ask the readers: how can I help my depressed husband find a job?

I’m throwing this one out to readers to weigh in on. A reader writes:

My husband has stayed in an unhealthy work situation a little too long and is probably somewhat depressed. He says he’s finally ready to look for a new job. And he found a near-perfect job opening at another company. But he’s not really pursuing it. So far, I’ve revised his resume for him and contacted some friends who have friends at the company, to see if there’s a way to get past the corporate resume database.

I’m worried someone else will get that job, and he’ll just stay at his current job until he gets really depressed and “managed out.” What else can I do to help him? Have I done too much already?

Readers, what advice do you have?

{ 120 comments… read them below }

    1. Anonymous*

      I don’t see the OP as criticising her husband. Yes, to the support and the proof-reading and the updating of his resume. Yes to becing concerned about him, as it will also be impacting on her/their family as a whole.
      He should try and see a therapist (I found CBT helpful myself). I did (and still do) feel stuck, sometimes overwhelmingly. It can be so, so difficult to get yourself out of this state. Medication also helped me to get a bit of “fizz” back in myself and a year later, I was ready to try CBT and come up with other ways to help this feeling.

      1. Anon - 345*

        If you don’t have access to an EAP or therapist for whatever reason, Feel Good is a book that provides the foundation for CBT and provides several activities that are helpful in treating depression.

    2. Jazzy Red*

      Wow. A bit harsh, don’t you think?

      I didn’t see any “criticism” in the OP’s post, just encouragement, help, and worry.

      There’s not a lot you can do for a depressed person who refuses to get help.

      OP, if you’re not hurting for money, let him do it his way. Offer to help him find a therapist. If he agrees, good. If not, then let him work it out himself.

      1. Twentymilehike*

        I didn’t read that as harsh … The comment wasn’t accusing OP of being critical … Just reminding her not to be. It’s good advice as that’s an easy thing to do when you are close to someone.

    3. Dave*

      I agree with your hard advice– lend support and offer help, but do not under any circumstance be “pushy”. I have seen the effects of this first hand and just know that a pushy spouse of a depressed person can trigger deeper depression.

      Be supportive, most of all be THERE, and be ready to call in some help. Let the job go if he’s not ready to pursue it himself. It’s okay. Just be there for him.

      1. llamathatducks*

        Yes. (Pushy parents of depressed children can have much the same effect.)

        That said, there may be a more complicated situation if the family needs the husband’s income for financial stability…

  1. Brett*

    Encourage him to see a therapist. When you are depressed, it is very difficult to take the first steps to get help. A therapist can help him learn the extent of his depression (if there is depression), help him develop coping strategies, and even refer him to an appropriate MD if there may be a biological cause.

    Change is very difficult, sometimes simply impossible, when you are depressed. It becomes hard to believe that you can handle the challenges of that change. That could be affecting his ability to pursue this position. He might not think he can actually get the job or actually do the job. Again, this is where a therapist could possibly help.

    1. Leslie Yep*

      Just want to second this and add that it might be helpful, if you ask him and he agrees, for you to locate and make the appointment with the therapist (or even better, with a couple of different ones).

      If your hubby doesn’t want this, don’t do it (unless you’re concerned about his immediate safety, and then ER is the best option!) but locating a caregiver, and then making the call, and then sticking to the appointment can be SO hard when you’re mentally ill. It seems so daunting even if you know you really need it!

      1. Anonymous*

        I strongly agree with this. And it might not be Depression but depression and speaking with a professional can still make a huge difference.

        Also if he still has a job he may have an EAP to tap into.

      2. Calla*

        Yes, yes, absolutely (if he agrees). When I was deeply depressed, it took me ages (okay, a few months, but that’s a long time when you’re feeling that bad) to get an appointment set up from the time I knew I needed to, because I had to sort through all the providers, then find one I liked, then work up the nerve to call them, and then when they were booked for six months out I had to start all over.

        Also, IF he’s open to it, I think curating jobs can help too. I do this for my girlfriend. Job-searching can also be overwhelming, so I sort through the hundreds of postings to narrow it down to ones she’d be qualified for, then send them off to her. Then I leave it at that. I don’t follow up and ask her what she’s applied to, etc. — no pressure — I just give her a smaller, more targeted batch to work from when she feels like it.

        1. Chinook*

          I agree that you can help with the job search by curating listings and forwarding them to him but, after that, he does need to take responsibility for the actual applications. You have set him up for success but he needs to follow through.

          I also want to add my voice to those encouraging counselling, especially through the EAP program with his employer. Help him set it up and maybe even go into counselling as a couple if it will help him get started.

          At the same time, though, remember that he is ultimately responsible for his actions and maybe he is the type of person who learns the hard way and he needs to hit rock bottom before he actually does anything. Speaking as someone married to someone who only seems to learn life lessons the hard way, I know it is hard to watch a loved one suffer, but you can an only do so much.

          1. Chinook*

            Having read other replies, I change my mind about recommending you curate potential job openings. It could be making it worse in his mind.

          2. Calla*

            That’s why I said don’t follow up to make sure they’ve done it, etc. It’s their responsibility to do that (and creates pressure).

            And certainly, this could make it worse for some people. That’s why it’s important to ask if it’s something they’d find helpful and only do it if they’re okay with it.

            1. Julie*

              I agree with this. I’m someone who wants to “fix” things, so it’s hard for me to stop doing things for other people, but it’s really the best thing. My partner has her own business, but there have been times when the money wasn’t coming in regularly, and I felt panicked about paying the bills, so I pushed her to get part-time work. She has never had trouble getting these jobs, but they were not the right jobs for her, and she would get really stressed out. When I finally convinced myself to butt out, she managed things her own way. As she put it, “I know I need to make more money. I don’t need to be reminded.” Everything isn’t perfect, but it’s better. And even better for me and for our relationship is that I’m not trying to make her do something she doesn’t want to do. I think I’ve finally realized that nagging and worrying are just as bad for my mental health (and our relationship) as they are for the person on the receiving end.

    2. Anonymous Too*

      I suffer from depression and have my left my current job because of it. Do not let it get out of hand. It’s hard to come back from.

    3. Brton3*

      Can’t agree more. I was in the same situation and I saw a therapist and it was enormously helpful in putting a name to the problem (in my case she actually called it post-traumatic stress disorder) and giving me coping strategies and more of a sense of empowerment that I COULD get out, which I did soon after.

    4. Nusy*

      I agree, yet I disagree at the same time.

      Yes, he should by all means go and see a therapist, and get help. Depression is a helluva thing to battle even with help, much less alone.

      But on the other hand… not all health plans cover depression/MDD (or for that matter, anxiety disorder, or other, often stress-induced mental issues). I know that we are all *supposed* to have health care by now, but there are still lots of people who can’t afford it, or don’t get it through their employer for some reason. If you are already strapped for cash, unfortunately, health care plans tends to be the first to go – easier to go without that than your car (in most places; especially where I am), or worse, your credit card/mortgage/rent payments, or power, water, food…

      1. fposte*

        There is often sliding scale/low cost therapy available–finding out if there are possibilities like that available to the OP’s husband is one thing s/he can do for him.

      2. Brett*

        What fposte said. I had treatment a long time ago while I was working fast food. I was able to get sliding scale treatment through a community organization, seeing a therapist for about 1/6th of her normal rate.

  2. Gene*

    I went through this with my wife, who has Depression (with a capital D). What I saw as “helping”, (providing her with leads to open jobs, offering to drop off her application materials – this was in the 90s when most wasn’t online, etc) she saw as “pressure”, which made her Depression worse. There are only so many antidepressants in the world and eventually she went on Disability.

    What you can’t do with any measure of success is to try to force him to do what you think he should do. Even if he manages to get to the interview stage, unless he can show HE wants the job, he won’t get it.

    Back off and support him in whatever way is OK with him. That may involve just sitting back and shutting up. If he’s truly depressed, he needs to get himself to some sort of counselling; start with the EAP at his current workplace.

    1. Joey*

      This is great advice. People in these situations tend to shut down when you unsolicitedly try to fix their problem. He just needs to know you are on his team and are there to support him.

    2. Chinook*

      I agree that to what a “normal” person seems like helping can feel like pressure and judgement to someone in the midst of depression. Pointing him in the right direction and supporting him with his choices is the best thing to do.

      1. fposte*

        And even the pointing can be too much–sometimes just the supporting is all that can be borne.

    3. twinkletoes*

      I suffer from Depression. Depression is not the same as feeling sad. It’s extremely hard to deal with, it’s something I struggle with daily.

      Your husband needs to see a therapist, he needs to find one he “clicks” with, which can take some time. He will get better once he can talk to a professional he can trust. Despite all the protections we get through HIPPA, etc., you still need to trust the person you talk to. The right medication can help a lot. Have you tried going on walks together? Exercise helps, maybe the two of you can take a stroll around the neighborhood, just to get out of the house.

      Depression runs in families, there can also be other underlying contributing factors. If your husband snores, he should discuss that with an ENT, and maybe get a sleep test. Sleep Apnea can be a contributing factor to depression (I have that too). If he does snore, try finding some articles from reputable sources online that show a link between snoring, sleep apnea and depression. Put them where they can be easily found, or just carefully bring up the subject .

      As far as him finding another position, it is easiest to find another position when you already have one. Suggest that he just apply to positions just to get practice interviewing.

      In addition to my depression and sleep apnea, I was recently laid off. Even though, I was a valuable employee, I get asked “if you were so valuable, why didn’t they keep you?”

      I hope your husband gets help. I know it’s hard to deal with being unhappy all the time, and not being able to explain how I feel with the people closest to me. Sometimes it’s hard to explain to others, and it’s also hard to see where they are coming from.

      1. Colette*

        Even though, I was a valuable employee, I get asked “if you were so valuable, why didn’t they keep you?”

        You need to stop talking to people who ask you that. What a ridiculous question.

          1. JoAnna*

            Sometimes the most “valuable” employees are the first laid off because they make the most money, so it’s a way to cut more from the budget if you lay off the highest-paid people.

  3. Lora*

    Oh, wow. First of all, is he getting treated for his depression? Counseling, medication, something? This is a really difficult thing, because let’s say he gets this almost-perfect position: There’s no guarantee his depression won’t cause him to repeat the same performance that gets him managed out of this job. Depression is a bitch, even when it’s just temporary or situational–ask just about anyone who has had to go through a divorce and keep up their work performance, it’s agonizing. And counseling and medication could still be a big help even if it is only situational. So that’s the first thing I would tackle. Believe me, it makes all the difference in the world!

    (Anecdote: When my now-ex-husband was still married to me, he blamed his workplaces and me for his severe, suicidal depression. It wasn’t fun and I spent years begging him to go to therapy and occasionally dragging him to the ER. He didn’t get better until after we divorced and he went to a good psychiatrist who got him on medication. I know that feel, bro.)

    I think there’s nothing wrong with helping someone update their resume, proofreading a cover letter, passing along jobs you happen across or hear about–I’d do the same for a colleague or friend if they asked me nicely and bribed me with cheesecake once in a while. He should look for his own almost-perfect jobs; his idea of the perfect job might well be very different from yours. And maybe what he decides is the perfect job is a change of career, not just jobs. Plus, see all Alison’s previous advice on Perfect Jobs–they often turn out to be less than perfect. There will be other jobs for him to apply to, so don’t worry too much about this being the One Job Where He Would Be Happy.

  4. Jamie*

    Did he ask you to do any of those things? I cannot even tell you how pissed I would be if my husband took it upon himself to revise my resume and start talking to people on my behalf.

    For me – that would be relationship damaging behavior, permanent if it happened more than once.

    I don’t even know what “probably somewhat depressed” means. If you believe he truly has a mental health issue then gently pointing out that he may find it beneficial to seek help would be all one could do. If he’s just bummed and kind of burnt out because he’s in a crappy work situation right now…it happens to the best of us and just back off. He’ll move on when he’s ready.

    You can’t live someone else’s life for them and this is dangerously close to that.

    1. Chinook*

      Good point – I assumed that the OP was helping her husband because he asked for help and not because she thought it woudl be a good idea. If he is simply complaining about his job because you are a safe person to vent to, this may be why he isn’t actively looking for work elsewhere.

      If that is the case, and you can’t handle sitting on your hands and just listening, then you need to let him know that you need him to either make changes to his career or stop complaining to you because it stresses you out. It isn’t a fun conversation but it also may be a kick in the pants for him to realize what he sounds like.

      1. Jamie*

        I agree totally. There is a limit to how much complaining anyone should have to hear about anything if the person complaining isn’t willing to try to change things.

        I found myself whining about work way too often and way too long – my husband never said anything about it (but the kids did). So after some comments here on a thread about how destructive this is I limited myself to 10 minutes bitching about work. But not when I first get home – has to be after dinner.

        It’s amazing how well that worked. I found after changing into something comfy and getting something to eat I’d rather watch tv and play with the pets than complain about work. It absolutely helped decrease my stress level since I tend to dwell.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I wish to hell I’d seen this comment when I was at Exjob. It would have decreased my stress level enormously to do this, and I didn’t even think of it.

        2. Jazzy Red*

          The more you complain about your crappy job, the worse the job gets. It’s like a law or something.

          1. SevenSixOne*

            Co-signed! When I had a job I totally hated, I asked the people closest to me to never ask “how’s work?” because that just meant I couldn’t leave work at work, I’d have to spend even more mental energy and my own time!!! on that awful place.

        3. Shelley*

          Oh, co-signed. It’s amazing what a bit of time (and in my case, a bus ride/walk home) can do. What would be AUUUGH turned into a mild “well, today kinda sucked, bah. What’s for dinner?”

    2. A Bug!*

      OP, what you’re doing feels to you like helping and supporting your husband. You love him, and you want what’s best for him, and from your perspective, that means getting him this job by hook or by crook.

      But your perspective may not be the appropriate one, here. Your concern right now is that the job may get snatched up by someone else before your husband gets an application in. And that would be a main concern for someone who was expressing genuine interest in getting that job.

      But your husband’s showing you (even if he’s not telling you, even if he’s telling you something else) that he’s not interested in pursuing that job. And when you call up other people and make like he is, you’re potentially placing him in an awkward position with people who might be or might become colleagues, acquaintances, or friends.

      And even if he’s not got clinical depression, attaching anxiety and awkwardness directly to opportunities is not a great way to encourage him to pursue them.

      I just want to reiterate that I understand you’re doing this out of a concern for his best interests and out of love for him. But you’ve got to take your cues from him, and he’s telling you through his actions that he’s not interested in that job.

      Look to the other excellent advice here on what steps you can take to help and support your husband in meaningful, effective ways. And good luck.

  5. Rebecca*

    I would echo what others have said about encouraging him to seek help from a doctor or therapist, rather than help with the depression.

    When I’m depressed all the help and advice that I know when I am well is well-meaning just feels like nagging, or worse, like everyone is telling me I’m a loser and a useless failure who can’t master the simple tasks of being a grown-up.

    A lot of the time I know what I should be doing, I just can’t seem to do. Everything thing seems to difficult. Asking me to edit a CV is the same as asking me to climb Everest. And reminding me of what I need to do and can’t just makes me feel worse. It’s another thing *I* can use to make me feel bad about myself.

    Now, your husband is probably not at the full blown depression stage (though always good to get it checked out). He may just be a bit down. I’ve recently got a job finally (yay! Only temp but still yay). One thing I found during the endless job hunting was that sometimes it got too much and I had to take a week or so off, just because the endless rejections and not hearing anything were really getting me down. Make sure that your time together doesn’t become all about the job hunt, because expanding to much mental energy can amplify the importance of it, and then any rejection (which is inevitable in job hunting nowadays) will seem bigger then it is. Which won’t help depression issues. The work/life balance includes not making job hunting all that you have going on.

    1. Rebecca*

      That should say seek help from therapist rather then help with the depression.

      Oh, to be able to edit the comments.

    2. Evan*

      Make sure that your time together doesn’t become all about the job hunt, because expanding to much mental energy can amplify the importance of it

      Absolutely. I’ve never had depression, but a couple years ago when I was in college and my parents were continually reminding me to start looking for a summer internship, and to do something new on the search every day, it felt like the significance of it kept growing and growing in proportion to their reminders. It could easily turn out far worse for someone who already has depression.

    3. Angst*

      You are so right about how the depression can sink a person in so many ways and that well-meaning suggestions just sound like nagging and actually make the person feel worse about themselves. As I was reading your post, I was vigorously nodding my head and thinking “YES! Someone who gets it.”

      Depression is so debilitating and it would be incredibly helpful if people actually understood that it’s like having lead attached to your mental legs. You’re aware it’s there, but you still can’t move your legs. That’s how it felt to me. I was aware that I needed to be doing certain things, but I just couldn’t muster the energy to do them. It’s a horrible, horrible feeling.

      1. anonymous*

        When I was on anti-depressants a few years ago, I told someone it “felt like the dead elephant tied on my back was gone”. Depression feels like everything you do takes three times as long, with six times the energy required.

      2. Jean*

        Angst and anonymous (at 12:28 pm) have it exactly right. Depression sucks out all of your initiative and energy. When I was depressed I got dressed every morning, sat down in the rocking chair…and that was IT for my day.

        Sometimes there are support groups for spouses/other intimates of people with depression. The one I found wasn’t a good fit for me, but it might be worthwhile for the OP to do her/his own search. You never know! One’s local community can contain all kinds of previously hidden resources.

        1. Angst*

          Same here Jean. Getting dressed or taking a shower was a huge accomplishment for me when I was suffering from clinical depression. My life was basically sleeping and getting dressed. Any small thing I did such as going to the grocery store was overwhelming to think about and would wipe me out physically when I did manage to do it. It’s a horrible way to live. I am grateful for anti-depressants every day. I never tell people they need to be medicated if they’re suffering from these issues, that is a personal choice for a person and their doctor to make. But, whenever anyone starts talking about the “horror” or psychiatric drugs and how awful they are, I take them to task. Those people have usually never suffered from depression and anxiety that robs you of your ability to even brush your teeth on a daily basis because it takes too much energy that you don’t have and it overwhelms you to even think about it.

  6. LMW*

    I think you need to be a cheerleader, but not a career advisor. Job searching is hard. Really, really hard. And just because you find the “perfect job” doesn’t mean you’ll get it. There’s a good chance he’ll face a few rounds of rejection before he lands something. Combine that with a bad work situation and it’s a recipe for situational (if not clinical) depression.
    Please go easy on him. Most people can tell you that it’s a rough place to be, and getting unsolicited advice, no matter how well-meant it is, just means that someone thinks YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. Getting that from the people you rely on for support, on top of the job rejections and bad work situation, is incredibly demoralizing. Even when you know they are right, it’s hard to take.

    I know it’s hard to sit by and watch someone you love handle a situation in a way you disagree with. Probably everyone who reads this blog can understand your desire to jump in and help someone who is flailing. And there are definitely opportunities to offer advice and support in his job hunt. But you can’t do it for him, and it’s probably not a good idea if he’s not asking for it. Good luck.

  7. Ruffingit*

    He’s probably somewhat depressed. OK, that doesn’t say he actually is clinically depressed or in suicidal or anything else that would indicate you need to take immediate action re: therapy or whatever. I do think seeing a therapist does a lot of good for everyone, but because he’s not in critical mode here, I think you need to back off and, at a time when there’s nothing else pressuring you (perhaps have a nice dinner out or a walk around the neighborhood), you can talk to him: “You mentioned recently you’re ready to look for a new job. What can I do to help you?”

    And then, and this is the important part, LISTEN TO HIS ANSWER! If he says nothing, then do nothing. Swooping in to revise his resume or talk to contacts or whatever is not what he wants from you apparently. When you talk to him, don’t offer up what you can do for him, ask him what HE wants and then do that even if he says he doesn’t want you to do anything. When he’s really ready to move on from his job, he’ll do that. If he’s not pursuing that near-perfect job opening, then he’s not ready. Respect that.

    1. sMiles*

      +100. I actually feel like I could be the OP because my husband is also in a severely un-healthy situation in work and it is affecting so many areas of his life.

      But, I’ve learned that the more I push to “help” the more he pulls away. It’s clear that he isn’t ready and I have to respect him and treat him like an adult – when it’s time and he’s ready he knows that I’m here to support him and help him in any way I can.

  8. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

    I think it is great that you are trying to help your husband. So many people who have stayed in the same job for a long time, may need a little help when kicking off a new job search. I would suggest helping him boost his confidence. “This opportunity looks perfect for you because you have done A, B, and C and you would just be great at this!”. If you have contacts at some of the places he is interviewing at, I think that it is perfectly acceptable to reach to them to see if they have any insight for him that will help him in the interviewing process. Just encourage him and help guide him through the job searching process, not necessarily do it for him as tempting as it might be. He may just not be ready to move on, even though he is unhappy. I would suggest checking in with him and asking him “if you are really interested in the position at ABC company, I could pass your resume along to my contact, how do you feel about that?” if he doesn’t like that idea, then back off a little and bring the topic back up at a later date if you feel that he ready to start up his job search again. Of course, it you truly believe he has greater issues going on than just needing a little push, then definitely encouraging him to meet with a counselor would be a good idea. Good luck with everything!

  9. Lillie Lane*

    I just wrote to Alison about this, but I’m in the husband’s situation. I had situational depression/anxiety at a prior position, which ended when I left. I now have another job that I hate , but no anxiety. The depression/anxiety is now starting to manifest itself in my current job search. While I was able to get some help when I was in my prior position, I don’t have any benefits or insurance to help me continue therapy. I’m just hoping some of you have some suggestions for those (like me) that are paralyzed by the thought of writing cover letters and filling out endless applications!

    1. Evan*

      Someone a week or two ago shared a link to a list of free mental health services, from the Captain Awkward website – I can’t go tracking it down at the moment, but does anyone remember that?

    2. Angst*

      I have been there. I was laid off at one point and the job search was paralyzing. I suffer from anxiety to the point of needing medication so I knew what was happening, but the anxiety made it so hard to go through the cover letter/app process. My recommendation is to find a local support group if you can’t afford individual therapy. DBSA is a good one to start with, their groups are free. They are the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance and they have groups all across the US. Google DBSA and you’ll find them. You can also Google Anxiety Support Group and find some online resources. Good luck!!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      If you cannot make yourself take walks each day then at least try to eat good foods (fruits/veggies- know any gardeners?) and drink plenty of water. Sitting in front of a computer trying to job hunt all day is not good for your mind/body. Moving around, even if just to fix a small salad will give you some benefit.

      Also, look around. Is there someone you can help? Helping others is a powerful way to lift our own loads. Keep it simple. You know you have to go to the store, ask your elderly neighbor if she needs anything. Maybe a friend needs a dog sitter for a couple days. (May or may not fit your setting- but you get the idea. Give short, simple helps to others as you go through your own day.)
      Our problems can make us feel powerless. When we offer to help someone else we can see our power coming back- that “yes, I can!” feeling.)

      1. Lillie Lane*

        These are good points. Luckily, I work in the fruit/veggie business so I have unlimited free access to good food….yet many times I seem to fall into the donut trap. I will try to be more mindful of how I’m fueling my body!

    4. nyxalinth*

      Same. I’ve even had days where I cancelled and interview because my Depression has hit me so badly that I spiral into a thing where I start thinking it will be just another wast of 2-3 hours time and effort and I won’t get it anyway so why bother and so on and so on. My last interview was the end of June, and the guy was such a jerkass that it’s taken me two months to get to where I can even start looking again…

      …then I got slapped with the Cold/Bronchitis From Hell. Wheee, life is great!

      I’m going to look into that listing, too. Capt. Awkward is awesome.

      1. Lillie Lane*

        Yikes. Sorry you’ve been suffering with this, too. Sometimes I vacillate between despair and outrage at *how jerks manage to get into positions of power and stay there* (like that interviewer) while good, professional workers are busting their butts to eke out a living at depressing jobs under said jerk overlords.

        But life isn’t fair. If it were, I’d be living with Jamie in a world filled with Hello Kitty pillows and Belgian chocolates.

    5. Natalie*

      I mentioned this downthread, but I have found the practice of mindfulness to be a use self-help technique. There is a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn called the Mindful Way through Depression I am working through with my therapist. It’s about $15 or you could probably get it from the library.

      1. LPBB*

        There’s a newish technique for dealing with anxiety called “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.” It uses a lot of mindfulness techniques and is easy to do on your own, if you don’t have access to a therapist.

        “The Worry Trap” by Chad Lejeune is a helpful book that utilizes this technique. I’m about halfway through, but I can never make it through the mindfulness chapter, so I can’t totally speak to its effectiveness.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I always suggest looking at county mental health services–they often have counselors who work on a sliding scale, or they can direct you to appropriate resources. It’s worth checking out. The Captain Awkward link Ruffingit posted seems to have many good suggestions also.

    7. Mints*

      I didn’t have clinical depression, but my job search was emotionally exhausting. One thing that helped is to set time limits everyday (the UnF*** Your Habitat method). So you do Thing for ten minutes every day. And you have to stop after the timer goes off. You can work your way up to longer times if you feel up to it, over time. The important thing is to just do Thing for the whole time limit. It works for lots of people because you feel accomplished afterwards. (Ex: Even if I didn’t get any nibbles today, at least I worked on job hunting for an hour.)

  10. Jamie*

    Something else to keep in mind – just as a general PSA – I cannot tell you how many times someone has pointed out a “perfect” job for me because it looks so to them…but they don’t know the details of what I do and what I’d be looking for.

    Not to mention my deeply held belief that the perfect job doesn’t exist for anyone…but even awesome jobs can’t be vetted for awesomeness except by the person themselves…and not until after you’ve worked them a while.

    I’m a cynic, I know, but it’s like dating. Some one might want to fix you up with someone they think is perfect for you…but it doesn’t mean you’ll find them as enchanting.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Totally agreed. When I was a lawyer people would send me all kinds of jobs having to do with the law, but half the time I wasn’t at all qualified for them. People think lawyer = qualified to work in all law jobs. But it doesn’t. I practiced a specific area so trying to get into another area wouldn’t have worked for me. Also, people would send jobs with qualifications that were way out of my league (must speak Mandarin Chinese for example). I get that people want to help, but randomly sending things that are in someone’s work area doesn’t mean they will be qualified for it or even want it.

    2. nyxalinth*

      My room mate and her friends (all lovely older people) are kind and well-meaning. One advised I look into a work assistance program…which is only for people with physical disabilities (in a wheelchair, blind, amputee, etc.) I’m very fortunate to have none of that. another suggested that I start blogging as a way to make money. this lady made it sound to my room mate that all I had to do was start a blog and the money just rolls in. I had to explain that blogs generate revenue because people visit the blog, and click on ads and that it can take 1-2 years to even get to where you can make 100 dollars a month, unless you have a topic that is super popular or YOU are super popular. I might be wrong on this one…

      Or be a personal assistant/home health aide (don’t drive, and my knee and lack of upper body strength make that difficult, plus I feel home health aide is something you do from the heart, not just to make money, and I’m not called to it). they mean well….they really do. But it isn’t helpful.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Oh well yeah…all you have to do is set up one of those bloggy things and you’ll have it made financially. What amazes me about people who think this is that if it were true, wouldn’t everyone be quitting their jobs to do it? It just doesn’t make sense to think blog = major cash and yet, people do believe it. They hear one word (“blog”) or hear something about some job area and all of a sudden that is the answer to all job problems. If only…

    3. Anon*

      Agreed, but the OP’s husband found the job so I don’t think that’s a problem. I think its more akin to “applying paralysis” he’s also dealing with. IF its been a while since he’s applied anywhere he could be scared of being rejected, or projecting the problems with taking a new job. So often I think applying to that first job is so intimidating.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Yes, this. Or they see only one aspect of the job and think that makes it a good match. It’s like people saying “Oh, you’re both single,” like that means you’ll live happily ever after.

    5. Lynn*

      Yes. Even at my energetic, go-getter best, I would not be successful with someone else picking out jobs for me to apply to. I can tell when “required ” is really required, whether travel means the next town over or Hyderabad, all the little nuances. It could easily look like I’m “not trying” when I don’t apply for all these “good” opportunities which are actually not a match in subtle ways someone outside the field would ‘t pick up on.

  11. Kate*

    I don’t have any wisdom of my own to offer, but highly recommend browsing the archives of

    There’s a lot of good advice in there about living with a depressed partner, and what you can do to help them and what well-intentioned actions will only make things worse. A lot of the advice seekers are in situations far more dire than you’re describing, but don’t let that put you off. There’s still some very helpful suggestions in there that you can modify as needed.

  12. Mike C.*

    Christ, I know exactly what your Husband is feeling like, that was me three years ago. My amazing wife was great during this time – she was there when I needed an opinion or just to rant about the latest terrible thing to happen at my then current job. She was a great support when I was getting ready for interviews and was there when I never heard back from people. It’s a huge roller-coaster, and can really drag someone down. It also takes some time to really ramp up a search, and don’t be afraid to suggest to him that he seek outside help – anything from contacts in his network to a resume review/writing service.

    The advice above regarding therapy and how to support are great, but there’s one more thing I’d like to add – make sure there is a line between work and home. If work is the thing that is making your husband miserable, he needs time away from that to recharge, decompress and so on. Encourage him not to work a ton of overtime or to turn his work phone off if that’s at all possible for instance. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive or anything like that, it just has to not be work related.

    Best of luck!

  13. Not So NewReader*

    My late husband had a similar situation- he was so beaten down by a toxic boss that it was almost crippling his ability to live life.
    I am not clear if you mean your husband has a diagnosis of depression or if you mean he is upset beyond words. I am going to assume you mean his upset is attached to the situation- if the situation changed he would eventually go back to his old self.

    I tried everything to get my husband away from Toxic Boss (TB). Finally, what worked was TB gave hubby a week off without pay for something my husband did not do. I encouraged him to job hunt every other day. On the days in between do something for himself- something enjoyable. This worked. He landed a job at a company that even HE was impressed about. (Remember we are talking about someone who was very down-down. He actually cheered up some what. After a few months at New Job he was back to being himself. He had to rebuild his ability to trust people to behave like adults.)
    I think you have done enough so far. Am not saying that in a snarky tone, either. You have done as much as anyone CAN do. Just settle back and see what he does. Make sure you tell him good things about himself. Or if someone says something nice about him be sure to tell your husband. Wait for him to make the next move. My husband set up a late interview, so I packed him a dinner to go. Once he got the job, he wanted new clothes. So we went shopping. In short, I just remained positive and helped out as the need came up. It went well.

  14. Colette*

    I’m assuming that he is depressed because of the situation, and he needs some help finding something new.

    I don’t know whether he needs medical help (therapy/medication), so as others have mentioned, you may want to encourage him to look into that.

    First of all, being in a job you hate but are used to is really, really hard, and it makes it hard to go home and be optimistic and positive when looking for something else. I’ve been there, and getting laid off was a gift.

    It’s scary – Will I be able to adapt to a new job? Will anyone hire me?

    I think one of the best things you can do is help get him past those worries.

    I’d suggest:
    – encourage him to start talking with former coworkers who have moved on – this will put him in a situation where he’s talking to people who know what he does well (assuming he is good at his job). This can be an ego boost, and takes away some of the fear of moving on.
    – if you see of any volunteer opportunities where he could use his skills, suggest he consider volunteering. This is another way he can meet people and use his skills in a new environment.

    However, applying for j0bs and networking has to be something he does. You can’t do it for him.

  15. Londell*

    Take it from someone who is in pretty much the same situation. (2nd go round for me in fact.)The best thing to do is be there for him when he needs you, but not involve yourself in job hunting. Help him if he ask for it, you can even try “lightening the load” for him on some things. But forcing the issue or inserting yourself in the process might make him consider you as part of all the other problems he has. He should definitely talk to his doctor about it, and even consider seeing a therapist. The meds the doctor put me on helped dramatically, and even though seeing a therapist didn’t work for me in the long run, I’m currently looking for another one.
    One last thing. You are seeing what he is going through from a different perspective than he is. He may not even realize he is depressed. And if he does, he may have a hard time admitting/talking about it with someone. A lot of people (men) are wired that way. Just some things you might want to look out for as his wife:
    • Is he no longer in to hobbies that he used to enjoy?
    • Does he try to tune out the rest of the world when he is not working? i.e Not talking to friends or family on the phone.
    • Not wanting to go out to social events.
    • Feels as if anything asked of him is a bother
    Just some things I noticed about myself after I got better.

  16. Brian*

    Just a reminder that depression is a condition that can only be diagnosed by a mental health professional. While we use it in our daily vernacular, it’s best not to make assumptions regarding the mental health of others without consulting a professional.

    1. Natalie*

      Eh, that’s not really accurate. “Depressed” describes a specific mood (as does anxious, actually). The fact that someone feels depressed may indicate they have an underlying mood disorder (major depressive disorder, dysthymia, bipolar) or it may simply be a response to a particular life event or situation.

      1. Bea W*

        Not so. There is a difference between feeling “depressed” as in down or sad or being in a depressed mood and having clinical depression. It is possible to feel “depressed” without actually having clinical depression.

        People do use it in their daily vernacular to describe a temporary condition or mood and not so much to denote “I have a medical diagnosis of clinical depression.”

        1. Bea W*

          Forgot to add, since you mension “anxious”. It’s like not everyone who feels “anxious” has an anxiety disorder or indicates having an anxiety disorder. Anxiety, like feeling depressed or down is on the spectrum of human emotion. Everyone will feel it at one time or any other, but not everyone has a medical disorder that also causes those feelings, like not everyone who sneezes has a cold.

    2. Bea W*

      ^This! I am a bit dismayed to see so many people assuming the husband is clinical depressed when the OP was only written the she thinks her husband is “probably somewhat depressed”. I think maybe Alison’s headline, contributed that that. I couldn’t tell anything from that about her husband’s state of mind, other than he’s unhappy with his current job, maybe other things. I think jumping to the conclusion that he was Depressed is premature, at least with the information we have, which is the opinion of his wife that he is “probably somewhat depressed” and he’s made noise about wanting to look for another job. If he is spending all of his day in an unhealthy work environment, feeling crappy and unhappy would be a pretty normal human response, not necessarily a pathological condition.

      On the other hand, it’s good to see so many comments offering advice for people who are depressed, in the clinical diagnosis sense of the word.

      1. fposte*

        Sure, but it doesn’t have to be a pathology for him to find counseling helpful–that can be helpful for reactive episodes as well as disorders.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Yeah and that’s the point I made above. I’m not willing to call this guy depressed in the clinical sense, we just don’t have enough information for that. But, he’s feeling some depression which is a natural reaction to job difficulties and that alone is enough to consider therapy. Although, it’s not as though he needs to immediately go to therapy either as I said in my post above. One thing that would be helpful here is for the wife to ask her husband what he needs from her and then follow those directions. I think the wife is getting a bit too involved and it might help the husband the most if she backs off and lets him take the lead on his job search. If he’s not applying for this job he found, then he’s not ready to do so. There may be a number of reasons for that, but if clinical depression/suicidal ideations are not making an appearance, sometimes the best thing you can do is just back off and let someone do their thing at their own pace.

  17. FD*

    I think it’s admirable, and completely understandable that you want to help your husband, OP! And I imagine that watching him not pursue this opportunity that you think would be great for him is really frustrating.

    Have you been depressed, clinically depressed, OP? That’s not a flippant or accusatory question. If you have, really try to think back to how it felt, how you thought about things when you were depressed. I know it can be hard because when you’re not depressed, depressed thinking sounds bizarre. If you haven’t, there are plenty of books out there, but I think the best article out there that describes how depression FEELS is Hyperbole and a Half, specifically the “Adventures in Depression, Part II” article. If you haven’t been depressed, I would go and read that story/article right now.

    Regardless of whether your husband is clinically depressed or not, it may help to remember some of the social pressures that will be on him. Even if you both work, and even if you don’t actually need his income, there’s still a huge social expectation that a man is a ‘failure’ if he isn’t employed. This is doubly true if you two do need his income, because there’s a huge expectation that a ‘real man’ supports or helps support his family. Even if he is consciously aware that this is a somewhat problematic and sexist idea, there’s still a strong cultural pressure there that’s hard to avoid.

    You also mention that your husband is “probably somewhat depressed”. Your question, and the ‘probably’ leads me to believe that he may not be talking about his feelings much with you, which might be very frustrating to you as well. Whether he is clinically depressed or more non-clinically down, remember also that there’s a huge pressure on men to keep a stiff upper lip and not show emotion, especially anything that may be perceived as weakness. Even if you’ve encouraged him to talk about what he’s going through with you, it’s very hard to overcome the social attitudes we were raised with.

    (The prior two paragraphs assume that you are a woman; if you are a same-sex couple, you probably know all this already.)

    So, that’s just the social pressure aspect. Now, let’s talk about depression a little.

    When a person is depressed, they don’t react the way they normally would to a lot of things. They may not feel or act in ways that seem rational. And they may even KNOW they aren’t feeling or acting in ways that seem rational–but it is very very hard to change that at least without a great deal of assistance. Depression particularly warps your perception, so that small setbacks seem massively magnified.

    For example, let’s say that you write down the wrong time, and miss an event you wanted to attend. A person not currently suffering from depression will probably feel irritated with themselves and a bit annoyed, but will probably move on with their day.

    On the other hand, for a depressed person, small mistakes are often magnified beyond that. A depressed person may think to themselves: “Oh my God, I’m such an idiot. I’m always doing stupid stuff like this. Why does anyone put up with me? Maybe they don’t really like me at all and they’re just too polite to say so. I’m never going to be anything but a failure if I can’t even make it to a simple event on the right day and time.” And so on and so on. Small mistakes or even things that aren’t mistakes, just small happenings throughout the day just seem huge, and often everything seems like it’s telling you that you’re worthless.

    Now. With this in mind, try to imagine a depressed person looking at a job application. A person not currently suffering from depression will probably worry and agonize about what they should say, making the best cover letter, if they’re really qualified, etc. But even small obstacles just can seem HUGE when you’re depressed. Can you imagine how things that seem like significant obstacles look to a person who’s depressed.

    I’ve personally experienced this. You sit down to a job application for a job you really, really want. But you think to yourself, “Why am I even bothering to apply? They’re not going to like me. I don’t have enough experience, and any idiot can tell that I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m terrible at writing cover letters. Even if I had the best resume in the world, for a job like this, there must be hundreds of qualified candidates, and most of them probably way smarter and better than me. What’s the point of getting my hopes up about it?” It can be completely paralyzing.

    Although you mean well, OP, you also mention that “he found a near-perfect job opening.” If that’s the case, the stakes feel even higher! And although you’re trying to help, worrying that he might miss this opportunity might be putting more pressure on him than you realize, because then he’s not only got his own stress and social stress, but he may be worried he’ll let you down too. Often times, depression can be recursive too. A person can start thinking things like, “This is stupid, and I know it’s stupid. Why can’t I change the way I feel? I’m so weak for feeling this way, for being so irrational.”

    This is a really hard situation, and it’s doubly hard if he is suffering from clinical depression. He may need help, but he may also feel that needing help is a sign of weakness. There’s still such a stigma on needing antidepressants, and I stay this is a person who takes them.

    What he probably needs most from you right now, and this is true whether he’s clinically depressed or not, is support. And not just support that says “I know you can get this job,” because that just puts pressure on him more. In my experience, people who are depressed desperately need to know that you don’t think of them as ‘less’ because they’re depressed. They usually FEEL less, like they’re broken or worthless, and having someone affirm that they still like them and care about them doesn’t fix being depressed, but it can help get through it. You might try saying something like:

    “Honey. I know you’re really worried about this job. And I think maybe you’ve been feeling really down about work lately. But I want you to know that I think you’re a phenomenal husband. I love that you [X], [Y], and [Z]. Even if you don’t apply for this job because you don’t feel the time is right, even if you got laid off tomorrow, it doesn’t change how I feel.”

    It won’t suddenly make him feel differently. Especially if he’s clinically depressed, he may not even be ready TO feel differently. People can’t really be helped until they’re ready to get help. But, at least it’ll help him know that you’re there, however he needs you to be there right now.

    1. nyxalinth*

      THANK YOU. this is exactly what I was saying above. The feelings of “Why bother, I’ll just waste my time and theirs” and one day, I even prayed to God “Don’t even let them call me if I am not going to get the job.” because I was so deeply heartsick of the whole damn process. That isn’t how I think and feel when I’m feeling like myself.

      I’m so glad to read this. It made me cry and made my day at the same time.

      1. LPBB*

        Me too! It is a perfect summation of what I’ve been struggling with over the past year and a half.

    2. Angst*

      STANDING OVATION! Yes. As someone who has suffered clinical depression and anxiety, this is a wonderful description of what it is and how hard it is. +1 million!

    3. Laura*

      For me, it was very hard to get into the “sell yourself” mode that is required for job searching. There’s so much rejection, and it seems that no one cares about all the wonderful things you have to say about yourself on your résumé. One theory about depression is that it is a form of learned helplessness. If you feel you cannot help yourself out of your situation, you start to give up.

      People don’t realize that small things, like passing along a résumé or making an introduction, or even just going through postings with a person can help. Job searching seems huge and insurmountable when you are depressed, and the way that job seekers are treated these days is horrible. Hiring professionals need to realize that this is a really serious issue as they interact with candidates.

  18. Natalie*

    Jumping off what Rebecca said upthread about well-meaning encouragement sometimes coming off terribly to a person with mental illness:

    I have had dysthymic depression for most of my life but I’ve become recently aware that I actually struggle with anxiety far more than I struggle with depression. (I have a therapist and we’re working on it.) My Ex’s inability to comprehend exactly what anxiety entails inside my head was definitely a factor in our relationship ending. Note I’m not saying he was somehow in the wrong – I think he meant well – just that the way a person with an emotional issue or mental illness reacts is not necessarily going to be the way a neurotypical person reacts. If your partner says “X isn’t helping” please believe him.

    Whether or not he decides to seek counseling, I have found the practice of mindfulness to be very helpful. Jon Kabat-Zin has some great books on beginning mindfulness, including one specifically focused on managing depression. He might be open to checking out that book even if he is resistant to formal counseling.

    Also, I think the Hyperbole and a Half post does a fantastic job of illustrating what depression feels like from the perspective of the depressed person and how seemingly kind and helpful things can actually really hurt:

  19. Anon*

    I can certainly sympathize with being unhappy with unhealthy work environment. Unfortunately as unhappy as he is, sometimes its more daunting to apply for something else compared to the security of just staying where he is. And doing things for him isn’t really helping, or making things happen any sooner. I think its a good sign he’s open to looking but it may have to get truly bad at work before he finally decides to apply elsewhere. In the meantime, he may need help realizing how much time he spends talking or complaining about his job and how its affecting life outside work. He has control over where he chooses to work and until he’s ready or willing to make changes, accept the situation. Tough love!

  20. Lanya*

    OP, I understand what you mean by “probably somewhat depressed.” I was in a very unhealthy work environment for about four years and I believe that over time I became the same kind of “probably somewhat depressed” that your husband may be experiencing. It’s not necessarily a true clinical depression, but it’s certainly a dampening of the spirit. Frankly, I didn’t realize it was happening to me until I was about two years into it.

    I was not motivated to look for a new job until things got even worse than usual at work – and on the day that my supervisor told me she could just get a volunteer to do my job, I finally came around and realized that if I wanted to get out, I would have to take action and stop waiting around for things to get better on their own.

    I appreciate that you want to help your husband – it’s very hard to see someone you love not taking action to improve things – however, it’s going to be so, so difficult to get him to change his situation until it’s something he wants for himself. I was the same way. My boyfriend was very encouraging, but I mostly got irritated whenever he brought up the subject because I wasn’t ready yet.

    I hope you can continue to be supportive and wait it out – he will come around.

  21. My 2 Cents*

    One thing to keep in mind and to make sure your husband realizes, he wants to leave on his own and not be “managed out” (gently fired, for those unfamiliar with the term). Once he is unemployed, especially if he is managed out/fired, it becomes that much more difficult to find a job, so if being managed out is impending, he needs to take action now and get a new job lined up.

    I was in a terrible job situation last year and it almost tore my marriage apart. I was pissed all the time and took it out on my husband because he just made it worse. While I definitely believe that quitting without a job lined up is only for extreme situations, it almost resorted to that but didn’t because my husband adamantly refused to allow it, which lead to bigger arguments. Finally, my boss found out that I was trying to leave so he fired me, so now I have to find a job after being fired, rather than having to find a job after leaving on my own, which makes a HUGE difference and is a HUGE hindrance.

    So, just make sure he realizes how much more trouble it’s going to be if he is managed out so maybe he acts now. Other than that, LEAVE HIM ALONE. He knows the problem exists and it takes time to move from the “understanding there is a problem” to “doing something about the problem” stage, and that’s probably what he’s trying to do. Yes, you want him to switch jobs quickly and be happy again, but right now he just sees it as nagging, not being helpful. It’s not fair, but it’s fact. Marriages are tough and take a lot of work, but this too shall pass.

  22. Nodumbunny*

    In addition to the Captain Awkward post about mental health resources linked to above, I would also suggest this

    In my marriage, I’m the person with (clinical) depression, and my husband is the one trying to help me dig my way out of it. Two things:

    – lots of folks are suggesting he find a therapist and I agree, but that can feel very daunting to him and therapy can take awhile to kick in. I would suggest that he see his primary care physician first – if they are fairly modern, they are now usually pretty pro-active in helping their patients identify and access other resources and it can be very helpful when you are depressed to have someone else take those first steps for you. I had been depressed for months if not years when I finally got up the courage to mention, in the last five minutes of my check-up appointment, that I was feeling very depressed. I was fortunate that they took me very seriously, did a screening right there, and had a caseworker follow up with me that day and every week for awhile thereafter. I was open to medication, so she wrote me a prescription that day and that prescription was just enough to pop me out of the depression and get me to a point where I could manage the other things I needed to do for self care, like exercising, eating right and finding a therapist. The second time I fell into depression (I was in remission for years, but a very stressful work situation put me back in) I finally woke up and recognized it, called and made an appointment with my physician and then called my husband, who left work and drove me to the doctor that day. I am a very strong-willed, independent woman and so my husband doesn’t usually “take care” of me, but in these instances he has been quietly insistent that I take care of myself and allow him to help when I can’t get it going myself. I can’t say we haven’t had a few arguments about it, but really? it is a relief to have someone say “I’m going to help you with this.”
    – As that Captain Awkward column talks about, when you are depressed it is very hard to get even basic tasks taken care of, much less to break down a big task, like looking for a new job, into discrete, do-able steps. Then, there is a lot of shame when you can’t get things done because, as Captain Awkward puts it, you have this jerk-brain in your head that is shaming you and telling you that you’re worthless. So – while I agree that a) there’s no perfect job; and b) you can’t do the work of finding a good job for him, I think there is a role for you to gently help him break it down into smaller, do-able tasks and certainly there is a role for you to help build him up. I’m not exactly in your same situation because I am very fortunate and don’t have to work for financial reasons (but need to work some to keep my personal jerk-brain from telling me I’m worthless unless I clean all the things and paint all the things and do all the things my kids might desire me to do) but I tell you what, my husband is my biggest cheerleader and hearing him talk to others about me (not potential employers – never that – but folks in our network, friends, etc) really helps quiet that jerk-brain and help me to remember that I am smart and I do have some expertise in my little part of the world. So you can do that.

    And good luck to you and your husband.

  23. Elizabeth West*

    Everyone here has given really good advice. OP, I hope your husband can find the motivation to leave the terrible job soon. I wish both of you extra good luck.

  24. Rana*

    OP – you’re probably feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the advice right now – it’s good advice! – so here’s a question for you:

    What does your support look like these days? Do you have someone you can share your concerns with, who’s not in the middle of this?

  25. Alan Wexelblat*

    I think there’s too little information here for many of the assumptions commenters are jumping to. The writer says their husband is “depressed.” That’s not necessarily a diagnosis nor an indication that he needs anything in the way of therapy or medication.

    Being in a stressful workplace, or being subject to hostile situations such as workplace bullying can be upsetting and depressing, but it may be just that the husband needs to get out of the toxic situation, not go into therapy. That said, if there is real depression involved it may not be as simple as all that. Depression lies and it’s possible the husband has been lied to so much that he has a hard time believing what the writer is saying.

    But I really think we don’t have enough information to be drawing conclusions from this distance.

    1. Natalie*

      This is a good point, but other than the specific suggestion of therapy I think most people’s suggestions are helpful for either a partner suffering from clinical depression or one experiencing situational depression.

    2. Del*

      A lot of the advice that’s true for clinical depression is also good for “awful job makes everything awful” emotional/psychological difficulties. I think people are offering the advice that will do the most good either way — talking to a therapist isn’t only for people with diagnosable difficulties, it can also help when they are just feeling overwhelmed and beat up by life, and it sounds like the husband is DEFINITELY that! Someone who is paid to listen to your problems and trained to help you confront and work through them is someone you want on your side when life gets tough.

    3. fposte*

      Oh, come on, a counseling session isn’t neurosurgery; it’s not like it’s a risky step that should only be undertaken if the patient is in danger, and it certainly isn’t something that precludes anybody moving to a new job. It’s perfectly legitimate to go to counseling because you hate your job and are trying to figure out what you want from a new one. It’s not something you have to save until you’ve somehow hit a certain level of sad or anxious.

  26. SubwayFan*

    My heart goes out to your husband. I suffer from clinical depression, and despite therapy, medication, and a regimen of of social activities to keep myself positive, I also have days where I’m pushed to my limits and I want nothing more than to just be fired so I can go home and stay in bed all day. I have been in multiple situations, where I did exactly that, before I got help.

    I suggest you talk to your husband about what’s causing him to be depressed. It might be his job, or it might be that his job is exacerbating underlying depression. Don’t pester him with questions, but ask a few, such as “When you’re not at work, do you feel okay?” and “do you really want to move jobs, or do you want to stay where you are?” Listen to his answers, and don’t offer more advice. Sometimes it’s helpful just to say the problem out loud and hear yourself say what you mean.

    Good luck.

  27. Another Anonymous*

    I apologize if someone already suggested this: Maybe you need to let go of working to get him a new job and work on getting him to see a doctor. Start with his regular physician and a regular check up. If he is truly depressed, starting with a regular check up for his health might be the best thing for him and get him into the care of a physician who can help with any underlying health problem as well as recommending other physicians or prescribing medication that could relieve symptoms of depression. Advice from a physician can come across better than advice from a spouse and it’s possible he has real health problems that could be contributing to what you are describing. And again, starting with a regular physician can be less threatening to a person’s sense of stability than starting with a therapist or psychiatrist. I wish it weren’t so, but it’s true that most people feel more threatened about how they will be percieved when they visit a therapist or psychiatrist vs. other types of medical providers.
    I sympathize with your situation. My spouse has been there and it’s hard to live with, but sometimes that is all you can do. It’s hard when you see someone suffering and you think you know what they need to do. But it may be best to live with it and be there until they are ready to make the effort. Good luck and think about how you can take care of your own stress. You might benefit from talking with an EAP counselor or a therapist about how to support your husband…and again that might mean letting go of how he handles his job or his search for a new one. Take care of yourself.

  28. Confused*

    He may not realize just how sad his job is making him because he is “in it.” Agree with the above about reminding him that being managed out is going to make his job search more difficult. Also, remind him 1. job search could take a while and 2. while his current job is not working out it doesn’t mean another job will also not work out. There is, at least, a chance it will be better. I know it may sound obvious, but sometimes when you’re so down about your job current reality seems like permanent reality.

  29. Allison (not AAM!)*

    I agree with every comment suggesting professional help – depression is nothing to fool around with, if it IS full blown. If it’s not, but he’s just losing confidence and motivation, rather than doing all the work FOR him, are you able to discuss it with him? Tread lightly and be sure not to sound accusatory or condescending, but ask him WHY he hasn’t followed up. Ask him what HE wants you to do, if anything. Maybe you can gently remind him at a certain time to make a phone call, or send an email, or maybe you can just sit with him when he does so. He may want you to totally leave it alone. If you can gently get him to develop a plan of attack and offer to help him execute that plan, he can gain the confidence back knowing what he needs to do and then doing it, HE would be in control. If he does not want to, you would have to step back.

  30. Been there*

    Can you afford for your husband to be unemployed for any length of time?

    I was in an unhealthy work situation and I didn’t realise (when in that probably somewhat depressed phase) what a number it had done on me in terms of my ability to believe in myself and therefore sell myself, although it was showing to others in my uncharacteristic apathy and complete lack of drive to change the situation. Luckily I have a really supportive partner who pointed it out and convinced me to that I needed some time to get sorted.

    I took three months off (I was studying part-time so had a resume ready excuse for the gap – “thesis writing”) and rebuilt. Then I was able to dive in to job-hunting in a take charge fashion and really go for it. If I had tried to job hunt as I left my last role I wouldn’t have done myself any favours as I couldn’t have mustered the energy needed to sell myself in the interview, and might have damaged future chances. Adream job would have been even worse at that stage because of the emotional investment in it…

  31. Bea W*

    I think in your desire to help, you’re overdoing it, almost taken over. That can put the damper on something pretty quickly and make a person feel like you’ve stepped in because they’re not capable or turn them off because they feel intruded upon and don’t like it.

    Did accept your offer to help with his resume or did you just revise it for him? Was he involved in the revising at all even if he accepted your help? Was contacting your friends something he told you to go ahead and do? Nothing disempowers as much as having someone take your work from you, even in the most helpful well-meaning way. Instead of you calling your friends for him, you could offer to put your contacts in touch with him or him in touch with them. He should also be the one following up on anything he applies for. Sometimes people who don’t have to act on their own behalf won’t act at all.

    In short, treat him like a grown man instead of a child by revising his resume and calling your friends to find a sure way in. If he’s depressed, doing everything for him as if he is incapable of doing it for himself, can send an even more depressing message. It can also make him feel pressured or like he’s not doing it right or fast enough, or like he is no longer in control of some portion of his life, and that will just feed into the cycle of depression.

  32. Jessa*

    Another thing to be aware of depression shows up very differently in men than in women so a therapist that’s good working with men is critical. Also a physical is a good idea. A lot of other things can look like depression. I know that a friend of mine appeared very depressed but when they finally controlled his pain, he really wasn’t any more. So ruling out other issues would be important as well.

  33. FRRibs*

    Echoing all the previous comments; it is heartbreakingly difficult to live with someone with chronic depression. You suffer from it even if you don’t “have” it.

    I didn’t get through all the comments yet, but have YOU seen anyone yet? This is a very stressful situation and everyone needs help getting through this, not just the “sufferer”. Is this something that just came up, or has your spouse suffered their whole life from it?

    I don’t mean to sound sexist, but it’s difficult for men to seek help. Everything connected with D, even trying to get help with it, smacks of “weakness”. Rather than just talk about the D, try focusing on the “physical” aspects (brain chemistry) rather than “you’re weak” can help with the defensiveness. It is a very difficult catwalk to maneuver. The first steps are very hard, and even when you do start talking to someone, they may not be the right fit for your spouse.

    There may be a lot more there than the D; I learned after 40+ years that I’ve been dealing with ADHD, or not dealing with it to be more accurately. It hasn’t made life any easier, but now that I am aware of my weak spots it is easier for me to create effective coping mechanisms.

    Listen, be supportive, take care of yourself, be realistic about what you and your spouse can do, read as much as you can, and if you think your relationship is worth it, don’t give up.

    I hate to bring this up because of what has happened in my own life, but you also have to know if you can live with how things are. If you can’t, you are not a bad person; your first priority is always to yourself.

  34. Sonya*

    Unfortunately, when you have a spouse and family to co-support, depression is something that must be dealt with swiftly. Yes, you have the right to be depressed. You do not have the right to remain in that state while your loved ones tiptoe around you.

    Do not allow your spouse to stay in this state too long, or the decision of whether or not to leave just might be made for them. The rat race isn’t really a lifestyle that allows people to check out of their responsibilities to others for too long.

    1. Natalie*

      This is treading a little too close to “snap out of it” for my comfort.

      As has been discussed, we don’t know if the OP’s spouse is experiencing situational or clinical depression. But either way, the spouse has the right to feel what they feel and, if they are experiencing a mental illness, to experience it without feeling like they have to “fix” themselves immediately lest they do something they have “no right” to.

      That in no way means the OP has to tolerate everything. If, for example, it turns out OP-Spouse has clinical depression and they end up having a hard time getting a handle on it, OP can decide the price of admission for her relationship is too high. But if she wants to be an effective support, framing this as something she “allows” her spouse to do is going to backfire.

  35. Sandrine*

    I’m in an unhealthy work situation. Except I sort of made my bed and I’m lying in it right now, and I’m only starting to see a glimpse of what actually happened.

    I needed a job. I took a call center one in october 2011. They claimed you could advance quickly in the company, and indeed after six months promotions started happening at a rather “decent” pace (for the size of the company and the frequent bursts in hiring) . I was (and still am) considered a very good element, except for one bit (the “time” part, all other indicators are good) .

    I had relationship issues until May 2013. I had 38 days off for medical reasons in 2012. I thought it was my job. Turns out, a big part of how I was dealing with it was my relationship. Hmm. Relationship out in May, new one in June (and that’s a blessing I’m quite thankful for) and…

    Turns out, I STILL can’t be happy about my work. I mean, I like everything but the “technical” aspect of the work itself (having to be on the phone while using the computer tools and all) . I can do it just fine, it just stresses me out to do it all at once.

    Problem is, I’m scared about a lot of things. I’m scared to grow up, I’m scared to have to move out, I’m scared to fill papers to get necessary things done, I’m scared to do quite a lot of things, actually, and it doesn’t even look like I’m not capable. I’m just… stumped. Sometimes, I don’t know how I even manage to get up and go to work. There’s a part of me believing I have health issues, and there’s a part of me thinking it might as well be my mental health.

    Aaaaaaaaanyways, long story short (because I wanted to share what can be in someone’s head who might not be feeling all that well) : OP, I think you are being a kind person. From what I gather, you’re asking here instead of helping first. This is good, because it shows you are thoughtful about the help you want to give.

    I would echo the sentiment that you need to take your cues from him, however. See what he wants you to do, if he wants you to do anything at all. Don’t do it all for him, though.

    (By the way, discussion with people who have struggled like me or are a bit struggling welcome through e-mail, because why not, and because I love you peeps!)

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