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Married to Depression

I started writing this post six months ago. I started again four months ago. This week I opened it up again. It has been very difficult to get the words right, but then I realized that getting them right is impossible. There is no way that I can convey everyone, regardless of their experiences, what it is like to be married to someone who struggles with depression. The audience is too diverse and the experience is as well. My thoughts and feelings on this matter maybe similar to that of another spouse, or they might be quite different. It is impossible for me to get it right, because there is no “right” when discussing a subjective experience. I can only write about my experiences and hope that something in the story is useful to other people. When I look at it that way, the only way to get it wrong is to not write the post. So I wrote it. All 3000+ words of it. The first part is personal history for context. The rest is things I think will help other people in a similar situation. I put those things in bold for those who want to skim. At the very bottom are links to resources for those who need them.

Howard and I have been married for twenty years. It was not all bliss. Parts of it were gut-wrenchingly hard. In hindsight, many of those horribly difficult parts were directly related to Howard’s struggles with anxiety and depression. Other difficult parts were directly related to my personal stash of neuroses and emotional baggage. Yet our marriage is good. Our life together is more than good. We have built a partnership through the years that sustains us, a business, and our four children. Part of the reason our marriage is still good twenty years in, is because we pulled together when things got hard instead of pulling apart. That required conscious decision from both of us and bucketfuls of forgiveness that we splashed all over everything.

Howard is a bright spot in my life. He makes me laugh. He makes my days better, which is why it hurts so much when this amazing person vanishes into himself and radiates despair or anger. Suddenly instead of having a life partner who is carrying half the load, or even saving me because I’m stumbling, I have a person who is faltering and struggling to carry only a fraction of what he usually does. Not only that, but he radiates the bleakness and it permeates the house, actually creating additional stress and strain. These days we have good strategies for minimizing the impact of a depressive episode. That was not always the case.

The first time I really got to see inside Howard’s pit of despair was on our honeymoon. I was twenty, still trying to figure out who I was as an adult. Still trying to choose which life patterns I wanted to emulate from my family of birth and how I wanted to do things differently. I’d been around depression before with one of my siblings, but my family did not name it. It was the elephant in the room around which we all danced, trying to create a peaceful life. I carried that approach into my marriage. I knew Howard had mood swings. I’d witnessed some during the course of our engagement. But there we were, about halfway through our honeymoon, laying in the dark together while Howard cried and talked. He was letting me further into his heart than he’d ever let anyone before and it was terrifying for both of us. I stared into this deep, dark, seemingly bottomless pit and knew it could swallow me whole if I was not careful. It could swallow us both. And I did not want that to happen.

The next morning the bleakness had passed and my wonderful Howard was back, but I did not forget that the pit was a possibility.

Our family, the new one that Howard and I made together, danced with the elephant for decades. We built habits in the hopes of increasing the good times and reducing the bad ones. We looked for cyclical patterns. We evaluated. Early on I might have suggested therapy of some kind, but Howard had done therapy following the death of his parents and he reported it hadn’t done much for him. We were smart people, surely we could figure out the right diet, or exercise program, or spiritual regimen. All of these things were good management tools and we used them. Sometimes they helped. Other times they were powerless. We were powerless.

It was not until eighteen months ago that we named the elephant. That was when we finally saw this thing that had always been in the middle of our lives and said it was
A. real
B. a problem
C. something we should address.
That shift came because of many things, the most obvious being when our friend Robison Wells began speaking publicly about the mental illnesses that plague him. Rob and a couple of other friends showed Howard that admitting a problem could be a step toward better answers. There was also quite a lot of spiritual guidance and inspiration. Howard and I are religious people and we believe that we were guided. We also wish we’d been a little less thick headed to inspiration when we were younger.

The other thing that shifted was me. I’d been sorting some old emotional baggage (because of inspiration) and finally realized that my job was not to fix Howard, nor to save him. I was to love him no matter what. In fact that was a very clear inspiration directly to me, that Howard is strong and that my job was to love him, not fix him. After realizing that, I changed my answers. When Howard was filled with despair and said “I’m broken.” I stopped saying “No you’re not. It’s fine.” I allowed broken and suddenly let’s get this fixed became an option. Howard no longer had to live up to my need for everything to be fine. He finally had the space to consider and then seek treatment. This is exactly what I mean when I said that some of the difficulties were caused by me, even though I am not the depressed person. He worked so hard to be fine for me.

Howard has a problem with the chemicals in his brain. They sometimes make him feel like a complete failure as a human being, even when everything in our lives suggests exactly the opposite. It means that yesterday was happy, but today is miserable even though nothing has changed overnight. We tried all of the non-medicinal options for nineteen years and we still found ourselves occasionally trampled by the unnamed elephant. It was not good for us, nor for our kids. But a year ago things changed. That was when Howard saw a doctor and we started fixing the chemistry by applying medication, and it worked.

When I say “it worked” that doesn’t mean everything is all better now. Howard still has depressed days, but they aren’t as often and they don’t get as bad. Visits to the pit of despair are a rare occurrence, where they used to be regular. Howard has had the chance to experience a steady happiness where life feels generally good. More important, when Howard is having a bad brain chemistry day, we see it, we name it, and we know how to adjust for it. This is quite different than trying to adjust for an elephant that no one wants to admit exists.

If you have a loved one, a spouse, sibling, parent, friend, partner, who is depressed, and you want to help, there are some things I think you should know. The first and most important is this: You can’t fix it. There are dozens of ways that depression can be managed, healed, or even cured depending on the causes of it, but you can’t fix it for them. The depression exists in your loved one, maybe it is chemical, maybe it is situational, but it is inside them, not you. I tried to fix Howard’s depression. Believe me I tried. For eighteen years of marriage I adjusted all of the things I could conceive of adjusting in the hope it would prevent or alleviate the dark days. He’d have a dark day and I would clean all of the things because then a dirty kitchen wouldn’t add to the stress. I’d manage his schedule. I’d take over chores that were usually his. I’d hug him when the shape of the darkness allowed for that. (Sometimes it didn’t and he would flee from all touch.) I argued with him when the dark manifested as verbalized self-loathing.

My efforts helped some. I could see that they did, which is why I kept trying harder. I kept hoping that I could exert control over this thing. My efforts also masked the problem. When your loved one says “I’m broken.” It feels like the right answer is “No you’re not. Of course you’re not. Everyone has bad days.” The more powerful and helpful answer is to say. “Yes you’re broken. This depression is not normal. I love you anyway.” I love you anyway is the answer which allows the depressed person stop being strong, and start seeking help. I love you anyway gives the depressed person permission to change instead of demanding a status quo.

As soon as Howard decided that maybe he was willing to see a doctor, I did the research. I found out who we should go to. I made the appointment. I continue to make appointments for him from time to time. Because making an appointment is an act of will. It feels like an admission of illness. Making the appointment is a barrier that can be really hard to clear. I schedule half of the things which end up on Howard’s calendar anyway, so me doing this is a natural extension of what I already do. The frustrating piece was sitting on a waiting list for three months before they would make an appointment. (There’s a shortage of mental health professionals in Utah.) I went with Howard to the first appointment, but not any of the others. Again, this was me helping him over the first hurdle. After that I needed to stay out of the way because Howard has to own this process.

That is the second thing I want you to know: the depressed person has to control their own healing process or it will not work. I suppose it is possible to force someone to take drugs, but that doesn’t make them want to change the way that they’re relating to the depression. Howard had a huge emotional process to go through with taking medication. He had to grieve. I don’t know why daily medication requires grief, but I felt the same thing when I had to begin thyroid medication. It feels like weakness, or failure. It feels unfair. I see lots of friends who take psychoactive medications making snarky comments about the meds that they are on. Howard started taking the medicine and at first he didn’t want to see that it made a difference. Then he could see the difference and was angry at the medicine for working, because it meant he needed it. Slowly Howard is learning the ways that the medicine helps him. He’s learning that it is a useful tool and that it is okay to use all of the available tools in dealing with this.

Naming the depression changed everything. The moment that we looked at Howard’s depression and said “maybe this isn’t normal.” It changed all of our conversations on the subject. We started talking about the depression as if it were a phenomena that could be observed, which it is. We developed a taxonomy of sorts to describe the different variations. Howard directly asked me to be his spotter with the medications because he is very afraid of slipping into abusing medicine. He and I used calm times to discuss how to handle depressed times. I began to pay closer attention to the sorts of things he would say when he was sliding into depression and I learned when gently pressing him to take a pill was the right choice. I don’t have to press as much as I used to do, because Howard has learned to watch his own brain and identify when he needs the medicine. It took lots of practice. I am very much a part of Howard’s management process, but he is the director of it.

Even with excellent treatment there will still be hard days
. Some depressions can be worked through and resolved in a permanent way. We may yet find a way to do that for Howard, for now we still have to manage the down times. The hardest days are the ones where I’m not feeling completely stable myself. I could be ill, under stress, tired, or just feeling a little down. If Howard hits a depressive patch during those days, it feels massively unfair. I find myself angry at him for being depressed, even though I know he would never choose this. There was one day where all manner of little things went wrong, and I was ready to cry. That was the day when two of my kids had emotional meltdowns simultaneously and Howard was having a medium-down sort of day. I lamented to Howard how unfair it is that I never get a turn to fall apart while someone else picks up the pieces.

The “never” part isn’t true, of course. There have been many times when Howard has rescued me and taken care of me. This is one of the reasons the depressive days hit so hard. I depend upon Howard. He handles his things, I handle mine. We’re both full to capacity with things to do, but without warning Howard will be unable to do his things. He’ll feel like he’s never going to be able to do his things again. He’ll say that to me as he’s sorting the thoughts in his head. And the horrible little voice of anxiety will whisper in the back of my head “what if he’s right?” Right now depression shows up and lays him flat for a day or two. But we don’t know why it shows up. We have no way to make it go away. What if some time it doesn’t leave? This is the horrible fear that I lock away in the back of my brain during the hard days. I see the depression and I know it could destroy us, because when Howard is deep into a depressed day, he is different. His thoughts and attitudes are different. His capabilities shift. The Howard I love and depend on is gone and all I can do is wait for him to come back.

So that is a thing you should know too. Depression can be traumatic and terrifying for the loved ones because they are forced to face being powerless. Of course, that one is unlikely to be news to you. But it means that you are at a higher risk for anxiety and depression yourself. Be on the lookout for that. Be aware that you might also need help and treatment. It is possible that the best thing you can do for your loved one is to go see a therapist or spiritual advisor yourself. You need a support network, because this is a hard load to carry. Faith is a huge part of my support network. I have conversations with God about Howard’s depression all the time. I feel like we’re partners in helping take care of this amazing person we both love. I truly believe that any path that Howard walks toward eliminating depression forever will be an inspired walk of faith. I hope that we’re on that path already even though I can’t tell how far we’ve come or how far we have left to go. But if this is a lifetime-long walk, I’m okay with that. I didn’t sign on to be married to Howard just for the easy stuff.

Preserve your own balance. In order not to be pulled into depression myself on the days that Howard is down, I have to actively shield myself against his moods. This is hard, because I am a naturally empathetic person and I am highly attuned to the emotional states of my family members. Sometimes this means that I need to have physical space from Howard when he’s depressed. Sometimes Howard provides that space deliberately in acts of heroism. In recent memory we had a family party on a day when Howard was depressed. It was the first time I’d been able to enjoy the company of my siblings in a very long time. Howard hid himself away, keeping his bleakness contained so that I could enjoy the event. I recognized his sacrifice and told him that I did. The verbal recognition was critical so that he knew that I knew that he was making a special effort for me. Also so that he knew that I was aware of his depression and he was not abandoned with it. It was our way of working together to make sure that the depression did not ruin a party. We hope for future parties where Howard and I can both attend.

Listen without judgment. This is probably the most important function that I serve for Howard when he is depressed. He needs to process and think through what he is feeling. Over the years we’ve learned how to communicate the depression without wallowing in it. It is rare that I’m able to say something that alleviates the depression, but not being left alone with it is a huge help.

Talking about it can help. There is a silence that blankets anything that hints at mental weakness or illness. People are afraid to admit that they’re struggling with mental health issues. Some of those fears are founded in reality. Employers think twice before hiring someone with admitted mental health struggles. People look askance. The stigma is real. But part of what helped convince Howard to get help was when he first started talking about the depression with trusted friends. Part of his ongoing process is to speak up on the internet when he’s having a bad week. The responses to those posts are overwhelming support from others who have walked similar paths and thanks from people who are grateful that someone is willing to speak up. This is the reason I wrote this (very long) post. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs it. And because once I began it, I realized that I needed to say all of it. I’m certain there will be more things to say on a different day, but this is my last thought for you right now. Hang in there. You and your loved one can get through this and find a better place. Howard and I did.

Edited to add: As a result of questions and discussions prompted by this post, I’ve decided to add links to some support organizations which may be useful.

NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They have a page dedicated to helping people connect with support groups and discussion groups both online and in person.

Google also led me to DBSA the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. They also have a page devoted to helping people connect with the resources that they need.

There is the ASCA, Adult Survivors of Child Abuse. If a history abuse of any kind factors into your loved one’s depression, it is probably best to talk to someone who knows how to thrive after that.

If you want a faith centered approach to healing, you might consider looking at the LDS addiction recovery program. Reading through their 12 steps, most of it applies if you just substitute “depression (or anxiety, or mental illness) for the word addiction. You do not have to be a member of the LDS (mormon) faith to use these services.

I am certain that these are only the beginning of the resources that are available to you both locally and internationally. The world is full of people who understand your pain and would be delighted to help you find a happier way to live.

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32 comments to Married to Depression

  • Kathy Ward

    This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing, I know it was difficult. I am sharing it with my family because we struggle with many of the same things.

  • Sally

    I officially love this post! I especially liked the story about the party. As someone who gets depressed, it’s nice when I have someone who understands that I don’t want to infect people with my sour mood.

  • Rich M.

    Long-time reader of Howard’s comic, and listener to his podcast here. My wife struggles with many of the same issues Howard does, and while we’ve blundered into many (most, actually) of the same solutions and coping mechanisms you list here, thanks very much to you and to Howard for being open and constructive about your journey through it. It helps to know others are dealing with similar trouble, and muddling through.

  • Mike

    My wife has struggled with depression for at least 25 years. We have sought help and medication to help but nothing seems to work. We have moved around the country for years and are finally (I hope) somewhere we will stay for many years. I am finding there are very few resources to help locate doctors who will prescribe a comprehensive treatment plan instead of “we’ll just try this for a while and see how it works” with no counseling or therapy. I miss my wife! Her depression (based on my own research) stems from childhood sexual abuse, chemical imbalance, and a strong hereditary family depression. She also has a strong – almost unreasonable – distrust of doctors. How can I help her find the help she needs? I’m tired!

    • Finding the right help can be really hard, particularly when there are trust issues and abuse involved. I am not an expert in those things, not by a long shot. However I know that there are loving experts out there who would like to help. Have you looked for an abuse survivor support group near you? Even if you can’t convince your wife to join the group, you going could help your suffering.

      You don’t need a doctor to prescribe therapy. You just pick a therapist and start going. This can be expensive if it is not covered, which can be a huge barrier. My experience thus far is that there are psychiatrists who prescribe medication and there are therapists who do regular therapy. Somehow it is left up to the patient to combine those two treatment paths into something useful. It definitely sounds like your wife has both emotional and chemical issues to address and that addressing just one is not the path to long term healing. Hang in there. She’s lucky to have you.

  • Thank you so much Sandra for this post. We really appreciate your friendship with our son Jason. I sent a message to him to read this post today. I know that he values the talks he has with Howard and you, you guys are very special to him and Amanda.

  • This is just one of the thousands of reasons why I have so much respect and admiration for you. We’ve talked several times at conferences about different ailments and challenges (learning disabilities, autism, etc.) and you have one of the most accepting and healthy attitudes I’ve EVER seen. You and Howard are both so inspiring to me. As horrible as his days are, I admit that I love when he speaks out on social media because sometimes he is the ONLY one talking about this very huge, real things that so many of us face. He speaks and I feel less alone.

    And then you write this post that just oozes with love and wisdom and my heart is filled with gratitude. My husband is a lot like you. He’s used lots of these same strategies and we didn’t really start “talking” seriously about my depression until around 2010. It hit its very worst place in 2011. Because of his constant honestly, love, and acceptance of what I struggled with (and that it was a problem and not a personal flaw inherent *in* me), I finally had the strength to admit that I needed to take medication and take it seriously. You perfectly articulated how you actually do grieve when you have to take meds. Almost three years in of 11:00 AM on-the-dot taking meds and I still hate that stupid pill. But I take it and feel grateful that not every day is a black pit. I still have black pit days–just not every day.

    I am so glad you wrote this post. I am so glad you and Howard speak openly about this. I am so glad I ever met you because I increasingly like you even more over time. You’re phenomenal. Truly. Thank you for this!

  • My husband also has depression and has dealt with it on and off all of his adult life. We had many times in our marriage when we couldn’t afford medication and he’d forget to take it for extended periods. It wasn’t until about 12 years ago that he realized every time he blew up and put a hole in the wall or something similar, he’d been off his meds for a while. That was a major turning point for us. The other was finding the right medication that really works right for him. When he’s on his meds we have 95% good times. He’s funny and focused, helps around the house and is just all around wonderful. When he misses his meds he gets grouchy and irritable, every little thing bothers him and hes mean about it (at least with me, no one outside the home probably ever noticed it). He hated feeling like this, and hated himself even more for it when he was not acting like a grouch. But admitting that he had to have them, that his brain chemistry requires them, was not an easy step for him. At all.

    His mom and brother both have more severe mental illness issues which worries me–is that a hint of what might happen down the road? Could I end up dealing with him under similar circumstances as we grow older? I don’t know, but I try not to let worries about decades still to come interfere with what is going on now.

    Needless to say, I would rather starve than have him go without his meds, and there have been times when we were eating a lot of pasta for extended periods because the meds make life so much easier for both of us. We have a wonderful marriage and work together in our home all day, every day. I couldn’t be happier about where we are in our lives and our marriage right now.

    • We’ve seen something similar, depression manifesting as anger and crankiness. I think that adrenaline helps beat back the bleakness and so the brain uses constant low levels of anger as an adrenaline source. Medicine is better.

      • Rob Turner

        I agree, anger is a VERY common side effect of both chemical and non-chemical depression. The sense of helplessness pushes it and the normal restraints are eaten away by the despair. The lashing out only worsens the feelings of worthlessness and shame.

  • Thank you for sharing. It is inspiring that you’d share this experience you and your family have had to help others deal with similar circumstances in their own lives.

  • Jonathon Side

    Thank you for sharing this. You guys are awesome.

  • Jonathan Boynton

    Thank you for sharing this. Honestly, I hadn’t ever really thought about the idea of ‘cycles of depression’ until I started reading about the experiences from you and Howard… it’s got me to think a lot about patterns in my own life that I need to try tackling. This post, along with the others I’ve read, have been awesome and helpful. Thank you so much for taking the time.

  • Rob Turner

    This exactly explains large segments of my life. I remember getting to college and having irrational mood swings and finally going to the BYU counseling center. The first session the counselor took down what I know know is the DSM and read a description that fit me personally.
    It was amazing to know that there was something there, and not just me being weak. Over the years my family has come to terms with the fact that most of us suffer some sort of depression/mental illness.
    I was lucky that I caught it relatively early, and that I’m generally well able to treat things. My wife is a counselor and works with this thing all the time, so I have the advantage of her training as well.
    The fact is that it is debilitating when it hits and the treatments have to be individual since the causes are varied and difficult to pinpoint. I admire that Howard speaks about this regularly. It is still a somewhat taboo subject for many.
    Thanks for your excellent essay. I know that the burden at times, for us and our families seems more than we can bare.
    Rob

  • This is an incredible post, Sandra. I do think it’s important to realize that anger is a part of depression. Also, that some people can hide it very well, when inside, they feel like they are dying. This has affected so many of my loved ones, and I’ve read a lot of books on it, and been in a lot of sessions as a supporting role. Last year I read DANCING ON BROKEN GLASS by Ka Hancock. It’s a novel, but it’s amazing. It really changed how I viewed my marriage and my relationship with those who are suffering, and to know that it’s entirely possible to love someone broken.

  • Christi

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I can’t believe how perfectly it mirrors the struggles my own husband, who is also an artist, deals with! My husband saw things in himself that he saw his father going through, the difference is, his father won’t get help and my husband will. Thank you for sharing, your experience and insights were just what we needed to support us!!!

  • emily

    This is excellent. I am the depressive partner in my marriage. It is so hard for both of us! Three years ago I found an amazing psychiatrist who helped me see that I could have a happy life, and it was ok to use medication when nothing else had worked for my whole life. I was so blessed to find her! I still have down days, but my normal daily life is happy and peaceful now. Medication also gave me the space/ability to process and work on other emotional issues, and because of that our marriage is better as well.

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you for writing about this. I know it was difficult.

  • Sandra, this post is one of the gazillion reasons I love you. The honesty from you and Howard is a huge help. I have issues with seasonal depression. Mine usually comes in the month of May (usually meaning always). But sometimes it rears its head at times I’m not expecting it. My husband and I have spent twenty one years learning to Dance around the month of May. He usually takes me out of town in May and keeps me away for as long as possible. Changing my environment really does help. We know it’s a problem. We meet it head on. But the times it catches us off guard is scary, and I know it’s hard for him to have me sad and crazy when there’s no reason for it. I’m taking herbs that help and doing what I can to keep my family as normal as possible. But honestly my best medicine comes from my husband’s support and unending love. The no-matter-what love. He is what keeps us from drowning in my despair during the bad times. Your post here is an amazing resource for people who haven’t yet named what’s wrong, or for those people who have named it but don’t know what to do about it. Thanks for posting it. You guys are amazing. xoxo

  • Thank you Sandra. This post hit home for me. My hubby suffers from depression as well, and has been on medication for over a year, but there are so many times when I feel like some of it is my fault. Maintaining my own balance has been difficult at times when he is in the dark. I have so many thoughts of “If only I’d…” and chastise myself for not making a perfect house and home for him to be safe in or not keeping the children quite – like it’s something I do that triggers his mood. We have come a long way from me hiding for however long it lasted, we communicate well and talk openly about the issue, but now I need to admit to myself that it’s not my fault. Not at all. …That’s going to be hard. Thank you.

  • Peggy :)

    An amazing post, Sandra, thanks so much for sharing!

    I am curious – at LTUE 2013, you introduced to me the concept of “spoons.” It was very helpful to me at the time, so now I’m wondering if you still use talk about spoons or if things have changed now that Howard’s depression is no longer an elephant?

    On a side note, I’m really glad you guys have the elephant named and are combating it with such determination. Best of luck keeping it firmly supervised. :)

    • Funny, but Howard and I generally don’t use the spoon theory metaphor in our regular communications. Sometimes we do, but it is usually in relation to a physical illness like a head cold. Then we say things like “I don’t have enough spoons for that.”

  • Amira

    Thank you so much. I really needed this right now.
    My boyfriend is currently dealing with worse depression than he’s ever had, but it’s been around, on and off, for the whole five years we’ve been living together. It’s taken a long time for him to even admit that there might be something up, and he’s not ready to think about therapy or anything like that yet.

    We’ve only finally gotten around to sharing what’s been happening with his family. I’m going to forward this post to them. I think they need to read it too.

    Once again, thank you Sandra. Just knowing I’m not alone, that other people have been in and are in similar situations, and that it can get better, means so much.

  • Michael Savage

    That is a beautiful post, thank you.
    I have PTSD linked depression for the past 25 years and it took me over 15 of them to really accept that reality and learn to cope with it. And to learn to live with myself.
    You mentioned grief and its relationship with/to taking medication for depression.
    For me, that grief is for the loss of independence, that independence that says “I can do this without need for support, medical, spiritual or emotional”.
    Grief in any form is hard but is possibly hardest when it is an internal personal grief or loss.

  • Eleesa

    This was lovely. I do not yet have the privilege of being married, but it is a cherished dream of mine. I am no stranger to the darkness of depression – it is one of the two sides to my “bipolar” diagnosis. It is not something that is of the out of control variety, but it used to be when I was younger. I agree with what you said, identifying something as irregular and not normal helped give me confidence to handled my situation. I wish you both the best.

  • […] 03/2014: Married to Depression and Miles and Miles of No-Man’s […]

  • Alex

    Wow. That was a really tough read. Not because it was poorly written, or anything. It is an excellent article, and a perspective that rarely get discussed in a positive way.

    The difficulty came from the fact that when I went through depression, things went very differently.
    When, after close to six month of things being “bad” I finally raised the conversation that perhaps this was depression and I was not going to get through it alone…My, then, wife called it an excuse and told me that I was being ridiculous. It was not an avenue that was open to being pursued, and when I pursued it on my own (in an entirely half-assed, not especially motivated stop-start way that someone in that situation manages, on a good day), it was either ridiculed because I spent money to go, or because I could not be bothered making the appointment or turning up, so even I did not believe that was what was wrong.
    A little bit later I got dropped like a rock down a well in term of the being married. I was not worth working on it with.

    So it is very good to know that it can work out other ways and frankly, I am glad that Howard has such good support and partnership. But it was a tough read.

    • I’m sorry and sad that you did not have a supportive person in your life at a time when you obviously needed it. Lack of emotional support can be a huge contributor to the severity of depression, particularly situation depression. I hope that you are now in a better place with people who will be kinder to you.

  • Wendy R

    Sandra, thank you so much for writing this article in such detail and with such vulnerability. I needed to read every single thing you shared. I appreciate you putting yourself and your story out there for those of us that don’t have the words or understanding to know what it is we are going through. I feel so much better prepared to help my husband. Thank you!

  • My eldest son sent me this, and I linked to it tonight. Excellent. I have also forwarded it to work (I am a social worker a a psychiatric hospital) for sharing with families.

  • ChrisB(DerHahn)

    I followed this from AVI’s because my fiancé is going through an episode of depression following our move out of state. I’m honestly concerned since I have a history of depression in my family (my maternal grandmother) though I haven’t personally experienced clinical depression. My ex-wife also reported a period of depression following the birth of our son. In that case I didn’t become aware of it until well after the fact but I realize that I also wasn’t fully aware of what my fiancé has been going through, either. I’ve stumbled onto some of the techniques you described, and I’m hoping that we can work through this.