My husband has depression but will not seek help, and it's really affecting our marriage.
When we first started dating he mentioned that he has social anxiety and suffers from depression. I might have seen glimpses of this when we were dating, but the depression did not really come into focus until after we were married. I truly was not expecting how severely he suffers, and in turn how badly it would affect me and our marriage. He has cycles of really bad depressive spells but then he breaks out of them on his own. When he is going through his depression, he is apathetic, always tired, and very sensitive to the things I say and do. He is so smart, caring, attentive, and a wonderful husband, but during his depressive phases I feel like I barely know who this person is.
I have come to sense when he is starting to get back into his depressive phases and try to cheer him up by doing things he likes, not asking too much of him around the house, and trying to avoid saying or doing something that would make him angry or more depressed. My nature is a do-er and a helper, so I always try to suggest things to help him, but most things are met with extreme resistance. Most times I frame things in a way that will benefit him. Sometimes I frame suggestions in ways that will benefit me, or the dog, or our family (whomever), but he just won't budge. I spend a lot of my time trying to help, and soothe him and bring him back to the man that I know and love. I generally walk on eggshells during this time because I don't want to upset him. This is taking a severe toll on my well being.
Sometimes he discusses his depression with me but it's rare that we can have that discussion at length because it usually turns into an argument. I will admit that sometimes when we fight I lose my cool. I know this is not the correct way to deal with things, but there is only so much that one can handle! ( I am currently writing this after a losing my cool argument).
When he is depressed my needs generally take a backseat, (which I understand in some way) but it's been really difficult. I can't handle his depression alone, and really need reinforcements to try to help him since he will not listen to me. He is very sensitive about his depression. He will not generally discuss this with friends or family for fear that people are judging or blaming him for being depressed. That is of course not the case. I simply want him to be happy and healthy! Often during his depressive phases I begin to withdraw from my friends and family because of the aforementioned topic I am not allowed to discuss. I avoid them because I am not good at hiding my feelings or emotions and those close to me can sense something is wrong. I have great friends who I know only want the best for me and for both of us, but I feel like I am betraying my husband if I discuss these things with them. I agree to an extent that some of it is frankly not their business, but again, I can't do this alone. In desperation and real worry I have secretly mentioned my husband's severe depression to his sister who has been helpful and supportive. When she talks to him she tries to listen for the depressive clues and gently suggest helpful things for him . These suggestions too are met with resistance, anger or feelings of judgement.
My husband really needs to see a therapist, but refuses to go. He said he talks to his sister about it and she helps, or that he's "tried therapy and it doesn't work". His sister suffers from anxiety and depression herself, so while she is a good resource and support to him ( and secretly me), she is not a licensed therapist and is dealing with her own issues. He tried therapy about 10 years ago and just refuses to consider that it is an option for him these many years later. He knows that he has these phases and can get himself out of them eventually. I understand, but this can not work for my well being and our marriage in the long term. It's not healthy for either of us!
I have been seeing a therapist for the last few years because I am not coping well with his depression and I don't know what to do. I am a happy, social, energetic and empathetic person, but since we have been married I have not been myself. I have been focusing my time and energy on how to help him that I am forgetting who I am. Sometimes I feel like he is trying to drag me into his depression. My therapy has helped me learn better ways of communicating during his depressive times so that things don't turn into a fight. She has also helped me better understand depression and other mental health issues. My husband knows I'm going to therapy to work on controlling my emotions, but that is only half of it. He thinks that all this time and money for therapy is a waste since I have clearly not improved. I have only been going to therapy because of my difficult marriage due to my reactions/ coping mechanisms to his depression. I'm not saying I'm perfect or not emotional, or how I handle this disease I can not relate to is correct or healthy, but it's been very difficult. I have never acted like this or felt like this before.
How can I convince my husband to get the help he needs? What are other things that I can do to help myself during these times?
I am grateful for any advice or thoughts. Thanks!