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Wives caring for Husbands

Hello ladies

I am a wife who has had a husband with depression for 10 years now.  He has had multiple hospitalisations, long series of ECT's, and is now not able to work.  I would love to hear from ladies who have been, are in, my shoes and was wondering if you would answer a few questions for me.

1. Where have you needed the most help, and, could you find it?

2. What has been your hardest struggle?

thanks in advance and all my best wishes



Re: Wives caring for Husbands

Hi @zipper 


Great question!


I know there's a few ladies in here who I'm sure could share some advice.

I just wanted to welcome you to the forums, thank you for sharing your story (I've seen your other comments) and thank you asking this very relevant question.

Come on ladies - join the conversation!


Re: Wives caring for Husbands

And perhaps broaden the topic to partners caring for husband has been my carer at times when I was unwell, and we both care for other family members close to us..

Re: Wives caring for Husbands

Hi Zipper, my Husband has depression too, perhaps less severely than your husband does - mine has never been hospitalised, for example. But it has a huge impact on our lives nonetheless. To answer your questions:
1. I needed help to sort out my own headspace after living with his illness for a long time, and to work out how to redefine how we relate in order to encourage him towards better health. I saw a psychologist for a few years which really helped and was easy to access.
I also could have used help to get a regular break from the intensity of managing family life and this help has been much harder to arrange (we have three young kids). I have ended up joining a gym with a crèche which is working well for me, but I wish I'd done it years ago!
2. I think the hardest bit has been the unpredictability of it, and having to switch between carer and wife. And the loneliness that comes with it, and sense of abandonment - one minute I have a husband, the next things can deteriorate and I have a patient again - it's like he checks out and I can't rely on him for a time.

Re: Wives caring for Husbands

Hello Tatsinda

I also had 2 small children and worked when my husband took ill and I know what it is like to just have no time at all to yourself.

A support group is out of the question, as they might meet at a time not suitable for working carers.  Also, who was going to look after the children?  It is also something you might not want people to know, worrying about the embarrassment of having a husband with a mental illness

I fully understand the unpredictability and the loneliness

It feels like you are walking on eggshells all the time in case something upsets him and you find yourself hypervigilant, trying to gauge the mood of the day

The loneliness is something that I didnt realise, until just a few months ago, my mother said to me "You must be lonely" and until then I didnt think about it, but yes, I was and am.

I find myself chatting all the time, trying to keep him interested, with no response, until I stop and say, "did you hear me" "yes" "well why didnt you answer, do you have something to say, what is your opinion" then I will get a few words

But you must be strong, for the sake of the children

take care



Re: Wives caring for Husbands

Hi Zipper and other wives caring for husbands with a mental illness. My husband has had chronic anxiety and depression (untreated) now for years and also drinks every night after work. We have been married for many years, had a large family, and I have felt like leaving him when our relationship has been not going well. But I am still here!  It is lonely being married to someone with a mental illness! Over the past 8 years I have been a member of Al-Anon Family Groups. This program helps families and friends of "problem drinkers" - they may be alcoholics, but deny that is what they/we are dealing with. The only requirement for membership in Al-Anon is that his drinking is causing problems for you in your marriage/partnership. There are no contracts to sign, no appointment is needed, and it is non-denominational - not religious, but there is mention of a "Higher Power". Members' anonymity is protected. The program is based on the 12 Steps of AA but not directly affiliated with AA. If teenagers are living with a drinking parent, there is also Alateen for their support. Al-Anon Family Groups meet in all cities and some country towns across Australia.  I am the only member of my big family to have found Al-Anon - I am LUCKY!!

Re: Wives caring for Husbands

Hi Zipper and others

Firstly this is my first post on a forum about this issue. It's a huge step for me love the feeling of getting some support with people who understand. We are also in a great place at the moment he is stable and is managing it really well so life's wonderful. He takes medication and receives regular medical treatment.

I've been with my husband for 8 years (no children) he suffers from anxiety, depression and OCD. He has a full time job and mostly manages the illness but he has been hospitalised overnight twice and charged twice with a self destructive and illegal obsessions. He has had multiple other legal obsessions that are only bad because they are self destructive in how they are managed. Lucky for him legal issues were minor and all resolved for now with no record.

To answer your second question first. The main impacts are dealing with his disengagement from life with major depression. (I am an extreme extravert and miss him and our conversations terribly I also get no support and become very lonely) The other issue is dropping everything when an escalation occurs. Ie police or hospital call.. and dealing with the subsequent action. I have experienced trauma when he experienced psychosis one night last year when drunk. I also agree with the others the cycle is so hard as sometimes I get scared when things are good as well thinking it's only a matter of time before something changes.

I must admit that I have never found any good support. I once rang a carers helpline who were dismissive as he's functioning and not abusive so what could I worry about.

My key changes and support are 1.share with others I don't tell everyone or everything but have shared more widely. People appreciate it as well as if I say he's sick people don't think it's about them it also takes taboo out if it
2. Don't own it. (To the point that sometimes I don't support enough) my view is that I'm not a carer so when that level of support is needed others in his family need to step in. I also go to social functions as planned if he doesn't come.
3. Ask for help - as above rather than always having to call in sick when he needs support if I can get someone else to do it I do. I use his brothers and sisters the most as they love him unconditionally and don't judge as much. His sister is amazing to vent too which sometimes I really need is a ear to listen.
4.don't sweat small stuff particularly housework. Ie unmowed lawn isn't the end of the world it can wait or if it can't I try and pay someone to do it.
5. Take advantage of the good times and moments. He is my number 1 support I love him and spending time with him. If he has a good moment I take advantage and just enjoy it. Even if it means just sitting on beach reading without talking but still being together (Try and ignore any hurt or issues)
6.don't forget about me. I make sure I have a job I enjoy great group of friends etc..

Not sure if this helps would love to hear anyone else's experience on support groups as when he escalates this would really help.

Re: Wives caring for Husbands

Hi ladies, interested to hear what you set up so that you could continue daily living without making demands on a sick husband, so far I'm needing to get quarterly bills paid & even that is a demand that I get growled (thankfully shouting, swearing & name calling has stopped thanks to the counselor) at about, & creates yet another negative. I think I need to put things in place so these things happen without hassle & growling.

Re: Wives caring for Husbands

Hi Mrs C

Not quite sure what you mean about the bills, but I do understand how hard it can be to manage.  We have gone from a 2 income family to now surviving on benefits and boy, have we (I actually mean, me!) have had to do some juggling

My one suggestion in regard to bills, etc, it to contact the provider and arrange monthly payments.  Get on the front foot, dont leave it till things are overdue.  Be proactive.  Rearrange insurances, etc, maybe increase the excess, lower the value, etc.  

My number two suggestion is to ensure you have private health insurance and that it has unlimited psychiatric hospital stays.  It will give you piece of mind.  I always remember the cost of ONE of my husbands stays was $38,000

Hope that helps




Re: Wives caring for Husbands

Thank you ladies for opening up about this.  I understand how hard it can be to open up as I have kept all my worries to myself, just so others dont worry.

One thing that is coming out loud and clear here is the loneliness we feel for the loss of our old partners.  It is something that only I think wives understand, it is a different feeling that a family member or parent has, am I right?

Just thinking out loud here

1.Would a support group for wives and partners only, be something you would be interested in, if available?

2. Do you think it should be wives and partners only, no matter what the mental illness or mental illness specific?

I am so glad I opened this discussion, thank you, thank you to all




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