This post isn’t some sob story about how my marriage is horrible because my husband is lacking or doesn’t do enough in certain areas. This post is about real depression in marriage. It’s a truly sad state for a person to be in, depression. But what happens when it takes over your marriage? How do you cope when your spouse is battling depression?
I’ve battled depression since I was a teenager. It was sparked by the death of my grandmother when I was a senior in high school. I couldn’t cope with losing the woman who had been my rock and my anchor. She’d prayed me through many situations. She was gone and my mind couldn’t wrap itself around that. My heart was broken and I sank, deep. It didn’t matter, at that point, who else was (or had been) there for me. My mamaw was gone!
That was 17 years ago. Since then, there have been many losses and life lessons that have sent me into that, now familiar, downward spiral. The overwhelming darkness that slowly cloaks my mind and my body. Eventually overwhelming me to the point of being bedridden and wishing death would swoop in and save me from myself. It’s ugly and dark and dirty in this place I have landed and I know this place well.
My kids used to be my anchor to the light. I’d get out of bed to care for them and meet their needs, always putting me last. But now they’re older and self sufficient. They don’t need me as much and haven’t noticed this pit that I am in. I hide it well with excuses of one illness or another. I have a headache, I didn’t sleep good, etc. So many excuses. For them it means more time online or in front of the TV. They eat what they want and don’t do chores with any detail because mom doesn’t care as much about all of that. It’s winter so there’s no pushing them out to play or reasons to get out and do things. There’s just more darkness, literally and in my mind. Its all consuming.
The house is a wreck, the animals are fed and watered but not fully cared for or loved enough. They seem as sad as me because they feel my emotions almost as much as I do. Maybe more because I don’t feel much at all. I make excuses for why people can’t visit and why we can’t go places. I mean I haven’t had a real shower in weeks now and my bed is the only place I feel welcomed. How gross am I? Why would people want to see me? More excuses.
Working at home makes it far too easy to shirk my responsibilities and stay in bed. I have a headache, I’m an insomniac, I’m sick (insert fake cough here), one of the kids is sick or someone needs me and I just can’t do my job today. Not tomorrow either. Down I go…
I do try, with half-assed attempts, to reach out. But it’s not enough. I wonder why my husband, who has seen this pattern before, hasn’t picked up on it. He works outside of the home and his hours have been long lately. Maybe he really isn’t seeing it. He’s at work or sleeping most of the time. I know he works longer hours, sometimes, to avoid my moodiness. I can’t blame him…I don’t even like me right now. We haven’t had sex in ages. I have no sex drive, no self-esteem, no…anything. So why bother? I stop reaching out and begin reaching within. What about God? Where was He when I needed Him? Hadn’t heard from Him in a while either.
The thing is, I close myself off. From people, from God, from everything and everyone that loves and cares for me. I usually don’t realize it until it’s too late. But I have started seeing it again and start to pray and ask God to help me. Help me see my way out. Shine Your light and take my hand and pull me out of this pit. It’s working and I am slowly seeing His light and begin spending more time reading the Bible and praying and I even attended a women’s conference and things started changing. It’s then that I come to a harsh realization.
My husband also battles depression and anxiety. His moods are way off and everyone is on edge in the house. I hadn’t really noticed or cared to deal with it until now. Arguments, fights, screaming and yelling take over where there was silence and self-loathing. It’s a new ugly and it’s double ugly now. I realized that while I was spiraling and falling deep into the abyss of depression, so was the love of my life. We were both closed off and couldn’t see the needs of the other for our own self-pity . It’s scary to think what might have happened had God not stepped in. Honestly, He never left…we just stopped looking.
Now, we are in a better place. We have been talking more, communicating and interacting with one another and the kids. We are eating better, exercising and using essential oils to help us boost our moods and keep us healthy. We are praying and reading and studying. We are back into the light and realizing that God was here the whole time. We were just too blinded by the evils of depression to see it. Anxiety kept us too afraid to move. We’ve moved from circling the mountain to walking through the wilderness and are on our way to the freedom of the promised land. We are walking it together, with God and our kids. We have discussed depression with them and how they can help is if they see the same patterns start to develop. It feels good.
I have asked my husband, David, to contribute a post, of his own, about his side of things. I will share his side of the story as soon as he is able to write it all out. I pray that, in our sharing, we can help other couples to begin to heal. Please share your story. Let us know how we can pray for you and please be praying for us, as well