Speak Up

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wanted: Some Serious Advice

Okay ladies, we have a fellow chef wife in need of our advice and support. She left a comment that leaves me concerned. I know the best hearts and minds in the world have crossed this blog, so I know we can help this woman in need.

Hello Hilary and all,

I'm so desperate for help, and I know this is totally off topic from sushi. But like I said, I'm desperate for help.

I believe my partner is suffering from depression and/or exhaustion from his job. He is the head chef in a new restaurant that is less than a year old. He is working close to 20 hours a day, 5 days a week.

He said he has seen a doctor, but he is still reluctant to tell me what happened. Until he is ready to tell me, I have no idea what to do.

Can anyone please, please give me some advice. What do I say? What do I do? Who do I talk to?

Food is Love,


Anonymous said...

my chef went through that about 4 years ago...our daughter was a newborn baby and things just too much for him to handle....the stresses of opening a new restaurant and a new baby at home was more than he could handle at the time...he felt so guilty for being away for so long at times that he felt that he lost his love for cooking....he fell deep into a depression that almost claimed our relationship...I stuck by him though and never gave up on us... it was really hard but a lot of prayer and a move out of the area to a less stressful job seem to do the trick....it takes patience and lots of support from you...dont give up and pray for strength....

Anonymous said...

my husband was working for a very well known chef and loved his job...he was working 18 hrs a day 6 days a week and would drive 1 and a half hours everyday to and from work just to work at that restaurant.....we gave up so much for his job! one day he came home earlier than usual and I thought it was weird,,,he was acting weird..the next day he left for work as usual and 30 mnts later he was back home....all he said to me was" I'm not going back to that place" I was in shock....it took him weeks to tell me the truth about what happened... apparently he had a few not so nice words with the head chef and things got physical...he didnt fight back....but the next day he called the chef on the phone and told him that he would not allow anyone to abuse him physically or emotionally any longer....(this is a 5 star chef, who apparently treats his cooks like dirt) at the time he was a sous chef, so he quit and never went back to that restaurant....after that he lost his passion and love for the kitchen and it was not too long before he quit working in the industry....now we have a home based business and he is a lot happier...he'll always be a chef, but now he cooks for us....and we really appreciate it! those were really rough times....his depression lasted almost 2 years....

my best advice is give him time...he'll talk about it when he is ready...sometimes young chefs are embarrassed in front of others and it takes a toll on their egos....just be patient....

Good luck..

Anna B

Louise said...

I'm going through exactly the same thing with my chef,the readers post is the story of my life and I have no idea what to do either! He also just opened his own restaurant a year ago and has no support in his job which means he ends up working doubles monday - saturday.

I've tried talking to him about it but he won't listen because he thinks I'm trying to mother him and tell him what to do, I'm just concerned though. Its tough seeing someone you love going through this. He doesn't deal with his emotions very well either. Added to the situation is that he never gets to see his friends (he's normally a very social person) and gets angry with me for trying to see him as much as I do, but I never see him either.

In terms of who to talk to my friends have really helped since I can vent without affecting him and our relationship, but its really difficult because since none of my friends have boyfriends in the industry,they don't really understand the exact feelings.

I would also love to know what to do because I don't want to see him suffer and I can't just stand by and watch all this happening...Is this normal because he makes it seem as though all chef's have this lifestyle.

Alyssa said...

If you're in NYC, Columbia University has a psychiatric referral line: 212-305-2599. There is a psychiatrist answering the phone M-F, from 9-5, and after talking a bit about your symptoms, they help you find the right doctor at the right price, whether it's for you, your partner, or the two of you together.

Briana said...

I am in a similar situation as well. My boyfriend has become so depressed and consumed by his job. He comes home from the restaurant exhausted only to wake up and start the cycle over again. I really feel like it is taking a toll on our relationship. He is not the fun loving guy that he once was before he started cooking. We also have the same fights because when he is off from work I want to see him as much as possible but he also needs time to see his friends, family and for himself. It is extremely difficult to find a balance that everyone can be happy with. I do my best to be supportive but I do wonder if it can get any better or if I need to just accept this as part of his career.

Unknown said...

Good luck to all of you. If your chefs are experiencing depression, they need medication.

If, however, it's the stress that goes along with opening a new restaurant, it just takes time and a lot of patience and love from you to get through it.

My boyfriend opened a new restaurant four months ago (which makes three). He is constantly stressed out, and I have to work really hard to get him to talk about it (work). I think it's partly because men generally don't like to talk about their feelings. When he does open up, though, it's worth it.

All I can say is, try to remember when you miss your man that he misses you, too. Anything little you can do to show him you're supportive is helpful. It's hard. There's no sugar-coating that truth, but you can get through it together.

Laura, Reno

Anonymous said...

My chef and I have been together for over four years.

He opened a restaurant a year ago and I think it's taken a serious toll on his health and our relationship. He has depression, anxiety, and sleeping problems. He started taking four medications to deal with these issues, and as you all know, chef's have a tendency to abuse chemical substances. It worries me.

We were planning to get married last summer, but decided to postpone it. Since then, we started couples counseling and a lot of issues have percolated. The biggest one for me is he needs to spend more time away from his job and more time in our relationship to address the growing distance between us.

He wants a successful career, a marriage, a family. Yet, I feel he barely has enough time for me, so how will we ever achieve those things? He feels that he has no choice but to spend his time at work, or the restaurant will fail. (It's not a chef owned restaurant, by the way.) I don't know if that's true, but I do know that if we don't work on our relationship, it will fail. Yet, he doesn't want to let me go. I feel I need more than he can give.

He's angry at me. He says things like, "You want me to come home, but when I do, all you do is remind me that I'm late and nag at me." "I told you from the beginning that I don't have time for a relationship. I have a demanding career." The hours were about the same back then as they are now, yet everything is different. I feel sad and alone.

I feel that I have a choice to make. Do I want to commit to him and his career, at the expense of everything else? Or do I leave them behind and pursue a new relationship with a non-chef who has time to be there for me, can help me raise a family, can help me realize other dreams?

Chefs' wives and partners, do you have children? How to do cope with it all?


Anonymous said...

I just replied to another post about this, but I'd recommend he talk to a holistic health practitioner or naturopatic doctor who can test his adrenal function and provide supplements to support re-balancing them out. it's a HUGE help without antidepressants or pharmas :) I've recently been helped a lot by them so I think they're very useful.

Just my 2 cents.
- Diane