It’s hard, but she’s worth it.
By: Cody Mullins for YourTango.com
Anyone who’s ever been married knows that making a relationship last is hard. When two people marry, they try to build a life together that often involves differences of opinion on living habits, money trouble, kids, and so on. Even something as simple as sharing a toothpaste tube can make a relationship difficult. (Just ask my wife about the importance of squeezing from the bottom of the tube.)
But throw depression into the mix and it transforms the level of marital difficulty from the this is pretty hard category into oh sh*t, this is nearly impossible.
My wife, Casey, and I have been married for 13 years. Like most long-lasting relationships, our marriage has been hard and we’ve faced our share of difficulties and near-misses. Making it to our 13th anniversary (the unlucky 13th anniversary, as my wife would say) wouldn’t have been possible had I not tried really hard to understand and deal with my wife’s severe depression.
The first time I experienced my wife's depression (yes, helping someone through their depression can really only be described as an "experience") was a few weeks after we met. She came over late at night, and without much warning or reason, burst into tears. She cried "ugly tears," as we called them, with every bit of energy within her. I pulled my soon-to-be wife into my arms and we sat together on the couch (while she sobbed) until we both fell asleep.
At the time, I didn’t know what depression was. I had no clue that depression was even a disease, a disease that can take complete control of someone’s mind and wreak havoc. I believed that a person could simply choose to be happy, and I assumed my wife, too, could choose to be happy if she wanted to - and yet, for some unexplainable reason, she was choosing to be sad.
The beginning of our marriage included many tear-filled episodes. Throughout the entire second year, my wife stayed home (voluntarily: she was not fired or unable to get a job) mostly because of her depression.
Getting out of the house to do anything was too much for her, and most of her days were filled with tears and sadness. Four years in, when my wife was pregnant with our first child, I came home from work and found her basically unconscious with empty pill bottles on the bed. She tried to commit suicide while pregnant with our child. I rushed her to the hospital and she spent the next week in a psych ward trying to deal with her depression.
I don’t know when the light bulb finally came on.
When I look back now, I can't pinpoint the moment when I finally began to understand the disease. There was no Oprah ah-ha moment. I didn't go to a class on depression and I didn't read any books on depression. Instead, I started to recognise the signs of my wife's different stages of the disease, and through trial and error, started to notice which actions actually helped and which ones made her depression worse.
We also started talking more about depression and how she felt when struggling with it. Eventually, I began to understand what depression does to a person and that my wife's actions while going through it weren't her fault.
Now, I approach my wife’s depression as if it isn’t part of our marriage. I view it as a disease that takes control of my wife’s brain and renders her temporarily incapacitated. Does a son blame his dad who suffers from Alzheimer’s from forgetting who he is? No.