Dear Dr. Archer,
I’m a 37-year-old mother of two children. My husband and I have been married for 13 years, yet we have never lived under the same roof, since he works in another country, and it has been this way since the moment we met.
My problem started a month ago when he encouraged me to apply as principal applicant for the purpose of migrating to another country. Because I was busy and reviewing for an upcoming board exam, I ignored it and told him I’d focus on it after the test.
My life has become so miserable since then. I’ve felt something different from him, and he’s begun to be cold and not want to communicate, or if he does, it concerns the children. During those times, I feel pressured, since my daily routine has been very stressful and I don’t have anyone to take care of my children. My licensing exam did not work out, and I failed, and my husband left me.
One day, I hacked his email account and found that he has been having an affair with his ex-girlfriend. They had gone out of the country for about a week, for his birthday celebration. He has confessed, and told me he has fallen out of love with me. He said he has more love for this girl than he has for me.
I feel so betrayed, knowing I have fought for our love, and have given so much effort for our family and for his family. I have been very submissive from the start. Right now, I am trying to win him back, but he is too tough. What should I do?
I don’t have the confidence to move on and get over this. I love him even more now, and am trying to put things back, though he doesn’t even care. Please help me. Thank you for your column.
I am very sorry for what you’re going through, but I think you are more scared of change than anything else. You’ve spent 13 years married, but living in separate countries. That would be practically impossible in any marriage.
The fact is, you are clinging to hope that things will remain the same. Most find it very uncomfortable, even scary, when they are faced with change.
You say you love him even more now. Why? He’s never there for you except for a phone call. He loves another woman. You’ve basically raised these children alone. If you say you’re trying to repair your marriage but he doesn’t care, then what is there to save? He has already emotionally checked out, leaving you stuck in the hotel afraid to venture out on your own.
What you need to do is stop trying to change the inevitable. I say that because he’s not giving you any clue this marriage can be saved. Seek a very good attorney and get what you deserve. You have two children that deserve support from their father; they are his responsibility, too, and he needs to continue with this support.
Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t. Put your energies into your studies again, and retake your boards. Concentrate on that; you will do better this time without the distractions of your husband telling you to do something else.
Trust me on this — you deserve much better than what you have been given. There are countless women who find themselves in the same situation, and it is scary. Yet, they prevail, not only getting over their husbands, but actually doing better in life without their husbands.
Tom Krause said, “There are no failures — just experiences, and your reactions to them.”
Believe in yourself. You are much stronger than you know. And one day, you will meet a man who is deserving of someone so faithful and loyal as you have proven to be. I wish you and the children well. Best of luck in your future.
Dear Dr. Archer,
I’m a 50-year-old single teacher. I was diagnosed with depression at age 31, when my father passed away suddenly. I come from a very dysfunctional family — my father was an alcoholic, my mom had a traumatic childhood and is emotionally distant. I’m currently on Welbutrin and Clonazepam.
Five years ago, I suffered a major depressive episode, and was referred to a psychiatrist who prescribed me Moclobemide, which made me very ill. I ended up in the emergency room, where the psychiatrist prescribed Wellbutrin. I have a GP, but she’s not knowledgeable about depression. She simply gives me prescriptions for refills.
The past five years have been hell. I ended up taking a three-year medical leave from teaching, lost my home because I couldn’t afford the mortgage and have lived in a series of rental properties. I’ve gradually returned to work for the past two years; it has taken much longer than I thought, and I’ve used up my savings to supplement my disability. I’m in debt.
Because I’m so depressed, I have no self-esteem, and was emotionally bullied by a new principal at school this year, as well as my class share partner, as I was trying to increase my teaching time. An assessment with a psychiatrist from my insurance company diagnosed me with depression, anxiety and PTSD. He said I was receiving inadequate medical care, but told me it’s not his role to give me further care.
I’ve tried seeking help from counselors and psychologists, who tell me I have too many problems for them to deal with. I know I have many issues, more so than the average person, but I have no idea where to turn for help.
The only thing keeping me alive is my 16-year-old cat, who has been my lifeline. I cannot be hospitalized, because I have no one to care for my cat. I know I will lose him soon, and then I will be alone.
There’s a one-year waiting list to see a psychiatrist in my city. After my past experience with psychiatrists, I’m afraid to see one. I’m supposed to start teaching full time in three weeks, and I know I can’t do it. I’m afraid to leave my cat alone. I’m afraid to be in the classroom. I’m afraid of the parents, staff and principal. I’ve transferred to a new school to have a fresh start, but I know I’ll fail there, too.
I know this sounds overwhelming, and I know I can’t be helped. Every professional I’ve seen has rejected me. I know it’s time for me to leave this earth after my cat is gone. I don’t even know why I’m writing to you, because nothing can be done. I’ve failed at life. I have no support system, no family, and my best friend is dying of cancer; my other friends rejected me when I became ill.
I wish the medical community would take depression more seriously. When I re-read this, it sounds like a story, but unfortunately, it’s my life. Thank you for listening.
Your letter has really touched my heart. You are not a failure. You are not a failure. You have depression, and there is no way you can simply will yourself to get better. You need a psychiatrist, someone who has experience in treating depression. Also, you are not ready to give up. How do I know this? Because you took the time to write to me! That tells me you want to get better.
Is there a medical school where you live, or one nearby? Many times there are teaching mental health clinics within the school, where students can gain hands-on experience during their college education. This could be an option for you, and it would be either no- or low-cost treatment for you. You would have teaching professors/doctors and students with the very latest information and medication.
If so, make an appointment; if not, look into a mental health clinic where there is free care. It’s hard to believe that there is no psychiatrist appointment available for a year where you live. If need be, get on the phone and call every single one and ask. You must get back under a doctor’s care ASAP.
While you’re working on that, there are changes you can make in your own behavior — activity, diet and lifestyle — which can be natural and effective depression treatments. Here are some:
Exercise! Exercise is a natural mood booster. Exercise several times a week — everyday is better — for at least 30 minutes. Aerobic exercise is great for your heart, but if it’s too much for you at this time, just the simple act of getting out and taking a brisk walk around your neighborhood is enough.
Eat a well-balanced diet. Healing from depression is a physiological process, and without good nutrition, the healing will take longer. Eating healthy gives your body a natural boost.
Get some sleep! While many with depression just want to lay in bed and sleep, do not fall into that trap. Make yourself stay busy, and then go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Not getting enough sleep is just as bad as getting too much. Also, avoid taking naps; it will help you sleep at night.
Set some realistic goals. Plan your day and list what you want to accomplish during that day. Scratch these goals off your list when they are done. Seeing your accomplishments will give you a boost.
Give yourself responsibilities. I’m glad you have your precious cat. She gives you responsibilities that you must undertake in order for her to be happy and healthy. And by the way, cats can live well into their 20s, so your kitty is going to need you for a long time. But, right now, I want you to go out and adopt a kitten, providing company for both you and your older cat, and a young spirit to liven up your house and give you even more to focus on. Regarding school, will the principal let you work part-time? Don’t push yourself too hard.
Get support! It may take a while before you get in to see the doctor, but in the meantime, see if there is a support group in town. This can be a natural depression treatment. You’ll meet others who know exactly what you’re going through. Check online, and ask around at various hospitals and doctor’s offices.
Depression can be very debilitating. It may seem like it, but you are definitely not alone. You just need help. Try to get out and have fun. If you are doing something you enjoy, your mood will naturally lift.
I realize you won’t feel like having fun, but that’s part of the depression — the warped thought pattern. Even if it feels like work, do something you enjoy. You’ll be retraining yourself, and I, for one, think you’re worth it. Good luck. I care.
Dr. Dale Archer is a board certified psychiatrist who founded the Institute for Neuropsychiatry in Southwest Louisiana. He is a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN Headline News and other national TV programs, and is the author of the New York Times bestselling book Better than Normal. Visit him online at DrDaleArcher.com.