Husband trying to help

Hi all, new member here looking for some help and input.  My wife of 28 years was recently diagnoses with stage 2 endometrial cancer.  She had a radical hysterectomy that, thankfully, was successful in removing all of the cancer.  We were prepared for the surgical recovery, but what I wasn't prepared for has been her emotional response to the procedure.  She has dropped into a funk of depression that is starting to worry me.  She's withdrawn and weeps a lot.  She is convinced that she is 'not a woman' anymore.  Nothing reassuring I say or do seems to help.  People keep telling me to 'just be there for her' but doing nothing isn't in my DNA.  Her doctor has suggested medication but she's already on pain meds and I don't want to just throw chemicals at the problem.  I just don't know what to do.  I feel helpless and I feel like I'm failing her in some way.  Should I consider the medication route?  Should I stand by and wait?  Is there anything I'm not doing that I should be doing?  She is so down she doesn't even cuddle the dog anymore.  

 

Hi

Sorry to hear what has happen with your wife. U sound like a wouderful man like my husband is. I know for my self I feel the same as your wife like i am not a woman and i also someone just get very down. It will take her some time i am getting better as time goes on. It is alot to deal with and u feel alone no matter how hard someone is tryig to help. Just be there for her and let her know that u love her and are there for her everyday. It really does mean alot to know u have people there for u.

Prays all goes good for u amd your wife:-)

Hi there,

It sounds as if you've both been through so much together, but you are still in the thick of it trying to see some light on the other side.   The best thing you are doing is 'being there for her' even if that feels extremely frustrating to you. Remind yourself that 'being there for her' is in fact 'doing something' and is really important. You obviously love your wife very much and want to be able to do whatever it takes to help, but sometimes these things take their own time. It feels frustrating and hard to watch because it is. Is there anyone who you trust who you can talk to honestly about how you're feeling. Sometimes just being able to say 'it's driving me mad' to someone who understands that you are talking about the situation and not your wife, and who can validate those perfectly normal feelings, can help. Is there a local carers support group you can access?

Does your wife talk about how she's feeling mood wise on a day to day basis? (apart from 'not like a woman') If she's not talking to you, would she be prepared to talk to a counsellor or psychotherapist, or even one of the specialist nurses (Macmillan Team) at the hospital where she has been treated? I can sort of relate to her 'not like a woman' feelings. With gynaecological cancers, the problems  that lead to diagnosis, the treatment and even the constant check ups afterwards result in endless strangers constantly poking, prodding, peering up your bits, having your insides examined, cut out, scanned and all your secretions discussed & scrutinised. There can be a sense that your body is no longer your own. A part of your body that was kept intimate & private, sexy & sensual has become a massive cause of physical discomfort & psychological stress, and you've been 'spread out' in front of all and sundry in order to well, let's be blunt, save your life. Reclaiming your body & sense of self, of womanliness, to make it intimate private space again after that takes some people a lot of time, especially if they are still experiencing pain. 

I realise that none of this provides any neat answers. What you are describing - the crying, the low self esteem, even the disengagement from your dog and you(?) sounds as if she could be clinically depressed. If she has expressed an inclination to try an anti depressant and that's what her doctor has suggested, then you shouldnt rule it out imo if nothing else seems to be working. She might only need them for six months or so and they could help kick start her mood out of the 'funk' you describe. It does also sound as if her pain could do with some better control too as that won't be helping things, perhaps that could be reviewed by her medical team too. 

From a non medication perspective, try small interventions regularly. Getting out for a walk in some fresh air on a daily basis has been shown in research to help improve mood & motivation in people who are feeling low/depressed, I'm guessing that exercising the dog could help with that too. Even just 15 minutes a day will help. Do it together, hold hands if necessary. Sometimes, walking in companionable silence can say volumes all on its own. Sometimes though, people find it easier to open up when they are walking.

If your wife is receptive, try using touch/ massage too. Make it clear that you aren't only touching her with the expectation of sex every time, that can just be too much pressure, risks being turned down and makes both of you feel bad which might perpetuate the cycle. You could try occasional neck & shoulder rubs, back rubs, foot rubs - anything that shows that you aren't put off by her body and you want to stay connected to her even if she doesn't much like her body at the moment and isn't ready for sex just now. I don't know how much physical contact you are used to having as a couple but a big connecting hug a couple times a day come hell or high water will also remind her that you care without 'bombarding her with words' or the implied need for sex.

I dont know what else to suggest, it sounds tough for both of you, but the fact that you are in here trying to get advice is such a great sign of your intent and your love. It's probably going to take a bit of time, but I'm sure you'll both get there in the end. Wishing you all the best in your endeavours. 

Hi, 

so sorry to hear about what you have both been through. It sounds like you are doing a brilliant job anyway but it must be so hard feeling helpless. My fiance has said he felt exactly the same about feeling helpless and not sure what he could do to help, when he physically and emotionally couldnt do anymore than he was doing. Just being you & being there to listen and not judge her will make the world of difference. Everyone copes so differently with things and it's so complex like Cheery has said.
Is she asking for help? if she has actively gone to the doctor and hasn't ruled out their advice then it might help with the anti depressants, they aren't always the answer but they may help initially and she may not need them for a long time. It's such a hard decision as like you say it's another way of taking away yet another aspect of control when you feel like you don't have control over anything anyway, but don't rule them out, they can be very helpful  and especially if it's your wife's choice to want to try them.
Does she have someone neutral/objective to talk to? Counselling can help sometimes or support groups? 

im so sorry you are going through this and I really hope you get some support.