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When Depressed Husbands Refuse Help

By Beverly Wax

(Page 5 of 5)

With Treatment, Relationships Return

Because depression ran in Phil’s family, Emme says, “Depression was the last thing Phil wanted to admit to.” His father’s mother had been in and out of depression for most of her life and relatives described her as ‘quirky’. Phil’s grandmother also had a sister who was institutionalized and lived out her days in the psych unit. Back in those days they didn’t diagnose depression by name; the ‘quirkiness’ ran in the family to include a couple of cousins as well.

Finally, Emme asked Phil’s brother, Seth, who had depression on how to help get Phil into treatment. Ultimately, their family doctor reached out to them. He had helped Seth get through his depression in 1986 and had been helping the family deal with Phil’s other brother, Jonathan, living with brain cancer.

It was at the end of a family session with the doctor that Seth stepped in and asked to spend time on what was going on with Phil. It was almost like an intervention. Emme says, “We all turned to Phil and said, ‘We love you, you’re here. You are clearly depressed.” They left Phil in the room with the doctor to discuss it. This was the beginning of Phil facing his depression through a combination of talk therapy and medication.

But this was not yet the happy ending. Emme threw herself into being Phil’s caregiver, even at times explaining to his doctor the status of treatment, symptoms and behavior. She offers concrete suggestions to other wives: learn everything you can about the illness; get a clear, medicine container to keep track of daily dosages when it is too overwhelming for your husband, make a chart listing his moods. Her biggest suggestion is to carry around one notebook at all times dedicated to your spouse’s treatment. She also suggests telling well-meaning friends and family to keep their private feelings about therapy and medication to themselves. Phil eventually had to turn to ECT (Electro-Convulsive Therapy), and is now recovered. Emme says, “It was our last resort and it was a lifesaver.” 

Most importantly, Emme’s message is one of hope and survival. “My story is just one of many that are happening every day around the world.” Although their heavenly life turned into a living hell, Emme and Phil, along with untold other couples, conquer depression together and look forward to a new beginning in their relationship.

For more resources and help, contact Families for Depression Awareness at www.familyaware.org or (781) 890-0220.

 

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