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Joined:6 years  ago
Posts: 13
14/07/2020 4:24 am  

It is estimated that over 50 % of officers are depressed. The workload is heavy, decision making, dealing with crew problems and the maritime companies can take a heavy toll on officers. But another stress factor can come from the family members. Mental and physical illness, the threat of divorce and problems with children can all take its toll on the seafarer. A maritime career can affect men and women alike.

With the death of my mother, my husband could not attend her funeral. I took one plane to my family and he took another to join his ship. He was feeling guilty for not being there to support me and I was in pain for losing my mother. But there was where the problem started. I went into depression.

The depression landed me in hospital. My husband did not know how to manage the situation and did not understand my depression. He is technical and argues that if an instrument is broken you replace the part and the technical problem is resolved. Why can’t I just get over it, fix it, replace my anguish by counting my blessings and I would be fixed? It was not a case of being insensitive, but rather his technical brain could not compute this emotional problem. Fights ensued, he tried to cyber manage the situation at home and we both became miserable.

Him being away for 6 weeks resulted in him being under stress at sea and me being at stress at home. We fought through email and WhatsApp. I was absorbed in my pain not seeing the effect it had on him. Both of us unable to see past our own pain. It took close to two years before we came to terms with our difference in opinions and we survived. Our marriage survived.

We do not discuss THAT time in our lives. However, I would like to know how it affected him at work to better understand other seafarers with similar problems. Nevertheless, He did tell me about other seafarers. The one seafarer who was on the same flight as him was panicking as his girlfriend tried to commit suicide after he boarded his flight. Another incident happened when my husband boarded the ship to relieve his back-to-back and found his colleague huddled in a dark corner in the office, apparently he had a major breakdown.  This breakdown was apparently brought on by his pending divorce and work stress.

Similarly, seafarers’ spouses shared with me their emotional needs when their husbands’ are at sea. A research participant’s wife told me that her daughter had mental health problems and had to be hospitalised when her husband was at sea and their problems (and fights) trying to manage and deal with the situation. Another spoke of a serious motorbike accident of her teenage son which left her and her husband in a state of despair. There are so many similar stories.

It was only during my maritime research that I started to understand the seafarer’s state of mind when they are confronted with similar problems.



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