The following is a heartfelt and insightful letter written by a husband whose wife suffers from depression. I’ve found with spouses of seriously depressed people that one really has to insist strongly that he/she get help and take them, if necessary, to the M.D. or ER. It really is a matter of life or death.
As a person whose spouse suffers from depression, (I do not) the best advice I can give to other non-suffering spouses is recognize that YOU cannot FIX the problem. I tried, believe me. This time when they say, “It’s not YOU, it’s ME” it is true. I thought the more attention and love and work I did around the house would improve her mood. That is not the way it works, unfortunately. To the contrary, I grew up the fifth of six kids in a “suck it up” kind of family. This too does not work and is the worst way to handle the area of mental and emotional health in my opinion/experience. This disease is extremely debilitating, I have seen it firsthand. I have also seen how cancer is debilitating but in a different way. My mother succumbed to pancreatic cancer after fighting it for 7 months. I saw her deteriorate physically into the shell of the woman I knew growing up. It was so heart wrenching but I could SEE it and at least understand what was happening to her body. She was showered with much special love and attention through this time period for which I am sure she was grateful. Depression has no outward physical sign. It is all inside. No one shows up at your door with flowers or a meal for the family like they do when you are physically sick. No one knows about the abyss you fall into. I still don’t KNOW that feeling very well or have it for very long.
So what do we do when a loved one finds themselves in this dark place? Great question, sometimes I still wrestle with that. The only thing that I know to do is be supportive, show love and care and seek outside help with a professional who can get the right meds prescribed. Talk about it, don’t try to fix it, because you cannot, and keep an open mind and heart. Peace and love to all who suffer and prayers for you.
– Jeff Maher
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
ADAA focuses on improving quality of life for those with these disorders, provides education about the disorders and helps people find treatment, resources, and support.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
AFSP raises awareness, funds scientific research and provides resources and aid to those affected by suicide.