Depression affects about 17.3 million U.S. adults, yet this common mental health disorder is still shrouded in stigma. Oftentimes, loved ones of people with depression don’t know how to offer support. This is the case for one Redditor — but luckily, compassionate commenters in the /Relationship_Advice Subreddit had some practical, well-intentioned advice.
User @Stateach (29F) posted in the relationship-focused forum regarding her husband (30), who has struggled with anxiety and depression “pretty heavily for the past few years.” Recently, though, he made a particularly worrying comment that has her unsure how to respond.
“[My husband] is in therapy,” she recalled, “and after his last [appointment], I asked how it went and if they were continuing the topic of shame that they have been digging into lately.”
“Now, here’s where it gets tricky,” she continued. “I’m appreciative that he disclosed what they talked about, but his answer made me so sad. He said, ‘No, we mostly talked about how I feel like it doesn’t matter if I’m around or not.'”
Naturally, this answer devastated the Original Poster, who loves her husband and wants him to know how grateful she is for his presence in her life. The pair also has a 10-month-old son, and OP said her husband is “the best dad to him.”
Husband (M30) told me (F29) he feels like it doesn’t matter if he’s around or not…
by u/Stateach in relationship_advice
OP isn’t sure how to comfort her husband after that concerning comment.
OP and her husband did talk about it a bit more, albeit not in depth: “I asked him to elaborate, and he said he feels more like a burden when he is around, and [provided] the example of when he comes home from work.”
“I knew in the moment my response was important,” she continued, “[so] I asked if the session was helpful, and then said I am counting down the minutes when he is gone and look forward to him being home from work every day.”
But his sad admission is still haunting her.
OP realizes they should probably discuss this further, but she also wants to be mindful of her husband’s personal boundaries. She doesn’t want to pressure him to share what he’s talking about in his private therapy sessions.
“Do I just let this be?” she wondered. “I was honestly shocked when he said he feels that way and immediately felt guilty. I won’t bring my own emotions into this, as it isn’t about me… how should I approach?”
/Relationship_Advice Redditors offered her some solid advice.
For the most part, /Relationship_Advice Redditors agreed that OP should broach the conversation with her husband calmly and respectfully. Some offered tips for making him feel loved and supported after such a vulnerable confession.
“Why don’t you reassure him that you appreciate him and all the things he does for you and your family?” one commenter advised. “Maybe even list the reasons you love having him around, and ask if there is anything you can do that will let him know that you do feel this way on a more regular basis.”
Many commenters also reassured OP that she hasn’t done anything wrong and shouldn’t feel guilty.
“I’ve been fighting a black depression since 2020. What [your husband] mentioned is a pretty standard ‘lie’ depression hammers into a sufferer,” one user opined. “You have no blame here, and by listening/supporting, you’re doing everything you can.”
Some even recommended that she seek out a therapist or support group to ensure she’s caring for herself, too. After all, her husband’s mental health struggles aren’t her responsibility. Supporting your spouse in their time of need is the kind thing to do, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of your own wellbeing.
“You can try better to verbally express your gratitude. But most of this really is his own mental health journey,” one Redditor said.
“You seem like a very caring person, and I’m sorry that you and your husband are having to deal with this,” someone else wrote. “I hope he can have a breakthrough soon.”
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