In denial about illness
QUESTION:I think my husband’s suffering from mental illness and is in total denial.
His younger brother was killed two years ago and the killer was never caught. He’s still affected by this tragedy and didn’t get closure. It’s affecting our marriage and our family, but he refuses to seek help.
How can I convince him to see a therapist because mental illness is real and he needs to get treated?
ANSWER: Your husband has suffered a terrible shock and tragic loss. Grief is real, so is fear about an unsolved murder.
He needs to be professionally assessed as to whether he needs medication. He also needs to vent his deep feelings about this violent event. Telling him he has a mental illness isn’t helping.
Instead, tell him how sorry you are that this happened, and for how upsetting it’s been for him.
Then say that you and your immediate family also feel upset because he’s becoming lost to you as a husband and father, when you all most need each other.
Say that by bearing the pain alone, he’s potentially affecting his own health.
Encourage him to see a doctor for a thorough check-up.
Once he’s alert to the need for self-care, talk about the benefits of seeing a therapist, and considering whether he has post-traumatic stress disorder.
It’s unfortunately a common enough reaction to such a tragic occurrence, so he needn’t feel embarrassed about it.
Do the research yourself to find a professional therapist locally, and ask relevant questions about the approach used.
Tell your husband what you learn, and when you think you’ve found the right fit for him. His doctor may also provide a referral to a therapist.
QUESTION: I recently had my first panic attack. For over a year I’ve been struggling with depression. I live with my husband’s family, who tease me about being depressed and call me names.
Eventually I decided to pretend to be happy. My husband isn’t good with my feelings, so I hide it from him, too. I also decided to make a goal to get my life on track. Full time job, check. Return to school, check. Stop being dependent, check. Try harder at being a better wife, check. Spend more time with my kids, check.
But I still feel lost. The more and more I try to hide, the harder it’s getting for me. This past week my stepbrother died. I couldn’t take it any more. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. I was shaking and numb. I bawled in front of everyone and ran outside.
My husband followed me and said that I’m over-reacting and that anxiety is just used for pity. Now I’m hiding the hurt and sadness again. How can I make him and his family more supportive of my anxiety and depression?
ANSWER: A panic attack is a call for help, not pity. Unlike the situation above, you already know you need to talk to a therapist and should do so.
Your previous reaction to depression was to load yourself up with all your goals at once, and you checked them all off.
There’s a strong person inside you. But no wonder you caved when you had a sudden loss.
Ignore those who don’t have the knowledge or understanding of depression. See your doctor to learn how to respond to the immediate signs of a panic attack.
And see a therapist for your feelings of loneliness within your marriage and home.