I have been married for 22 years and in that time, my wife has struggled with and overcome depression. She has been stable for many years but, despite much professional and family support, a lot of her irrational fears and paranoia remain.
Our children are older now and need less attention which has led to more free time for paranoid thoughts. She has minor episodes daily now and every week or two, these erupt into terrible anxiety and anger.
During these, she blames everyone and everything else, including her own family and especially me and our marriage, for causing her unhappiness. She won’t accept her illness is to blame.
I love my wife very much and it gives me great joy when she is happy and laughing and finding pleasure in the little things in life. However, I despise the vengeful and spiteful person the paranoia turns her into.
I am trying to learn new ways to make her feel more secure, but it is exhausting.
I know this condition has broken many marriages, but I am determined to keep up the effort to save mine. I am desperately looking for reassurance there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
You sound like a lovely person and a great husband. It’s incredibly hard for people like you – those who are living with someone with depression.
And it does break many people and they end up walking away. It’s also hard for other people to understand if they have no personal experience which can be isolating for you. Friends can be sympathetic, but they don’t know what it’s like to be you.
However, you don’t have to cope alone. I’d strongly recommend you get in touch with the mental health charity Mind, on tel: 0300 123 3393 or visit mind.org.uk, which provides useful information on how to cope with someone who has depression and how to look after yourself. You can search for your local Mind group too.
Peer support can be a lifeline – finding common ground with other carers can help you to feel less alone.
It must be very wearing to constantly have to reassure your wife and to live on tenterhooks waiting for the next episode. Which brings me to my next point – it doesn’t sound like she has overcome it.
She needs ongoing support but perhaps she’s terrified of admitting this to you for fear she’ll lose you. When you next discuss it with her, tell her that you think she needs professional support and that it’s OK to admit it.
Tell her you love her and want to be with her, but that it’s taking its toll on you and ultimately it will have an impact on your marriage. You can’t shield her from the reality.
This isn’t something your wife has chosen – it’s an illness – but it’s very hard on you too and you need to make sure you’re taking care of your own mental health and wellbeing.
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