Topic: My spouse or I deal with depression. How it effects the relationship. What we do. How we cope or not.
I used to see people who suffered from depression as weak. Sure it made sense to be depressed if a loved one died, you were a victim of some horrific crime or any other varying degree of the hideousness that can happen on this planet. But what really got me were those individuals who had everything… and were still depressed.
I really couldn’t identify with it. I really couldn’t understand. I could never suffer from depression… because my life was perfect!!
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all saying that becoming a parent isn’t the most wonderful, life-changing, spectacular moment of your entire life!! But from the moment I looked into the eyes of Daddy’s Little Girl (DLG) a trigger went off and from that day forward I struggle on a daily basis with varying degrees of stress, anxiety and guilt... which all lead to depression.
Now… I’m blessed with an incredibly sexy wife and a gorgeous (nearly) two-year old daughter.
Money isn’t tight… but we don’t use it to blow our noses into either. We’re all in perfect health. DLG isn’t a “rowdy hellion” by any means. We have lots of friends. I’m able to pursue the hobbies that I enjoy.
So… by my “pre-depression” calculations I shouldn’t be depressed! I should be thanking my God for all the blessings he has bestowed upon me!
And I do.
But I am horribly imperfect and fall victim to the struggles in my mind all too often.
I remember rocking a six-month old DLG to sleep one evening and I couldn’t shake the horrible feeling that she was going to die. The more I tried to push the thought out of my head the stronger it pushed back. I eventually wound up in a pile of tears in the rocking chair before my wife came in and took over.
I would go to work knowing fully that DLG absolutely was not in the baby seat behind me. But after a couple hours at work… this fear would creep into my head that maybe I left her back there and I just didn’t remember! This would require a trip out to my car just to ease my mind.
As time passed on my obsessions and thoughts became more invasive and vastly more horrific. I truly began to think there was something wrong with me.
“Am I going crazy?” I’d think to myself.
I never knew depression to the point where I wanting to end my life… but there was times where I wished I’d rather have been dead than to go through the mental torment I put myself through.
During this whole time, my wife stood there and held me in my most desperate times of need. It was a truly weakening moment that brings tears to my eyes this day to know that she knew I was going through all of it and there wasn’t really anything she could do.
“You’re here with us… but your mind is somewhere else.” She’d always say.
I felt as though I were the only person in the world going through what I was going through.
I eventually swallowed enough of my pride to admit that I couldn’t work this out on my own and sought out a professional therapist who I could talk to. This was only after I had hit rock bottom, after I’d wake up in the morning counting down the hours until I could go to sleep again and after I couldn’t look at DLG without my heart jumping into my throat in fear she was going to be taken from me.
My tears were in short supply after leaving the therapists office.
The fix was not as immediate as I wanted it to be… but it got fixed.
We talked about my childhood, about my life, about my marriage, about my spirituality and about anything relevant to me at that moment. Without getting too far into the folds of my gray-matter… the therapist and I slowly chipped away at the wall I had built up. I tore down every “tough guy” wall I’d built and reduced it to a sniveling pile of rubble.
The evenings after my appointments would involve me sitting with my wife and telling her what I was comfortable in telling her. She’d sit and stare intently and tell me how proud she was of me for conquering my issues… and my deepest fears.
After several months of hour-long conversations, homework and doctor appointed reading, my therapist asked that I bring in my wife for a session. I was finally able to see the fruits of everything I’d been working toward: to become myself again.
“I’m just so happy he found you,” my wife told the therapist as tears streamed down her face, “I’ve got my husband back… and I thank you.”
I was interested in volunteering for this writing assignment because when I was going through my depression… I felt alone. I felt there wasn’t anyone I could talk to and I felt like my situation was the only one like it in the world!
I’m here to tell you that’s not the case because EVEN I have been on the wrong end of a depressive state of mind.
I’m also here to tell you that you’re not “weak” for admitting to yourself that you might have a problem you have to work out. I can tell you that you’ll ultimately become stronger for working through your issues rather than wallowing in them.
My stress, anxiety, obsessive tendencies and depression have all greatly decreased as a result of my wife standing by my side through the whole ordeal. When I was being reduced to nothing more than a limp rag as a result of my depressive thoughts she held me and just listened, held me, kissed me and told me how much she loved me.
Depression can be extremely scary and I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that until I went through it. The best thing you can do if your spouse is depressed is hold them tight, offer up your ears to listen and tell them how much they mean to you. It’s amazing how far a little bit of love can go.
I can’t say that I’m glad I go through my bouts with depression but I can look back on them and see what I’ve gained from the experience.
The love for my wife evolved into much more than just physical attraction… I realized in those moments she really did love and care for me! I’m not saying that I hadn’t noticed it before but it was “hard core” evident now. She wasn’t going to abandon me in my most difficult time of need.
I hug my daughter much tighter now, without those twinges of doubt that made those moments so unbearable… and there’s nothing greater.
Bottom line: if you or your spouse has ANY of the vast and varying degrees of depression… you’ll first have to admit to yourself what you suffer from and then work on fixing yourself. Depression doesn’t just go away on its own… you have to work on cutting it free.