Depression is a popular topic, laced in stigma.
There is so much written about depression, most often from the perspective of the person suffering. And rightly so. AND there is another side-a painful, layered, and often forgotten side.
Because depression is an emotional and complex topic, let me first say what this post is not…
It is not a contest to see who has it worse : the person suffering from depression or the person who walks beside them in life.
It is not about how I feel or how I personally experience depression because I don’t generally.
It is not a soap box to complain about depression.
It is simply a view from the other side, this lens… because it matters & because I love someone who experiences the pain of depression and it is heartbreaking to watch.
Even as I write these words, I understand I can’t compare what I’m going through (or have gone through) to actually being depressed. The truth is I don’t know what it feels like to battle depression most days.
I do, however, know what it feels like to wake up one day and feel like there is nothing about you that is redeemable.
I know what it is to feel dead inside …no drive, no motivation, no self worth …nothing.
I know what it is to lay in bed at night and cry for hours, night after night, because you feel both alone and desperately lonely.
I know what it is to look back on your life and realize that for two years you didn’t look people in the eyes because the shame you carried was palpable.
When I was 20 I got pregnant with my daughter, had her when I was twenty one, and look back now and believe I was absolutely depressed-for at least 2 years. I don’t recall much and that’s when I felt my lowest.
So… this post is about another perspective on depression.
And when we are in it I find myself trying anything and everything because I desperately want to help.
So, I try. With him. With her.
My brain never stops. My heart aches.
I want her to feel alive and fulfilled and happy.
I think maybe if I do this or say that, it will be the catalyst that helps her turn a corner…
I offer to let her sleep.
I push him to get some sun.
I offer to cook dinner and pour her a glass of wine to relax.
I book a vacation because maybe our excitement will be contagious.
I encourage her to walk or cut the grass or anything that gets him outside.
I tell him the dog needs walking and ask if he will do it so he moves his body in any small way. But it isn’t abut the dog at all.
I ask her to seek professional help. Some days I even demand it because I am so scared. And when she agrees I feel hopeful.
But nothing I do helps and feeling helpless aches…not in a this-is-about-me way, but in a it-hurts-to-see-you-so-empty way.
It is painful to watch someone slowly slip away for a month, and then two and then three, then 14… and when you are a “do-er” and achievement is where you get your self worth, the ache doesn’t go away.
…to ride the roller coaster of a few good days and then a rough few weeks.
…to feel intense defeat when you admit that you can’t bring her the joy she is so desperate for.
…to white knuckle the little connection that you do have because you are so afraid he might find comfort in someone else.
So you push and pull and love and pray and cry and get angry…anything to get some reaction, some engagement…but it doesn’t come.
….Until one day it does.
And when it does …when you see some flicker of hope, it means everything.
When you hear him say “one day I just woke up and I was in this deep hole” you know that his self awareness is the crack that just might let the light in …it’s a glimpse of something more, something better.
Because hope is everything.
No matter how tiny or insignificant it might appear, hope is everything.
And even as I write this post I worry about the stigma associated with depression and mental health, despite the fact there are so many champions for mental health, there is still stigma…
And she feels it too.
She carries shame about it…and believe me, nobody in the history of time has ever been shamed into healing. So, why do we do that to people? It is akin to blaming someone for having a cancerous tumour. Anyone with a shred of compassion and empathy would never do that.
And he knows what he needs to do but cannot bring himself to do it because that is precisely the darkness of depression. And we are both heartbroken.
And I don’t have any answers. I just continue to hold my breath and pray for the person I love.
I watch videos like this Brene Brown video and try to get better at loving her.
And on the days when it feels like too much, I probably handle it imperfectly… and when I do, I am sorry… so deeply sorry.
And know, I never stop loving you. Ever.