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Husband pulls away when I have a depression episode

Tagged as: Health, Marriage problems, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (15 September 2023) 3 Answers - (Newest, 18 September 2023)
A female age 30-35, anonymous writes:


I have battled depression all my life, to the point where I've come very close to taking my own life a couple of times (most recent was 2 years ago after we had our baby). I'm on antidepressants and I exercise, eat fairly healthy and take steps to manage it but sometimes it becomes too much and I end up crawling in to bed with my headphones on and feeling generally numb and worthless.

Tonight this exact same thing happened. I'd been trying to convince my husband that we should find a sitter and schedule a date night (haven't had one since May) which resulted in a disagreement about money. He left to walk the dog and I broke down in tears and locked myself away for 3 hours, not directly because of the agreement but because I felt unloved, unwanted and because I'm under a huge amount of pressure at work recently and my depression has been slowly rearing its ugly head. It all came bubbling up.

I eventually came out of our room to make a drink only to find that my husband is not talking to me.

I wish I could say that his reaction is an isolated incident but the truth is every time I fall in to one of my depressive states- or even just get upset in general, he pulls away and is cold towards me, at a time when I need him most. When I question him he shrugs his shoulders and says he doesn't understand depression and thinks I just need to 'get on with it'.

He's never once tried to understand it and now I've given up trying to talk to him about it. I feel like he's only emotionally engaged with me when I'm 'happy'.

How to handle this please??? I worry one day I'll lose it completely and end up doing something utterly selfish like walking out on them or ending it all.

View related questions: at work, engaged, money, unloved

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (18 September 2023):

Original poster here. Thank you for taking the time to reply to me.

I think that what I have written has been misconceived. I did not have a 'tantrum' as someone suggested (our baby was in bed by the way) I'd been bottling up a lot of emotions recently due to stress and a dark episode of depression, the disagreement was the trigger for me and it all came pouring out.

Because my husband is not very good with emotions (both talking and listening) I actually don't 'lean' on him at all when I'm feeling like this. I lock myself away as I don't want to talk to anyone, it's just how I deal with things when I'm overwhelmed. The only thing I wanted from him was for him to acknowledge that I'd been upset and give me a hug. If it was the other way around and someone I loved was visibly upset I can't imagine just ignoring it, even if I didn't know what to say or how to deal with it. That's just what I can't get my head around

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 September 2023):

Your husband is not your therapist. If you have had depression for years and you are taking antidepressants they cannot be working that well. Perhaps you need to stop taking them or change them for a better one or do something entirely different to help yourself more? Someone said and they were right. If your job is stressful change it. Life is not etched in stone you make decisions, you live according to your choices. If you choose to stay in a job that is very stressful that is your fault, nobody else's, you and you alone should live with the consequences that come from that choice. That word is c h o i c e, I will say it again c h o i c e. Plenty of people have terrible problems which are not their choice. Being raped and half murdered, having a baby die, a husband leaving them with debts and children to take care of. Those are the things that are forced on us. But being in a job you don't like or is stressful and staying there is a choice. Locking yourself away for a few hours achieves nothing, it is like a silent tantrum. Do something helpful and useful instead.

Once you have tried all you can to help yourself that is the time to give up or ask others to help you more. If anyone here can give good advice to problems like this come join me at where people give and get free advice every day on a super forum, on loads of subjects including relationships and love. You can earn good money through the site giving advice too.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (17 September 2023):

Honeypie agony auntIf he has never dealt with depression, he probably doesn't REALLY understand how you feel.

While HE could be more understanding, there can be many reasons why he backs off when you are not doing good.

1. is that he thinks HE did something wrong.

2. that HE is helpless and useless.

3. he knows he can't fix this.

Maybe it would be a good idea for you to see a counselor and BRING your hubby with you so he can hear from a professional how depression affects you.

" I feel like he's only emotionally engaged with me when I'm 'happy'."

I think that is actually pretty normal, OP

Being around depressed people is draining. I have been one and occasionally have bouts, but I take out my "toolbox" and deal with it. While I'm not the biggest fan of therapists, I DID learn something from mine.

YOU CAN NOT expect your husband to be your therapist or "fix" you.

If you have suicidal thoughts you NEED to seek help. Now, not tomorrow, and do not expect your husband to carry your depression with you. That isn't fair on him. CALL someone and set up an appointment to SEE someone or call a hotline.

While I think a date night COULD be a good thing for you two to do something positive together, you DO have to consider the finances. Instead, think of what you can do that doesn't cost anything.

Like a picnic, and bring the baby.

He mentioned the finances, do you guys sit down and talk budget?

Do you have a support system? Lean on it if you do.

Who takes care of the baby when you lock yourself away for 3 hours?

It sounds like you NEED to get help.

Would it be possible to look into a job change for you? If your work is so stressful it can't be good for you and your family.

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