I don’t think any mother would be happy that their children may only see their father on supervised contact visits. It is not an ideal situaiton for them....but it is the only way right now. If that is what it takes, so be it.
I don’t think any mother wishes to end up in a court room telling a judge they don’t think the father of their children is stable enough to have parental responsibility. But so be it.
When depression/mental illness has combined with – with what? – to result in a fist smashed through a door, and much else, then something has to give.
The safety of the children has to come first. It would be nice to be in an amicable separation situation where the only arguments are over petty arrangements, you turned up late last week....but that is not how it is.
If you google depression plus husband or wife you will find many forums and sites. You will find those who suggest that leaving a depressed spouse is outrageous, you should stand by and support them. After all you would not leave them f they had cancer….
But this one stood out recently:
…. I've been told by many spouses that it would be easier to be a single parent than to live with a spouse struggling with depression, because it's like having a special-needs child in addition to all the other responsibilities.
Ironic…a special needs child. Well, I have one of those already.
For many years I would say jokingly that I had four children - three plus my ex. When he voiced suicidal thoughts, became more and more depressed and anxious – but refused to be on meds – it became even more miserable for me. And for the children.
Eventually, the violence exploded.
As stated above, there is much on the web about caring for your depresssd spouse, dealing with mental illness in the family, becoming a carer (I was one of those already, for my disabled son). Only rarely do you find a hint that – if things get violent – leaving may be the only option.
His clinicians did say: “he is responsible for dealing with this, he is an adult,” many times.
At one point his psychiatrist told me, in response to a long list logging various behaviours which had upset or terrified me – “this is not mental illness, this is personality”.
His GP told me – “nothing to do with his depresion, this is a domestic violence issue”.
But mostly it was about recognising an abusive relationship for what it was.
Depression is no excuse.
How You Can Survive When They're Depressed : Living and Coping with Depression Fallout by Anne Sheffield
was helpful as it was more about the fallout sufferers than how to care for your depressed partner. It also talks about the effects of depression (of a parent) on children.
But the following book was a revelation and is now much-thumbed:
Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men (Paperback)
by Lundy Bancroft
Lundy Bancroft has a website http://www.lundybancroft.com/ and this article is particularly relevant in this post-separation time, as supervised visitation is established.
Assessing Abusers’ Risk to Children. 2004. With Jay G. Silverman, Ph.D. In P. Jaffe, L. Baker, & A. Cunningham (Eds.) Protecting Children from Domestic Violence: Strategies for Community Intervention. New York, NY: Guilford Press.