Carolyn Hax: Should he have told his wife that he had stopped his psychological medication?

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Adapted from an online discussion.

Hello Carolyn: My husband told me this week, in passing, that he had stopped taking his psychiatric medication. I was shocked. When I asked him, he told me he had stopped taking them “for a while”, and he didn’t really answer when I said I wish I had known.

He stopped taking them at his instigation but under the supervision of his psychiatrist, he says. He doesn’t understand why I’m upset or think I needed to know about this change – for me, huge. I feel completely taken aback. How could one partner doing something like this not affect the other partner? !

I know his private medical information is his business, but I feel like it should have been a topic of conversation between us when he made the decision. I should have been able to ask about the side effects of this decision and the hoped for end result, and I should have been kept informed. I feel completely betrayed, but he seems to feel like I had no right to expect him to share this information. How much of his business is my business? Am I overreacting?

Shocked: No. Oh my God. His decision could have a significant effect on your life, not just his. You are also the best person to keep an eye on the daily evolution of his health, whether good or bad.

Take away the health element and you still deal a cold, dismissive blow to the intimacy of your marriage. If you’re arguing about “private medical information” and “no right to wait,” you’re talking like business partners, not life partners. Mayday, Mayday.

I would like some helpful suggestions beyond “Take this seriously”, but unfortunately it is the nature of acting unilaterally and withholding information from a spouse: it is a gesture of power that leaves the spouse apart. Ask him if he did it out of frustration, because he felt better (ie the drugs were working) or…?

If he doesn’t engage, then cut right to the board – solo, if you must. The National Alliance on Mental Illness can also help, starting with its HelpLine, to nami.org.

Re: Medicines: My significant other stopped taking his anti-depression meds without telling me. I found out because after a tough few weeks I kindly suggested a dosage adjustment.

I scoffed that it was their choice, and said, “But I also have choices, and I’m not choosing to live with untreated mental illness, so what’s the next step?” Back on medication? More exercises? A therapist?

It wasn’t that cold, but we partners also have a choice. They chose exercise, which was fine. It was “doing nothing” that I couldn’t accept after already spending a decade living with untreated depression.

Partner: That’s great, thank you. Although that means being ready for the “I don’t choose to live with it” part of getting teeth.

Other reader reviews:

· The author could call the psychiatrist: “My husband just told me that you took his medication off. Obviously doctor-patient confidentiality prevents you from confirming, but I wanted to let you know in case he did so without your knowledge.

A friend stopped taking his medication and didn’t tell her husband, who didn’t fully realize the problem until six months later, after my friend had spent most of his money on a heart attack. slow mental health. My friend attempted suicide before finally getting medical help. It’s serious enough to stop taking medication, even under the care of a psychiatrist, and a spouse definitely needs to know that.

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