The last couple of days have been tough. I’ve been low, anxious, extremely irritable and have found my thoughts heading down a path that I’d hoped to leave firmly in the past. I’ve blamed the weather (for those lucky enough to live in a country with a normal climate, we’ve gone from fabulous summer to monsoon rain to mid spring and back to winter in the space of a week). I’ve blamed hormones. But if I’m to be honest with myself, I think it’s Hubby’s post and the reaction to it, possibly exacerbated by crazy weather and oestrogen.
He reached so many people, both those with depression and those supporting someone with depression. He put into writing what so many people have felt, but were not able to say. I’m sure that brought tears, as well as relief. Carers are the unseen heroes, and it must have felt good for some to have that brought out into the open, to know that others have felt as they feel, that what they’re going through or have gone through, is a normal reaction.
I said before that there was nothing in it that I didn’t already know. That still stands. We are completely open and honest with each other, we wouldn’t have survived the last few years if we weren’t. But it’s been rolling around my mind since he wrote it, and it’s made me realise some things that I don’t think I’d really fully considered before.
My man is shattered. He is totally and completely shattered. Looking at him the last couple of days, the best word I can think of to describe him is careworn. Depression is truly horrible for the person living with it, but it’s equally horrible for the person living with the person living with it. Does that make sense? We spoke about it a bit this evening. I think for me, Hubby may not agree, there is a big distinction in how depression impacts on both of us, and it’s this distinction that I think in some ways makes it harder for him. Neither of us chose it, but, and I think this is important, I can’t walk away from it, he can. That’s why I believe in some ways it’s harder for him, for anyone with a partner living with this illness. They have to choose to stay, and they have to make that choice when the person they love is nowhere to be found and lost in a fog of depression. I can’t imagine how hard that must be. Well I can to some extent. I know how nasty it is inside my head when things are bad. But I have the ‘luxury’ (I know, I know, bad choice of words but I’m tired) of shutting down. When it gets bad enough I physically, mentally and emotionally cannot keep going. But he has to. We have kids. We have dogs. We have a house to look after, bills to pay, he has a job to go to. None of that stops when I stop. It just means he has an ever increasing burden to carry. With time, I come back and can take my share of the load again. But the toll it’s taken on him is huge.
You know the way we can keep going as long as we need to, that invariably it will be on the first week of a holiday that we get sick? That’s what this reminds me of. I’m so much better. Even though the last few days were tough, they were a walk in the park in comparison to six months ago. I’m able to function again, and can take some of the load from him. It’s given him just enough space to breathe,to realise how incredibly drained he is and how much the last year has taken out of him. And I’m now able to see it, where I couldn’t see it before. I’m so incredibly sorry, and sad, to have been the cause of this, and I think that’s what’s weighing on me at the moment. I realise depression isn’t my fault, I know I didn’t cause this deliberately, but the simple fact of the matter is in choosing to stay, Hubby has chosen a tough road. Now, things are improving. With luck, and a bit of work, this improvement will continue and will last. But neither of us are ignorant of the fact that this demon could come back to haunt us at any time.
I’m incredibly proud of him, not to mention grateful, for having the strength to stay. I’m sure there are many who wouldn’t and they couldn’t be blamed for it. We’ve weathered some truly spectacular storms, and most likely have more ahead of us. Who doesn’t? But we have one big advantage on our side. We’ve seen the belly of the storm. We know how bad it looks. We also know how good it feels to be out the other side. We can do it again. I’m one of the lucky ones, I married one of life’s good guys.
I want to put it in writing because I want Hubby to know, as I think others with depression would want their partner, family, whoever supports them to know – I am so unbelievably grateful for everything that he has done, for the load he has had to carry, for the anger and misery he has had to tolerate. I know it wasn’t easy. I know it wasn’t what he signed up for. But it’s me! Not all of me, but certainly a part, and one that might not leave. So thank you. I love you. x