Husband mentally ill and struggling

Hey guys

My husband has seeked help since 2018 for his depression and anxiety. We have had a few bad years and he just doesnt seem to be improving. He has tried so many meds, currently on venlafaxin and mertazapine. He doesnt open up much but is very angry, irritable and cannot cope a lot of the time.

He saw a psychiatrist in 2019 and have asked to to back but they discuss him in the team meetings then dont see him and say nothing more they can do. He was suppose to start telephone therapy in Sept 2020 but he delayed it due to our puppy dying and the woman never got back in contact with him. Previously we have funded therapy for a certain period but hes just not improving.

For myself, I am a midwife and work part time. I do everything in the house. Currently I work split nights as my husband is regularly sleepy during the day and needs a nap, he cannot cope with the kids for long. We have a puppy as thought it was a good idea to get him more exercise and excuse to leave the house as he didnt really go out only food shopping.

Anyway my current concerns:
Work- have I got grounds for a flexi contract based on husbands mental health? I havent really got anyone else to look after the kids and although it is exhausting doing everything, doing split nights means I can be there for everyone I dont need to worry. I have a new manager and the old one didnt tell the new one (long story) so I’m at risk of being put into days and my nights are together, but I get so embarrassed talking about it, people dont understand that he Is at home, doesnt work, but cant look after the kids for 12.5 hours.

Husband in general- how can the GP just say 'carry on’when he is so depressed/anxious, irritable, had to call the police on the weekend as he threatened to kill himself and went out. Previous july 2020 he took an overdose of meds. Its just draining for me but I dont know what else to do.

Kids- my eldest I’m pretty sure is autistic and I need to get her an assessment. (High functioning, more asperges) but she is difficult to manage, my youngest is 5 and has so many sensory issues and separation anxiety from me, always has been and still is high needs. I am SO exhausted from trying to do everything and be the best mum, and look after the house work (I am a bit OTT with the cleaning) any words of wisdom for one broken mum? My memory is so bad and has been for a while I’m not sure if it’s the constant lack of sleep or just that I’ve got so much in my I cannot think of the words I need. Even writing this the youngest is having a tantrum that shes hungry.

Reading your post, you have too much on your plate.
You are classed as “Disabled by Association”" and covered by the Equality Act.

My son has severe learning difficulties, I know how challenging special needs can be.
Where are you in the assessment process?
Are you happy with their schools?
Have you claimed DLA for either of them?

Hi Anna, I am so sorry for you. I don’t know how you keep going.
My advice would be to get your husband to phone the Samaritans on 116 123. It is a free 24 hour service. The Samaritans are truly amazing and are trained to help people going through a crisis.
There is another service called NHS Talkng Therapies - more details on the internet.
Has he a friend or family member who he can talk to over the phone or in person?
This threat of suicide is too much for you to cope with on your own.
It is very important that he knows that you really care about him - sorry if that sounds obvious.
If possible take time off work.
Please keep in touch,
Take care,
Karen x
Plus, think back to 2018 when his depression and anxiety started. Encourage him to talk about events leading up to that time.

This feed has just made me join. I am in such a similar situation to yourself, and I came here looking for support.

My children are slightly younger (1 and 3) and I am currently a full time primary teacher. I have just started therapy myself for anxiety. I have been having panic attacks and struggling to function properly with the weight of caring for 2 young children, a seriously depressed husband, and work f/t. All without the hugs and love of my closest family and friends.

This morning my husband wasn’t able to get out of bed (we had conversation last night that left him feeling very angry) so I have had to get our children up, take them to nursery, walk the dog and am now teaching online all day. Due to school closures I am currently on a 1 week in/ 1 week out rota (but the week out is probably more intense and busy that the week working on school).

I am struggling so much. I wanted to go and stay with my mum this weekend (she lives alone and I am her support bubble, but haven’t seen her since Christmas, so she has been completely alone since then), me raising this was what started last nights conversation. He was very supportive at first and suggested I go alone, which was very generous - but he has barely been functioning this week and is very delusional about this (for example: the conversation was on Tuesday evening, and he’d forgotten that just the day before he’d accused me of not telling him I was working from home that week, had become angry and cross with me about it, had got the children ready for nursery in the most awfully grumpy and abrasive way, and then told me, “I’m not taking the dog, you need to walk him” - normally they all walk to nursery together and kills both birds with one stone. This was at 8:10, I was starting 3 hours of live teaching at 9, followed by recording multiple video lessons and needing to phone 30 children individually to check in with them. He then didn’t speak to me for the rest of the day). I therefore suggested he might find it very tiring and that it might make next week harder if he had the children alone for that time.

I told him I’d just started therapy for my anxiety and said I wish he’d revisit therapy as an option (he is currently on meds only) and have been trying to persuade him to do couples therapy with me for some time but he is very opposed to it. I mentioned that I still would liek to do couples therapy, and his reaction was that he thought we were “past that”. He has probably given me the silent treatment 6 days out of the past 14. He thinks our relationship is in a good place now.

After last nights conversation I went up to bed as I was exhausted, he stayed up an extra hour and then slammed around the house and then went to sleep in the spare room. I am desperate to go to see my mum, and refuel and refill my “running on empty” feeling, but I am now anxious to leave him. He will be unlikely to come with me, and actually what I need is some space from him. His parents live abroad so I can’t suggest he stays with them (I did arrange for him to go over there for a month earlier this year when he was particularly low and I was also running of fumes).

No solutions I know. Just wanted to offload somewhere.

Thank you for reading this far if you got through the waffle

Hi Rosie,
unless you are worried what he might do if left alone, I would take the children and go to your Mum’s this weekend. It will benefit all of you.


Hi, I totally get where you are coming from I am in a situation where I am not coping too, there seems little help out there at all and it can be a daily struggle, you are obviously doing your very best, but it must be so hard with children at least my son is grown , living and from home. I hope you can get the support you need sending hope and healing xx

Hello Rosie,
Welcome to the forum.
Wow! It’s amazing all that you’re doing. I understand how tired you’re feeling.
Does your husband still work or has he stopped working to care for the children?
I hope you don’t mind me asking these questions. If you tell us a bit more then we might be able to help.
Best wishes,

Hi there .
It’s so hard for you all…I feel for you I been there with my husband …and still am 4o years later .
With men I think it’s hard they dont talk to others like ladies .if only they could try support each other I find something can enjoy or text each other so they no someone else understands how they feel.
My husband had all tablet s and therapies he wants to feel better but nothing works he gets angry frustrated.
It’s so hard to keep going for him.but for us carers trying to keeping everything going.
We need more help I suggested to mental health what would help over the years.but always a case of money.
But always make sure if there not working pip or disability living allowance it .
I sending you hugs and support you can only be positive.and hope they may get better and you carers find someone to talk to

Hi everyone, especially Anna, Rosie and Jill

Like some others here I have just joined today after reading this. I recognise so much of what I am seeing here, although in my case my husband was still able to work, which I am very grateful for. The problem was that throughout our family life the kids and I just never really knew which version of him would walk through the door at night… I am sure many of you recognise that feeling. For most of the time his mood was somewhere between OK and very angry. I wonder how many men in prison on domestic abuse charges are undiagnosed depression sufferers? Quite a lot I would imagine. Which makes it odd that we are all here talking on a carers forum. Are we carers or victims? They are two sides of the same blokey coin.

In my case our relationship quite quickly got into a repeating pattern of depression, anger and relative calm which went on for about 20 years … occasionally I would plead with him to consider the possibility that he could be depressed and there might be a way get help, I asked GPs and mental health charities to intervene (nothing, he would have to make contact himself), went to counselling myself (where the advice ranged from ‘dump his stuff on the lawn in a binbag’ to ’ just change your own behaviour’ or ‘you seem to be coping very well’) and from time to time I just plotted my eventual escape once the kids left home.

Throughout this time we couldn’t really plan “normal” things like visits with family or friends because sometimes my husband would create a fight and storm off. Looking back this was his own anxiety defence mechanism. So my subconscious calendar was always checking and rechecking dates (Just keep him upbeat until parents’ evening on Thursday, don’t react to his criticisms and anger … just keep cool until then… etc). It was full-time workout for my brain.

It was really a horrible existence for much of the time. But my two kids and I have always has such a good laugh! And it was that that kept me going. I think ultimately I always believed they would benefit if I could ‘fix’ things between us so I persevered. Plus I had nowhere else to go!

However there was a turning point. And this is why I wanted to contribute. After one terrible fight, with both myself and the children, who were now grown up, it finally dawned on me that I didn’t have to run away. I had done nothing wrong. I quietly, in an email (that’s how bad things were a lot of the time) asked him to seek help or move out.

It was at that point that he tried to kill himself. So for a while it felt that all that had happened was that he changed things from ‘do as I say or will be angry’ to ‘do as I say or I will kill myself’. However it frightened him enough to seek help for the first time. At first it was quite good, the meds kicked in. And he seemed to enjoy the therapy because it was apparently the first time he had ever allowed himself to think about his own mental health. So he found it liberating.

It is not a cure for the illness. That remains. However his official depression diagnosis has given me the chance to read as much as I can, I listen to the many ,many podcasts about depression and I keep building my own mental armoury. Which has all helped enormously. I also read Alastair Campbell’s book on depression which gave me some insight into some of the torment that a depressed person can face from day to day. So I learned to be more patient. To remove myself from the room when he is sulking or angry. You may think is very cold, but after 20 years of his refusal to engage with me if I ask him what is wrong … I figure best to just give him space. Usually he comes round after a few days and life goes back to a more even keel.

I have tried to learn more about men too. Throughout evolution we have relied on men to be ready to die for their tribe, and we wouldn’t be here without that. But once we replaced strength with money … all that adrenaline and courage seem to have no purpose. And I think we have a massive problem on our hands. Some of them really need a physical outlet.

It is a very strange half life that we are all living. We have a life partner … yet somehow they are more like a child. And a needy, poorly behaved, and sometimes manipulative one at that.

But they are not children. And we are not their mothers. We are not responsible for them. If they choose to hide away from the world, well that is their decision. We can bring them soup and be there for them when they emerge, but we are not falling into their deep hole with them. That way madness lies.

I have no idea if any of this is helpful. But it has helped me to write it down. Do all the good self-care things the books say and stay strong. You have got this.


Thank you so much everyone for replying. I couldnt remember what forum I posted on/joined and didnt get any email notifications but found my account tonight!

Thank you for sharing your stories, as much as I feel bad for each one of you, i cant believe there are people out there that understand, it is nice to know that.

Rosie, you sound like you are doing amazing to continue working full time, big hugs to you.

I self refered to vitaminds which I think are the equivalent to talking therapies in my area about my anxiety and I have an appointment next week.

I am currently signed off of work for 2 weeks, I’ve been feeling really bad recently about not coping and my shifts. I put in the flexi contract and the band 8 told my manager to tell me I couldnt just do nights (despite just doing them for the last year unofficially) and knowing other midwives and MAs that either practically always do nights only, one is ti do nights for 9 years, one ma currently on set night shifts for last 2 years. She didnt even let me explain and I refuse to leave my children in my husbands care for a whole day shift so I went off.

I am not sure whether I am going back or will take another 2 weeks off. My anxiety is so bad right now, we have had a few days where my husband hasn’t been so bad but then I let him wake up whenever, usually 9.30, 10am. Today he has been angry and irritable and he shouts and then I just divert the kids away we move rooms ect and he gets annoyed at that and says he is fine now but thars not the point I want to shield my children from it.

Eldest has only had the referal form sent off, waiting for her appointment or being told there is a wait. Youngest is being referred to the OT by schol, mainly for her sensory issues but I think she might have ADHD which we are going to talk to my husbands psychiatrist about as his mum was concerned about the same thing when he was younger but he never got a diagnosis and is relatively bright but very impulsive/fidgety/short temorr It may be why he is not getting any better but it may just be the depression and anxiety? But worth finding out, he literally fits all of the description and so does my youngest :sob:

We have just applied for PIP had the appointment monday, you hear so many horror stories of being turned down and the assessor writing lies I am honestly dreading the outcome. He is also awaiting a ESA assessment which was started over a year ago but thars another stressful story at the failings of the DWP!

I hope you ladies are okay this evening xxx

Hi Folks

How is everyone doing? I have had a bumpy three weeks or so and I have to admit reading my advice from last time just looks sort of annoying. It is hard to be endlessly practising self care isn’t it? Why the Hell can’t somebody else do it for a change, eh?

Does anyone recognise this scenario: husband will do nothing at all to help himself, won’t try to find a therapist, won’t go to the doctor (who is keen to press more pills), won’t talk to me because he doesn’t feel up to it “at the moment”. But there never is a moment. Just endless more of the same deathly silence. Wake up. Work. Lunch. Work. Walk. Tea. Telly. Bed. No interaction. Just scowling.

Does anyone else fantasise about running away to a caravan in Cornwall?

Anyway, I have recently started a creative writing for mental health course, offered through my union because of the stresses of Covid. It is very invigorating … but like everything the effects wear off after a few hours and then it is same old same old. Sorry to be very down today. But sometimes the loneliness is just so overwhelming.

I would recommend last week’s Life Scientific on Radio Four. It is about talking therapies. After pioneering CBT and using it to help people with Schizophrenia, this guy (forget his name, should google it ) did an analysis of years of therapies where the docs/therapists had asked the patients to rate how well they got on with their therapists at various stages through the process. The funny thing was, if patients didn’t like their therapist, the therapy, whatever form it took, didn’t work. In fact it may have made things worse. But in case where they got on well … they made a marked improvement. It is almost like we want mates we can talk to!

Anyway … made me think. Yes I would love a mate. I thought I had a mate.

Keep posting people

I just came across this post and can relate to so many of the things you are all saying. My husband has been mentally ill for a long time (circa 15 years), ups and downs during that time but right now is a big down. He lost his job in December and now cannot see how he can ever work for someone ever again. My son is undergoing diagnosis for Autism and can be challenging at times, my husband doesn’t deal with this very well.

My husband has asked for help and has had initial assessments, he is due to start CBT on Monday but over the last two days keeps threatening that he doesn’t want to start the treatment every time an argument starts up. He has seemed very stressed since he got confirmation of the apt on Monday and I can’t help but feel that he doesn’t want to get better.

Tonight there was a heated argument because my son was refusing to bath, my husband got so upset he tried to dial 999 to ask to be sectioned, resulting in the police attending and him talking his way out of how he is really feeling.

Me and my two kids are left worrying for the future, I am scared to talk in case I say something to upset him and I am worried he now will not get the help he so desperately needs.

No-one can really help, but it just feels good to put it down in writing as tonight I am feeling really down about my caring role and am wondering if really can I go on caring for this person who seems to have so little care for himself.


You put that very well … “I am wondering if really can I go on caring for this person who seems to have so little care for himself”. You have it in a nutshell. But he may not realise that he appears not to care for himself. he may not understand what he is feeling, only that he wants it to stop.
I heard a great thing on the radio about mentalisation and MTB. It is concerned with people who seem to have an inability to understand what their own thoughts and feelings, let alone be able to discus them. It means they often misinterpret the intentions of others which can lead to feelings of despair - if you say something is wrong it is because you want to fix it but they might hear it as ‘you are a terrible person’. It can lead to aggression when they misunderstand someone is jostling them because they have no room (unlikely these days admittedly).
I thought this was spot on in my own case. The other day my husband and I were discussing the fact that the dishwasher was not working … first world problems I know. I was suggesting we run a rinse cycle before we run it each time and he was, catastrophising, swearing and saying “it’s f***ed”. And I said “Well at least I am trying something not just giving up.” He went straight up to bed and didn’t come out of his room all day.
But we have not been allowed to discuss it. He won’t consider therapy and sometimes says he should have a higher dose of antidepressants. But to me that makes as much sense as asking the doctor with help passing your driving test. It is called mental health but it doesn’t mean your GP has a solution. It takes effort and work.
Sadly an inability to mentalise (identify your own feelings) can run very deep as it seems to stem from childhood … but it can be un-learned. You know, let’s look at those negative thoughts. When are they worse? Do you think you people will let you down? Breathe, take moment, is it really as bad you think it is … That kind of thing. I think it closely related to CBT. Anyway … just my thoughts for today. What do others think? Happy International Women’s Day! We got this sisters x

PS Nicola … did he go to his appointment?

Hi Jane

Thank you for your reply, last week got a lot worse before it got better. By Thursday he blamed me for all of his mental health issues and became convinced that he didn’t need help but rather that everyone around him needed to change instead. I went through hell on that day and turned to several different charities to vent out my frustration and anger.

He did at that point cancel his appointment, however his therapist called him on Friday and persuaded him that it wouldn’t be the right thing not to proceed and so he did do his first session on Monday. I just hope that he continues with it.

Not sure if I mentioned in my original post that it has also been suggested that he suffers with autism and a lot of his behaviour is down to the traits of this condition. My son is also being referred for autism diagnosis and it is proving to be very hard living with two very strong willed people with the autism traits. But I will persevere.

Hi Nicola and all you other wonderful women out there

That is really good to know. I hope he starts and then continues. My husband went for four sessions (NHS will act quickly when the hear about “suicide ideation”). I think he found it very rewarding so I am so glad your husband’s therapist was able to persuade him to go.

It’s funny how we can ask them for 15 years to do something about their mental health then the minute the doc says it … it is caring and sensible not nagging and bullying.

I know what you mean about the strong will … I have always joked that I have three children, one in his Fifties. But what I think about now is … how has all this affected the kids? They are grown and away from home now, but early 20s is when they start to ruminate and develop their own hang ups I guess. It is a work in progress.

My trade union is offering Covid recovery funded mental health training so I have signed up to be become a mental health first aider … I am hoping I will be able to cope better and help him too. But you know what they say about the barber having the worst haircut!

All the best for now

I’ve only just joined this site and just wanted to say reading through this thread made me sob and feel relief at the same time. I can relate to so much of what you’re all saying.
Currently in the position where I’m considering leaving with the kids as I don’t know if I can go through years of supporting someone who won’t care for himself. And lies and lies about things leaving us in debt and I work so hard to have it all thrown away because he’s lied about not going to work.
Long story. But thank you for making me feel less alone.