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New to this forum, but wanted to share my story of living with depression. Mostly just to get it out, but also to find common ground and hear any thoughts you might have for what to do.
My first attempt at this was my first ever call to the Samitans last month... which I found oddly disheartening. It was so odd, having never heard anything but good things about them, and having the utmost respect for the organisation, to feel, probably unfairly, let down by them. I'm guessing I had someone fairly inexperienced whose only approach seemed to be to repeatedly check if I was feeling suicidal rather than lead me to think about things with the right sort of questions. I suppose the conversation can only really go one way in that circumstance so I hope a friendly community is a better place.
Here is our story:
My wife was diagnosed with PND after the birth of our first child seven years ago. Since then it has been up and down but things started getting worse when her second pregnancy came with some severe health issues, culminating in a pelvic problem that left her on crutches for the last couple of months.
Since then, there have been further health problems, including arthritis, Rayners and incontinence. An operation to help with the latter 18 months ago hasn't fully worked.
But physical health is only part of it. Neither of our children slept properly for the first 18 months or so of their lives and we both ran on empty. This has spilled over into the present - she is reluctant to go to bed and often lays awake worrying.
She has been on anti-depressants for most of this time - at their peak, they left her incapacitated in the mornings and I have done the lions share of getting up with the children since day one, as well as playing with them at weekends while she has rest (but arguably not as much as she needs). Recently the incontinence has strengthened and she has been at some of her lowest points.
We both work full-time (and she earns around 60% of our combined income) and having two children with little parental support (they all live at least a couple of hours away and come with their own complications, including her very hands-off parents). She sees a therapist once a week.
We are in some financial difficulty in that we have maxed out our overdrafts and have been in the same jobs for some time.
We argue all the time, a lot of it about money but also about me not keeping up with her ailments and her ridiculously crammed schedule of doctor and physiotherapist appointments. She shouts, lists the things she doesn't forgive me for (many of them with merit) and threatens suicide regularly (and admits in calmer moments to suicidal thoughts) and I don't know how to cope. I clam up, I'm scared and I don't have the answers.
A lot of the time I spend just trying to keep a lid on everything - maintain a routine for the kids, do the washing, cook the meals etc. I don't have the head space to see the long-term picture and find myself going for the easy wins rather than the big things that need sorting. The kids (aged 7 and 4) are aware of some of what's going on, particularly the eldest and they've asked us a lot why we row. We end up being tetchy with them, more than we should be (but never abusive, I stress).
I tried CBT for a while a couple of years ago but couldn't really get with it. I've been on anxiety tablets for a few years now. I have definitely had frustrations in my life that have felt like depression, I've been shy and withdrawn particularly in the past. I have spent 7 years trying to be the one who keeps it together and I think I can, but only partly.
To add to our frustration, she is fantastic at putting a brave face on things - she's outgoing, confident, sociable and professional. But behind closed doors she breaks, and can twist what have clearly been positive times into something negative.
I don't expect to get the 'old' pre-PND person back (and in any case there have clearly been other signs in her past, mostly relating to her parents). But I want her to be better, I want the pressure to be off and I want us to feel positive about the future. Right now, beyond pockets of fun, lovely family time and some times when the two of us relax and have fun, I can see that. But then comes the accusation, and the guilty realisation on my part, that when we do, it's at the expense of addressing the more practical solutions to these problems.
Anyway, enough ramblings. Thanks for reading.
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