Depression no longer has the stigma attached to it that it once did. It is openly talked about. It's in the news. The media. The magazines. Made a topic of conversation because of people in the public eye speaking out about it. And this is a good thing. A very good thing. Finally the world is realising that having depression isn't something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.
I don't have depression myself. But I know how it affects people. I know how it affects families and how it affects relationships. Depression can be really hard to handle. It can be hard to handle when you're living with it and it can be hard to handle when you're living with someone, who's living with it.
Living with someone who suffers from depression is hard. Really hard. Yet personally I feel like it's not discussed as openly as depression itself. No we are not the ones directly suffering but depression doesn't come with an instruction booklet. There's no guidelines upon diagnosis that the patient can bring home and hand to their loved ones that details how to handle it and there's certainly no way to foresee how things are going to work out.
Every situation is of course different. Every person who has depression is different and it's these factors that will determine how it may or may not effect their relationships.
I can only speak from my experience. I can only say that my experience of living with someone, living with depression has been and can be quite lonely.
I'm a talker. When something is bothering me the only way I can sort it out is by talking it through. It makes me feel better. I realise now that not everyone is like that. Some people bottle things up and some people like to stay inside their own head. That, for a talker can be hard to accept. Really hard. It can feel like the reason they're not talking to you is because the problem is your fault and they just don't want to discuss it. When the person like this has depression and the talker is the one living with them, all this feels like is a huge brick wall.
You feel totally shut out of the situation. Completely helpless. Not needed. Unimportant. Useless.
This can be fine if it's a solitary circumstance. But when it is all the time? It becomes draining. Eventually it feels like you have no one to talk to. You don't know what's going on in their head. You don't know if the problem is you. They say it's not but then how do you really know? For certain? When they don't tell you what the problem really is, what else could it possibly be?
Until there is a diagnosis, which can sometimes take years, it can feel like you're walking on eggshells. But even when there is a diagnosis the lines of communication can be hard. Chances are if the person affected isn't a talker. They never will be.
In my experience living with someone living with depression, it has felt at times like a hard slog. I've not known which way to turn at times. I have had to stay strong for both of us. For all of us. Our family. At times it's felt like everything was falling apart. But I ploughed on regardless, just hoping there was a happy ending.
The person that is affected can be anyone. Your son, your daughter, your brother, your sister, your wife, or in my case, your husband.
Living with your partner when they're living with depression can be extremely isolating. It's hard to witness them putting on a show, to hide their true feelings to others. Only to come home where they can be themselves and return to the dark place they'd hidden away from before. For that short time you think maybe they're getting better, only to realise that it was just a front. But there is consolation in the fact that they don't have to do that around you. There is some solice in that. In marriage and partnership you get the full package. Warts and all. This is no different.
It can be like being on a rollercoaster. There are good days and bad days and each day you wake up never knowing what the day will bring. Will something happen that will turn a good day into a bad day or vice versa? Learning how to adapt your own mood to work with theirs is a skill that's learned quickly. Changing old habits you may have had. Reacting in a different way so as to not to cause an argument. At times it can feel like the depression is creeping into yourself as well. Usually at night when all is quiet and it's been the end of a hard day. Thankfully that has never happened to me. Sometimes I wonder how.
Living with someone living with depression is a real test of character. If you're married to the person it may be the biggest test your marriage will ever have. I think if you can come through that you can come through anything.
I'm a tough cookie and I fight for those I love. I'm devoted and not easily deterred. When I made my vows I meant them. Yes at times it has been hard, very hard. But I know that the person I married is still there. I'm just sharing him with this horrible cloud of depression.
I realise it will never go away. Not completely. But together we have managed to get a little more sunlight instead. There are still 'cloudy' days from time to time, usually when I least expect them, but there are far more sunny days lately too. I won't give up. I know there will be a permanent Summer one day. And we'll find it together. The way it should be.