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Old Dec 10, 2016 at 02:10 PM
Okay this is a long post but I am in desperate need of help with my wife who is slipping further into depression and I just don’t know how to help her. I have been trying to show her that everything is not as bad as she thinks and I help with our children and around the house as much as I can.

The short version – She has post-natal depression and is getting worse and I don’t know what to say or do to help her anymore. She is 2 months into some counselling which is helping a little but not on anti-depressants but has spoken to her GP who has been great and very supportive.

The long version –

I am late 30s, in the military and have to leave home for extended periods of time with work. My parents and siblings work full-time and are 400 miles away.

My wife is late 30s, is a full-time mother to our 3 year old son and daughter who is 6 months old, prior to motherhood she ran a company for someone else and had been a manager of some description since she was 19. Her family stay 400 miles away. Her parents are in their 70s and retired, her mother has dementia and her sister has a degenerative illness meaning her father looks after both of them as best he can.

In 2012 we moved from the place we had stayed for the previous 6 yrs where all of our friends were. In 2013 our son was born which we were very well prepared for and really looking forward too. After a she-devil midwife and slightly traumatic forceps birth our son appeared. Four weeks later I disappeared on a course with work for nearly 9 months with no face-to-face contact for the first 7 weeks and an occasional weekend off. Despite this my wife coped brilliantly on her own and our son absolutely thrived hitting 75% of his development stages very early; he started ‘cruising’ along the couch at 6 months talking at 7 months, walking at 9 months and out of nappies at 17 months. We could not have been happier about his development, however the only down side was that he is (still) a needy child who needs stimulation and something to occupy him; he also never slept through at any point and was breastfed for a year. When I was away my wife did not get any help from family who were back home and we had recently moved away from all of our close friends, most of which did not have children.

Following that course I was sent on another follow-on course for 5 months are 2 weeks leave. I had every weekend off and could come home, but it was not feasible to commute the 45 miles cross-country each way on a daily basis. This is when the strain started to show on my wife as I had originally planned to commute but the intensity of the course, the 0530 wake-up call and a teething baby meant it just wasn’t realistic. Once this course finished I was then sent on another course, this time I was able to move my wife and son to the same unit as my course for 7 months. By this point (in hindsight) things had gone too far, my wife was in the grips of depression that she didn’t tell me about. Slowly though her demeanour changed and she went from being a peace-maker to an argumentative trouble maker. Every fortnight or so she would say I will be up to bed in 10 minutes I “just want some child free time”, she would not be in bed after 2 hours. I would normally waken when she was trying to sing along to music (badly and loudly at 2am) whilst being drunk and denying she had more than a couple. She also isolated herself from the other wives who tried to invite her to social events, but rarely left the house but did keep our house clean and tidy and always got up in the morning to get showered etc.

At the same time our son just wouldn’t sleep through the night, from the day he was born he has never slept through (even now) and would wake 1 – 6 times in the night crying or walk through to our room. As I was working and (trying to) work hard and pass another course my wife did the majority of the night wakening’s. The only saving grace we had is that he was in nursery 4 days a week for 6 hrs at a time, this allowed sleep, housework and time for her to “be a good wife and cook dinner for you getting in from work”, here words, not mine.

Her attitude and demeanour continued to spiral to the point we were arguing a lot over nothing and I started to really feel she was getting to a tipping point. I eventually managed to get her to visit her GP after writing down all of her feelings and worries; I asked to go along with her which I did and made sure he knew everything. He prescribed her anti-depressants (which we are both against) and promised to refer her to a counsellor so that she could chat through her worries. When we got home and read the list of side-effects in the drug literature and online she (completely justifiably) refused to take them. I agreed but insisted that she speaks to a counsellor. This never materialised as it appear the waiting list was around 3 months, by which time we had moved again to a different area. To be fair to her, she did seem to get better on her own and was on the mend.

Once we moved and I was finished with all of my training courses we settled where we are now for what was going to be around 20 months before moving again (Jan 2017). We were both really energised and looking forward to a fresh start and new house. This was very short lived as both my wife and son developed bad breathing problems within a week of moving in. My son was hospitalised overnight due to severe breathing difficulties and my wife who had very mild childhood asthma was floored with breathing problems; this has been the same every since. Shortly afterwards we found out baby 2 was on the way which we were both happy about and had planned to try for; we were very fortunate that we had 2 weeks of trying and she was pregnant.

At this time I was having a fight with the contractor that maintains military housing for them to address whatever was causing the health problems. As the pregnancy continued my wife had to be prescribed steroids for her asthma which was horrendous and left her absolutely wiped out. This was coupled with the fact that our son still didn’t sleep through the night despite us trying everything we could think of. When our daughter was eventually born my wife had a dream birth, no pain relief, no real stress and an amazing midwife who put us both at ease; it could not have gone any better. This thankfully put to bed some of the mental baggage from our sons birth which upset both of us a lot.

Our daughter is the opposite of her brother in almost every way apart from looks. She is a dream, has never (I mean ever) cried during, she smiles constantly and love interacting and playing with us, she is not needy and sleeps a lot better than her brother and is also breastfed. When she was 4 months old I was deployed for 4 months which meant leaving my wife 100% on her own, with no family nearby, any friends that can help in any real way as they all have children and she was exhausted. I did try to have my deployment delayed but was told no and ordered to deploy; meaning if I refused I would be arrested and jailed!

The night I deployed I have never felt as low in my entire life as I knew I needed to be at home and my wife said as much but in her typical fashion said “I will be fine”. Long story, short, after 2 weeks I was returned home on compassionate grounds as my wife had phoned my work and pretty much said if I don’t get home she is not sure she will cope any longer and is scared for her and our children’s well-being. She felt completely out of control, completely alone and scared of her own emotions and thoughts. She had a breakdown.

That was 2 months ago and she has spoken to her GP who has diagnosed post-natal depression but has not prescribed anti-depressants (breast feeding) but has asked that she visits every fortnight. The GP to be honest has surprised us as he is a man of few words, in his 60s and give the impressions he doesn’t care. He has been SO supportive and has worked with my wife to try and come up with a sensible solution as my wife (and I) are keen that she continues to breast feed which he has respected. He has stated though that it might come to a point when we consider what is best for the entire family, its great breast feeding but not if my wife turns suicidal and isn’t sleeping. Coupled with her GP, I have thrown money at the problem of counselling and paid for it privately; which does appear to be helping in some ways. If I am completely honest I am not sure it is working as well as we would both like as a lot of the exercises and coping strategies my wife doesn’t feel she has time to do properly due to our children. So what are the issues as we stand today –

- My wife feels the house and her life is out of control as she has not managed to keep on top of things like putting washing away, hovering etc. This structure and control has always been something in her life, she likes a clean house and when its not she stresses… A lot. I am helping where I can but I just don’t do things the same way and she feels as she is no longer working it’s her job which makes her feel worse.

- She is getting an average of about 4 hrs sleep a night and is constantly exhausted. I do take the children out as much as I can but as the youngest is breast-fed we only manage 3 hrs maximum; she just will not take a bottle after 2 months of trying! She has thankfully started weaning this week so that will help.

- We are not getting any time together as we co-sleep with both of our children on a king-size and double mattress pushed together on the floor. We have found by experience that this is the best option for the most sleep; it just doesn’t work with our son in his own room as he cries and wails the house down which means one of us has to get out of bed to comfort him and then get back in. When he is in the bed with us he settles if you put a hand on him and never ramps up to a full blown cry/wail. The lack of intimacy is not just because of children in the bed as we have plenty other rooms in the house. She just doesn’t feel in the mood and although she won’t admit it will only have sex if she is drunk as she feels a mess and unattractive. She had never hidden her body from me prior to our children being born and we had a very healthy and active sex life.

- As most mothers do, my wife has gained weight and feels “like an oil-tanker” and completely unattractive. She has always been an athletic size 6/8 who enjoyed exercising 5 days a week, ate very healthy and looked a picture of health. I get why she feels how she does, but I don’t see her as looking unattractive, if she would let me I would chase her around the bedroom every night!

- Money is tight as she is not working but we are not requiring food parcels or benefits. This stems from her mind-set of her not contributing and being a sponger which I try my best to explain is not true. I explain she has the MOST important job of any in this world and that is raising 2 young children and shape them into wonderful adults. I fully understand that I am the only bread winner but I completely accept that we made the choice that she would not go back to work until both children were at school. I am more than happy she is not bringing in a wage as I see the investment in our children is way more important than the latest iPhone or a night out.

- My wife spends money on crap, despite knowing we don’t have a lot spare. This is driving me up the wall as I am very good with money and she screws the budget every month by buying things that “were in the sale” or were “just a few pounds”. Every month our debt, which is pretty small, is increasing by about £200 because of her spending.

- She feels she is a bad mum/wife as she focuses on the cloud rather than the silver lining. I am the eternal optimist and can always see the good in any situation; she will always find the pessimistic nuclear option. An example, if our son hits another child she will be distraught and think he is going to be a murderer in adult life, I see that he has developed and that it is a milestone point that all kids reach and normally get over.

- My wife is looking tired and not well, this is due to a combination of exhaustion, her asthma flaring from nowhere and the fact she is constantly worried and stressed. Her health is slowly beginning to suffer as she is so down all of the time, which makes her stress… And so it goes on.

- She worries about what other people think too much which drives me nuts and no matter how I try to understand it, just can’t. I just genuinely don’t care what others think but due to her parents and her upbringing this affects her a lot, however she is getting better and caring less but I think this I a symptom of her depression, I fear she just doesn’t care about a lot things now.

- She never EVER thinks about herself, she is constantly worried about everyone else and lives in a constant cycle of guilt; being brought up Catholic probably hasn’t helped! She will worry herself sick if she thinks she hasn’t done everything for everyone else.

- In Jan 18 I am away on another course with work for 3-5 months in the USA which means leaving her with 2 children alone, I do not have the option to come home early, if I do then I will be kicked off of the course and that my chance gone. This doesn’t worry me as she is way more important but it is preying on her mind.

- She has in the back of her mind about her mother’s dementia which is getting worse. If she follows the timeline of my gran then she has between 2 – 2.5 yrs before the illness kills her. I fear for my wife’s long –term sanity if this happens when she is at a low point like she is now. Her sister is similar in that she was never meant to see her 20s due to her illness and in her 50s so is very much on borrowed time. Her other sister is currently having tests for lung cancer and her niece (similar age to her) for ovarian cancer! She is carrying a lot of stress for her family.

- There is no laughter in our house which is tragic for a house with 2 children in it. My wife is sullen due her depression and I am stressed out in a huge way just trying to keep everything together and do everything.

- I have my own stresses that are adding to my wife’s stress. The job I am currently doing is making me desperately unhappy and is completely unfulfilling. I am half way through a Masters degree with weekly tasks that need completing as well as larger essays that I have to research. From January my unit is moving 45 miles away which means I will be commuting, this stresses me a lot as I will have to stay away on a regular basis leaving my wife alone to cope. My son is starting to pick up the mood in the house and is playing up occasionally which means we shout at him or ignore him at times which upsets me a lot.

So what have I posted this for?

I am at the end of my tether and I want to help her but don’t know how to. I am a very easy going guy who has coped with some pretty stressful situations over the years in the military but I am getting close to breaking point. I can feel my own personality changing as a result and I am not enjoying being around her as she is bringing my normal jovial and goofy mood down. We argue a lot over stupid things and I want it to stop before the damage is too much or our children become affected.

Making soothing noises and saying ‘there, there’ just wont work any more. I am doing everything I can but I have to work and cant be at home 24/7. What practical measures can I implement to help her on her road to recovery?
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Old Dec 11, 2016 at 10:57 PM
Your wife's story is like mine, though my husband wasn't in the military. Still. A lot of similarities. I was good at faking cheer even when I couldn't eat or sleep from depression; but I was utterly wretched and alone.

Your wife has to try meds first. I finally took Elavil, one of the oldest, been-out-there-longest antidepressants available, and with my 2nd and third child I breastfed from day one, and took Elavil (amitryptiline) from day one as well. Had my breastmilk tested; results found trace amounts, and no sign of any amount at all in my babies' bloodstreams. (Kids are now grown and doing really well in life). I wish that I had not been encouraged to wean my first baby before taking antidepressants. It robbed me of the joy of breastfeeding my first; I weaned him at 4 months so I could get help from meds. Don't know what your wife's doctor is thinking; but she's being robbed of the joy of parenting her babies, and you're being robbed of all the attendant joys as well.

25 years later for me now--I have had TMS, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and it was a miraculous treatment for my now treatment-resistant depression. Now worn off, but only because of my dire situation.

Start with meds.
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Old Dec 14, 2016 at 10:23 PM
I agree with Towanda.....

I don't understand some of the things you say.

Steroids are okay, but anti-depressants are not? I also see you coming first. And your wife should be the one who is. Sorry.

Have you done much research on depression? Yes, you want to sleep all of the time. Yes, you want to go unnoticed for the most part.
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Old Dec 14, 2016 at 11:30 PM
Originally Posted by cwodavids View Post was not feasible to commute the 45 miles cross-country each way on a daily basis. This is when the strain started to show on my wife...

I was then sent on another course, this time I was able to move my wife and son to the same unit as my course for 7 months. By this point (in hindsight) things had gone too far, my wife was in the grips of depression...
Welcome, cwodavids, and I think you are going to have to do whatever you must in order to be there at home every night as part of your own family. I have read your entire post and I commend your responsible commitment and efforts so far, but too many things have changed since your 2012 move for your wife to be able to handle them in your continued absence.

| manic-depressive with psychotic tendencies (1977) | chronic alcoholism (1981) | Asperger burnout (2010) | mood disorder - nos / personality disorder - nos / generalized anxiety disorder (2011) | chronic back pain / peripheral neuropathy / partial visual impairment | Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (incurable cancer) |
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Old Mar 05, 2017 at 12:32 PM
Sorry to say that either she will have to get help with medication or you would have to leave your job. Something has got to give to relieve some stress. You sound like a wonderful husband! Remind her that medication isn't forever; this has to be done to save the children and the of luck❤❤
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Old Mar 05, 2017 at 01:04 PM
I'm really sorry for you and your family, it must be really hard Unfortunately I don't have any advice to give other than what other people have already said. Wish you good luck
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Old Mar 05, 2017 at 05:18 PM
has she thought about some sort of group therapy
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Old Apr 25, 2017 at 07:45 PM
I really think that she needs to give antidepressants a try. Something to target the depression and anxiety. I wish you and your family the best.
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Old Jul 31, 2017 at 11:07 AM
I don't understand some of the things you say.

Steroids are okay, but anti-depressants are not? I also see you coming first. And your wife should be the one who is. Sorry.

Have you done much research on depression? Yes, you want to sleep all of the time. Yes, you want to go unnoticed for the most part.
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Old Sep 12, 2017 at 05:57 AM
I just read your post before I realized it was an older one.
How are you and your wife doing now?
Did you find something that worked?

I have a blog at where I write about how I deconstruct my negative thoughts and shift my perception step by step.

"I promise if you keep searching for everything beautiful in this world, eventually you will become it." Tyler Kent White
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