Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: Since I had to go off a medication a couple of months ago, I am now suffering from depression. My wife doesn’t want me to go to the doctor. She doesn’t trust them and wants me to see a naturalist instead.
I try explaining this is a brain-chemistry issue and I trust my doctor to try to fix it. I do not trust a naturalist to be able to help me.
The first medication the doc gave me is giving me bad side effects, but I can’t tell my wife because she is going to go off on how I shouldn’t trust my doctors. So I feel like I have to suffer alone. My doctor has been treating me successfully – until the issue four months ago – for four years.
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How can I go about explaining that I want to trust my doctor and want to give it time without being attacked by my wife?
Her attacking you is TOTALLY inappropriate, to the extent that I urge you to add solo therapy to your treatment plan for your depression. Your wife is showing very poor boundaries here, and possibly revealing herself as a component of your mental health challenges.
Think of it this way: You trust mainstream medicine, and distrust naturopathic (yes?) medicine. She trusts naturopathic medicine and distrusts mainstream medicine.
Straight up, your trusts and distrusts have equal weight because it’s your prerogative to decide how to care for yourselves.
But they stop being of equal weight the moment one of you seeks care: When she is sick, her preference takes priority and you step back. When you’re sick, your preference takes priority and she steps back. This is the only appropriate allocation of choices between two people of sound minds who disagree so completely on proper health care. And this is why your wife is so far out of line. She’s telling you she doesn’t trust you to care for yourself.
Which is why I’m interrupting this harrumph with a strong urging for you to seek legal advice, now, on a medical power of attorney – like, now – so that if you’re ever incapacitated, your wife won’t be the one dictating your treatment. If it’s mainstream medicine you want, then get that on the record. Otherwise the person making your treatment choices will be the one you don’t trust to honor your wishes and doesn’t believe in mainstream medicine. Yikes.
Anyway, back to your question: For your depression treatment, keep following the course you believe is appropriate for you; add a therapist to your treatment team – not just to help you explore the unhealthy, potentially dangerous dynamic with your wife, but also to give you someone to talk to so you don’t “have to suffer alone”; and tap the expertise of both this doctor and said therapist on handling your disagreement with your wife.
I hope she’s open to professional help herself. Even if a treatment she recommends would be appropriate for you, to “go off” on the person she wants to persuade is about as counterproductive as it gets.
Mental-health caregivers aren’t there just for the brain chemistry issue, but also for the emotional systems that you’ve built up around it. NAMI (www.nami.org) also can help. Good luck.
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