds evaluated?"  but he says there's no point - and sometimes says, "I was MEANT to be unhappy.  I CAN'T be happy.  I just don't have it in me to try.  It doesn't matter." etc. 

I'm very concerned that this is just the sort of attitude one might have, for instance, before attempting to take an unpremeditated powder off a bridge or what have you. He SWEARS that he has no intention whatsoever of killing himself and that he ABSOLUTELY will not do so. He's been staunchly against suicide in the past.    He's generally true to his word. But I'm still nervous.  Like, you know, if you think you're dead, what do you have to lose by being ...dead?    If you believe that you are truly no one and that your life genuinely doesn't matter, what's to stop you from plowing the car into a pylon on a sudden whim on your way home from work? ...I'm scared because I know that men are much better at succeeding than women are.    He gave me his WORD, though, and he hasn't done any of the warning-sign stuff-divvying, goodbyes, etc. And. He's made it clear that if I respond to his opening up to me by calling the fuzz on him it would be an enormous and possibly unforgivable breach of trust.  *sigh* But I think I'd have to kill myself if something DID happen to him, and I'd sensed danger but done nothing.  I just couldn't live with that.

On an entirely selfish note for personal gain - I love this guy! and I want a full life with him.  Which necessitates him being willing to live.  Him saying "I'm going to go through life dead inside because nothing  (including our marriage) matters to me" forces me to a horrible choice:  I would do anything for this man AT ALL - but it's like he's begging me to leave, saying "if you stay with me I can guarantee you a lifetime of missed opportunities for happiness, of detachment and resentment, of unpredictable anger - and I WANT it to be that way."  It's another thing that makes me not entirely believe him. I can't help but suspect that he's

...I want to honor his trust in talking to me. He has a really, really hard time articulating his feelings and a hard time with trust, so it's important.  Anything aggressive would destroy that. And he's no clear threat to himself.  He doesn't have a pdoc I can talk to for advice, and I've never talked to his tdoc. The couples tdoc hardly knows us and my tdoc has no idea what to do. But this is just killing me inside. I'm trying so hard to not take it emotionally but it's tearing me up something awful. 

What, on earth, is the best way to help someone in this situation?    How the hell do you support someone and help them get themselves out of a place where they think it's not only possible but a GOOD IDEA to "shuffle through life dead inside because it's too hard to feel"? Because fuck if I know. And it's scaring the shit out of me. I am trying to just be supportive but this is like trigger city for me.  I think I'm going to go down to the Korean acupuncture storefront on the corner and let the old man there stick about 200 needles in my neck.

Please give me your advice... it'd be much appreciated! Thanks... you are the only folks I can think of who would actually have practical experience relating to "So You're Both Nuts" relationships! 

Always lurking around the corner with another absurdly overlong blast of neurotic flabberjabber,

yer pal,

autodidact

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I've tried to ask, "have you thought about additional treatment or trying something new?" and "so what does your therapist suggest you do?"  and "do you think you want to see a psychiatrist again to get the meds evaluated?"  but he says there's no point - and sometimes says, "I was MEANT to be unhappy.  I CAN'T be happy.  I just don't have it in me to try.  It doesn't matter." etc.

It sounds to me like you've done the best you possibly can for him...I've no clue what else you could try.  The only thing that comes to mind is trying a new tack, maybe a more aggressive one.  I know you're afraid to tip him over the edge, but can you really go on like this for the next 30 years or so? 

I don't know.  Do you think he might have a PD that's causing this incessant negativity?    Most people seem to be able to touch base with realistic thinking once their major episode abates, or they can be coaxed into reevaluating their perception of reality.  But according to you he's like this all the time, even when he doesn't seem particularly depressed.  That's highly unusual, don't you think? 

I guess the big question is "How much are you willing to tolerate?"  It's unfair that you should feel so responsible, or be made to feel responsible, for his well-being.

I hope everything works out for you.  It sounds like a hard place to be in.

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I've been on your so's side with added BP. I will add what I would have liked to hear/do, maybe it will help.I missed it, is he seeing a pdoc? You are SO lucky to be in couples counseling!

* hi honey, I just thought I give you a call how ya doing? How's that latest project. Yeah I know what a dick you're boss can be,

* What would you like to do this weekend? Can't think of anything? Then how about.......? (drag his ass out of the house kicking and screaming if necessary)

* give him a snuggle even if he doesn't want it

* Is there anything I can do? (there won't be but the idea that you asked is a show of connectivity)

** I would have loved for him to get all up in my face. It would have shown concern and attention. I feel invisable  a lot of the time and just having some kind of acknoledement was a sort of reality check. When I finally got out of the house I dug it. Just a little. But every connection made is a good one. Also Emails to work. Sending dirty jokes or stupid questiuons. Eventually he may yell at you but I would have dug all the attempts and at least gotten some sort of interaction, albeit awful.

** Watch TV with him. Even if it's crappy. it's still something that may be interresting to him and you could at least share.

My SO used to call me from work just b4 he left for home, to check in (need anything for dinner?) and to see what kind of mood I was in  :P

I bet having two MI in a house is a volitile arrangment. I can't imagine. I can just tell you some of the things I would have liked while I was neck deep in shit. I didn't get them but it sure would have helped. B)

Keep posting OK?

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I don't know how many antidepressants he has  been on, but obviously the Celexa isn't working.  In his condition, I don't think it is adequate to be getting his drugs prescribed by a general practicioner.  He NEEDS a psychiatrist, someone who is very knowledgeable about the range of drugs and drug cocktails that might help him.  This is one place to start...get him a pdoc.  He needs to exhaust the medication possibilities before he considers anything else.  This is obviously a problem with his brain chemistry first and foremost.  Until that is evened out, therapy won't help him anyway.  If the drugs don't work,  there is the possibility of trying ECT, which people are reporting very good results with.  It is THE treatment of choice for treatment--resistent depression. 

Finally, if he is unwilling to see a pdoc, to try different meds, the main question is one for you:  how long are you willing to go on like this?  You deserve a full and happy life, and if your partner does not do all he can do to break this cycle, then you have to start thinking about yourself, your own quality of life.  You are obviously a very loving partner who has tried to advocate for him, but in the end, he has to be willing to try to get better.  There is no way to do it if he doesn't have the will and intention to get better.  I'm sorry if that sucks to hear.  I know you are in a lot of pain right now.  I wish you happiness and an involved loving partner, and I truly hope your husband will make the decision to fight this disease.

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Well on a postive note the SO has seemingly tried very few pharmacological options so one might be out there that works. Wellbutrin is activating. This is just a suggestion but have the SO go down the list of antidepressants listed on crazymeds and pick one that seems to fit the bill. For example, does the SO sleep too little or too much. Get the SO involved in picking an antidepressant and then basically suggest a visit to a psychiatrist or failing that just get the general practioner to change the prescription. Giving up after one medication failure is way too soon.

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Get that man to a psychiatrist. Now is not the time to dick around with a GP or any doc who does not specialize in psychotropic meds. The man is obviously hurting, and it isn't doing you any good either.

Until something works, you have the unenviable task of being supportive without being pushy, being there but not hovering, and trying not to let his depression suck you down, too.

Keep posting. We'll all be around for you.

Greeny

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oof.  Here's the problem - I've tried to suggest that he change meds, and he says no to even TALKING with me about it.  He says he doesn't think it's chemical in origin and changing pills isn't going to change anything.  To the point where, if I press it, he basically sticks his fingers in his ears and yells NONONONONONONONONONONO (or gets really, really mad and tells me I'm not a doctor.)

What the fuck his tdoc thinks she's doing, not sending him to a pdoc, I don't know. Looking back on it he got the Rx from his OLD pdoc and has to call them back for refills - maybe I can talk to the old pdoc and say, hey, this isn't working, why dont' you not keep doling out refills without checking in?

YEEEAAARRRGGGGHHHH

The couples therapist basically said, "well now you know what it feels like to have your spouse be frighteningly depressed, bee-yotch." I suppose she's right.  I have been less than empathetic, and now I really want to Fix It Now... neither of which is a good strategy. God Damn am I tired.

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Hey Auto:

  Good to see you here. I too live with a man who is MI. MDD to be exact.  I know the pain and torture of not knowing what to do. Leaving him, is not an option, I can tell by your post, so let's move on to the next plan.

  You really do need to find him a p-doc. A good one, and even if you have to tell him a "little white lie" that this is a different kind of doc the first time, get him to go. Call around, find a good one that you like and think he will like, and then take him in. Go with him, help him with the paper work. Attend the first appointment. You don't have to say anything but be there, and if he tries to down play some things, you can pipe up. I am not kidding, do it.

  I have done this with my husband with many new p-docs. You get them going, then you stop going. But if you leave it up to him the first or even second time, he won't go. TAKE HIM.  He is ill, you know it, try. All you can do is try. You owe this to both of you.

  We are here for you. Keep posting like Greeny said, but start today. Get him a p-doc. You know the difference it can make.

Breeze

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I suggest you nag. Keep the pot on the stove, so to speak. Avoid arguing but just keep the issue in the forefront. Maybe after a reminder give the husband a smile so the husband realizes the nagging is being done out of concern rather than anger.

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It is irresponsible for the old pdoc to continue refilling prescription medications without monitoring the patient.  There is some merit to the idea of calling him/her and saying exactly what you suggested.  There is also some merit to doing an end-run around him with either his tdoc or GP (or both) and get them to give him a referral as though it were their own idea rather than your prompting.  And if your couples therapist's entire solution consisted of "now you know what it feels like," maybe a private consult is in order with him/her about just what it is you're trying to accomplish.

I'm sorry, but plugging your ears and hollering NONONONONO is childish.  Does he want to save your marriage or not?  Living the the life of the emotionally dead may sound like a good idea to him, but it is not going to work for you, and he needs to understand that.  If he won't seek help for himself, will he do it for your sake?  That's why I started meds in the first place -- not for me, but because my wife and kids needed me sane and whole.  Also, take what I say with a grain or two of salt, because I've been where he is and don't have much patience for selfish resignation.  I struggle with it every day, but I don't give in to it.

I'm a little worried about your description of him as "violently angry" sometimes.  Are you safe?  Are you being abused emotionally, verbally, or physically?  If he's struggling with anger issues, then he isn't emotionally empty; on the contrary, there's a battle going on in there.

I wish I had good advice for you, but the only thing I have to offer is that if the mountain is unclimbable, go around it.

Best of luck,

Cerberus

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This guy needs just the right kind of boot smacked into his ass to push him to a pdoc. Unfortunately, I don't know what kind of boot. I wasn't that bad, but I was in a similar position to his.

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Hi Auto -

Yet another vote for the "he needs a pdoc!" crowd. For sure. No matter what. Definitely. No ifs, ans, or buts.

If he won't listen when you gently persist, persist with more force. Tell him that your relationship is in jepordy and if he doesn't see a pdoc NOW than you have no other choice than to move on with your life. It sounds shitty to have to threaten the one you love BUT if he won't listen when you give other reasons than a threat might be in order. If he wants to continue having you as his wife he will do it. If he replies with something like "Oh well, leave me then. I'm dead anyways and nothing matters to me, not even our marriage." you are really going to have to sit down and think about you as an individual living a happy life. If you do not matter to him enough for him to open up his ears and take your advice (even if he doesn't think it will work, he should do it for you anyways) than I don't think there is anything left that you can do.

You have done great thus far. You have done almost everything you can to help him.

I really hope your situation shifts positions very soon. I hope he agrees to getting the help he needs. Neither of you can keep on living this way for much longer. It's not fair.

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I agree with Cerberus - to a point. Yes he needs to be accountable. But what if he can't be right now? That is why I say, find the p-doc, take him, sit in for the first few sessions and then he is on his own.

My husband wants to have a life. He wants to have a life apart from me, but I am the one who got him there. And he was in no shape to do it himself because we had a dipshit p-doc who was scared to death of him. YES he was a p-doc and YES he was supposed to be good. But I found out later, he had a patient that had comitted suicide and so he was scared to do anything for my husbnad who was suicidal. We stayed with that "really good doctor" for three years. FINALLY, I found another p-doc who was not afraid of my husband, she adjusted one med, ONE and he got his life back. Before that he was house bound, suicidal, semi-violent, and a mess. There is no way he could have been held accountable for his health then.

So I say to Auto - Start the process for him. And if he won't play? Then that is another story.  She loves him, so why not?

Breeze

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As I understand Celexa is much like Lexapro.  I was on Lexapro for over a month, and it caused a lot of my depression symptoms to get worse, not better.  I didn't feel anything, the world was gray, I could hardly communicate or carry on with daily functions.  I think it can be a wonderful medication for some people, but for those of us it doesn't work for--well, it can be really bad.

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God Damn am I tired

Yes I know, I did this for three grueling years, with no support. I am not trying to be Wife of the Year, I am trying to help you understand, you need to keep trying.

It is damn hard. You may give up. You may throw up your hands and say "fuck it". But somehow I doubt that in you. Try what I mentioned, you have some people helping you, get some names, lie to him, drag him in there.

He obviously is sick. He obviously isn't into getting better because he doesn't see he's sick. I have SO been here. I can relate to this so much.

Auto, pm me if you want to. I know you are exhausted, I was too. I ran a lot, I drank a lot, and I cried a lot.  But we are both here today, together and "sorta sane". I say that because he just bought a mega phone. Why on earth we need one I don't know.

Breeze

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he just bought a mega phone. Why on earth we need one I don't know.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Manic much? lol ;)

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CyndyA, My pdoc says lexapro is the new and improved  Celexa. I'm with you. I was so depressed I couldn't get out of bed and I wasn't that depressed when I started it.

I stopped taking (on my own) and got back into a manic state. I asked my hb which he liked better  ;)   and we both decided that hyper was better.

So me too. Lexapro just made things worse. I know it must work for other people. My sis is taking it and she's doing great.

Auto, good luck and keep posting.

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But I can't contradict how he's feeling, or he gets really upset.
I read this line and thought, "oh no". not sure if you meant it the way I read it, but NOTHING makes me go deeper into the downward spiral than to have my SO try to "invalidate" how I'm feeling. Can't argue someone out of how they "feel".  I also read in your post that you are trying to be understanding (and if you haven't been where he is, I can imagine you're having to work very hard at it.)

You're an amazing, determined, caring person for sticking this through. DONT GIVE UP ON HIM!  Take as much time as you can for YOU, take breaks away from it. Be with people who are not depressed.  And keep reminding yourself, this is not about you; he's not even here, he's in some personal ring of hell.  And if you can get him on the right med, your relationship and your lives might just be better than ever. patience.

-Major Depressive (situational)

living with Depressed Anxiety Disorder SO

Let him continue as he is, but take out a life insurance policy that pays off in case of suicide.

I didnt know there was such a thing! ;)

"If I felt that rotten all the time I'd probably kill myself" or the poster said it himherself, and then you realize just how little difference between where you are and where the poster is.

amen. but no one here has told me to "cowboy up" yet, that's why I'm still reading.

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