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Question
Posted by: Annie | 2011/12/14

Ill child / unsupportive hubby

Hi Doc, as always i value your feedback, hence this email. My 12 year old needs to go for surgery, after we discovered she is very ill. When she was initially admitted to hospital and about 7 drs checked her over, the specialists were sent in. As they made the diagnosis and explained what would happen next, my husband was texting his mate to arrange a lunch... His reason for that is he didnt want his friend waiting...He grew up in a family where " if you dont talk about it, its not there" . With basically all my little daughters specislist aptments, bloodtests i was the one that took her. I started developing severe anxiety to the point where i would just throw up and would be unable to take her to the aptments. Hubby had no choice, but to accompany her for a few. I asked for a second opinion on her condition and we had to go to another City to get that done, he didnt even enquire about how that went. Please dont think he is a monster, as he is a very good dad and says he will do anything, but he doesnt, and i am barely coping. Now she has to go for very risky surgery and he is " too busy at work"  to accompany me to discuss this with the surgeons. There is always a reason not too go wiht us. I have been married to him for nearly 20 years, and only came to know a part of him that was hidden. I also refuse to go to a dr to tell them about my anxiety, as this gets on your medical records and " sticks"  with you for the rest of your life. WE dont live in SA anymore,so my support system is basically hubby. I have also realised that if ever i have a life threatning illness i wont tell hubby, because he wont support me. He would get other things to keep himself busy with. I am wondering if there is ANY parents out there that is going through the same? How do i get him to " get what he is doing" . If we talk about serious things, he always says " i want to change" , but it never happens. I am questioning whether it is worth carrying on in a marriage where there is practically no support. Fortunately i have a friend which is a nurse and she will be accompaning me to the specialist appointment, so at least i have her there. Any suggestions?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

So sorry to hear of this difficult situation. Sadly, some people seem to become almost trained in the skills of Denial within their family, and can't think of a better way to deal with a threatening situation than by ignoring it and hoping it will go away.
He probably sincerely intends to do "anything" necessary, but has no real idea what that might be, even when its totally obvious to anyone else.
That he so elaborately avoids facing the facts suggests that he is personally very deeply threatened by the situation.
Clearly you deserve, and need, both of you, the advice and support of a professional counsellor, but I don't know about your specific situation, and whether it is actally likely that ansy such consultation could have adverse effects for you - certainly any doctor or counsellor or psychologist who breached the professional duty of confidentiality to allow any outside person or organization or company to know about such consultations would be guilty of highly unprofessional conduct. And in a situation like this, NOT being anxious is the pathological response !
Meanwhile, you will need to discuss this situation with him, starting very gently and indirectly, so as not to encourage him to dash away, physically or psychologically.
Maybe even your nurse friend could help mediate such a discussion. He needs to recognize that he is unusually scared of facing realistically this worrying situation, depriving both you and yopur daughter of support you both need and deserve, and it isn't much good for him, either. Emphasize that you also recognize that this is a very worrying time for him, and that his technique of trying to pretend it isn't happening cant be all that effective, and could leave him with unpleasant feelings of guilt.
Instead of accepting an end point of him vowing to make a large change, aim for agreeing, together, to a list of smaller steps, and revisions to how he has been behaving, which will be improvements he can then build on.
Going to a doctor will "make you look weak" - to who ? TO you ? Is that really inevitable ? A psychologist / counsellor can't put you on meds, and a psychiatrist might or might not, especially as they will not want you to be less able to be fully effective. Illness is rarely fair, and at any rate, its no use looking for let alone demanding fairness !
DO keep us posted, and I am certain you have the good wishes not only of myself but of all readers of this forum

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Our users say:
Posted by: Nicky | 2011/12/16

Hi Annie, my mom had her thyroid removed many years ago and have been on meds ever since, she is fine. The technology has improved a lot during the last 20 years that she had the surgery done so I''m sure your daughter will be fine. But it''s still scary I can only imagine the uncertainty you must be feeling. My thoughts are with you.

Reply to Nicky
Posted by: Annie | 2011/12/14

Thanks guys. The thing is, i am a counsellor. I know there is professional help, but the ones i have tried to talk with, changes the subjects. so, i have stopped trying to talk, because who really wants to hear all is not well.I always tell hubby he has taught me one thing (and it is the one thing he usually dreads hearing), he has taught me how to be very independent. I dont ask him for help, i usually sort out things myself. I am past trying talk therapies. Have suffered from depression and was on prozac for a year, so i have been very low. I just do not want it to go that way again. Fortunately for me, my work keeps me " normal"  and that is 2 days a week that i can focus on something that i like doing - counselling. Strange as it may sound.

Maria, she was diagnosed with graves disease - a horrible disease . She was on meds, which is not working. Very regular bloodtests, hospital visits for the slightest cold symptom, irregular heartrate etc. The medication is lowering her whitecell count which makes her vulnerable to infections, so she needs to have her thyroid removed. Its a very complex surgery. Thanks for caring. i''ll keep you updated.

Reply to Annie
Posted by: Honestly Saying | 2011/12/14

Hi Annie

I empathize with you, and fully understand the struggles you are facing. I''ve walked a similar path. Not that my husband was not wiling to help, he was too ill to help, so I was dealing with an ill husband and an ill child.

Like you, I also refused to go to the pshycologist/pshyciatrist, believing that I could not show any weakness, an had to stay strong through all of it, and pretend like I was coping. Well my world fell apart when one morning I woke up and had a complete breakdown, and simply stopped functioning. I could not get out of bed, and cried a river. For 2 months I was not able to get out of bed, and I struggled with depression and anxiety and feelings of hopelessness. Had it not been for my eldest daughter who held the family together, I shudder to think what would have happened. I''m happy to say that I eventually got the help I so desperately needed, and although I am still walking a tough road, I now see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Please give yourself permission to get the support and help you deserve and need at this time. Youll thank yourself for it in the end.

Reply to Honestly Saying
Posted by: Maria | 2011/12/14

Asking for help when you need it is not a sign of weakness, it''s a sign of strength. It takes guts to do it, and we already know you have a lot of that as you are being there for your daughter and making hard decisions on your own. Go and talk to a counsellor then if you can''t talk to colleagues or friends, nothing wrong with that, and you can say anything you want to a professional as they''ve heard it all before and they are not your friend. And as for being put onto meds, and what then? Well a mild tranquilliser can take the edge of the anxiety and help you cope better which will also help your daughter. You don''t have to take it every day, and nobody has to know about it.

I am a mom too, and I have depression. I take my meds and go to talk therapy, not only for myself but also for my family so that I can be the best mom and wife I am capable of being.

May I ask what is wrong with your daughter?

Reply to Maria
Posted by: Annie | 2011/12/14

Thanks Maria, i am always the strong one. There is no one else that would be there for my little daughter. Going to a dr will let me look " weak" , it sounds so stupid. They will put me on meds and then? I dont have his suport through all of this.I have treid to talk with colleagues, but most are uncomfortable to talk about it. It is like it is another kind of stress. The stress of having a sick child in the house. If i only could i would drag that illness out of her, and take it on myself. Its so unfair. Whenever i think of it, i have these huge tears and a terribly aching heart. She is the one person that does not deserve it. It is just so unfair. Anyway, we look to the sparkling moments in each day, even if it is just watching butterflies fly in the garden. If she smiles in the day, i know it was/is a good day. Thanks for your support Maria, just talking about this makes everything easier. I am not going mad, i am just exhausted. Hugs to you 2

Reply to Annie
Posted by: Maria | 2011/12/14

Annie I can''t begin to imagine what it feels like, and I wish you and your daughter all the best. Is there someone else who could talk to your husband and maybe shake him up a bit? Sorry I don''t have good advice there, I just wanted to comment on your statement that you won''t see a doctor for your anxiety. Being anxious under the circumstances is an entirely reasonable reaction. Getting it treated will be in your best interests, and in your daughter''s as clearly you are the only parent who is there for her. So what if your medical records show you were treated for anxiety? Many people have similar issues, it''s nothing to be ashamed of, and anyway your medical records are confidential. (((HUGS)))

Reply to Maria
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/12/14

So sorry to hear of this difficult situation. Sadly, some people seem to become almost trained in the skills of Denial within their family, and can't think of a better way to deal with a threatening situation than by ignoring it and hoping it will go away.
He probably sincerely intends to do "anything" necessary, but has no real idea what that might be, even when its totally obvious to anyone else.
That he so elaborately avoids facing the facts suggests that he is personally very deeply threatened by the situation.
Clearly you deserve, and need, both of you, the advice and support of a professional counsellor, but I don't know about your specific situation, and whether it is actally likely that ansy such consultation could have adverse effects for you - certainly any doctor or counsellor or psychologist who breached the professional duty of confidentiality to allow any outside person or organization or company to know about such consultations would be guilty of highly unprofessional conduct. And in a situation like this, NOT being anxious is the pathological response !
Meanwhile, you will need to discuss this situation with him, starting very gently and indirectly, so as not to encourage him to dash away, physically or psychologically.
Maybe even your nurse friend could help mediate such a discussion. He needs to recognize that he is unusually scared of facing realistically this worrying situation, depriving both you and yopur daughter of support you both need and deserve, and it isn't much good for him, either. Emphasize that you also recognize that this is a very worrying time for him, and that his technique of trying to pretend it isn't happening cant be all that effective, and could leave him with unpleasant feelings of guilt.
Instead of accepting an end point of him vowing to make a large change, aim for agreeing, together, to a list of smaller steps, and revisions to how he has been behaving, which will be improvements he can then build on.
Going to a doctor will "make you look weak" - to who ? TO you ? Is that really inevitable ? A psychologist / counsellor can't put you on meds, and a psychiatrist might or might not, especially as they will not want you to be less able to be fully effective. Illness is rarely fair, and at any rate, its no use looking for let alone demanding fairness !
DO keep us posted, and I am certain you have the good wishes not only of myself but of all readers of this forum

Reply to cybershrink

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