How men and women react differently
Mothers and fathers of children with CGD often report coming to terms with the diagnosis in different ways.
It is important not to stereotype.
Understanding each other can help
However, understanding different responses may help couples be more considerate of each other’s feelings and not feel upset, confused or angry by their partner’s reaction to your child’s illness.
Men are more likely to focus on gaining as much information as possible, from as many sources as possible as a way of processing the diagnosis. They might try to find a solution or merely gain knowledge by researching CGD, looking for a second opinion, planning and thinking about a way forward.
Women may appear to be more emotional - crying and needing to talk about their thoughts and feelings. Women may worry about the diagnosis, the implications for the future for their unborn child, other existing children, themselves and their relationship with their partner. This can increase a woman’s risk of depression.
Conversation is an important part of many women’s natural processing mechanism. Talking to their partner, friends and family in itself reduces the risk of depression.
Many men in situations of stress and grief tend to be more solution focused, not wishing to talk in the same way as women, or as much.
For some people the pain is so overwhelming - almost physical and palpable - that they feel unable to talk.
Empathise with each other's feelings
Try to empathise with each other's ways of dealing with it. Don’t see your partner’s response as rejection or misunderstanding.
What can be problematic is when either parent goes into denial. They might refuse to talk at all about the diagnosis or possibly express their anger and stress in inappropriate ways. For example, being aggressive or drinking too much.
Communication in a relationship is important. Stating what your needs are is perfectly acceptable, saying how you feel is OK.
When this becomes personal criticism it can be hurtful to your partner.
For example: ‘I'm really struggling with this I would find it helpful if we could talk about some of the issues we are dealing with.’ Rather than: ‘You just don’t understand how I am feeling’.
Some men may feel that they have to be strong for their partner and therefore hide their feelings but the partner may feel they have become distant.
Support each other
The key is for both are to support each other and find support not just in their relationship but also from others. This is where talking to friends and family and or a counsellor can be helpful.
Differences between male and female depression
Women with depression tend to:
- Blame themselves
- Feel sad, apathetic, and worthless
- Feel anxious and scared
- Avoid conflicts at all costs
- Feel slowed down and nervous
- Have trouble setting boundaries
- Find it easy to talk about self-doubt and despair
- Use food, friends, and "love" to self-medicate
Men with depression tend to:
- Blame others
- Feel angry, irritable, and ego inflated
- Feel suspicious and guarded
- Create conflicts
- Feel restless and agitated
- Need to feel in control at all costs
- Find it “weak” to admit self-doubt or despair
- Use alcohol, TV, sports, and sex to self-medicate
Adapted from: Male Menopause by Jed Diamond
By Julie Johnson
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