Among the many different and difficult challenges brought on by depression, is the challenge of acceptance. I struggled with this, quite literally, for years. No matter how many times I was told, no matter who told me, (among them quite a few people who know a whole lot more about the nature of depression than I do) I refused to accept that I had depression. I trotted out every excuse in the book. I’m tired (my kids have spent years trying to prove that sleep is overrated), I’m stressed, it’s the weather (have I mentioned before that it rains a lot in Connemara??!), I just need to try harder etc etc. Anything but depression. Because the first time it happened, I thought would be the last time. I thought the same the second time. And the third. You’re probably starting to see a pattern here. Anyway, the problem for me was accepting that this is with me, it’s part of me. Chemical imbalance, external stressors, who knows why, and quite frankly, it’s irrelevant when the end result is the same. But there’s no denying it anymore. It’s happened a few times now, the chances are it will happen again…..a major life change, a bereavement, anything could trigger it. Some days I accept this. There are still many, many days when I don’t.
Acceptance had also been difficult for my husband. While it’s not easy being the one experiencing a depressive episode, it’s no picnic living with someone who’s depressed either. The person you know and love just disappears. Physically they look the same, but in every other way they’ve changed, and what’s most difficult is that nothing you say can get through the fog. This is something we’ve talked about a lot, how helpless its made him feel, how angry at times at being so helpless. We’ve had to work hard to get through this together, unfortunately we’ll probably have to work hard again in the future.
So where’s the silver lining? Well, for starters, we know what we’re up against now. This most recent episode was the worst yet, but we’re almost at the other side. We talk. A lot. We don’t run away from the difficult conversations anymore, because quite simply, we can’t. This is something that we have to face together. For better or worse, right?