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Spouse with Depression/MS – help with care

  • By Liz1982

    About 2 years ago my husband (37) was diagnosed with MS. It was only a couple months after we got married. After 4 months he spiraled down and (TLDR) kicked me out of the house.

    We’ve been going to couple’s counseling since his diagnosis. At his worst, he had a complete personality change, wanting divorce, and being very aggressive. This changed once he got put on some different anti-depressants.

    He’s been unable to work because of his MS and feels useless. He has been able to work on some of his art, but that’s not a steady form of income. He’s in the middle of processing disability insurance.

    Right now his parents are helping him with income, he’s still on my health insurance, and we still go to counseling together. He now says he doesn’t want to stay married because he’s broken.

    Why I’m posting : He’s been diagnosed with depression and expresses the classic signs. His family and I don’t know what to do anymore- his depression really gets in the way of making progress with him dealing with his MS, and our relationship. We still love each other very much. If he didn’t still love me I wouldn’t still be in this.

    Anyone have any advice? I realize this is a bit of an extreme situation. The reason I haven’t run away is that our love is still there- we’ve both acknowledged it. I’m vitally important to him for a number of things. His family and I don’t have experience dealing with a loved one with depression, and could really use some advice on how to navigate someone who won’t ask for help, feels useless, and will need care. What we’re doing now isn’t sustainable.

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  • By Shelby Comito Keymaster

    Hi @liz1982, thank you so much for taking the time to share a bit of your story here. I think you touched on so many things that our community members can relate to – depression, the heartache of losing the life you had, experiencing cognitive changes, no longer being able to work, etc. I know everyone’s story is uniquely different, but there is a commonality with this disease that I think can be a little bit comforting because it reminds us all that we’re not alone.

    I commend you for seeking out couples counseling and for reaching out here. A few of our advocates on our site have shared their experiences with depression and relationships that may give you some helpful ideas: https://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/severe-depression-getting-help-hopeless/ ; https://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/depression-feeling-inactive-and-unaccomplished/ ; and https://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/ruin-my-marriage/

    Also here is a special section dedicated to our caregivers: https://multiplesclerosis.net/support-for-caregivers/

    Lastly, the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) has a helpline you can call which can be a great resource for the MS community: https://mymsaa.org/msaa-help/helpline-chat/

    I hope these are helpful! We’re all thinking of you both and are here for you whenever you need.

    – Shelby, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

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  • By Donna Steigleder Moderator

    @ Liz1982 I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles. You’re in a tough spot having a new marriage and a new diagnosis, so you have both new roles to negotiate through his depression. I’m glad you have a counselor helping you. I’m a caregiver too but have also worked as a counselor. My husband and I also struggled in the early days with a new marriage (second marriages for us both) and new diagnosis. What I found that brought us together was when we started needing each other. I suspect, your husband is afraid you do not need him. He’s not working, and he’s worried he’s about to lose all is physical abilities and will not only become worthless but not be able to support you. The more you can help him see his value to you and how much he helps you and you need him, the more worthwhile he feels. Men want to be able to protect and provide for their wives instinctively and the more you can help him feel he is doing that, the more you help him with his depression.

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  • By jallison121

    Hi Liz!!! Well first off I give you so much credit for not leaving and actually hanging in there with through so much. Because before I new I had MS but just PTSD. I had been engaged and actually called it off because of what I thought was not wanting to end up divorced again because of my job. It takes a really special person to understand working as a Firefighter. But as I was reading what you wrote. I realize that very hard part of asking for help. And I know that it becomes a time that he hopefully will admit that help is needed. I know that for along time I thought that I couldn’t ask someone to be with me. Because to me I thought that having MS and the every day battle it is. Is very hard to ask someone or expect someone to take on. But the way it was brought across to me was this your a wonderful person, you worked hard for many years and some things may have changed because you got sick. But we all never know when or if we get sick. It’s something that we can never control. But we can get this under control as much as we can together with the right treatment. And that friend has helped me as much as she could all the way from Florida. But to me when you take your wedding vows and you say in sickness and in health. So many people these days don’t actually take it seriously. Obviously you do and you know given time things will get better and being on some sort of treatment plan with the right meds truly does help. So honestly having the both of you having trust in a Doctor becomes a huge help. And then you can take it one day at a time. Its really a wonderful thing that you have and are hanging in there. I hope a little of what I said has helped some. I wish you the best of luck.

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  • By Mshell568

    Hi, I’m having huge difficulty getting my symptoms under control, any advice?

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    • By Donna Steigleder Moderator

      Mshell568 Although you didn’t specify which symptoms you are struggling to control, I’m going to assume you are talking about depression. If I’m off base, check-back with more detail and I’ll try again. Depression may have may underlying causes; therefore, it would not be safe for me to give you actual advice with such limited information, but I’ll give you some ideas to consider as you decide which course of action might work best for you. (1) Depression is pretty common in MS either due to a chemical imbalance component with the condition – in which case; medication can help or (2) due to the significant impact the disease has on the person’s life – in which case, therapy or a support group usually help. Other factors that can contribute can be diet, exercise or side effects of medications. In the winter, seasonal affective disorder can add to mood swings as well. And then there’s always the stories we tell ourselves in our heads about how awful things are going today that get us down too. With all these possible causes, any of them could be behind why you feel depressed. Finding a solution usually means identifying the probable cause and then seeking out a fix for that problem – a therapist or treatment. I hope these steps to finding the answers helped. Donna Steigleder Moderator

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