Husband doesn’t believe in my depression

But I love him anyway. Not only does he not understand, he told me that all of the medications I’ve been on do not work. When I argued that the medications stop the negative voices that tell me life is hopeless and that I’m worthless, he argues that it’s all a placebo effect.

How can I live with a guy who doesn’t believe in my mental illness? I trust on some intrinsic level he does but his pragmatic side doesn’t. He read some article that said all antidepressants are the same and he talked to some guy friends who seem to think depression is just a crutch to blame for our frailty.  That’s his opinion.

My husband’s mother left him when he was 7 years old. He and his sisters were raised by a domineering father.  When we first met, he shared that painful time in his life. How he would wait for his mom to return but she never did. She moved to a different state and all but forgot him. He cried at the memory and then, with my help, began to rebuild a relationship with her. We visited her with our children. He called her “mom” even though he says he doesn’t think of her that way. Basically, he accepted the past and moved on.

My brother sexually molested me when I was 11 and it changed my thinking forever. I blamed myself and learned to hide the secret and my pain. I can’t let it go and move on (unless I’m treated with antidepressants, than I can consider it history).

My husband and I have talked about how we both had painful childhoods but I can’t leave mine in the past. There’s some faulty wiring in my brain that causes me to relive the trauma. My husband agrees that he isn’t preoccupied with his past. It’s a non-issue for him but he knows that it’s different for me.  So, he says one thing like “depression is all in your head.” But when push comes to shove, he has supported me by being patient and caring through many periods in my life when I was depressed and suffering PTSD. He stuck by me when I cried that I was not worth his time. He held me when I wanted to die. He dealt with my family when I couldn’t take their calls or visits. He went along with me when I cut my family out of my life for a couple of years. He’s put up with my silences, my anger, my rages and my sadness whether it was directed at others or him.

Actions speak louder than words and my husband’s behaviors have consistently proven he does understand the vulnerable state of my mental health. He has never belittled me or used it against me. (But that goes back to my last post about how he argues in the moment and doesn’t see how all things are connected, this is probably why he doesn’t “get” my depression).

Fast forward to the present — I now rely on my girlfriends and therapist to talk about my depression and medications. Years of marriage have taught me men are good for some things but not to satisfy every need and desire we have. That’s when it’s good to have a close friend (or therapist) to help with difficult feelings and thoughts.

It’s taken many years to get to this place where my strength comes from inside and knowing I need to be properly monitored for major depression. My husband and I have a stronger relationship now that I don’t depend on him for every bit of my happiness or blame him for all of my sorrows.

7 responses to “Husband doesn’t believe in my depression

  1. “Actions speak louder than words and my husband’s behaviors have consistently proven he does understand the vulnerable state of my mental health. He has never belittled me or used it against me. (But that goes back to my last post about how he argues in the moment and doesn’t see how all things are connected, this is probably why he doesn’t “get” my depression).”

    This is very insightful, and I think it is true that your husband’s actions shows he cares. I’m glad he doesn’t use the issues against you, but I understand that he isn’t seeing how your depression motivates you and your actions. What’s more, is the fact that you have an outside support system of your therapist and girlfriends. This way, you don’t have to ever feel like you are burdening your husband and that you have to keep things inside.

    • You got it. The hardest thing in my life has been trusting others and making a support system. When I was younger I thought I was beyond help because I carried a lot of shame and blame which made it difficult to talk about my issues. I still tend to blame myself but I’m slowly learning to accept help from others. Thanks for your support! –Daylily

  2. Studies that differentiate between minor and major depression generally show a greater than placebo effect for major depression, which you probably have.

    It’s understandable why your husband would feel they don’t work- doctors prescribe them like candy now to almost anyone so a lot of people who aren’t well suited to them get them. It is unfortunate that he can’t see that you’re a unique person and aren’t necessarily the same as the hundreds of people he read about in studies. It’s probably for the best that you have a backup support system.

    • Very interesting. Yes, I have been diagnosed with “major depression” and I clearly respond to antidepressants. I agree that a back up support system is important but I tend to be private and self-reliant so I cetainly don’t have many supports.

      Interestingly, I recently took a test on how old I am in terms of living a healthy life style and how far off that is from my real age. (I don’t really recall the results but I think I was deemed 3 years younger than my real age.) The test found the area I am significantly lacking in is having people in my life that I have regular contact with in a personal way. Studies show healthy relationships have a positive effect on longevity. I have many acquaintances and peers and some long distance family but few close friends. I guess that’s why I’ve paid a bunch of therapists for long term counseling in my lifetime. Nothing like an objective ear to listen to my issues!

      • It is so important to be validated. Have someone acknowledge that your feelings are real. But the most important validation comes from ourselves. People can add or detract from our life, and it is important to find a support system, whether you pay for it or not, but we are ultimately responsible for our own happiness. I admire your courage. When feelings of shame and guilt overwhelm you, take a look at an 11 year old. Recognize how young- it may help put things in perspective.

  3. It almost sounds like your husband has PMT, there for you want minute supporting you and the next telling you it is all in your head… I have found most men the same I have come across, in both the voluntary work and my own dad. Especially with my dad we do not talk about MH issues, he prefers to hope it will just go away… when obviously it will not!

    Hang on in there!

    • I don’t know what “pmt” is but that definitely describes my husband. I’ve learned to not share everything with him and when I do I’m prepared to defend myself. Sympathy is not his strong suit but listening is so at least I cansafely express myself even though he may not agree.

      I can’t remember any converstions about my mental health with my dad before he died. I was too fearful of being judged so I kept everything inside and tried desperately to act normal.

      I’m giong to bring all of this up in my next theapy session. –Daylily

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