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My common law spouse has been out of work for 8 months. Each day I watch as he falls deeper and deeper into a state of depression. I try to keep his spirits up, but it’s taking a toll on me. Not to mention the strain the bank account! Lately he seems to be floudering more then usual. I would love to provide him with a list of concrete steps he can do to work toward finding a good job. I’m just not sure what these steps would be?


I am so sorry you are going through this, he is lucky to have you by his side. What you need to understand is he is grieving and is going through the grief process. Most of us think of grief only after death but it can follow any loss. I have attached the five stages of grief and a few tools for you. Just a few thoughts before I answer question.

You didn’t say if he is seeing a counsellor for his depression or if he is taking an antidepressant/anti anxiety but if he’s not he needs to contact his family doctor for a prescription and name of a counsellor. also I was wondering if he is on EI, if he is he can be retrained for another career while on EI.

1. He needs to make a list of all his strengths.

2. Find an employment counselling service. There are many career counselling centres in Ottawa/Hull area these are great for helping someone find what they are suited for. They will have him take a personality test to see what suits him.

3. He needs to look back over his life and make a list of things that he used to love to do, things that didn’t feel like work. Could any of these things make money or become a job. I know one client who worked in govt for 18 years and his job was cut, after being diagnosed as clinically depressed he came to me. I suggested he think back to hobbies he loved and he realised he loved carpentry, he is now in his 2nd year carpentry apprenticeship and loves it. He is 48 years old.

4. I would recommend volunteering at a hostel/food bank, hospital or another charity organisation where he will feel needed and see that there are people less fortunate than him. It is a proven fact that volunteering when you are feeling down can boost seratonin and increase energy.

5. Exercise. Get out and go for a walk, breathe, have fun.

6. Start a gratitude journal each and every day find 3-5 things to be thankful for and write it down. Some days you may just be thankful for breathing. Look at it when feeling down.

This last part is for you:

Taking care of someone who is depressed can wear on you. You need to remember to take care of yourself and you need to know that only he can pull himself out. We can give him the tools to start but he has to take the steps. You need to take 30 minutes a day for you, go for a walk, take a bath, read a book. Set aside time each day and stop right now I can hear your excuses already. This is important 30 minutes for your mental health, during this 30 minutes you are to breathe deeply, smile, and only focus on you.

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