A Nasty Little Threesome

I hope you’re ready for some Truth – not the good kind – the vile, repugnant, rotten-at-the-core kind…

It’s one I’ve been trying to hide for a while.

*Deep breath*

I realised recently that there are three of us in my marriage;

Me, Husby…and his Depression.

The realisation has been (for me) game-changing.

All this time, I’ve been operating under the illusion that the two of us were in it together, striving to make our lives work in spite of ridiculous amounts and types of adversity, toughing it out and supporting one another through the hard times as well as trying to celebrate the good times (of which, I admit, there are still many).

All this time I’ve been stressed and frustrated when Husby’s let me down or shut me out or betrayed the image I’ve had in my mind of the wonderful guy I know he is, by being a prat,  or unhelpful, or unkind.
Now I properly understand why: we have a Saboteur.

This Saboteur is a master of lies and cruelty. He whispers in Husby’s ear that he’s useless, that he’s not worthwhile; that I’d be better off without him; that his illnesses are too much to bear, and nothing joyful or fulfilling is left in life for him. He distracts Husby from being able to concentrate. He fills his mind with ideaisms designed to hurt and torture him, until acting on some of them seems the only way to make them stop. He keeps him up at night, unable to sleep, then dumps him in bed for the day, forcing him to live this weird, nocturnal existence, then he accuses him of being weak, of being unable to cope, of being unable to fit in and be ‘normal’ – a drain on society, on his family and friends, on me.

He is an utter, unmitigated bastard, and follows Husby around, trying to trap him and drag him under; reaching his gnarled, dark fingers into his brain, stirring gently, scrambling his thoughts until the spouted ‘logic’ of those ‘trapped’ moments beggars belief because it is so skewed and alien.

He sees my pain and (I am quite convinced) looks smug about it, having turned my wonderful Husby into someone I don’t recognise.

As time has gone by, and Husby has become a little better at noticing when the Saboteur is paying him a visit, he’ll share the information with me, and between us (usually, exhaustingly, in the early hours of the morning) we can beat him back.

At other times, the Saboteur arrives almost unnoticed, but for a slight quietening of mood and a downturn of the mouth, then later I’ll learn that once again, I’ve unknowingly walked the knife-edge of near-widowhood to this Thing.

Husby’s confessed to me that on more than one occasion, it was only the thought of my distress, the physical pain it would cause him, and the amount of mess which would be caused, which has prevented him from making good on a way to make the mental torture stop. In his words, “I want to turn the TV off – not put a brick through the screen.

The thing which winds me up the most is how willing Husby is to go along with the lies and vileness. How he doesn’t stand up to it; fight it back – scream Truths at it and try to make it go away – how he lies down, instead, and lets it overwhelm him and drag our relationship down with it. But I forget every. single. time. that he just CAN’T! And unwittingly I buy into its lies as much as he does, which makes me mad.

I even discovered recently that its insidious grasp has reached much deeper into our relationship than I ever knew. The lies and twistedness have apparently been there from the offset;

Husby: I think I had this before we got married – I was hoping that getting married would help to fix it.
Me: *incredulous* You WHAT?! So, somehow, our marriage is meant to be responsible for helping you to heal? No wonder we’re struggling so much – there’s no WAY that’s going to happen! Marriage is HARD – you need to be a whole person before you can try to be a couple! No wonder you’ve felt so let down by our marriage. No wonder it’s all so shit.

Right out there. Just like that. Boom! I took affront in the way that only a wife can when she’s previously heard that not even she, or the relationship, is worth remaining on this mortal coil for. And so the hurts compound and spew out, retaliating; trying to attack the Depression, but hurting Husby in the process.

[To his credit, once beyond the reach of that particular downturn, Husby did clarify later that he’d thought most of the depression was due to the stress involved in organising the wedding, and that the stress (and low moods) would disappear once we were married. He was swift to affirm that he did marry me because he loved me and he wanted to, not just to try to ‘fix’ himself.]

To try to combat this thing when you’re in its grasp is like trying to run a marathon with a broken leg. It’s just NOT going to happen, and instead of beating himself up (with me joining in), Husby needs to be treated compassionately – to have the goalposts of expectation moved to accommodate this new frame of reference – to be understood.

But this takes Capital-E ‘Effort’, friends – consistently, on a daily basis, with few breaks, and plenty of dips, snags and pitholes to trip you up and require even more of your precious reserves. And I find I’m beginning to tire. This nastly little threesome is wearing me out, and on the edges of my mind, I’m scared about what might happen one day, when I just can’t keep going any longer, and say “Go on then – do whatever you feel you need to do. Just don’t tell me about it. And keep it off the carpets.

I confess, I’m no closer to understanding the situation, even as I type. For even today, my own ugly beast, Resentment, reared its head when Husby came to bed at 7.30am, having tried to sleep, failed and then stayed up all night on the computer.

The accusations whirl, checked only by the severe biting of my own tongue:

 “You know you’re ill – how is this meant to help you recover?”


“You’re going to be good for nothing when you wake up, and I really wanted your help today”


“Why do you keep on doing this?”


“Why don’t you make that appointment with the doctor – you clearly need to! Get some sleeping tablets or something. And why do I have to keep telling you to go? Just do it already.”


“Why drink Pepsi Max so late? This seems to happen consistently with Pepsi, and you KNOW that.”

As I dressed, in the cold light, alone, watching him sleep, the vile thoughts wandered through my mind, insidious, unbounded, wickedly shredding away at the regard I hold him in.

Why does he have to be like this?

Why does our marriage have to be so crap at times?

What am I going to do if the Depression takes hold once my job starts? How can I protect him then?

What might I come home to?

How can I encourage him or support him, or kick his ass into behaving like a rational human being?

How can I make him WANT to get help?

Why does nothing I do seem to help for very long?

Why doesn’t HE want to get help?

I slouched grumpily into the living room and plugged into my computer, hoping to distract myself away from my frustrations and anxieties, only to find, on Facebook, a simple message sent to me from him, late last night:

“Love you x”

And the house of cards built from my resentment, anger and incapability to rationalise this thing, came tumbling down.

Somewhere, in there, the man I fell for, is still fighting, still trying to break through. And he still wants and needs me.

So I marshal my resources and gather my strength to fight another day.

Because he’s worth it.

To read about Husby’s take on his depression, and the things it does to his thinking, click here.

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47 thoughts on “A Nasty Little Threesome

  1. Katy, there is nothing to apologise for, at all. Thank you so much for sharing that part of your story with me, and your knowledge and wisdom on the topic. I really appreciate it, and it's so helpful to know that the situation can improve. Thank you 🙂

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  2. Having been out of it for a few days, I'd only just come to this post, Lizzi, so I apologise for the lateness of my comment.
    Bob and I have been going through the same process for the last 30 years – although I guess I was fortunate in having the advantage of knowing about it before we actually married :/

    All I can say, really, is that you learn to appreciate the good times even more – and the bad times, with the right medication and motivation, can get shorter and shorter as time goes by 🙂

    My thoughts, and prayers, are with you both, Hun.

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  3. Thanks so much for this, Suzanne, and sorry to hear you know this, and are able to offer advice 'from the trenches'. I shall keep taking care of myself and trying to find sources of support. Thanks for the prayers and positivity.

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  4. I'm so sorry you have to go through this. Supporting someone with depression is hard, very hard. I went through two years of it, and I felt completely helpless.

    You describe depression as a saboteur — that is totally true. It's insidious and totally illogical. It doesn't make sense and how people deal with it often doesn't make sense either. All you can do is be there, but you can't make decisions for them. They have to reach out for help and fight to get better. Just make sure you take care of yourself because the last thing you need is to find yourself on the ground too.

    Sending you prayers and all the positive energy I can.

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  5. Whoa…I've been there. In your shoes AND his. I have no real words. You're a smart girl – hopefully he's going to get to a professional. Such outreachings saved my life more than once. I guess just know I'm here.

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  6. i love you for being so honest, lizzi! this is bravery. you and husby are so courageous to share your story and to give so many of us hope. it can get really tiresome reading blog after blog of married bliss and bouncing babies, sometimes i just want to scream. life is not like that. this is real life. and his simple “love you” just made me want to cry of happiness. xoxo.

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  7. Thank you. I'm sorry that you are struggling with an unwanted addition to your marriage as well. I will try to remember your advice, and make sure to be kind to myself. I hope that you are visited less and less by Addiction, and you and your husband manage to banish him altogether.

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  8. I am so sorry that you are battling with this. I know what it is like to have an unwelcome stranger in your marriage. In my marriage he is not called Depression. He is called Addiction. Now, most of the time he is absent, and it is easy to think he has disappeared altogether. But sometimes he comes home with my my husband from work, or he shows up at the dinner table, sitting between us and giving me the evil eye. I wish I could give you a bunch of advice on how to make everything better, but I really don't have any. I can only say that it can get better. And to be kind to yourself. Do not forget to take care of your own physical and mental well-being.

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  9. Don't I know it! Sadly this one isn't fiction, much as I wish it could be – it would be wonderful just to magic all away with one little warning label *wistful*

    I shall keep writing my Real, and hoping that to someone, somewhere, it's useful. That much I can guarantee.

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  10. If I had gotten to the end of this post and found out it was fiction I would have reached across the pond and bitch slapped you. And then I thought I wish it was fiction. Because what you are going through is a private hell. One that most don't talk about it. They are ashamed that they cannot fight their own minds–both the resentment and the depression.
    So good for you, girl. Go be a Warrior Wife.

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  11. He's horrible and I would love to banish him. But Husby's gotta do the banishing, with me in a very small, supporting role.

    Still; we're getting there slowly and surely…I think and hope and pray.

    Thank you so much for all your prayers, and for your lovely words and always for your friendship and support *HUGS*

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  12. Jennifer, it's one of the things I really struggle with – separating out between what's 'him' and what's down to 'the depression'. It's a blurrer of lines and I really hate it.

    Thanks for understanding. I'm glad you are able to keep back these resentments – I truly hope that I learn to recognise the situations better so that I don't have them to begin with..,or, fewer, at least.

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  13. Thank you so much Zoe, for your always-useful feedback, and for sharing your professional opinion – that's really helpful. I shall keep looking into getting some support for myself 🙂 I shall bear your kind offer in mind, my friend 🙂

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  14. Wow, Lizzi. Crap crap and crap but gorgeous writing on SUCH a tough tough beast. I've been in close contact with that third party. He's NOTnice and NOTeasy and just ugh. The honesty and compassion that you show in this post is extraordinary. Brilliant. Amazing. I pray for you both. I pray that he's able to tame the beast while you're at work. I pray that he's able to find a blend of medication or lack of Pepsi or whatever that works and that it works. For all of you. Him. You. His family. You. Your job. Your future children. ALL of you.

    Huge huge hugs. I think you are super brave.

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  15. Lizzi, that part towards the end where you mention resentments? I rarely, RARELY give voice to those as regards my own husband and his health problems. But yes, even tho health problems (whether physical or mental) are not the person's fault, it is easy to let yourself think things just like you expressed.

    If I can do it, you can do it. I'm here and I at least partly understand.

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  16. lizzie I have to say as a psych professional I haven't read anything quite as honest as this post was about living with depression. I can't stress enough getting counseling for yourself if only just to learn how to support yourself through his hard times and there by support your marriage better and him. I'm so sorry you both are going through this. I'm sure you realize that reaching out as one of the best things you can do that being open and honest about it is one of the few things that will keep it from grabbing hold. I know I'm very far away but if there's anything I can do never hesitate to ask.much peace and support z-

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  17. He's got both on the go – this is the thing – we're still battling!

    Thanks for sharing your situation though, Stephanie – it helps to know that you understand where I'm coming from.

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  18. Hugs to you, Lizzi! I know your pain. Both hubby and I have been suffering from major depression and sometimes it still surfaces. We usually give each other support – or space, whatever we need, until the bout is over. Your hubby seems to be in a much, much worse state right now. In my opinion, he really needs to see a therapist and try and battle his depression with therapy, proper medication, or a combination of both. Please, if you have to, make an appointment with your family doctor for him, who will probably be able to give you the appropriate references..

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  19. Just like watching the soaps (in the UK, anyway) where everyone's life is so full of misery they look up from the television at the end and give thanks that at least their life isn't *that* bad…? Not something I'd aspire to, but if it helps people be thankful, I'll take it 😉

    Thanks Ashley

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  20. Thanks Sandy – I know what you mean – it's all too easy to get lost in the frivolousness and the 'surface' of the Blogosphere. I'm glad it gave you food for thought. Thanks for the prayers.

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  21. Depression is such a tricky thing. Its so hard to know when you are in its grasp and when you are dealing with reality with all your senses. You are such a good person for sticking by him through it. I know its tough but remember when people are down that is when they need you the most. I love your last line. “He's worth it” that is really a testament to your marriage 🙂

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  22. These kind of posts bring us all back to reality. It is fun to post funny stories, DIY, and mountains of recipes but when I see a post like this it reminds me that the folks in the blogging community are real people with real lives and real issues reaching out either to help themselves, others, or perhaps both. Your post is a powerful and touching and brave. I love your writing and I will be praying for you.

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  23. Laura – thank you so much for all of this – very wise words. There are four of us in it, then – which rebalances the odds a little.

    I'm sorry that you know this battle so well. I will keep supporting Joe as we try to find right dosages etc. I've been thinking about getting some help for myself as well – if only an IRL forum/wise person I can bring these things to.

    Thank you for your advice and your story.

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  24. No – it was a sneaky hook – I'm not sure people would engage so readily if they knew the *actual* type of post, yaknow.

    He is seeking the others – it's a long, hard process, but I think we're beginning to make headway (as in, by comparison to the last three years…)

    Thank you 🙂

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  25. I'm glad to see you (and Joe) are getting this out in the open and talking about it. I know it has been scaring you something awful, and this is a good step. Praying and praying some more.

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  26. I hope your husband can find the help he needs. Sometimes finding the right medications/dosage can be tricky, but meds can help with the symptoms. I'll keep you both in my thoughts and prayers.

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  27. Lizzi, I just want to say I can't even imagine what you both are going through. Every marriage has its ups and downs, but adding depression into the mix cannot be an easy road. Thank you for both being so honest and sharing here and also sending you hugs, tonight!

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  28. Couple of things…first. There's always been three. You, Husby, and God. Don't forget God. Especially now.

    Depression sucks. Like horrible. I know. Depression runs really deep in my husband's family. Like generations of it. Like as in suicides and drug addiction. The whole bit. And I know a bit about it myself. Post-partum is truly terrible.

    And this is to Husby: You must fight it! Must! It's not whimpy or unmanly. As one person said depression is common, but it's not normal.

    Secondly, there are no magic pills either. My husband's aunt stayed on medication and still was depressed. Her doctor asked her why she didn't just come back. You have to be diligent about finding the right dosage and what works. You also will need counseling at times. It's just like managing any other health issue because that's what it is. It's something wrong with the brain. It's physical but in an ugly way manifests itself mentally.

    And I would suggest you both seek counselors either together or separate as you prefer it. I take depression real serious. Especially since my husband's uncle and cousin killed themselves. It lies to you. Tricks you into thinking everyone would be better off without you. Don't believe it. Arm yourself to not believe it.

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  29. Ugh this is so hard. Both Joe and I suffer from anxiety and depression. He more so with anxiety and me more so with depression. It is hard and I agree it makes relationships even harder than they already are. Hugs to your husband and to you- I know it impacts loved ones just as much as the person suffering.

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  30. This was not what I was expecting when I saw your teaser on Twitter. You and Joe both describe depression with such honesty, in a way that makes me understand a little of what it must be like. He writes that one needs fertile soil to regrow, “like family, friends, medication, counselling, love, comfort, reassurance.” I know you give him what you can, and I hope he seeks the others because you both deserve to be in a wonderful marriage of two.

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