Depression, PhD, being a wife...


Hi, I had a quick search on google but I feel PhD comrades and other academics may have a more relevant advice than a generic google search.
I'm half way through a 3-year PhD and the amount of PhD work on my to-do list is staggering.
I'm also married but no children yet (thank God?) and every day more and more I feel like I am sinking into depression.
The good thing is I love the topic of my PhD so I am not tired of it, I just don't feel I have enough time to get things done. I also love my husband but he has problems, not diagnosed but he may have paranoia to the extent of paranoia personality disorder - he also has another disability that stops him from being the social butterfly every member of my family expects him to be like. he's also a working lad, not an academic like I am trying to become - so there is pressure on him every time we are around my family and friends and everyone just scrutinises his every move. this leads him to being super sensitive and leads to us arguing.. so I end up going through phases of complete depression and not doing anything except staring out of a window and feeling guilty to over-working a full 24-hours and being super productive. there is no balance.
I want to manage my life better. I want to be a good wife to him as well as manage to get all the things I want to get done on that to-do list. I don't know how though sometimes. any advice please?

Avatar for Pjlu

Hi Statictraveller, I think the PhD journey is a tough one. The list of to-do's can seem overwhelming. Most of us take these one little step at a time, (rather than looking at the whole looming mountain ahead) and this helps. Miraculously, the small steps build over the years into a PhD. However, many of us would go 'over time' or have extensions or leave periods at times to help manage the workload and the stress build up. Are you comfortable enough with any of your supervisors to have a chat about your feelings over managing your current work load?

I'm thinking from reading your post, that your concerns regarding your partner's mental health and your own responsibilities as his wife are also part of your current stress load as well.

My advice would be to seek help from a counsellor, psychologist, support group and/or your GP around your depression and current feelings of stress and low mood. In doing so, you will be given emotional support and will also get the space to explore your feelings about where your responsibilities lie and what realistic support you can provide your partner. Perhaps your partner has what would be classified as a mental health illness or perhaps he is struggling due to current environmental issues (substance use or toxic workplace culture) and/or life circumstances or previous trauma ( a medical or mental health professional can usually distinguish between these).

However, before you support your partner you need to be able to ensure your own needs are met-both in terms of emotional support and with regard to your PhD. I would encourage you to seek support for yourself and not to feel guilty about doing this. Going to a GP and explaining your low mood and some of the difficulties you are experiencing could be very helpful as a first step. Please consider this, as your wellbeing is important. Kind regards, P.


What I am getting from your post here is that you are thinking about his needs an awful lot (exactly what you want from a balanced relationship) but you don't talk about him reciprocating in any way.

Let's cut to the chase here. The problem is not you by the sounds of it - it appears to be your husband's behaviour.
Mental illness or not, his behaviour appears to be at the root of your unhappiness.
The question is whether he will seek help for this or not.
You going to therapy alone isn't going to help, in my opinion.
Does he know the destructive effect his behaviour is having on you?
If so, has he agreed to get help?
Your marriage seems out of balance and that needs urgently recitified before it becomes serious.
As a husband he really owes you this.

All marriages go through imbalance from time to time when one person starts to lean heavily on their spouse. I've been there myself many times over the years. When that leaning starts to actively destroy their spouse however someone needs to say "Enough" and the other needs to listen and react positively and constructively to re-establish the balance. In that sense you are probably not going through something millions of others haven't been through as well. You do need to get on top of this though by talking to him. Be tough if you need to. The alternative doesn't sound particularly appealing.