Hus­band won’t seek help af­ter brother’s death

Toronto Star - - LIFE - El­lie

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? Dis­traught Wife

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 checkup.

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.

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 any­more. 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 over­re­act­ing 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? Feel­ing Alone in the Fam­ily

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.

Your part­ner has suf­fered a tragic, sud­den loss. Tell him how sorry you are that this hap­pened, but that by bear­ing the pain alone, he may be af­fect­ing his own health

Tip of the day Grief and fear af­ter a tragic loss have no set end-date. Ther­apy can help deal with it. Read El­lie Mon­day to Satur­day. Email el­lie@thes­tar.ca or visit her web­site, el­liead­vice.com. Fol­low @el­liead­vice.

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