If you came here to laugh, be fair warned....this is not a post for that. Serious subject matter involved.
For a very long time now I've been mulling over this blog post. I've pondered on what it is I want/have to say, how to say it, and its pertinance (if it had any). And maybe I just want to know if I'm the only one, or if anyone out there understands me. I've cried, I've struggled, I've been angry, I've been at peace. And yet, it hasn't written itself. So wierd. Mostly, I'm terrified to expose a side of life that is difficult and painful. People expect to laugh when they come here. They don't expect to be told the dark side. So, I hope that you'll take this information and treat it carefully. Filter what I'm saying, try to understand and not judge.
You see, there are A LOT of bloggers around this blogosphere who write about their struggles with depression. There are entire blogs devoted to that. Other blogs where the blogger "comes out" about suffering from it and the ups and downs it creates in their life. And I read quite a few of them. I'm intrigued to read their stories, understand their struggles, etc. I don't doubt or discount for ONE moment the difficulties that depression brings to these peoples lives. But what isn't being written, or that I haven't read anywhere is the story of...."the other side." The side of the spouse who LIVES with those suffering depression. While suffering from depression is horrible, and I can't claim to fully understand that pain, living with someone who suffers from it is no walk in the park.
I asked Jer if he cared if I wrote about this topic. In his typical fashion, he said "I don't care what you do." Which frankly is just what much of my interaction is with him.
It's ironic that many of the worlds "funniest" people, or the most famous entertainers suffer from depression issues. My husband is one of those.
For those that just "know" him from his acting, or from work, or school, or just on a surface level....he is the funniest, funnest, coolest, most upbeat, happy guy they know. He's like the freaking pied piper. People FLOCK to him. He has a million "friends." He is loved. And I am asked CONSTANTLY if we just have SO MUCH FUN at home. "I must laugh allll the time." How could life with him be anything but hilarity and fun?
I, unfortunately, or fortunately am his safe haven. I am the one person he feels like he can be 100% himself with. Therefore, I get to endure the real him. The one that doesn't have to put on a happy/brave face. The one that struggles to get out of bed in the morning. The guy who is full of self-loathing and frustration. Trust me when I say, hilarity and fun are NOT the words I'd use for life around here.
Jere was diagnosed with an extreme anxiety disorder and depression many years ago. I'm sure he's suffered some form of it his entire life. But, when he was finally diagnosed, it was a relief. He was put on medication and it truly was helpful. As long as he stayed on the medication, things were at least ok. But, there have been SEVERAL times over the years that he ran out and we couldn't afford anymore, or he just quit taking it because "we were gonna run out eventually, so why bother taking it." And those times are just awful. HORRIBLE! And now, I fear we have hit a point where the medicine and the dosage he's on isn't really working anymore. This = nightmare.
When a person you love suffers from depression, YOU feel so completely helpless. You want to make things better, you want to make the issues/pain go away. And you just think that somehow, if you talk to them enough, encourage them enough, pep talk them enough that things will work out.
It is extremely difficult to remember sometimes that it is their illness/mental state that is talking, not what they really mean. Even after all these years, I still take his rude comments or attacks personally, when in his heart, that isn't what he means.
Living on "this side" means walking on egg shells all the time. It means being afraid to "upset" them, because they're thought process is so irrational, they'll go off the deep end. It means fearing confrontation, or fearing forcing them to do what you know they should. It means constantly trying to gingerly encourage them to follow through on their work, their homework, their committments. Reminding them daily that they CAN do it, they MUST do it, they ARE good enough, they ARE loved, they AREN'T worthless, they AREN'T screw ups. Encouraging them to get out of bed, forcing them to stop dawdling and get to work or school. It means taking on the brunt of most all life responsabilities, because they just can't deal with them. It means listening to them complain about all of lifes unfairness, and how this person, or this boss was so wrong, and they're mistreated. It's working to constantly filter what is REALLY meant by what they say. It is justifying their behaviour to others. It is exhausting, and draining and painful. It is many, many tears shed. It is wondering if this will or can ever be better. It is fighting to maintain your own sanity, so you don't fall into a despair of your own. It is HARD!
This is not to say that it's always awful, that there aren't good times, because there are. It's just that trying to walk the line and hold it together is sometimes more than I feel capable of doing.
I'm just hoping that the light can soon shine here on "the other side."
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