The Longing to Leave – 1

As I read through the web for conversations, questions, ideas about depression, I am struck by how many people who write to forums and blogs are desperately asking for help not for their own depression but for that of their spouses, partners, loved ones. So often, they report bewilderment. They feel stunned to find anger and rejection in place of love. How can it be that the person I have known so well is suddenly different, alien, hostile and wants to break out of the relationship that is so precious?

What is this longing to leave that so many depressed people feel? I have no simple answer to that, but I can describe my own tortured experience with an almost irresistible drive to break out and start a new life.

I spent many years feeling deeply unsettled and unhappy in ways I could not understand. Flaring up in anger at my wife and three great young boys became a common occurrence. I’d carry around resentments about being held back and unsatisfied with my life, fantasizing about other places, other women, other lives I could and should be leading. My usual mode was to bottle up my deepest feelings, making it all the more likely that when they surfaced it would be in weird and destructive ways. I’d seethe with barely suppressed anger, lash out in rage and, of course, deny angrily that anything was wrong when confronted by my wife.

I was often on the verge of bolting, but there were two threads of awareness I could hold onto that restrained me invisibly. One was the inner sense that until I faced and dealt with whatever was boiling around inside me I would only transplant that misery to a new place, a new life, a new lover. However exciting I might imagine it would be to walk into that new world, I knew in my heart that it would only be a matter of time before the same problems re-emerged.

The other was a question I kept asking myself – What is it that I am leaving for? What was this great future and life that I would be stepping into? Could I even see it clearly? More often than not, the fantasy portrayed a level of excitement I was missing.

Some buried part of me knew that a life based on getting high – on non-stop brain-blowing excitement – wasn’t a life at all. Maybe it wasn’t alcohol or drugs that lured me, but it was surely the promise of intense and thrilling experience, the perpetual opening scene of an adventure film without the need to wait for the complicated plot to unravel. There was no real alternative woman out there waiting for me, only a series of fantasies with easy gratification, never the hard part of dealing with a complicated human being in a sustained relationship. And inwardly I knew that after the initial burst of energy wore off, I would still face the fears, depression and paralysis of will that had plagued me for so long.

That bit of consciousness kept me from breaking everything up and leaving the wonderful family that I’m blessed with.

So just imagine what my wife was going through. She had to face the rejection of my anger at the deepest levels. At the worst of it, she had to hear me telling her she wasn’t enough for me, that I needed more than she could give. And the tension and pain between us, the frequent rage that I felt, spilled into the lives of my children in ways that slowly and painfully were to emerge over time. That is the hardest part of talking about this now, to grasp how my closest loved ones disappeared from awareness into the haze of my own self-hatred, my own feeling of emptiness that I was desperately trying to fill. I had no idea how my behavior spread in its impact, like widening circles in water, to touch so many around me.

I’ll continue with this theme and try to get at what can be done or said to someone possessed of a longing to leave.

125 Responses to “The Longing to Leave – 1”

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  1. Hami says:

    I’m going through a lot of the similar issues people are sharing on this platform. Married for 3 years, know him for 7 years. Moving to a different country can make him so unhappy. He started to display depression symptoms.
    I’d really love to get connected with people with similar experience to find support and solutions. Please contact me at linshuangnus [at] gmail [dot] com

  2. Miss Battersby says:

    Hi John your three articles have really helped me with my current situation thank you for sharing. As I can see some of the comments are dated, so I was wondering if there was anyone out there suffering currently with this kind of situation?

    I am a partner to someone who is in depression denial who has left me with no notice ( I wasn’t there) and now having to deal with that pain which is sometimes unbearable.

  3. Els says:

    Hi John,
    Just came across your blog and your description describes my husband and the situation we’ve found ourselves.
    We’ve been together since teenagers, first loves, first everything. We know each other inside out and back to front and been through lots together.
    Over the last few years he has progressively become more and more moody. He resents me and is negative towards me most of the time, apart from when we are on holidays together. His constant remarks and abusive messages have left me feeling hurt, angry and more and more withdrawn. I feel like I’m not myself anymore. I tread on egg shells at home, hoping to keep the peace in front of the children but sometimes the endless rhetorical questions become to much and I retrieve to silent numbness which I know my children must pick up on.
    There have been a few times when I’ve wanted to leave. He has begged and said he will change and seek help. He did go see a therapist and try antidepressants but not for very long.
    Recently I had the biggest blow of all when one of his emails pinged through whilst I was on his laptop. He’s been seeing someone else, having an emotional affair.
    I’m now in limbo. He tells me that this is the ultimate catalyst that will make him change but part of me thinks what if he never will, not properly and have I got the energy to support him through that? After all he’ll need someone to give him the positive affection that he craves and I can no longer give without being fake.
    What should I do??

    • Ashley says:

      I found Marriage Helper 911 which deals with the affair and the marriage crisis and does provide support, though not for the depression. There are a lot of free videos available – though they do recommend (as do I) their weekend intensive workshop that provides a lot of materials to help with a path forward.

    • BB says:

      I am going through the same thing. Married 17 years, together for 20. He’s always travelled for a living and he butt dialed me one day while working in California after we had an offer on our home. We were moving to Florida. He was having lunch with a woman. That was October. He’s only come home three times since then and we are nearing the end of January. He says he’s depressed and wants a divorce. The affair is emotional because he hasn’t been able to be intimate for years due to other issues.

      I’ve cried everyday for three months. I’m not myself, felt like I was dying from heartache. I want to help him but he’s like a stranger now and won’t talk, call or text.

      I hope and pray his therapy (and now mine) will one day help us both. I can’t accept the fact that he’s wanting a divorce and I want to help him but know it’s futile. What can I do to prevent this and fix things before it’s too late?

  4. Francesca says:

    Thanks for writing this article. It blew me away how accurate this is… I am a women, married to an excellent guy who looks after me, has a good heart and wouldnt hurt a fly. We have been together for 10 years, married for 5. I have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and take anti depressants which have definitely improved my mood and kept my head above water.

    I have had an almost consistent urge to run away, to start a new life, meet new people, live a new me from the very beginning of our relationship. And on several occasions I have “run away” for a night or two. Booked myself into an airbnb to simply be alone where no one or no thing can make any demands of me.

    But the reality is, when I think back, happiness has been fleeting throughout my life and I have always craved a freedom that doesnt exist in reality… dreams of living in Venice and dining at candlelight with great minds, living in a cottage by the sea and painting whilst listening to chilled classical music, spending weekends on City escapes and drinking hot chocolate whilst people watching and having a deep inner sense of freedom, calm and contentment that I just cant seem to grasp when I have a significant other…

    Instead I isolate myself, blame him, and feel a constant inner sense of dread.

    This post is really powerful and I will keep trying to understand myself better and save my marriage from myself. Hopefully one day this longing to leave will stop.

    • Erin says:

      Hi Francesca! You just described me perfectly! Also been with my partner 10 years, married for 5. Deep sense that something is missing in my life and the passion/excitement/calm/connection/meaning that other people experience in life has been robbed from me. I have depression and anxiety as well. The way you describe these various lives you want to live also describes me: I long to move to a remote island in Ireland, and then I think I need to escape to bustling NY, or adventure around southeast Asia. The theme of all my fantasy lives is that I can’t find meaning in mine. I want to connect more deeply, more intellectually, more passionately than what is possible in my relationship, and possibly more than what is reasonable or expected in any relationship. And I wonder what is this drive all about? Am I so lost within myself that I need to latch on to something else in hopes of finding myself there? I hate that I always feel like I am missing out on life, and especially on a “great love”. I find it very hard to be content with the day to day and the imperfections of a “regular” person. I want more, I crave so much more, and am never satisfied. It’s hard to find connection without thrilling pleasure and I always think the answer lies elsewhere, or that someone life isn’t fair and I will never feel what I perceive others to feel. It makes me very sad. If you ever want to chat, I would love that.

      • David says:


        What you described is me totally. 54 year old male. You put into words what I have been feeling for over 35 years. I desparetly want this to stop.

    • Jennifer says:

      Francesca, I just cried reading your words as they represent me to the T. It comes in waves and I hate it. I’m not on any type of medication…and am wondering if I should be. What did you do/are you doing to “fix” this?

      • Francesca says:

        Wow, I’ve just read these replies and all I can say is that if I look back on the past year, from when I wrote this message. I strangely think that Covid lockdown has helped me because its forced me to accept that my life will not be changing for a while. I have definitely felt more accepting of my place in the world this year because in a way I’ve been forced too.. but that doesnt stop me dreaming about the future and things to come.
        I try to remind myself that even those with seemingly perfect lives struggle with the same things we speak of here… celebrities who can do what they want, go where they want, live where they want, they still get depressed and even suicidal. I also remind myself that I have felt this way for as long as I can remember, even when my surroundings change, i find things to never be perfect. I dont feel like I fit in anywhere really. Does that mean my surroundings have to change or that i have to change my perspective? So I guess, I am still coming to the acceptance that life will never fit perfectly in all areas, but to seek improvement isnt a bad thing either.

        I have learnt to accept that my life is totally average and so is everyone elses. I look around at people I admire who live where I live and I think “if this life is good enough for them, why isnt it good enough for me? What makes me think my life is so special that I deserve more than so-an-so?

        Then I think of people who live in places I see as idyllic and I notice that they still have difficulties… people in L.A all struggling to be the best they can be, not finding work, no sense of community, they might be at the beach in the evenings, eating organic food and looking tanned and gorgeous but there is more to life than that… it doesnt necessarily make them happy.

        If the feeling of emptiness has existed for a long time, more than 6 months say, speak to your Doctor and if you want to try meds then it’s an option. It took me years to accept that I was depressed enough to take.medication and it’s been a life changer. I take Sertraline and the first few days were rough but when the meds settle down life is way more manageable and I see things clearer now.

        I also now set goals for me to look forward to… that Christmas I want to spend in Bruges? That beach in Costa Rica? That Restaurant in Tuscany? They are my goals and I am saving for their reality to materialise, even if it takes years to get there. In the meantime, I try and actively days with at least 1 thing that makes me feel like myself… watch comedy, listen to music, go out for coffee, read a book…. all escape tactics really but keep moving forward towards those goals.

        Re. Husband… write does 5 things every day that I feel grateful for in our relationship. If we last forever who knows? But for now at least I’m happy to keep things as they are.

        I really hope you find your peace in time. My only advice really is to accept all the support that’s available to you and especially speak to your Doctor. “Life is Struggling” as Buddha said and I think there is more truth in that than we want to admit to ourselves. We will always struggle in one way or another, the question is how are we going to approach these struggles and live a full life? A simple change in our point of view can make all the difference. But ultimately, our own happiness starts with us.

        Wishing you all the best.

  5. Monica says:

    I would like to thank you for being strong enough to write all this down. I have been feeling wave after wave of crushing despair since my husband decided to end our almost 12 yr marriage (14 1/2 yr relationship) for a group of fun and single work friends, one in particular. They know him as a snarky but sweet, considerate, protective and chivalrous, empathetic and light hearted HERO. At home he has been quite the opposite for about 14 years. Your description of your own feelings and behaviors fits him in almost every way and for the first time in 14 yrs I’m not blaming myself for his unhappiness. I’m not looking at myself KNOWING there was something so so wrong with me that he never wanted to have sex, kiss, or hug me longer than 5 seconds. I’m not so confused as to why he yelled at me for singing in the car, refused to play any games with me and why he just opted out of so many other small yet BIG things that have impacted our lives and chipped away at the fire I always felt lucky to have in me. I am deeply troubled by how my standards could have been so low that I chose to believe his continuous lies that he loved and desired me and that it would be he and I forever, although his actions were quite the opposite. I still feel very ashamed and confused at how desperate I’ve felt to receive any validation, attention, acceptance from him over the years and how I could have come to accept feeling low, unmotivated and uninspired day to day. I remember thinking “Well, at least HE wants me because no one else could possibly see me as anything but disgusting.”

    I’ve just began therapy for these feelings along with anger and passive aggressive issues that have developed over the past 14 yrs. This whole mess is only just over three weeks old and you have truly helped me. My self blame, desperation and despair almost magically disappeared when I read your articles yesterday. Thank you thank you for helping me through this.

    I’m not angry at him yet and still feel compelled to want to help him. My compulsion to try to please him is still there BUT he will be moving out in a month so we’ve agreed to have limited contact so I can just move forward. I bought your book which I will be giving to him and I hope he reads it but at this point, he needs to want to help himself and be willing to live honestly instead of how he has been living.

    Thank you again 🙂

    Much Luv

    Monica C.

  6. Andy says:

    This really resonated with me. I married a lovely woman 20 years ago but I’ve spent most of it kicking against her and against marriage. A complete reversal of what went before. She’s put up with so much: emotional withdrawal, lack of sex, angry outbursts, affairs, leaving for nights or for months. I’ve caused utter havoc with people’s lives in a desperate hunt for who knows what. I’d like to blame it on depression because it would ease my shame a little, but I don’t know. I’ve had three ‘proper’ bouts of depression, the latest one a real belter, but the rest of the time have felt just flat and joyless so perhaps that was the reason. The alternative is that I’m a monster, the things I’ve done, but I hope and pray to God that I’m not. But whatever the reason, I have destroyed my marriage, whether it would otherwise have been good or not, and must live with that. So now I have to leave, she’s had enough, understandably. And of course there’s another woman whom I ache to be with, whom I want to love and look after while she soothes my torment, who provides what my screwed-up mind thinks it needs: I can’t let her go but if she’s sensible she’ll run a mile. It’s too late for me to reverse the damage I’ve caused but please keep publicising this problem.

  7. G O says:

    I have been reading this for hours and sobbing..i have been with my husband for 26 years and he has had 3 or 4 episode of depression as in telling me he doesn’t love me, I can normally see this coming but on Sunday he lost the plot over nothing so I just ignore it the following day he was being really nasty as we have money problems..he started to work out bills saying has had enough of this life he wants out we talked of course he is still saying he wants to go but is in to much debt so he has to stay..telling me he cares deeply for me but doesn’t love or fancy me….he breaks my heart as when he is well we are best friends soul mates…im finding this so hard to except ….im so worried about him ..i don’t care about me I just want him to be well..i will not give up on him ever

    • Louise says:

      Dear G O. I do hope you are okay now. How are things? My husband is a narcissist, but I think he is depressed too – much of it because he is a compulsive gambler and some of it, because I am depressed (Partly due to the consequent money worries, a lot due to family death and illnesses and a large part because I can never have a reasonable discussion with him. He can never be wrong and will never say sorry). He often threatens to leave, says he doesn’t love me, but is fond of me and will not have sex with me. He has left, a couple of times. Then he wonders why I get so down!

    • Losttheuniverseinmyeyes says:

      My recently new ex bf says he’s depressed. We were together 2 years, on and off for the first three years of us meeting. We had some trust issues because we met when I just left an 8 year relationship and was unwilling to commit. It trickled into our relationship when we decided to be together, but overall I trusted him until recently when he befriended a girl at work. He’s an artist and she is a photographer and they’ve bonded over that, she’s younger but I am still much more attractive but I can’t help but compare still. He says she may like him but he doesn’t like her. They had a photo shoot and he didn’t tell me until I found the photo online. He admitted it wasn’t okay to not tell me but he said nothing happened so he didn’t think it would be such an issue, this made me feel insecure and although I had issues about her before because she was a new female friend this heightened it. I told him I believed him because I did but I’d still feel insecure. It’s weird because he was always the more insecure one. He hates himself. I think this on top of all of his stress from his daughters mother, lack of success at work, his art career, his primary car breaking down, money problems made him feel overflowing with stress. And I’m the one stress he can immediately remove. It hurts to hear that I’m not the one who brings happiness, he says the stress outweighs the happiness I bring. He said he’s depressed but can get through it. That he doesn’t feel like himself and needs me to leave so he can get back to himself. How can he say he loves me and misses me when he is choosing to push me away? I am in so much pain, I vomited the other day in the ikea parking lot just from the thought of him with her, even though I don’t see that happening. We made love after we broke up and it broke him down, he said it confused him and hurt him after. He felt like it clouded his mind and didn’t make him feel good after. That was the one thing we had to stay connected in his depressive state. I’m trying to walk away but I can’t. I’m so in love.

  8. NATASHA says:

    I cant believe how accurate these blog posts are and also how many women in the comments section that i can so relate to in every way. My heart goes out to you all. My DH and i have been together for nearly ten years, married seven. He is my soul mate and my best friend and for the last year he has been consumed by depression and anxiety. A year ago, he made the decision to leave-like all other women on here commenting, it was the same old thing-he was unhappy, felt stuck, couldnt pinpoint what it was, that he loved me but felt way too much pressure on himself. He has always been an upbeat, confident and positive person so to see this illness eat him up has been horrible for me and his family. After three weeks away from home, he messaged me asking me if he had messed things up between us. We continued to try and i gave him the time and space he needed to clear his head. He stayed away from home for a whole year-firstly living with his sister, then his parents. He moved back 2 months ago and at first all was well..he was my normal happy husband again. Now he has been dragged back to the depths of despair again and it’s starting to take a toll on me.
    Although i have learnt how to manage and cope with his illness and have read numerous articles with coping tips, i have reached the conclusion that my love alone wont make him feel better. i have bent over backwards to accommodate him and his illness, and pushed my needs to one side. You all know what i am talking about when i say how hurtful it is to be pushed away, getting no hugs back, or feeling like its a stranger hugging you…your sex life dwindling away into nothing, you trying to be upbeat and positive only to be met with stone cold silence. And how much all the above affects your self esteem and self worth.

    recently he has been talking about wanting to be alone again, and he has been saying exactly the same things as he did the first time round. i am the point now where i am now looking for places to rent. I cannot do this anymore-he refuses to get help from a professional, deluding himself into thinking he can do it all on his own. Well hes tried that for a year-and it hasnt worked. Luckily for me, going through this before has given me a thicker skin, so i know i can get through it again.
    I like all of you, need to look after myself, and i have made it clear to him that this will be it. i love him with all my heart but i cannot put myself through this heartache anymore. He can only help himself, and he isnt, so the best thing for me is to have all my self preservation.
    please feel free to email me ..any of you if you want to chat or some moral support. this is the second time round i am going in circles in this depression game…and i refuse to let myself be another one of its victims.

    • Suzanne says:

      I completely understand where you are at right now. I had been with my boyfriend for the better part of nine years. He was a laid-back, warm, engaged man who understood and supported me. He was my best friend as well as my greatest love and I had never felt more bonded to anyone in my life.

      Then, about eight months ago, he started showing signs, both physical and mental, of depression. It started very slowly, then escalated quickly. The last three months of our relationship were emotional hell, with him refusing to share his thoughts, feelings, and affection with me. He would explode at the most harmless comments and toward the end, I was afraid to say anything for fear of setting him off.

      Finally, last week, he broke up with me, stating that he needed to live his life without having to think about the future and that while he still loved me, we just weren’t compatible. It has been an extremely tough week and I have to push myself to function day to day.

      He has not been diagnosed with depression, but he shows all the signs and has a history of suicide in his family. I wrote him a letter stating that I thought he may be suffering from depression and pleading with him to get help. I don’t expect to hear back from him or at best, an angry response, but I didn’t in good conscience keep silent about my very real concerns about his health and safety.

      The thing that hurts most is remembering the man that he was and how utterly different he has become. If you have any advice as to how to deal with all of this, I’d be more than happy to talk. All the best in your current situation and if you need to talk, I’m here.

      • Evie says:

        All these comments bring tears to my eyes. I cannot believe how many people are suffering through these excruciatingly surreal episodes of their partner’s depression. I have been with my husband for 7 and a half years. He is my best friend and soulmate. I moved across the Atlantic Ocean to live with him, and have been co-raising his now 11 year old son with 100% care and dedication. I have always thought of my husband as the sweetest, most compassionate and caring person I have ever met. We have always been able to talk, and laugh, and share, and learn, and have wonderful sex together.
        At the moment he is in the 3rd massive depressive episode in 2,5 years. It is like I am living with a complete stranger. From one day to the next, he just transforms into a cold, mean, distant shadow of a person. I am finding myself repeating the thought over and over: “where did he go?” I have done a lot of reading over the years, and feel like I have a pretty good idea of what is going on with him through the help of blogs like this one.
        He, however, refuses to believe anything is wrong with him. He sincerely thinks I am the reason for his unhappiness and has “broken up” with me now for the 3rd time. Some days he admits that he has depression, but then seems to deny it again the next day, or gets angry when I bring it up. He refuses to seek help (or says he will get help, makes an appointment for therapy, and then never follows through). We are still living in the same house. Last time I left for 5 weeks, but found that I was just falling apart each day in someone else’s home while he frivolously pretended nothing was wrong, living day to day in a strange superficial layer of reality. Upon return he stated he “kinda liked having me around”, and things slowly went back to normal. He would tell me he loved me, bought me thoughtful little gifts, and we’d share sweet moments together.
        Until I left for a 2 week trip to my home country over new year’s, and came back to the stranger once more. This time I have decided to stay in our home, and he refuses to leave, because that’s too much of a hassle… and of course this is also his son’s home. I am in the middle of my last semester of grad-school, and find it hard to hold on. We play a normal family when his son is with us, but as soon as all other witnesses have gone, I am left with a non-responsive, resentful partner who rejects my presence and all efforts to communicate. It is unbelievably heartbreaking. I can see how much he is suffering. It is like watching your best friend drown while they are screaming at you to get the hell away from them as you try to reach out. I am so sorry so many of you are dealing with this as well. My heart goes out to all of you. I appreciate your stories and comments on here very much; it can get quite lonely out here…

    • G O says:

      How do you cope …my life has been turned upside down, I have no-one to talk to about this i don’t want people judging him he is a good man but he will not except he has depression…
      I don’t know where to turn I’m going to lose my best friend and husband and I can’t do anything to stop it happening.

      • Alexandra says:

        Hello GO

        Im actually passing all this thing with my “boyfriend” because he is depressed and he is getting me out of his life, i dont know what to do because i think he loves me but now he is just another person, weeks ago after our breakout he blamed me for his depression i was feeling so sad first blaming myself but then i realized that was his depression that made him react like that. He is very loving, gently, honest, kind, patient, calm but now he is acting the opposite yelling at me , being quite when we were together, saying painful things to me. He has been through family problems when he was a teenager ( he barely talk about it )and not accepted by her ex girlfriend’s parents making him feeling not enough and this year he got fired from work with no reason . When we started fighting for stupid things he was always telling me its enough we are ending the relationship i felt like i had no value for him and that i can go someday away and he was not caring at all so i explained to him that i was feeling that im not important to him because of that but he started thinking he wasnt enough for me and that i was unhappy with his company. It have been a month from now and im losing my mind i feel very sad with no clue of what to do i feel like a limbo i dont wanna go away but he continue to refuse me but saying that he loves me and that he wants to be better and what he feels for me anyone can take it away that he misses me and he felt lonely with me but he needed to go through this alone because he didnt want to hurt me and not giving what i deserved. I said that i can wait for him but i need some “security” that he will come back i also propose a brand new relationship where i promise to be more comprensive not that i know its not personal and the situation he is passing through. He told me that he need some time to think well because he didnt want to make a decision that maybe he will regret later saying we will talk this week about this because i explained that i need some answer because i dont know how to act. At the end of the week i asked if he still wanted to talked to me and he got angry saying that he cant be with me blocking me the calls, messages, and every socia media. That week i think we was waiting for an answer for a job and i think that makes him so irritable also saying he was leaving the country and i dont know for how long.

        I need to add that the first time we were dating he was afraid of having a relationship so i left and continue my life and then we passed 6 months thinking of me, and crying and regreting for making me leaving and telling one friend all that stuff. We have a few friends in comun so he go out with everybody and he was avoiding me because he said that having feelings for me for me made him feel bad (because i didnt show interest) but after a weeks we went out another time with out friends and we talked and kissed and started again, he was acting so different so loving and so sure that he wanted me on his life, he talked about out future everytime and that he wanna marry me, we see each other a lot and having beautiful dates but then that problem with the job happened and he started fighting. About four days before he dump me he told me he was feeling strange and sad and also he was still saying that he wanna marry me and that im the love of his life. So im very confuse now i want to look for him before he is leaving and before christmas because i dont wanna him to be angry and say that i love him so much and i miss him a lot.

    • Casey says:

      I am going through the same thing and would like to talk.

      • Natasha says:

        Hi Casey

        I’ve attached my email, please feel free to contact me x

        • Hami says:

          Hi I’m going through the same. Can I talk?

          • Natasha says:

            Hello Hami

            I’ve just had a notification about your message and completely forgot about this post. it’s been nearly four years since I went through all this and I can tell you now i’m in a completely different place in my life- email me on nmccardal [at] gmail[dot] com and I will be happy to have a chat with you xxx

  9. Jasmine says:

    Some of this sounds like my situation but I am sorry…some people are depressed because they are selfish and feel sorry for themselves….it starts out as that which then in turn leads to depression. It is easy to feel sorry for yourself when you see all the fake happy pictures and posts on social media. You feel like you are missing out or you don’t have enough. Maybe their wouldn’t be so much depression if people would get off the stupid internet. Less porn, less lies to read and less time wasted when you should be enjoying actual life and not virtual life. Their is real depression and their is self made depression…in my case my husbands is self made and I have tried everything out there at my disposal but he is so far gone with self pity that I am now at a complete loss.

    • Katrin says:

      I agree – my partner (of 24 years) left almost a year ago – and has a real problem with a glass half full attitude and self sabotage – now he is in a one bed rented flat, running the same business he hates running, away from me, our home and our grown up kids – he has doubled his living costs, cut himself off from most friends and family and still appears here to walk the dog, feeling very sorry for himself. The fact that he left, thinking his life would be better this way, illustrates his blame of me and our family life for his unhappiness….he is so not happy, and will not admit it…all I can do is watch him as he may or may not work out a truly fulfilling path. It has been a difficult time in the run up to him leaving, and my life is good, but I feel so sorry that he is missing out on a potentially happy life and have no idea how to help him. I have not asked him to come back, and don’t want him to, but I feel that it has been a waste of a potentially happy situation. He works with computers, likes computer games, and I think prefers online porn to real sex or intimacy….I like to be outside living for real! This must be a growing problem.

      • Monica says:

        Dear Katrin, it sure is a growing problem as I think it is a midlife crisis you’re talking about. I find myself in the same situation as you do. A midlife crisis (covert depression) is one of the main reasons for divorce. But the real problem is that people don’t know much or enough about this disease and therefor they think there a lots of others reasons why partners all of a sudden leave their families. I wish you lots of strength!

  10. D says:

    This series has been very enlightening, thank you. My wife has suffered from depression her whole adult life and has been withdrawn from our marriage for around a year and a half. At first it was more of an emotional…limbo…that I equated to the birth of our son. Over the past 6 months it has become increasingly worse with talk of divorce (she goes back and forth between “I’m not leaving you.” and “I’ll just leave.”) and being unhappy with marriage (ours as well as the concept in general) and hating her life.

    This perceived unhappiness hit me like a freight train. I knew she still battled the depression, I knew she had moments worse than others…but unhappy with our marriage?! Hating her (OUR) life? I take an active part in her life and the lives of our children. I do my part with the housekeeping inside and outside. I have always done, what I call, “sweet nothings” for her during our entire time together…chocolates here, notes there, random cards and mini-gifts. We have always laughed and played together and yet have still maintained some”me” time. I have never verbally, emotionally, or physically abused my wife. I have treated her like the Queen I feel she is for our entire 11 years together. To say I thought our relationship was (and still has the potential to be) grand is be an understatement. I understand that everyone has his or her failings, and I’m no exception to that. I had spent too much time playing video games on some weekends, but I voluntarily ended that. I sometimes get mildly grumpy when her depression emerges, not mean…just grumpy (It’s really hard to remain up-beat in that situation…really hard). Both of us sometimes get frustrated with the kids, who doesn’t? I pray every night to be a better husband and father…and genuinely try to achieve that goal. So that freight train quickly turned into the feeling of a vice, with my heart firmly planted in the middle of it. A compressing void in my chest that I couldn’t fill. In my mind’s eye I saw my entire world, present and future, crumbling. I saw my child pulled from her Catholic school because of family divorce, I saw my 4 year old miserably depressed and withdrawn from life, I saw my 2 year old not growing up in a home with two parents.

    Last week I had an “ah-ha” moment as we were watching TV after a particularly heated discussion of her perceived self-worthlessness, unhappiness, and talk of wanting to die. We had a great weekend. We were shopping for the garden, laughing and having fun alone, as well as having fun with the children. As I reflected on the weekend and her claim that the weekend was terrible and she experienced no fun or joy, I realized her depression was not allowing her to see the happy moments. She had said some things (she has said many lately) that deeply hurt me that day. Terrified of the answer, I softly asked her, “When you hurt me and say these things that you know will hurt me, do you feel any remorse?” Her reply was a sad, “Yes.” As awful as it sounds, it filled me with hope and happiness. As I gently reflected with her each moment of the past weekend in which I saw her happy, and saw the recognition of happiness, I knew right then. It’s the depression, it’s not our marriage. The depression cloaks moments of happiness with an evil shadow of unhappiness; an unhappiness that doesn’t allow the happy moments to be remembered.

    Now that I have come to that realization, I don’t know what to do next. I know what NOT to do, I have to work hard to not take the things she says as a personal attack or an attack on our family. She is currently seeing a therapist, but I think the therapist is focused on the wrong thing (finding self, not resolving the depression). Sometimes the therapist helps, sometimes it makes things worse. She is also on medication again, which hasn’t been helping much yet. I told her I openly shoulder the burden with her, because I love her deeply. She tells me I have no idea what it’s like, the feeling of hopelessness and unhappiness…and she’s right. What I DO know; watching the person you love have such hate for herself and be so self destructive and destructive to our family is the most painful and sorrowful thing I can possibly imagine. What is the next step?

    • Xiaoxi says:

      I was in tears when I finished reading your comment. My fiance has depression and every word your wife said just the same as he said…. I am so sad but I know I must be strong! I don’t know what else I can do… I love him so deeply……Most time I need to pretend I’m not hurt….He told me to find a happy guy begin a new life, I just cannot!

    • scott says:

      I am trying to see the forest through the trees. Same types of problems.

      I used to get caught up in the net of my wife’s depression — would defend myself when she lunged at me with accusations or hurtful comments.

      Stepping back helps. I don’t see much mention of medicinal approaches to deal with depression. Of course, mostly it appears the those mentioned refuse to acknowledge it.

      I confronted my wife recently — yes she no longer sleeps all day like before, but she is the exact opposite in the extreme.

  11. A says:

    thank you for this. though I believe the divorce will happen soon this was a helpful insight into my husband. He actually read this and said thats scary it sounds exactly like me. but then went on to tell me it was because of our situation. So thats all. I find some peace in this article myself as maybe I;m not all to blame as I often feel.

  12. Steve says:

    I wonder if this was behind the reason I left my wife 2 years ago. I am since divorced and I still find myself wondering what went wrong.

    One major difference in my case is that there were no angry outbursts and there was no violence. I never responded that way. I was diagnosed with MDD but it always manifested itself in withdrawal and feelings of emptiness and inadequacy. Perhaps I did feel angry inside, but if so it was mostly anger towards myself not others. I am a fairly patient person and not prone to violence.

    I remember a time when I first decided to leave, and it felt like a huge weight had lifted off me. The emotion I felt was intense. I subsequently decided against it, but for a while I felt bad about how it felt to imagine leaving, and I wondered what it all meant. I didn’t actually leave until several months later, after many attempts to salvage the marriage. Again my case was different to yours as I was the one pleading for counselling but my wife refused.

    Over time I began to notice that when I was alone I felt liberated and happy, but I also felt anxiety and even panic whenever my wife returned home. For a while I felt as though I was the worst thing in her life. I felt unwanted. Even today I feel that I effectively moved out of the way so that she could be happier.

    My depression has been milder since then, but I’ve found myself reading this because lately it has been returning. It is the loneliness more than anything. I have been unable to recover from the losses I sustained. I lost all my friends and am now completely alone except for some friends on facebook.

    Perhaps my situation was fundamentally different than what you describe, but I do remember many times wanting to leave the relationship in the years prior. In almost every case, it was driven by a feeling that I was the problem and that I was making my wife unhappy by continually letting her down and not being good enough for her. I felt that if I left, although it would make her upset, it would be for the last time. I even said so when I eventually did leave. I was deeply upset to have hurt her, but I felt that it was for the best. I felt she would be better off without me, and the truth is – she has been. She has now remarried and is doing much better than ever. In a weird way I feel happy for her, and even a little bit vindicated in that by leaving I have helped her to have a better life.

    Meanwhile I’m just trying to be invisible. It doesn’t appear to be working. Might be time to go back to my doctor I think. 🙁

  13. Bree says:

    I’m so glad I found this…I thought it was titled ‘Is it your marriage or your depression’ for some reason (maybe ‘cos there are billions of articles?) ANYWAY. This changed my life. I mean it. I’ve struggled for soooo long, married to a great guy who is loving spouse, father, success in providing for us, etc. And yet…I am so dissatisfied. All the time. Forever. UGH.

    So…thanks to your insights and honest sharing of your struggle, I just asked myself the question again today and replied aloud “That’s right. It is NOT your marriage, or (most of) your relationships, it is YOU. It is that stupid, unrelenting depression. But you take stuff for it, and you keep trying…and it just IS. But it will not beat you, dummy!” (yes, I am so positive about myself, not)

    Anyway. Thanks again.

  14. Julie says:

    I believe I’m living with a depressed partner every word you said is true I felt I was reading my life in your words. I feel better after reading it even though my husband of 35 years wont cuddle me he says hes no love for me
    We are in our early 50s and I hope he realises whats going on and gets better. Its too raw for me to let him read this right now but I will sometime. Hes in denial and has no interest in anything even our two beautiful grandchildren. I appreciate your writing it really is my life x

    • Stacyfaye says:

      I am a woman who is living with an active addict who blames me for using. We are together in the house yet Im so lonely. He will say I love you yet we sleep apart have no physical relations and im the only one who talks. He stares at movies or works. Im alone unhappy and im just waiting for the opportunity when life will end us. I cant leave yet im not in love and do not see any future. Im so over relationships. Im tired of being ignored blamed and lied to yet im here. Help

  15. Shelly says:

    My husband and I have been married 12 years. He keeps wanting to leave, is on anti depressants and when he leaves or wants to leave it is for another woman…of lower class. He says he loves me and does not really want to leave but can’t help is attraction to other women. He wanted and has finally gotten in to see a counselor and we are also going for marriage counseling as well. I have learned a lot from this information posted on here. It will help I think. I feel helpless and broken and I can only imagine what he is going thru. Part of me wants to run and not feel this hurt and pain anymore but I do love him enough to see this thru. He has said if the counseling cannot help his messed up head he will want to leave and not keep hurting me. This feels like a limbo land relationship to me but I love him so much and want to make this work and last. We are still very romantically linked as well as have a good time and enjoy being together and the marriage counselor said that after 12 years to be very sexually active is a wonder sign for us. He is 14 years younger than I am. I do get sick of hearing “I don’t know” all the time but now I think from reading this he really may not know, I thought he was just afraid of hurting me so he just would say he did not know about something…so I am trying to learn and searching the internet and talking to people who are or have gone thru this or are friends who are therapists to get a handle on this to do what is right for him and me and our marriage.

  16. Tina says:

    This website has been a great source of information and insight into something that I didn’t know too much about. My husband and I have only been married two years and have been together for 4and a half years. Like most couples, we have had our ups and downs during that time. Due to stress and also partly seeing my own parents display unhealthy forms of communication growing up (my mum was a yeller), I became a nagging and irritable wife. I became emotionally abusive in the sense that I didn’t respect my husband’s boundaries and said some pretty hurtful things in anger to get a reaction. I would realise what I had said the next day and apologise straight away. Anyway, so two months ago my husband turned 30 and after our latest argument, we were talking on a drive home after celebrating our anniversary and he told me that he doesn’t feel happy anymore. That he should have told me before but he has been unhappy for the longest time and feels empty inside. He asked me if I felt the same and I know we have tough times but I don’t have an overwhelming sense of unhappiness. He said he enjoyed the good times we had together but just felt really unhappy most of the time. This broke me. My husband was physically (not sexually) abused by his father as a child and comes from quite a dysfunctional family. He doesn’t have a close relationship with his brothers and sister nor his mother. After spending a few weeks in a sort of limbo, he finally broke the shattering news to me- he wanted some space. I was so hurt, upset and reacted with anger and then crying etc. He said he didn’t know if we could be together, that I’m a great person but that he didn’t think we were compatible. He said he questions what he has achieved at 30. He also lost his dog that to him was more than a pet, a great friend, a few months ago. He said I must be wondering where this has all come from and he said someone asked him at work whether he was happy and he said no. This sort of opened up a can of worms. He told me to use the time to find ourselves.

    So he took a two week separation, moved out of our apartment and during that time I respected his space and used the time to work hard on myself, becoming the patient, calm person that he fell in love with, rather than the nagging angry wife I had become. He said he wanted to see a sign that we will work.

    After two weeks had passed I contacted him. During that time he didn’t check in once. I learnt from his parents that he was considering getting a place of his own. I confronted him about this and he sort of admitted to it. He then had a bunch of other reasons why we aren’t compatible- he suddenly decided he doesn’t want children, he wants to start smoking again, that we don’t share the same values- i.e. he isn’t a man of religion and for some reason the fact that I pray was a problem! I got upset and angry and asked to meet. When we met he was a mess. Was visibly shattered. He told me he was handing in his resignation- to his dream job that he had just landed! I couldn’t comprehend. I asked him would leaving me, quitting his job and going back to London to live with parents really make him happy and he said he doesn’t know, he doesn’t care about money, that he doesn’t need anything, he will just live each day as it comes. Basically that life is rubbish. He then told me he doesn’t know if he loves me anymore. This was a complete shock, as he was always so loving and even after our worst arguments, he was always so forgiving and kind. I told him that we could work it out and I have really started working on myself and he was adamant that it was all me and that I won’t change, that we aren’t compatible and listed the reasons- our values, he doesn’t want kids, my temper etc. He said that there were people out there who were soul mates and we weren’t compatible. He then broke down when I asked him whether he wants a divorce. He said that his father broke him, his ex girlfriend (he was in a longterm bad relationship before me) and teachers (he was bullied) and friends all broke me and then the last bit of love he had left, I broke him too. He said he can’t do it anymore and doesn’t want to be with anyone. He’s had enough. He said he needed to speak to his father about this before making a decision about ending the marriage.

    He went to London for work and I followed, to spend time with friends and family and to tell him that I was fighting for us. He constantly put me down, saying it’s not worth the fight, you didn’t try hard enough during the two years. When I would say you are acting as if this is all my fault he would feel bad and say no it’s not you, you are a wonderful person, it’s just with me you’re not. In London we all sat down as a family, our parents. I was dreading that he would tell me it was over, but in front of his parents and mine I apologised for my temper tantrums and told them how hard I was working on myself. My husband then just said he was really confused, that all he ever wanted was peace and respect. He said that we would talk when we were back home amongst ourselves and everyone in the room took that to mean that we would find a way to reconcile, as he hadn’t said he wants to leave.

    Now back home, I have been waiting for him to contact me to talk. I have been so confused. He doesn’t seem himself and I wish there were a way to get through to him. Does it ever help to speak to friends and ask them to speak to him? I am scared that when we meet he will tell me it’s over and will be throwing away a whole future of happiness. I want to shake him and bring my husband back. I am really struggling.

    • Joe says:

      Tina. It sounds to me he is unhappy in the relationship. And yes this can lead to him having mild depression. The nagging you mention was you trying to change him. My guess his maturity level is much lower than yours – this generally leads to nagging. I know I am not an expert, but what you described is a similar situation that I was in with my first marriage. The person that asked him if he was happy was most likely a woman. Someone has convinced him of “soul-mates” which is just a fairy tale. Let him go. Let him mature. Move on and focus on improving yourself. Accept that you were not that happy with him either – hence the nagging. If it was meant to be then you may be together again.

    • Hami says:

      My situation is so similar to yours, including the words my husband said to me. Can I know if you managed to save your marrage in the end?

  17. Carol says:

    For 9 years I was rejected by my husband while he looked at pornography. Last January (2013) He abandoned me and after several months he revealed he was having an affair with the receptionist at his work place. In November he divorced me. 20 years down the drain. All I wanted was to Love him. He was my everything (probably why he felt so trapped) I was destroyed. I really wanted to die. Now, I can see that he is just a very broken individual just like everyone else including myself. We look to things and people to fill a void that only God can fill. I wish him nothing but the best. I always felt I didn’t have closure but reading your blog makes me understand that perhaps his addiction to pornography is a symptom of a deep rooted sadness and unfillment. That he couldn’t give me Love because his well was empty and filled with sadness, secrets and past hurts. I will always Love him and I choose to remember the goodness in him. I long and pray for healing in his life. And I have been healing in a remarkable way. I have a wonderful supports system with Family, Friends, Co-workers, and Church. I have a boyfriend now. He so wonderful! But he will never be put on a pedastal. God takes that place now. Thank you for your honesty it really has helped. God bless you and your family.

  18. Kay says:

    I also recently went through a horrible break up with my mate of 22 years. He has been depressed on and off throughout our relationship, constantly in search of something exciting and new and never taking responsibility for his actions and words. I did not recognize it as depression until this last bout when I did some research on symptoms and he had 11 of the 12.

    He left me for another woman and a new Christian life. We are Jewish by birth. He got involved with this Church, became Born Again and then proceeded to tell me that he was a happy wonderful person everywhere and with everyone except for me. It seemed like overnight he became a cold, angry man picking fights over stupid things and finding fault with everything I did or said. Secretly, he was working with the woman to plan his leaving. She leased him a new car and he moved in with her a few days later.

    I think she believed that I was a terrible person and a non-believer and that she could truly save him. I am sure he will be manically happy for awhile and then, if Jesus and praying don’t help, he will be back in his dark place again. I wish them well and am now dealing with my own depression. Glad to know there are others out there who understand.

  19. Katie says:

    Thank you so much I can finally understand my husbands multiple affairs and drug use. He told me he would go to see these women and feel very excited but after he felt like crap and his mood would remain low until the next time then the vicious cycle would continue. Of course I think it’s my fault but deep down I know it isn’t . This is new to us very raw and new 🙁 I have hope we can make it I have loved this man for 23 years! Wish us luck !

  20. naty says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience about depression, I finally found a site that really answer my questions, my fiance has major depression, we were together for 3 years he asked me to marry him on february but he started feeling depress again and canceled the wedding a month before of the big day, this happened the last April 25, two months ago, my heart is broken, I feel like dying inside, I left him because I can’t put up with this, I love him with all my heart but his depression is killing me slowly. he takes medication and sees the psychiatrist, nothing has worked, he’s been like this for the last 7 years, I have lost all my hope.

    • Lili says:

      Hi Naty

      That is horrible, im sorry to hear this repetitive hurt you have gone through. Depression is really an illness that not only break the suferer but also the closest person to him/her.

      7 years is a long time! Have he ever talked to his doctor about changing his medications? Sometimes it takes trialing of different families of meds to see which one would actually work, the same goes for therapists, sometimes a person simply dont “click” with the healthcare professional so finding the right psychiatrist sometimes could also help. It is terrible that nothing have worked for this long.

      Have you spoken with him since you left? how is he responding to the breakup? As horrible as this may be, but sometimes leaving is the only way to wake a person up, give them the real kick that they need to actually do something to change the way they have been living. But dont give up hope Naty, ask him to attend couple therapy maybe even, see if he would agree to go with you and improve. If it does not work out then you have made the right decision to leave and move on. After all it is your own well being you must put first.


  21. Nicola Walker says:

    Hi im so pleased I found this site. I came home from work today to discover my husband has left. He has been suffering for about 9 months from suicidal thoughts and has recently self harmed. He says he is not happy feels sad the whole time and that they way he felt about me has changed since the birth of our 3 year old. He says he doesn’t know if I am enough for him anymore. I desparately love him and want to help but more I try the more he distances himself from me.

    I believe he has depression but he will not admit or even entertain that idea. He says he is talking to a counsellor but I’m having my doubts about that too as I don’t believe they would have not referred him to a psychiatrist by now.

    I know he has got close to a girl at work even thinking he loves her. I know he talks/emails her and feel while he us talking to her I don’t stand a chance.

    He is dreaming of a life with her but chances are this will follow him and he will have broken up 2 families.

    So now he has left. Do I give him space? Do I nit contact him and let him contact me? I don’t want him to think I don’t care or he is alone but don’t want to crowd his space either.

    Reason he gas given for leaving is that he doesn’t feel safe at home anymore and the desire to cut himself us too strong so he has had to remove himself from the danger – me. He has said I make him feel scared – not sure why I have only ever tried to make him happy.

    Do you think he has some kind of clinical depression? I need some help here please? Do you think he will come home?

    • Lili says:

      Hi Nicola,

      It is very strange how depression works. During a recent bad episode of depression, I too have been told by my partner that he feel anxious when im close. He feel pressure even from a touch from me, as he does not -feel- capable of returning that love and affection. This can give him panic attacks, anxiety attacks and the feeling of fear even.

      I think this maybe what your husband might be experiencing. At the same time because he can not feel anything towards the closest loved ones, he seeks stimulation from other sources: might it be addctions or an affair. He might think he have feelings for this woman, but it could simply be him seeking some sort of excitement, his way of thinking might make him believe that this will make him happy again and he would be able to feel again. John have written a good post on here about Men dreaming of leaving and escaping. In my experience, while during depression space is desired, it is better to check up on them if allowed by the sufferer. I have given my partner space, i visit him and stay over every weekend and checks up on him. Maybe you could ask your husband to attend therapy together as a couple, because this “danger” he’s talking about sounds very unreasonable and no doubt hurtful to you, when all you did was love him. He should find out what exactly is this “danger” that he’s feeling (i doubt its anything to do with you, so dont take he’s blames personally). It is possible that he returns home, after he realise that his affair is meaningless and vicious cycle of depression shows up again. But i wouldnt let that happen in the first place. There are deffinitely issues with your husband that sounds very much like depression, espeically the suicidal thoughts and self harming! This is very serious! I suggest seeking help as soon as possible.

      Keep in contact Nicola!

  22. ali wisbey says:

    Hi there, ive been reading all of this and i do think my husband is suffering from depression. I have suffered with it myself for almost the last 2 yrs, and i think this has affected him deeply. He left me a couple of weeks ago, it started by him having a ”friendship” with a girl he works with, which he hid, and lied about, when it all came out he said he had been talking ot her about how he was feeling, that he wasnt happy and didnt know what he wanted any more. I was angry that he hadnt spoken to me. Then he came out with he wanted his own independence, wanted to know what it would be like to live alone now. We agreed on a trial seperation, and that we would work on things, have counselling and try again, however within a few weeks he changed again, said he just wanted to be left alone, he hated life and didnt want to be here any more, saying that everyone else cared more about him than he did about himself. I suggested he maybe depressed but he completely shot me down and said he didnt feel depressed it was just that his feelings were changing. Then he told me it was completely over,said he loved me but wasnt in love with me, that he wanted better, more money, go on more holidays, better job. The night before he completely moved out we stayed in the house together, had a meal, chatted, watched a move, laffed, it was like a ”normal” night for us, weve never argued thro any of this, then we went to bed (nothing intimate) and i woke in the night to him with his face pressed against mine and stroking my face just staring at me. Then when he left the next day, he kissed me full on and tenderly looked me straight in the eyes and said, i do love you. Ive not kept bothering him, as i know to him we are completely over, we have txt occasionally, and spoken just once or twice. just about general things we need to sort out. I really am lost and confused. I know a lot of the things he has said is exactly what i was thinking and feeling in the midst of my own dpression, this is why i think he maybe depressed but not realise it. Im not sure what to do, i dont want to keep on at him if he needs some time, but i dont want him to think i dont care, then i dont want to smother him with emotions or feelings he cant deal with right now. I love him very much and just want him to come home, but he seems to be ‘enjoying’ his new life, working so many extra days and hours, having a laff with work colleagues, i dont seem to figure in anything any more. I have a daughter he has been step dad to for 11 yrs, shes angry and upset too, but hes not had much contact with her either. he refuses to think he has depression and therefore will not go to the gp, i dont feel theres much i can do, i feel ive lost my husband and my marriage without being able to fight for it. without being given the chance to fight.

    • mamallama says:


      I am so sorry you are going through such pain. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to convince your husband he is in a depression, and unless he makes a suicide attempt, you won’t be able to get him to a hospital against his will. It is so sad. I don’t really have great advice for you, but you may want to force yourself to break the ties and embrace your new life free of this source of pain, knowing that you deserve much more and much better than he can or is willing to give you. Seems like right now you have to believe in your own strength and the value of that strength, and when the time is right, go out and find someone who will appreciate the strong woman that you are. I know it is hard when you have been married a long time, but I also know that if a spouse does not take care to nurture love, it will die.

      Please stay in touch, Ali. I will pray for you.

    • Fred Mounts says:

      The “I love you but I’m not in love with you” is classic depression speak. I said it to someone I loved dearly 11 years ago; I thought I meant it at the time, but I found out recently that it seems to be part of a script that depressed people follow.

      Have you considered going to therapy yourself? Maybe if you asked him to go as a support for you, it would at least get him through the door.

  23. mamallama says:

    So I may as well chime in here. My husband is the one who suffers from depression (he is bipolar) although it would be extremely misleading not to acknowledge that we all suffer when he is in a depression. I have read some excellent books and blogs regarding his disorder and this perhaps makes me typical of the spouse of a depressed person. I need to know what it all means, and becoming an expert offers some consolation, some sense that it is not about me.

    Still we have issues that permeate our relationship during “periods of normal mood” as they are called, those lulls when he is neither depressed nor hypomanic, when we go to our couples counselor and tell her everything is fine and we don’t have anything to talk about. I seem to have become expertly skilled at turning off my own feelings and turning a stone face to his efforts to self-medicate through pornography use. Recently, he even posted a profile at an adult dating site “just so he could look at the images,” and his depressed persona really believes that it is perfectly okay to look at those images. No, more than that, it believes he is entitled to do so and I not only have no right to check his computer history (it is not even his computer), but no right to ask him to stop. This is in spite of the fact that for the past 10 years, I have made it clear to him that I regard this behavior as infidelity. It may not technically be infidelity, but it has the same impact and leaves the same scars, just as sexual abuse leaves the same scars whether or not there was any sexual penetration. During lucid periods he understands this and promises to stop and get help. I cannot tell you how many times we have repeated this cycle. It’s dizzying.

    The weirdest thing is that I have reached a point where when I do complain about it, it is out of a sense of duty to myself, a sense that I really should say something just to stand up for my self-respect; yet I am really just going through the motions. I do not feel the anger, the sense of betrayal, that I know I ought to feel.

    This was the first clue I had that I may, in fact, be traumatized. It is I who have longed to leave, I who have wished he would leave.

    I am here now at storiedmind (incredibly excellent name for this blog) because I needed to find hope. My heart goes out to all of you who are suffering.

    • Lili says:

      Hi mamallama,

      I have been reading you post and replies here and i thought i would join in the chat. To update from my last post, things have settled down between my partner and i. He even busted out a comment about the “future plans” again. (Strangely how fast they change).

      But reading your post i feel like i have gone through exactly what you have. Last year, during my partner’s depression, he too have resorted to some sort of “inappropriate contents” – lets call it. When i disocovered by accident i was so wounded, im 12 years younger than him, im 23 this year, and he’s 35 already. So the immediate reaction for me after seeing these contents was lossing even more of my self esteem, betrayal, and hurt. Yet i did not confront him about it, i held it in for a whole year, mean while watching him fallen deeper into depression as the days passed. Every night when we come home from work, he would isolate himself and go to his study and be on his computer all night. I can not even begin to describe the anger and the urge that’s throbbing at the back of my mind, imagining myself kicking down that door and hurling a frying pan into his computer and tell him that hes a disgusting, shameful man. But thats not me, i could never do that. So i stayed quiet about it and suffered the passive abuse and i was utterly miserable.
      When he finally broke it to me about depression, he cried in my arms like a child, saying that he’s not happy in the relationship (and here comes the typical depression blames on me), he hate himself and hate how he has been treating me. It was then, i calmly presented him a USB, i ask him if he know what’s in there. To this day im not sure if he was playing dumb or really simply have forgotten. He said he does not remember. And i confronted him, about my side of the story, my hurt and pain. He ask me to please forgive him, and that he is not himself, he would stop and all that means nothing. But to me, deep down inside, this appology means nothing, im still hurt, still resentful towards him, still shameful of him.
      That was 6 month ago and about a month ago he talked of leaving, ending everything, throwing away everything.. etc, and now he’s seemingly getting better again! Good grief. All this have taken a toll on me, i nolonger feel like a young woman, i feel drained, i feel sad and lonely. But what i learnt from last month’s drama was staying clear of his firing range. I moved out, i limit our face time, i only stay over for weekends. During the week i mind my own businesses and just leave him be. Im learning to emotionally disconnect as much as possible and hope he have stoped whatever he was doing before. Because let be honest, lets see if one of those “ladies” clean the house for them, cook dinners, clean the house and hold them while they cry over their sad sad lives.
      So mamallama, do think for yourself, funny im saying this when all i have done was give and forgive at my own cost. I guess we just can’t help but to do whatever it takes to get the man we fell in love all those years ago back.
      Stay strong dear.

      • mamallama says:


        Bless you for your kindness and your kind words, and your wisdom from someone so young! You are less than half my age, but you are wise beyond your years, and I will be honest with you, Lili, if I had been as young as you with my whole life ahead of me, I would probably have left this drama long ago. Part of the problem in my relationship is that my husband has raised my daughter and we have strong ties to his children and his ex-wife, their whole family.

        But you are right, I need to think for and of myself, and that is just what I have been doing these last several days as he continues to use pornography even as he has simultaneously enrolled in a psychotherapy program (that I am paying for) to get him to recover. I made a pact with myself five days ago, Lili: I will give this relationship 6 months. If I do not see the change I feel I need to see, I will send him away from our home. It is all I can do right now to put on a positive face knowing what I know and feeling as disgusted as I do.

        An important point here is that this is not about bipolar disorder, and I ave told him this before: I can adapt to the disorder; I will not live with a pornography user. Either he doesn’t believe I will go, or he is just having a “last hurrah” before the therapy sessions begin on Monday. Well, we’ll see how it goes, won’t we?

        Thank you again for your support, Lili. If you ever need me, I am here.


        • Lili says:

          Thankyou for the supportive reply Mamallama, its here i dont feel alone and have people i can relate and vent to. I came from a rather traditional family, my relationship is actually my first, speaking of luck ay? It is more difficult when you have other people to consider and just not you two, espeically when there’s family and children involved. I’m very close to his family but ofcause i dont have children yet, so the worst case senario would simply be me seeing no improvement and leave him. It would crush me and scar me for the rest of my life but it would be for the best if he does not seek change.

          Since i talked to my partner about what i found which was just before xmas, i have yet to find further evidence of anymore of the disgusting contents, which i am reliefed to see. Because i have researched intensely regarding to depression and men tend to gravitate towards things like this due to depression only to make them feel even worse about themselves. So i sincerely hope that my partner has kept his words, not only for the sake of my self respect, but for his own good as well. Before depression wrecked our lives, he’s a kind and honest man and i still can see that man from time to time, i can only trust him on that.

          After the pre-xmas confession we both had, he seemingly improved from the period of January till April. Sure he still clearly not himself yet, but he was active, happy and loving again. I was so pleased to finally seeing my man again, but when May came around he fell into another episode of self loathing, and that was when he told me he feel that he’s incapable of a relationship, he want to sell his house, drop his job and travel overseas..etc Ofcause he brought up blames on me again, and non of wich that made any rational sense. And ofcause i was hurt from hearing such unreasonable accusations towards me and he’s sorry that he has hurt me and was convinced that i deserve better because he simply feel like he can not provide me with any love and care that is needed in a normla relationship. It took me a week of talk to settle him down, to talk him out of quiting on everything and leaving and finally he calmed down after i told him i dont need any intimacy from him because i understand he can not provide me with any due to the depression and im here simply because i have chosen to stick by my man. He proceeded by holding me in his arms for the next 20 min and i got him to agree to continue with his life, seek help and have me along the side for support. He even agreed to go out to movies and dinners after that.

          Since then things slowly, very very slowly was getting back on track. I only stay over for weekends. Occasionally we go to a movie during a week night and have dinner out. Weekends is when i do the week worth of cleaning! Gosh, you can not imagine… if i dont wash the dishes, vacum the floor or clean the bathroom, it would not be cleaned. I make sure i help with maintaining the house in good clean and tidy state, to give my partner less stress and more pleasant enviorment to live in. And he do seem to appreciate this as most of the time he’s low on motivation. Even after a whole day of hard at housework, i encourage him to go out on works with me, sometimes he even suggest it! which is good. In truth im completely pooped! But i suck it up and go out on walks with him no matter how tired i am, because i know it’s good for him and the least i could do is accompany him and be supportive.

          Last weekend he even made a comment while i was looking at puppies online while picking up our cat “oh look, mommy’s looking at puppies, we can have a puppy, when i get a bigger house that have a yard…” This comment brought me hope but also abit of anger. I cant help but to feel alittle annoyed at the speed he changes, one min he’s all this but i can never predict how he will be like the next. What if he suddenly start acting like he was like back in May again?

          But for now things look good, it’s the weekend again which means im going over to his place. So lets see. Mamallama, i sincerely hope your husband stop his bad habits, as i mentioned before pornograhy use will make depression worse, can even sometimes causes it! There is no emotional attachment to this form of stimulation, it can only be self destructive and harmful on his health aspects as well. And all my heart goes out to you, it is a disgusting and shameful feeling to discover things like this. What’s worse is that he’s not stopping and feel like he has the right to do such things. It is very selfish at the same time hurting the only person that love him the most.

          I am, too, on the observing stand now. I too want to give roughly 6 more month in hoping to see a new man back. Let’s just hope they will change not only back into their oldselves, but someone better!

          <3 Lili

  24. suki says:

    This is an illuminating blog. My husband has been quite distant, withdrawn and physically withdrawn for about a year and a half now. It started when he hit the big four -0 and then got much worse. We’d endured a series of difficult life events and then we discovered the reason we’d not managed to conceive is because my husband is infertile.

    Since then things have become much worse. It’s hard to explain but he talks to me in such a way that it’s as if he’s deep down livid with me somehow. I don’t mean he shouts at me or abuses me but his tone is as if he can’t stand me. He has pretty much stopped hugging and kissing me and if I hug or kiss him I can literally feel him tense up.

    He finally admitted he is depressed recently but says he wants to give it a bit of time to see if it lifts. I’ve told him though that if things aren’t any better within a couple of months he needs to seek help.

    What I find really upsetting is he still seems to enjoy things he does for leisure like playing sports with friends or going fishing with his dad but he doesn’t seem to enjoy being with me.

    When I ask him if it is me or the relationship he tells me he loves me and its not me. But his behaviour says different and its making me a clingy needy wreck who questions him a lot.Which then gets him angry and we’ve become stuck in a vicious cycle. I think we may need couples counselling.

    • mamallama says:

      Hey Suki,

      I hope you are still reading this blog. I just got here today and I have been married to a bipolar spouse for 9 years. We are in the midst of a crisis, and that is what led me to this blog. We live in a rural area and getting to support group meetings is nearly impossible, so I find myself seeking help online whenever an episode occurs.
      My husband’s depression may have a different source than that of your husband, but most of the behaviors that typify unipolar depression are present in bipolar depression. The reason I felt compelled to reply to your post is because I want you to know that your husband may not, in fact, be enjoying himself with his friends or his dad, but rather attempting to distract and distance himself from you, maybe even in an effort to self-medicate. My husband puts on a happy face for everyone except me and my daughter when he is in a depression, and for a long time I took it very personally. Even now I have difficulty accepting that he can control his behavior outside the home but not around us. In fact, I know that he can control his behavior around us, but that it takes a supreme effort. The anxiety and stress produced by the effort to appear okay to the rest of the world comes spilling out in irritability, criticism, and rage when he comes home. He is often emotionally or verbally abusive, and telling myself, “It’s not him; it’s his disorder,” only points to a truth that my traumatized soul cannot hold fast to.
      So it may be that I really do know what you’re going through, and it may not; but if I do, then I can tell you this much: your husband needs to get help with the depression (probably medication, to start with) before you can derive any benefit from couples counseling. And if you do get couples counseling, you will need to accept that nothing applies in the midst of the depression. He cannot be a partner when he is depressed, no matter how badly he may want to. My husband and I currently try our best to stay separated while he is depressed and when we have both healed, we talk about therapy. In fact he is on the verge of beginning a new therapy that may just work (if he sticks with it). There are so many variables.
      You may question your own sanity, and you may question whether it is worth it to stay together, and you should never ever feel guilty about wondering whether you can or will decide to stay. But if you do decide to stay, you need to make a commitment to yourself to always reach out to people like those you will find here when you are experiencing the trauma of your husband’s depression.
      Love yourself, and be aware of the love that surrounds you.
      Best of luck to you.

      • Rita says:

        Hi mamallama and Suki,

        Just wanted to say I absolutely agree with everything you’ve said.
        I’ve been living with my husband for 4 years now and I knew from the start he suffers from depression.
        However I thought I understood what that was,and I was sure I could help.
        I got more and more confused as the time passed by.So many times he wanted to leave,because he was miserable and so unhappy with his life.Of course I took it personally and I don’t need to explain how painful that was for me.
        It still is. But less.
        He would be able to creak a joke all the time with other people.He would even be all flirtatious and cute,like when I first fell in love with him.
        But the moment we stayed alone,this rapid transformation would happen.Face of misery,resentment,irritation and what not.
        He would tell me I make him agitated just by being in the house.Just by being around him all the time (which is at night when we come from work,cause we do live together..?!)
        He feels better at work,even though it’s a shitty job (pardon my French),doesn’t want to go home,so he sits in his car for hours before coming in.
        So as expected,first my self confidence dropped below zero,fear got into my bones and I couldn’t stop thinking about him…what will make him feel better,what can I do to make him happy,should I start staying at my friends so he would have time for himself,when should I ask something,when should I just be quiet.And since I’ve not yet developed telepathic abilities,I was unsuccessful..surprise surprise.
        Honestly this is an agony,kinda worst than hell.If I only didn’t love him and care deeply about him..
        So whenever he would start his passive-aggressive cycle,and when I would come to the breaking point,I’d start conversation and he would have his little speech about how he was never happy with me,how he was always really forcing him
        self to have ”fun” and how miserable and unhappy he is.
        As you can imagine, I would freak out.
        But not anymore.
        Cause every single time while I was starting to prepare myself for break up mentally,the next day he would try to pretend like nothing had happened and eventually would apologize cause he didn’t know what he was saying and he wasn’t him self.
        And so it just happened again..I’m waiting for his decision,so I would know in which direction my life is gonna go.
        Its still hard to isolate myself from his depression and hurtful words and deeds,Its hard to live in this insecurity and instability,but what I’ve learned so far is what you wrote,Its not me,Its the disease.Or him.Or he is the disease,and the disease is him.
        Most important thing is to find support.
        This helps.This is the first time I’m doing this,writing about my personal problems, and it feels good.
        Thanks and good luck!

        • mamallama says:

          Rita, thank you for reaching out. I really think so many of us feel so alone. I am so glad that John has created this site because as he himself has noted, most of the Web-based resources on depression are directed to the depressed person, not his or her partner. Even though I have been learning about bipolar disorder and living with my bipolar spouse for such a long time, I find I still have doubts as to whether I can weather each storm, and each storm brings me closer to leaving. I often think that we stay in these relationships because we are sure this will be the last time he hurts us–but those sound like the words of battered wives, don’t they? This is the first time in 10 years that I have found a place where I can communicate with people like me, who really understand. And maybe we can share what works for us and learn from each other. At the very least, we can find comfort.

          • Rita says:

            Oh I wrote such a long response and it got deleted…..
            Anyway,thank you for replying,all this means a lot.
            I just wanted to say what happened today with my husband and me.Yesterday I send him the link of this blog and he red it.He recognize all of it but that still doesn’t give him an ease from the stress he’s causing and feeling.So I suggested that maybe he should get a place for himself in my vicinity.He was trilled.
            Honestly me too.
            He’ll get his cave where he can go to when he feels miserable and where he’s not gonna be judged or stressed out,and I’ll get my peace.For the first time in a year or so, I saw my husband again.If that’s what it takes for him to feel a bit better,that’s what we’re gonna do.It’s going to be good for both of us.I don’t want to feel responsible for his misery anymore,and I don’t want to put myself in a situation where I have to live with myself if he hurts himself.
            So we’ll see,if love is still there,we’ll survive.If not at least I’ll know.
            That’s all for now,thank you for reading and take care of yourself!

  25. Samantha Hall says:

    I have a question. . . When a partner “dreams” of a new life without the problems and burdens of their current life, why should their spouse help them see that their mental health problems will just follow them into their new life and new relationship?. I, personally, do not want to be with someone who is fantasizing about how great a life without me and the family we raised in it. I feel that if someone takes their partner and family so much for granted, then “go already”! I am tired of the struggle of trying to convince my spouse that this life is good and that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. How much total emotional withdrawel is enough?

    • Lili says:

      Dear Samantha,

      I completely understand your pain. And im sorry that us women are treated by our male partners in such ways. My partner of 4 years told me the same thing last week, he said he’s beginning to feel that he need to sell the house, quit his job, leave the relationship and travel over seas and start anew. After a week of talking and today he finally told me hes going to get professional help. The reason being us – loved ones- needing to make them see, is because they simply can no longer see. They can not see pass their miserable world.
      Same as you mentioned, my partner have been cold emotionally for almost a year now. Physical intimacy was not happening and let’s not even mention the bedroom activities….
      So much to the point that having the feel of my touch give him pressure, because he can not respond emotionally, incapable of feeling and feeling immense pressure from not being able to love and seeing me hurt by all this, drives his depression deeper.
      Unfortunately, your husband must accept he is ill and he need to get help and get his troubles sorted. After a week of struggle, finally today my partner told me he is going to get help. While there’s no final word on where our relationship is going, well i guess i cant ask that now, but atleast there’s hope.
      Hang in there Sam <3

  26. Tom g says:


    YES…….I am living this right now. For years I raged against injustice of being the sole bread winner. It spilled into every nook of our family.
    I bailed my wife out of an investment condo when the tenents trashed the place, left and the housing market tanked. I stood up to the plate and worked my ass off while she got her degree in education/science. She never worked a day after graduation, we had our first child almost right after graduation, and a second two years later. Again, money was tight, but we bought a house and struggled for years……I really resented carrying all the load and begged her to help me. I spent more and more time at work assuring that I was always on top of things and to keep us safe. That all turned against me. I became distant from my family, we had some trouble with our oldest with drugs, marital counseling….all of it. In the end, she did not work (boys were 17 and 19) and for all my effort she cheated on me and I was treated to ALL her pent up RAGE as she threw her affair right into my face and laughed at me. Literally laughed at me!!!!
    I left and for awhile I was at peace with the new living arrangements, but now that the divorce is coming, her and I have started talking again. Like adults (Her affair fizzeled out because the man she went with turned out to be a control freak – so I’m told)
    The assets have been divided up, and all we really have to do is sign the paper. However, I know there is something left between us. I want to reconcile, but I sense that she may just want to be civil and move forward.
    Point is I wanted to leave for years. I dreamed about it, planned my escape.

    We will never cease from exploring, but at the end of exploration will be to arrive where we began and know that place for the first time. T.S. Elliot

    • Samantha Hall says:

      I would like to say that raising kids is a difficult and important job. It is also mostly a thankless job that has no pay. It is a job where one often even receives resentment from the spouse who is earning money from the work they do. much research has shown the importance of one parent parenting the kids full time. If one decides to have a family then the mental health of the kids and the spouse parenting full time should be considered. It is a lonely job to raise kids full time and it is even lonelier to raise kids while having rage and resentment hurled at one while doing so.

  27. Samantha says:

    Me again. husband holds many resentments against me and our grown children. If he can’t let these resentments go, then I don’t know how he can ever get better. I appreciate your posts. They help me to not feel so alone.

    • Lili says:

      Just saw your older posts and thought to share some of my pains with you too.
      i am being blamed for everything, all the pressure, all the unhapiness, you name it. So much so things like i didnt share his interests in music/sports/ activities like going to pubs. (what?!) seriously, really tiny superficial things like that. What’s worse is that during the 4 years of our relationship, he never even tried to share these activities with me in the first place. Yes i am very hurt to hear all these blame, and yes im very frustrated and angry at the fact i cant protest against him. But i, and i would recommend you to repeat to yourself when you are really fired up, that he is ill, and he’s seeing the world through very dark lenses. Everything is failing and it cant be his fault, what has he done wrong? oh then it must be her fault, the kids maybe, maybe its this life that now im trapped in…

      Sam, this must be what your husband is feeling. My partner and i dont have kids, but we are 12 years apart. I am 22 and he is 35. Feeling that he should be the protector and i should be more appreciated, yet, im getting this treatment surely makes me want to hurl a table. But we must accept that our men are ill, and unfortunately, as loved ones, we are easy targets. Your husband must accept that he is going through depression and he must accept that he need medications and therapy from a professional. Or his feelings of anger and sadness will not go away. 🙁 Much love <3 Lisa

      • Samantha says:


        My husband has been in therapy for about a year now. He has had adequate medicinal round of every “family” of aantidepressants.

        • Lili says:

          Sam, Im really sorry to hear that even though he is getting help, he’s still not changing. If it make you feel better, my partner, although has agreed that he will get help, he has not made an effort to actually start looking for one. Because our wound in the relationship caused by depression is still fresh, im too scared to bring it up again as we have talked many times, and everytime i will suggest healthcare professionals and therapy. And yet im biting my nails to hold back the frustration i have towards him and his lack of willingness to change. It is almost like im not worthy of him to change and get better for, Im at the point where im beginning to think he don’t want to change! D: So yes, similar to your case, i too wonder how far is enough or how long is too long …

          • samantha says:

            Lili, Yes just as you said, it feels as if I’m not worth it to him. I understand depression, but how much of their behavior do we let go and blame on the disease? In relationships, it is common for one partner to take another for granted . . . and a whole host of other unhealthy behavior toward the other. When depression is in the mix, it becomes difficult to “pull apart” what’s depression and what’s outright plain unhealthy relationship behavior. My husband has always put up huge walls and not spoken to me for long periods of time, he is a passive aggressive man and has a tendency to take me for granted . . . actually he takes everything he has for granted until something, or someone, is gone, then he is so upset about the absence. For the past year, he wants me to acceept all of his unhealthy behavior as depression that he can’t do anything about. Even his therapist says that she does not believe it is chemical (and she used to be a medical doctor). She believes he is not attempting to get better because he will not try anything to help his situation. Sometimes I think these men hear about depression and then they just want to blame all of their behavior on it. I wonder how much of it is a cop-out on taking responisibility for actions? I realize that for anyone who does have a severe case of “real” depression, this would sound harsh. But I have had depression before and I tried to get better, and eventually did. What seems alarming to me about your situation is that your husband is not attempting to get any help. It seems to me that if he cares, then he needs to show it by getting help. The only exception to getting help on ones own is when someone can’t get out of bed at all (then they need to be admitted to inpatient psychiatric care). I, personally, would not be okay with him not getting any help. To me, that is a sign of taking you for granted. It’s nice chatting with you! Samantha

        • mamallama says:

          Samantha, is it possible that your husband is bipolar? If so, he will need a mood stabilizer, either in addition to or independent of the antidepressant. Just a thought.

          • Samantha says:

            Mammallama, My husband doesn’t seem to have any “up” times. Is there bi-polar with only the depressed state? We are currently going thru some even harder times. Not sure if our marriage will survive ~sigh~ I’ve been married to him since I was 16…for 34 years. I am so very sad and in a lot of grief right now. On a side note: I too often wonder about some (or a lot) of what these depressed partners are doing seeming like battered spouse stuff. It can get so confusing to pull apart what is the disease and what may be partners being abusive and hiding behind the disease. I, myself, feel really “beat up”. Dr. Harley has a good website on success marriage that I have found helpful lately.

          • mamallama says:

            Hi Samantha,
            I hope you get this reply to your reply! I only got a reply link to my own reply! So to answer your question, bipolar disorder is still not fully understood, but the “up” times can be deceptively subtle. My husband is bipolar II, which includes deep depressions with thoughts of suicide following brief periods of hypomania, which itself can be characterized simply by extreme irritability. For my husband, hypomania also includes sleeplessness and impulsive spending (usually large purchases such as a car to “fix up and sell”) but not racing thoughts, hallucinations, hypersexuality, etc. He himself does not even recognize the hypomanic phase of his illness. It may help a little to know that bipolar depressions in general may not last as long as unipolar episodes of depression. Additionally, over time you begin to see a pattern in terms of times of year and certain triggers leading to mania or hypomania which is immediately followed by a depression. Finally, it is common to misdiagnose bipolar disorder as unipolar depression, and my husband was on antidepressants for 8 years that were not working before someone saw the possibility that he was bipolar and put him on a mood stabilizer. The fact that the mood stabilizer works much better than the antidepressant alone was a major indicator for us that this was not unipolar depression.
            I want to encourage you to read John’s book “Surviving Depression Together” and see if you see yourself or your husband in it. There are lots of good resources at the end of the book, too.
            Samantha, I wish you health and love.

  28. Samantha says:

    My husband and I have been married for 34 years. He recovered from 10 years of addiction 1 year ago. He has been severely depressed for the last year. He won’t talk to me and sleeps 20 hours a day. He doesn’t want to have anything to do with me or our family that we raised together. I am more than heartbroken. He is on medication and in therapy once a week. I feel that I am now drowning myself and am having health problems from being so sad for so long. I know that he would just like to have a different life. I wonder if him moving on would help him be happy again. I would be happy for him if he could find happiness again. ..even if that means him moving on to a different life.

  29. Donna-1 says:

    Just another thought: although escape looks very exciting and promising from this side of the portal, it would probably make my depression even worse. Because instead of having reasons to get up, get out, and get going, the driving force of family and friends would be missing. There would be more time to procrastinate, lie in bed feeling lonely, and eat my way into a stupor. There would be no one to whom I could report the successes of my new life, no one with whom I could share a good joke, no one to critique me or grant me approval. Because I see escape as all-or-nothing. Out the door. Gone. Assume another identity, albeit one with the same name and social security number and same DNA. Or else total commitment to improving the daily lives of others with no room for myself. Why can’t I find some in-between place where I can become a new person, figuratively speaking, yet still give appropriate attention to my existing relationships?

  30. Donna-1 says:

    Until just now, I did not realize what a part my anger played in the destruction of my marriage. For one thing, my family always sides with me and says, “Yes, he was a vile monster. You should have left him years ago. How could he have been so disloyal and treacherous and treated you so shabbily when all you did was love him.” Of course, they have only heard my side of the story, which is all about him. Right now, after reading what you have said, John, I am not in self-flagellation mode. But I am more aware that my inner rages were destroying me as completely as my husband’s abuse. And we never once spoke of our wrongs toward each other until years after we were divorced and put some space between ourselves and the marriage. When I was in a situation where I felt cornered and hemmed in, I was like a walled city under siege — I stopped taking in the things that nourish me like beauty, music movement and merely shut down and turned off outwardly. And became very soul-sick.

  31. Donna Elizabeth says:

    I am glad I have read some letters today and now understand a bit more. My husband and I have been married for 10 years and together for 12 years. He left me in Spain last year to return to his family in the UK. We moved out here 9 years ago and things were good. When work slowed down and we had a few problems financially he decided to go back to the UK and look for some work and to see if there was a future for us. He never came back and left me here with a house still on the market with no chance of selling, 3 cats, hardly any work and so many questions that he will not answer. I went back to see him for a few days in January and although he cuddled me and cried he became withdrawn as the time went on and I felt like a stranger. He was very depressed before he left for England last year and a few months before he went he was becoming isolated and shutting me out of his life. I started to feel I wasn´t good enough for him and felt he was looking at me in a really hateful way as though he was angry and resented me for ruining his life. He seemed happier when we were with other people but when we were alone the barriers were up and he pushed me away. I kept asking him if it was me but he said it was everything and he didn´t know if he loved me enough anymore. He felt he was missing out on things that other men were doing or could do. I tried my hardest and kept a lovely home. always cooked and tried to be there if he needed me. I never shouted at him to open up but my downfall was to maybe brush things under the carpet and let him continue with his moods and sulking. To be honest, I was treading on egg shells and to see the man you love turn and treat me so bad was and still is heartbreaking. He says its all his fault and is sorry for everything but doesnt know why or what to do now but believes he is better off on his own as he wont hurt me anymore. I have cried my heart out to him and begged him to come back but he wont. He hasn´t called for a few weeks now and just wants me to move on and be happy. I know it sounds like he has and yes he has in some ways but I feel it is so sad to end a marriage without really trying to save it. I am stuck in a country I dont want to be in with a house that is still our house with the same people and places around me that we knew and he has moved to a new area has a new job and a life. I have nothing but all our life to sort out where he has left everything for me to do at this end. And I do it because I cant bring myself to hate him or get angry with him and do not know how to deal with him anymore. He makes me feel on edge and uncomfortable and yet he was the best husband in the world and I remember that but he will not remember any good times or even talk about anything positive we had. If I try to mention something funny or happy about us he will shoot it down in flames and be negative about it. I am at my wits end as I know divorce is around the corner but I am still struggling to deal with his attitude to me and come to terms with leaving me in Spain. We both moved over here as ex-pats to start a new life and I always said to him, if anything ever happens please do not leave me out here on my own and he has. Yes I have friends but I am on my own in the house which I hate. Just goes to show you can never trust anyone.

  32. Stefanie says:

    Hi John! It is comforting to come across this post today, as I am sitting here upset and confused as to why my husband has left. We were married for 8 yrs, together for 10, and were good friends for about 15 years. My husband used to be the nicest guy anyone could ever meet. Never got mad, never snapped, in fact, kinda odd that he never really showed emotions. I have seen him cry once, but never got nervous or upset, very care free. Anyways, he lost his job about 2 weeks before we moved into our new home. My dream was to have a big house one day like the one I am in, and after waiting 6 yrs I FINALLY got it! I got approved for the mortgage by myself – no cosigner. Invested alot of money into it, HUGE down payment. When we first moved in, my husband didn’t do very much but sleep in, swim and drink in the pool, worked on the house a little – would start one project and not finish it, but I didn’t think anything was majorly wrong. He didn’t see the layoff coming and was a little out of it, but figured I would back off and let him just relax and slowly get back into the swing of things. After 2 mths of this, he started to go to gambling at the casino and was on a winning streak, and that turned into a full time gig where he gambled 3-5x a week and was supposedly winning. We had a fight one nt, he left to go to Florida to stay at his mother’s house and needed to really think it over whether he was coming back or not. Started telling me we aren’t a good match, he loves me but can’t come back to NJ, I could do better without him, he can’t find the old him, etc. Go to find out BY MAIL not him, he paid the mortgage once and let the house go into foreclosure immediately. Yet, we (I) made enough to pay for it. I begged him for an explanation, I wanted to know why – why did he do that, why did he cut me off, why did he really leave – 4 mths later he doesn’t want to come home and tells me to move on. Still no closure and no explanation as to where did all that money really go and why did he pretend to write out a check every mth and go to the post office to mail off the mortgage payment and now come to find out they were rubber checks – this went on for 1 solid year. I got the house out of foreclosure, I had to pick up all the pieces but I did. I am trying so hard, but so confused why is cold and harsh with me. Yes, I get very angry and email him demanding answers, I tried to be in communication with his family and that makes him more angry. It’s like he doesn’t want anyone to know anything. He didn’t pay a few tolls and ran them and they revoked his license indefinitely. What is with thsi strange pattern of behavior? Is it depression? He made good money for years, and right before he left there was an opportunity to work for a company for $200,000 a year but choose to go work at him mothers bike shop instead. He left me, a gorgeous home behind, a great paying job that might have been meaningful, all to grow a beard and ride Harley’s around town with no license. Anyone have any input?

  33. Rose says:


    Thank you so much for these posts. They are helping me deal with my own story. My boyfriend of three and a half years decided last september to simply walk away from our relationship. Since we are living in different countries he just stopped communicating and has been completely ignoring me. Our relationship was amazing and beautiful, we had plans for the future and we were made for each other. Then his work proved to be very demanding, became extremely stressed and barely had time or energy for anything anymore. I tried to be supportive and positive and understanding. I sent him care packages and wrote him things that I knew would cheer him up. I did all I could as a girlfriend. These last few months I’ve tried to be patient and give him his space. Went through my own personal hell, developed an eating disorder and my own depression became even worse. I can’t stop thinking that if only he could just send me a message and say, I’m sorry, I can’t be in a relationship anymore, I could at least sleep a little. I love him so much and miss him and I worry that he isn’t ok and at the same time I feel humilated and worry that I gave all I had to a man that behaves as if I didn’t deserve a proper goodbye or his friendship and uses our physical distance to hide. It’s difficult to concentrate our story in a message, I’m sorry if it’s too long. I just need answers and I think I may have found a bit of that in your posts. I wanted to thank you. I just hope he feels better soon and reaches out to me. He has pushed me away but I can’t be angry, for some reason. I’m just utterly sad. I don’t think he has many people to count on and he’s the kind of man that won’t share his things with anybody. I’m sorry for rambling, I’ll end it here. Thank you again.

    • Judy says:

      Hi Rose:

      I just wanted to say that you’re not in this situation alone. I have been going through a similar situation with my boyfriend for the past year and a half. This is the now the 2nd time that he has cut off contact with me altogether. Before this 2nd spell happened, I threatened to leave him if I had to go through a depression episode like that again. But, here I am, the second time around waiting for him to somehow snap out of it. It is one of the most frustrating and saddest situations to be in and I empathize with you completely. My boyfriend is also similar in that he does not have many people to count on and he is very reluctant to share his feelings with anyone, even myself.

      I understand how you’re feeling. The first time it happened, I felt almost unbearably sad; I’m sure that I was somewhat depressed myself. It was a whole spring and summer of waiting, getting my hope up when a phone call happened only to have my hopes crushed when he went back to no-contact. And then to top it all off, he decided to end the relationship and acted happy about it; saying that he wouldn’t have to feel bad about hurting me anymore or having to make commitments with me. We got back together a month later and things were great, but slowly he started to slip into a depression again. I didn’t even see it coming, although I should have. He started being more defensive and not supportive of my activities and making me feel guilty for going. I won’t get into many more details but I think my boyfriend has been in a minor depression all along, even when I thought things were going great.

      I do hope that when your boyfriend does come out of the worst of his depression that he contacts you. The one advice I would give after having to go through this a second time is to talk, talk, talk about it. Suggest therapy at the very least if he is not open to medication (BTW, I’m not the biggest believer of drugs being a cure-all, but you have to remember that this is a disease just like any other). I wish that I had been more adamant about suggesting therapy for my boyfriend when he was in a better state.

      In the mean time, do as much as you can to keep busy. Try new activities, make time for friends even if you don’t feel like it and continue to do the things that YOU love doing. In short, do whatever you can to make sure that you don’t fall into a depression yourself. If you’ve got to message him, keep the messages short and to a minimum, just remind him that you are still there and that you care. AND, as sad as it can be to read about dealing with depression, it helps you to understand what it happening inside his mind and to solidify that this has nothing to do with you and is not your fault. Keep reading the articles here, they’ve helped me get though a number of insecurities and frustrations.

      Take care and all the best,


    • Lili says:

      Dear Rose,

      Im not sure if you are still following this site, but here’s my input on this.
      We are exactly the same, my partner/boyfriend of 4 years have suddenly fallen into depression and gone cold. The relationship went from something really beautiful with future plans and everything to a standstill and from his end he sees not way of continuing. I swear give him another 3 month of happiness, we would have been married! But then this happened. And this all happened really fast like suddenly this man that i love and loved me so much is gone! I too have been going through hell, im still at university, holding a part-time job so alot of work / study stress, supporting myself at the same time and dealing with a depressed boyfriend. And i cant even begin to mention all the troubles i had happening all at once. Last week he told me he feel like he is incapable of a relationship. I was in shock, for everything i have done for him, this is what i get? After a week of begging, today we had another talk, and i was able to stabilize the relationship, but how long for?But atleast he finally told me hes going to get professional help, and have agreed to continue to come out to dinners/movies with me to help him to recover. For now he have not given me the final words of killing the relationship and have agreed to try to work this out with me along side. So here’s hoping! Please let us know how you are doing now Rose! with all my love and i pray for all of us! <3

  34. WillSpirit says:

    Wow, John, this post is really powerful. Thank you so much. Aside from how much it helps me see my own relationship issues reflected in your experience, your essay inspires me to aspire toward a similar level of openness and quality in my own blogging.

    I’m very familiar with the desire to leave. I’ve gained some insight from psychological attachment theory. Although the majority of infants show ‘secure’ attachment, a substantial minority show less healthy responses. One pattern, called ‘ambivalent’ attachment, seems to speak to my strange mix of neediness and desire for escape that comes up during depression. The ambivalent infant greets his or her mother enthusiastically after a separation. But as soon as the mom responds with reassuring gestures, the baby pulls away and rejects her. I see myself acting this way a lot when depressed. I need to feel loved, but I cannot accept affection from my wife. As soon as she reaches out, I pull away. On the other hand, if she acts annoyed or distracted, I demand reassurance.

    So I maintain this fantasy that somewhere out there a woman is waiting who would satisfy my need for loving intimacy without making me critical and rejecting. My own inability to form a secure bond gets transferred onto my wife, so that I think it’s her problem and not mine. During these times, it seems perfectly natural to want to find a woman that I can love without conflict or ambivalence.

    Obviously, we both know that leaving and finding a new partner would not solve anything. But there is a part of me that wants to hang onto the dream of the perfect lover. Anyway, thanks for sharing your feelings. This piece helps me feel less like an oddball and a jerk.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Will –

      Thanks, Will – interesting that you should find this post just now. It’s one of the earliest I did for this blog, and I have recently revised it a little for my “best of storied mind” ebook on relationships. I wrote it years ago with a sense of urgency, thinking of it as a letter to a close friend who was acting out in this way. When I re-read it for the ebook, I could only think of all the things I had left out. Your description of ambivalent attachment and the push-pull in responding to your wife captures one of those quite well – also what you say about transferring your problem with a close relationship onto your wife. These are powerful insights.


  35. Phoenix says:

    Thank you so much for this website. It’s really helped, knowing I’m not alone in my experience. My husband and I just had our 6-year anniversary this past year. However, it was quickly followed by an awful blowout in which we got physical with each other. There is some confusion as to who hit who first, but I do remember having the door slammed on my fingers, thrown across the room and being screamed at because I refused to let him maintain his distance, and had to know what was wrong with him. I just lost it after that, and I know that to be physical back with him was not the right thing to do. He then posted a very one-sided version of our altercation online on a message board that several of our mutual friends frequent, and of course the responses he got back were vicious attacks on my person. He repeated many of the things said to him on that board back to me during the following weeks, and it was only when we went to our first marital counseling session that I learned that’s where those hurtful words came from– before we got down to business, he opened with giving the counselor and I a copy of those posts. He made me look like this horrible abusive person, and I could not defend myself because I wanted to be the bigger person and validate his feelings. After the session I just went home and cried.
    He has suffered from clinical depression for years now, and tells me lately that he’s “losing it”, that his grip on reality is slipping. He vacillates between obsessively looking up other women on dating sites (because we’ve swung together a few times and now he pressures me into letting him have his ‘harmless fun’) and being so totally into me and happy that I feel like we’re getting the old ‘us’ back. The other night he was “there”, and we had a wonderful evening where he cooked dinner and did the dishes, being very affectionate with me.
    The next day, the dog broke our bedroom window and he completely flipped out and lost it, abusing the animal. When I came home our dog acted afraid of him, like I’ve never seen before, and was afraid to even come up to me and ask for attention. He said it was the dog’s fault, and I tried to convince him it wasn’t– he knows he has a problem, but we don’t know where to get help. He says he’s afraid for himself, and he’s seen counselors but always said they didn’t help him. He’s on an antidepressant but he doesn’t take it regularly, and when he does he says it “only takes the edge off”.
    I’ve asked him during counseling if he’d be happier without me, and he said he didn’t know. I am afraid of what would happen to him if I leave- he has said I was the only thing keeping him afloat – and I know he really wants to get better, but I am so very tired. I need comfort, and to be with someone who’s happy. It sounds selfish, but I really don’t know how much longer I can keep this up. We’re still going to marriage counseling, but I am afraid to be open and tell him how I really feel, because anytime I’ve been honest and talked about leaving before, he goes into a huge depression and will bring it up for years as a reason why he can’t trust me. I feel so trapped and there’s no one I can talk to about this… all of our friends are mutual and we live in a small town. Help?

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Phoenix –

      I can understand how tired you must feel since you mention several times how you have concealed your real feelings from him as well as the marriage counselor. That’s hard, draining work and very hurtful to your well-being. You have as much right to your feelings and to be open about them as he does. Judging from the incident of his posting to the message board, he doesn’t seem so careful about your feelings or what others think of you. What you do and say won’t make his depression better or worse – despite what he says. From your description, it does not sound like he really wants to get well or that he has seriously tried therapy. He will make as much progress with a counselor as he lets himself make. Not taking an antidepressant regularly is another sign that he hasn’t made a deep commitment within himself to get better. Sorry to sound harsh, but I’m looking at your description – which is all I have to go on – and you’ve pointed out several things I’ve heard before that are what I would call dangers signs for your health and peace of mind. I would urge you to sort through your own needs, perhaps with the help of a counselor to get an objective point of view, and to be clear with your husband when his behavior is hurtful. Hopefully, you can both find a way of talking honestly without getting into a violent fight. Holding onto your real feelings for a long time can lead to that sort of explosion, and it doesn’t do either of you any good.


  36. kimberly says:

    So my husband and I have been married 6 years and about 3 months ago I discovered multiple porn memberships and datimg profiles. Porn has been and on and off issue for us but he finally admits he has a bad addiction..I was misserable I would log on and see his comments and become physically sick.. fastforward to out 6 year wedding anniversay where he became obsessed about my single sexual experience before I even knew him. He was obsessed, wanted every detail. Said he has not been with enough woman and wanted to be free. He has since gone to counseling and started meds. He has moments when he just wants to hug me and tell me how great I am and he loves me. Then he will go off agian about how he want to go and live.. he is only 30 and we have two young kids. He is preoccupied with working out and things that don’t envolve his family. I love him and just want to help but I’m here waiting to be cheated on or left. Does this marriage sound too far gone? Anyone delt with lost porn depression? Help

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, kimberly –

      I have to say that as a man I recognize all too well the obsession, the fantasies, the possessiveness, and it is sickening as well as self-delusional. I wrote one post about men and sexual addiction on this blog, and the answer for the person I mentioned in it was a twelve-step program. Depression or another mood disorder covers much of what you describe, but addiction has its own problems. It’s great to hear that he has been going to counseling and trying meds, but I hope he can find the inner strength to focus on recovery as the most important thing in keeping his life together. I would suggest that you be clear with him about the effect of his behavior on you. My experience doesn’t apply to everyone, of course, but I think it’s important to hear from the person you’ve been closest to that you can only go so far before you lose everything. Boundaries are essential, I believe, for your well-being and for his recovery.


  37. Mary says:

    “One was the inner sense””I knew in my heart”

    Do you have any idea where this inner sense came from? My partner has completely denied any inner sense or knowledge that he is transferring everything to his new world without me.

    He said that he needed time alone to figure himself out but he was already planning his escape. I struggle wondering what I could have differently but I keep coming back to the point that it is all work that he has to do internally. I just wonder if he will ever do it.

    • John says:

      Hi, Mary –

      There are so many men I know who don’t question their own behavior when relationships go wrong. They blame the partner and go look for another, only to recreate the same situation. My own “inner sense” came partly from the fact that I had a natural tendency to blame myself when anything bad happened – but even when I was blaming my wife and fantasizing about drastic changes, I could see through fantasy lives and relationships I was dwelling in. I can’t explain that fully, but thankfully I could get some perspective on what I was doing.


  38. eva says:

    hi, about the topic as a wife it’s not that easy to handle a situation like this but the most important thing is realization of what you’ve done in your family. you have a lot of time to make up with them. take a break, maybe you need a vacation together with your family to spend and have a bonding too. Thanks John for always having time to accommodate us..God bless you!

  39. Anonymous says:

    i really found this part as the best.

    “They feel stunned to find anger and rejection in place of love. How can it be that the person I have known so well is suddenly different, alien, hostile and wants to break out of the relationship that is so precious?”

    My ex-boyfriend felt that way. He never understood what I went through when I was suffering from Major Depression before. He wanted me to reciprocate the love he had given me, because he felt unappreciated.
    Then he LEFT. He could have waited for me to recover from depression. If he did, I could have loved him more than he could ever wished for. I could have given him more than what he needed from me.

    • John says:

      Hi –

      I’m sorry to hear about this. Some people just can’t deal with depression in a partner -I’m not sure if it’s fear, or they think the emotional withdrawal is aimed at them personally. Perhaps the commitment was conditional on his always coming first.

      My best to you –


  40. eva says:

    hi there, just want to ask, if you easily get mad, irritated is that the sign of depression? because im worrid about my behavior this past few very easy to freak out, get mad, and always irritated.

    • John says:

      Hi, Eva –

      I’m not qualified to help evaluate what you’re going through. It takes a lot more information for a therapist or psychiatrist to make a judgment about this. Anger and irritability can be linked to depression, but there are many other possibilities too. You check one of the mood disorder sites at the National Institute of Mental Health – also check Health Central – they have a lot of information about depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc – as well as a q&a section.


  41. Kathy says:

    Having just read this for the first time has left me astounded. It explains so much about what goes on in my mind. I have had the anger flares for several years and they are always directed at my son who of whom I am positive acts the way he does because he doesn’t care about anyone but himself. I have flown off the handle at my husband a few times as well. I always have it in the back of my mind that I would just like to leave and go and live in a small house out in the woods somewhere by myself where I would not have to interact with people and just do my own thing. What stops me is the fact that my husband would have to sell the house and move and I can’t do that to him. So I stay. I do love my husband and son very much.

    I have never been told that this is all part of the depressive illness. I was told by a psychiatrist that I had an aggressive personality disorder and she put me on Lamotrigine. Which does not control it all. I am thinking of weaning myself off of it.

    So frustrating to find this out after so many years of suffering. What helps??????????????

  42. Brenda says:

    Hi JOhn,

    I last wrote you in May and at that time my husband had been admitted to a hospital to help him. He has since been released and has decided to stay living in the same city as the hospital so that he could attend counselling. I almost think it is because he doesn’t want to come back to the community and face everyone as he was a very well respected member of the community (we live in a rural area) and he is ashamed of what he has done (I don’t believe I mentioned in my first e-mail that he had an affair which he denies and all of the professional people I have spoken with advise me that it is all part of the depression that he went through). Our children have no respect for him and have told me to let him go and get on with my life but after 25 years I have some committment there and just can’t do that. He still calls me daily and comes home every weekend. I have told him that I am confused because I am not sure if he wants to remain married or if he just wants to go out on his own. Everyone tells me that I am his crutch and he relies too much on me. You said in your one e-mail about his “manipulating” me and I almost feel like that is what he is doing. The kids are worried that once he gets back on his feet and gets settled that he will just tell me everything is over after all of the support and guidance I have given him. He quit his job of 26 years as this was a major cause of his depression so that is a good thing, and has started a new job which he seems to enjoy. He just doesn’t get why I am confused and why I just can’t move on. I still do love him and yet feel that I am growing more and more apart from him. If there is anyone out there who can relate to this as well, I would love to e-mail them and see how they were able to cope. I really don’t want to lose him yet I don’t know if I can go on living this way.

  43. Tina says:

    Hello John,

    Wow, as I’m reading your Blog you’ve explained my husband of 11 years to the tee… Last Nov 2009 my husband had affair with a married women from our son high school. He had been showing signs 3 yrs ago of wanting to leave his life by always going out to the bars after work and every fri, sat nites.. coming home very late and not available to me when I called him…

    I was very concerned and I had a conversation with him that i was frighten that he was putting our marriage in jeopardy and his safety… He told me not to worry he just needed guy time since all he does is work and be with me and the kids and he needed a break… I tired to understand him and allowed his time to himself since we were high school sweethearts and he didnt get to experience that life.. He ask me to trust him, but i didnt have a choice he just went out! Sometimes he would come home from work take a shower and leave to where ever he went.. It was very hard for my boys and I to watch him leave us every time….

    So the past 3 years all he did is go out and it was putting a hugh strain on our relationship.. He got frustated with me and said I was a nag and everything I did was wrong and I couldnt have fun the way He like to have fun and I was fat and ugly and he became very mean and disconnected him self from me and our boys and his family… I always felt that he was depressed and took our family for granted… We had a nice life until I was layoff then I really was no good to him and he became very resentful towards me… And that’s when he started a relationship with this married women… This women is 40 years old with 3 children and she has no job but going to school to become a nurse…I was very shock to find out he would be with someone like that since my husband is only 34 and I’m 35… When i found out of the affair he immediately left our home and rented a room from someone for him and her… So now my boys and I are left to face life without him.. My boys and I are very sad and I feel a hugh loss. I truly believe he was depressed he had lost his father at a very young age and he always longed for his father and his mother always struggle in life after that and his oldest brother had many girlfriends and several children with different women so he didnt have a great role model to follow suit to. He was a good husband and father prior to 3 yrs ago. It so hard to see him live this new lifestyle and now he’s taking our 2 sons to visit and hangout with him and his girlfriend. i don’t know if he will ever come to terms with his action and all the pain he has caused his family! I pray for him cause I’m afraid this women he’s with will leave him and he’s not gonna be able to handle it, cause he gave up everything for her… then he’s really gonna be depressed.. Thanks for your blog


    • john says:

      Hi, Tina –

      I’m sorry you’ve had to live through all this. Your husband’s behavior is shocking to me because he took you for granted and never had the courage to talk with you in depth about what was happening. He seems to have shown no sign at all of any self-awareness Unless a depressed person can acknowledge an inner problem and try to do something about it, there isn’t much hope for his ever handling relationships very well. When most men I know take off like this – emotionally long before moving out – they tend to repeat the same thing in any new relationship. At some point they have to look inward, and a lot of people, especially men, will never do that.

      After he’s treated you like this, however, you still worry about his emotional wellbeing. If his girlfriend leaves him, that might be just the shock he needs to look at what he’s doing. You clearly can’t help him – and it doesn’t help to try to cushion him from the consequences of his own actions. Of course, I can be super-rational about it – you’re still living in the storm of emotions you must feel. You’ve shown lots of strength in dealing with this.

      I wish you the best –


  44. Brenda says:

    Since I last wrote, my husband finally realized he needed help and was admitted to a hospital. However, after being there for 1 week we had a meeting and he told me that our marriage is over and that is what was causing his depression. My kids, not really kids but adults as they are 21 and 18, are having a very hard time with this as we did not have a bad marriage or not different than any other marriage. He called it a roller coaster ride but I would not say a severe ride but we did have out ups and downs. The weird part is is that he calls and talks to me every other week for almost 2 hours and tells me to move on with my life as he is never going to get better. I have told him that after 25 years I am not quitting and will wait for him but he insists that I continue to find someone else as he will always be this way. I am devastated but I will wait because I do love him. I can only hope that he gets the help that he needs.

    • john says:

      Hi, Brenda –

      I’m really sorry to hear about this. I can only imagine what you’re going through – “devastated” must only hint at the pain this sort of behavior causes. What you call the weird part – frankly – is worse than that. It strikes me as more manipulative – whether intended that way or not. Talking to you for two hours at a time is a perverse way of holding on and has nothing to do with concern for your welfare. He doesn’t want to shut the door completely and doesn’t seem to mind stirring up your feelings over and over again. (That’s a hot button for me, but I’ll spare you the rest of my feelings about that sort of behavior.)

      I hope you’ll take care of yourself and stand back from his turmoil for a while – until he’s gotten serious about working on recovery.


  45. Brenda says:

    Of all of the websites I have been too, this is the one that truly depicts what my husband is going through. One night we were making love, the next night he totally ignored me – that was last September and has been bitter and angry towards me and the kids ever since. He tells me he is not happy and that I have abandoned him in the bedroom which is totally not true. We have been married 25 years and last September both of our children were gone and we had an empty nest. All summer we did lots of things together and were looking forward to being alone and then something happened which I cannot explain. He is now talking of moving out and both of our kids have returned for the summer. We are all at a loss but he says he needs time and space. I will continue to read these blogs and have e-mailed him one of the ones about being lonely in hopes that he will venture onto this website as well. Thanks for letting me know that I am definitely not alone and I do know that it is not my fault.

    • john says:

      Hi, Brenda –

      I’m glad that you can find some hope in my experience – I know you need a lot of support and resilience to deal with such a painful situation. Luckily for me, there was always a self-doubt about doing something drastic. No matter how convinced I was that a new life would take care of everything, there was always part of me that never believed it. Hopefully, your husband has a nagging voice inside that holds him back – just a little. It’s something to build on.


  46. Victoria says:

    After 5 years of living with a partner who would, each year, around the holidays, tell me he loved me, yet could no longer live with me, I left.
    Months before leaving, I discovered, for fact, his involvement with other women, online, and he also disclosed to me how he was becoming more and more de-sensitive to porn.
    His moods were increasingly more erratic; from intensely passionate towards myself, to hermitting away in the garage for days.
    Then, he physically shoved me to the ground, while working together outdoors in the yard one day.
    When I asked why he had physically hurt me, his reply, “you were being mean to me”.
    It was in the next few hours following the shove, as I felt the pain in my body, that I knew, I could not help him, he had to help himself, and if he was not able to admit he needed help, I had to leave.
    Do I still love him? Yes.
    Do I love myself more? Yes.
    I find myself still asking the universe if leaving him, the house we bought together, the home we created together, the garden we grew together… was the best choice.
    Odd how I still ask that even though I can still feel the physical pain of the shove, and the emotional pain of being shoved away time and time again.
    Curious to me the statement that the partners we pick are to point out issues WE own.
    Wishing we could have healed our issues together.
    Lonesome to heal oneself, by oneself, missing the other self we thought had our back.

    • john says:

      Hi, Victoria –

      I’m really sorry to hear about this. I have a sense of what you went through because it’s similar to what my wife had to put up with. Luckily, she stayed with me. But she had to deal with this on-again off-again guy that made trust impossible. It wore her down completely, and she was close to giving up. But I didn’t leave and tried to get on top of what I was doing. That hot-cold cycle was part of depression – there are all these false starts. Sounds, though, like your guy never looked at what was happening to him inside.

      Thanks for all your contributions.


  47. Jennifer says:

    I’m so suprised how these stories are similar to my own experience. Just like Elizabeth, my ex said he didn’t want to “take me down with him”. This was a year ago and I still struggle with this out of the blue decision. Just recently he has been contacting me a little more but it’s confusing and I don’t know where to set the boundaries. Friends say not to respond to him and cut him off. All I’m doing right now is not initiating contact (because I’m scared and not sure what he wants-of if he even knows what he wants) and trying to take care of myself.

    • john says:

      Hi, Jennifer –

      Your caution about initiating contact sounds just right. If you’re feeling scared, I would set a clear boundary that keeps you in a safe place. It’s easy to be pulled into his confusion and depression, but that wouldn’t do either one of you any good. You’ve already taken a huge shock and need to put your needs first.

      All my best to you —


  48. Elizabeth says:

    Hello John,

    First of all, thank you for offering such a wonderful resource and safe space for us to learn and share and connect.

    A few days ago, my partner of two years, whom I bought a house with only one month ago and planned to have children with next year, broke up with me. Initially he spoke of “not wanting to take me down with him”, and of being incredibly unhappy, and that he didn’t even have the energy to try and make things work. He told me to ‘hate him, like everyone else does’, and that he felt close to having a huge meltdown. I was stunned, shocked, speechless…only two weeks ago he spoke of how he had never been THIS happy for this long in his entire life. He has often had nightmares of me breaking up with him. There have been nights where he has come home, very intoxicated, and talked about how he’s crazy, and that I shouldn’t love him, and that there’s something inside of him that is wrong that he was scared that I would see it. He’s alluded to being close to having a meltdown, but it’s never actually happened. He’s mentioned that in other times of his life, when things are going too well, he will deliberately ‘mess things’ up and he doesn’t know why.
    My partner has all of the classic symptoms of an adult child of alcoholics. He also entered into an emotionally abusive marriage at a very young age. During the times when he has come home intoxicated, he’s has spoken of how worthless he feels and that he doesn’t deserve me or to be happy, and that life is pointless. When he got up in the morning, he was back to being the sweet, happy-go-lucky man that I fell in love with.
    The day after he broke up with me, he went to his doctor. He has had many physical ailments that I have found are also symptoms of depression (always feelings tired, digestive issues, body aches, low energy and motivation, difficulty concentrating, excessive sweating)…we thought he may have diabetes or was hypoglycemic. His Dr. told him that he ‘looks good and sounds good” and that he simply made himself sick stressing about telling me that its over. I was dumbfounded.
    Everyone around us is as shocked as I am, including his close friends. Do you think its possible that my partner is depressed, and this is the cause of of his sudden change of heart?

    • john says:

      Elizabeth –

      I’m really sorry to hear about this and the shock and hurt you must feel. As to your question, I think you’ve answered the part about depression. It sounds quite likely he’s depressed, given that degree of fear and loathing at a buried part of himself. Those symptoms you mention are all characteristic of depression – and I’ve certainly gone through the experience of waking up happy and hardly aware of how bad things had been the previous day. It could also cause that change in the opposite direction. From what you describe it sounds like his love for you is very strong, but the fear that you’ll see the crazy thing inside him means he’s terrified of it himself. It’s so hard for me to tell – and remember I’m no therapist, just someone talking from own experience. If he’s relying on the opinion of a GP about his emotional state, he probably doesn’t want to see a psychiatrist. Even if he did, it might be too hard for him to come out with everything that’s going on. Getting help, though, is something he should do.

      But this is just speculation. I can only repeat: yes, it’s definitely possible that he’s depressed and that this condition is controlling his behavior – alcohol would only intensify the whole thing. I hope you can get plenty of support yourself and that he can get through his worst episodes to sort things out about what he’s going through.

      All my best to you — John

  49. Mary says:

    Fearing the stigma of being labeled as mentally ill, my husband refuses to acknowledge that he suffers from depression. Yet, almost all of the behaviors you write are descriptive of him over the past seven months. Over that time, he has spoken repeatedly about how unhappy he is, he snaps at me for for the smallest of things, he sulks and looks for every opportunity to spend time alone, and he has threatened to leave repeatedly. Last week, he made the break. The reasons he cited were that he is unhappy and that he just doesn’t love me anymore. Ouch! This is not the first time that he has reportedly fallen out of love or left; but it is the first time I have associated his words and behaviors with depression–possibly chronic depression. I am unsure if depression normally leads to the feeling that one has fallen out of love. Given his real lack of any sort of positive emotions over the past few months, I suspect this is not unusual. No matter the genesis of his words, they still hurt to the core.

    • john says:

      Mary –

      I’m really sorry that you have to go through such a painful experience. It’s true that depressed men can feel that they’ve fallen out of love. In one type of depression, you don’t feel much of anything – you definitely feel detached from everyone. In more extreme states, you get so immobilized that you can’t focus on anyone else for long. So both are destructive of intimate relationships. I always recommend Terrence Real’s I Don’t Want to Talk About It. This is a powerful book about what he calls “covert depression” in men. It’s the denial phase when the inner pain is deflected onto family especially. You can educate yourself and get all the support you need – but you will very likely not be able to get through to him. He needs to realize himself what’s going on – usually with the help of a good therapist.

      I’ve been through some of the same phases he’s in now, and I’ve seen the results in my family of my own hurtful words and actions. Even if he should come around completely, a lot of damage has been done to you – and that’s hard to get over.

      It doesn’t sound like you tend to blame yourself, and that’s a great strength. Standing up for yourself is a key part of handling this.

      All my best to you — John

  50. inflatable says:

    I love the picture… (:

  51. Lizzy says:

    I’d love to hear from your wife. My partner often has flare ups where he tells me I am the one who causes his depression. He will have self destructing behaviour like downloading porn on my computer. He does this thinking I will get angry and leave. If I leave he believes he will have no guilt from suicide. His constant reliving anger from past relationships, even those that have ended 10 years ago, make me think that our relationship must not be fulfilling enough. The pictures of other women, talks of the ex and constant pushing away and blame pulls apart my brain. I don’t know if I’m making the depression bareable or just worse.He gets upset when his behaviour to push me away upsets me. Even though that is its aim. I feel like I’m being tested. Tested to see if I will leave.
    Then there is the good days. Where we talk all day, ring or text all day. Watch movies, cuddle, share meals. Those days I see my partner. Who my partner is. I love my partner more than anything. To face being yelled at and pushed away is so saddening. I’m give him anything if I thought it would make him better. If I thought it was me making him depressed I’d leave to make him happy. I’d travel the world to find a cure. But I cannot express how challenging it is having the man you love tell you he is just waiting for you to leave, to find someone else who isn’t (in his words) ‘fuck up’.
    Do these partners on the good days hear from their partners, how their partners really feel? Or am I always to know what the depression thinks of me and just presume by his presence that he loves me and likes me around?
    I just want to know where the strength comes from to keep marching forward. To become so dependent on the love even when its overcast by the shadow of depression.

  52. truthman30 says:

    Depression can eat away at all relationships you have, if you let it.. This is something which i have struggled with myself over the years, I hope I am learning to cope with it better, it’s damn hard, but for the sake of keeping my friends and my love, I have to keep trying..

  53. Jane says:

    Thank you John for your understanding and honesty. It was extremely difficult for me to write my last post and I take your advice on board. We have had 2 sessions of counselling and we are starting to get a glimmer of understanding about where the other is coming from. I am still unsure what the future holds. My husband is having a difficult time with the knowledge I lied to him about my friendship with the other man. I have defended my actions by telling myself my husband was not there for me and this man offered friendship, nothing more – but I’m starting to see how that has been such a betrayal, as I know it could have been the first step to greater intimacy. I feel terribly guilty about this and the irony of it could be that our marriage could end over it. I am trying to remain positive but feel so sad that it has come to this.
    Thanks for listening, it does help.

  54. John D says:

    I’m glad to hear you’re starting couples therapy. That was a big help to us at a couple of different periods. Sobriety is a major accomplishment for your husband since the combination of addiction and depression are extremely hard to deal with. But I would urge you to think about yourself and make sure you have the support you need. I don’t often give advice since I believe the best way for me to help anyone is to pull things out of my own experience – that’s all I have. But in this series of posts I break that rule and urge the partner of a depressed person to go get help. And I mean it.


  55. Jane says:

    My husband has been on various anti-depressants for the last 12 years. A few years prior to that he became sober, and for the last 10 years he has been drug-free except for the anti-depressants. We had 5 yrs of happiness before it all collapsed. We have 2 adult children, both alcoholics and their behaviour has estranged us from them. That was the catalyst that brought back his depression, and particularly his repressed anger towards me. He is either emotionally hot or indifferent towards me, and I became friendly with another man who showed me a spark of interest…sad but true. I have no romatic feelings for this other man but my husband is convinced I will leave him for this guy. I feel sad that I spent time with this guy only to feel noticed by someone. I believe my husband will never forgive me…he holds strong grudges..but we have started couple therapy this week. We have been married 39 yrs this month. I feel too old to start again, either on my own or with another man and he feels the same. Yet we are at this stalemate, both unhappy yet clinging to ‘what might be’. Thank you for this space to write as I have no-one I can share this with who will understand both my and my husband’s reactions to his depression.

  56. John D says:

    I hope he can begin somehow to see that the anger is about him and not about anyone he’s angry at. Terrance Real calls that covert depression, though I think anger as a habit of relating to family, or rage, also goes with the territory of depression long after it has become overt to the person with the condition. It’s no wonder you fantasize about escape if you often take the brunt of anger that has nothing to do with you. I hope you can take care of yourself while your husband is going through this. I hope also he’s getting some treatment by this time. My wife often reached a breaking point and just demanded that I get help. After a while I had to give up denying that I was depressed and start doing something about it.

    My very best to you,


  57. Jane says:

    I am not the depressed one in our marriage, yet I can relate to your fantasy of escaping and starting a new life possibly with someone else. The ‘someone else’ has never materialised – I have never actively looked for one, but it is the fantasy of escape that I dream of. I love my partner, I really do, and I have lived with his depression for five years, although he has all through our marriage displayed many of the symptoms you have spoken about – particularly the anger towards me and our children. There has also been his perceived disinterest towards us along with control. Maybe that has been his way of holding his life together.

  58. JohnD says:

    Nanette –

    Thanks for your note. I’m sorry you both have to live through this. Please let me know if there is any particular aspect of depression you’d like to hear more about. I tend to pick topics relating to what I’m going through, but I’m open to your ideas about what direction to take this in.


  59. Nanette says:

    I just want to say thank you. My husband recently was diagnosed with maor depression. And this site is helping a lot with understanding what he is fighting.

  60. Gianna says:

    I finally found part one of this. These are awesome posts and very helpful for me. I have these “threads” of awareness that the “new” life I envisage is not out there and it’s good go have it validated by you.

    I know your experience well. thank you for so eloquently writing about it.


  1. […] P.S: If you too love a man with depression I have found John Folk-Williams site Storied Mind, an invaluable resource. Particularly his series on The Longing To Leave. […]

  2. […] what goes through a depressed person’s mind as he or she is contemplating leaving. In his post, “The Longing to Leave,” he […]

  3. […] what goes through a depressed person’s mind as he or she is contemplating leaving. In his post, “The Longing to Leave,” he […]

  4. […] what goes through a depressed person’s mind as he or she is contemplating leaving. In his post, “The Longing to Leave,” he […]

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