Hot topics | Coronavirus pandemic

Dear Annie, after years of dealing with my husband's issues, I'm feeling overwhelmed

Dear Annie, after years of dealing with my husband's issues, I'm feeling overwhelmed

Dear Annie Im in a situation where I can no longer handle. My husband has a long history of occasionally falling ill with mysterious illnesses that doctors treat as minor everyday problems but which inevitably result in him being unable to function. He is not able to work, perform chores, attend family functions, or take care of our kid. Its most likely to happen when a commitment comes up, such as the holidays, securing remuneration, or experiencing chronic pain from stage 4 endometriosis.

Weve adjusted our lives to accommodate this. First, he was a contract worker rather than 9.5; then, his job was as stayed-at-home dad. Its been hard to carry all the weight, but hell be a lovely, funny, caring, and supportive man. And when hes well, things are wonderful.

During the COVID-19 epidemic, things reached a halt. I needed emergency surgery, and within minutes of hearing that a date was set, he declared if I had incurred illness and rechecked himself out. I had to arrange for my young son to stay with my parents for six weeks during my recuperation because I could not trust my husband to take care of us both. During a very difficult recovery, my care for myself almost entirely ceased.

After this, my mother-in-law approached me because she had come to believe that his health problems were more psychological than physical. I agreed and we started thinking about a possible intervention.

Cue major mystery health problem -- one so severe that hes basically bedridden and can only eat and perform basic functions through the constant consumption of various medical marijuana drugs. This is such a severe event that doctors have spent the last several months testing him for dozens of very serious conditions. Its been harrowing and exhausting.

The doctors believe he has a mild condition causing varying degrees of pain, but they cant seem to find recurrence or treatment for it. We're all aware that at least some of his doctors don't take him seriously anymore. I know from my own medical history that doctors may reduce chronic pain, but you must be a strong and persistent self-advocate otherwise you will not receive effective treatment.

Ive been working hard for a diagnosis and symptom management plan. Its difficult to tell whether or not I should be requesting a psychological evaluation rather than pushing so hard for implementing relapse prevention strategies.

Were utterly and completely exhausted from working full-time, caring for our son when hes not in school, dealing with both of our medical issues, and the general day-to-day tasks. My own health is being affected in severe ways, and my career is in freefall. I dont trust my decision-making on this. -- Burnt Out. -- I'm too emotional and tired.

Dear Burnt Out: If our bodies can be compared to car engines, yours is running on empty. You'll need to inject some premium gas into your engine.

Ask yourself, what kind of emotional and physical aid would relieve some of the stress, and then act on it. Chronic pain results from unresolved anger, for instance. The MindBody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing The Pain by Dr. John Sarno is a book I would highly recommend for you both.

If your husband isn't interested, give it to yourself as a present. Be yourself, at least until you feel full and can figure out how to proceed. Even if his physical pain is from the mind, he is clearly in emotional distress and needs help. I also think that the constant consumption of marijuana is the worst option for him.

Viewing the View from the Top of the page. Dear Annies prior Dear Annie' columns were written in 2005.

Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie is now available. Annie Lane's debut book, which includes her favorite columns on love, friendship, family, and etiquette, is now available in paperback and electronic formats. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to


You may also like: