Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Other Side....

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?

Well..............

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."

23 comments:

Tucker said...

Jere is a spectacular human being, and if anyone can do this, Jere, you and the Lord can.

erin said...

*wishing better days ahead* love you both :)

The Driggs said...

Allyson, you and Jere are in my prayers...which sounds cliche sometimes, but you seriously are. Depression runs in one of the sides of my family, and I have seen the side effects. Although it's hard to do, what you said is correct and needs to be remembered: "It is their illness/mental state that is talking, not what they really mean." You also mentioned that "trying to walk the line and hold it together is sometimes more than I feel capable of doing." You have just made a big step by writing this post. YOU do not have to do it alone. YOU are capable of it...only sometimes being capable means also being able to accept help. That help comes from the Lord, and now that you've written this post, it comes from friends and family who have not been your support already. It's nothing to be avoided or ashamed of. It is an illness just like there are other illnesses. I hope that you are able to find the right medication...I know when family members have been on certain medications, their body gets used to it and you just have to try new things. I am thinking of you and Jere. You can do this! I believe in YOU and I believe in JERE! I love you guys! ~Summer

The Driggs said...

Wo. When I finished posting that, I just realized how long it was. Sorry!

Cheeseboy said...

What a great and patient wife you must be. Your situation does not sound easy, but you sound like just the type of person that has the strength to deal with it. He is lucky to have you.

Kristina P. said...

I have to admit, this doesn't surprise me too much. I think that many, many funny people often suffer from depression.

I haven't and neither has my husband, but I do suffer from anxiety. And I have been crazy, and pushing that on Adam. And once I realized I did, I sought treatment. It wasn't fair to him.

I admire you for posting this! It's hard to admit, but you are far, far from alone.

The Wizzle said...

Yeah, I know exactly what you are talking about. Living with someone suffering from mental illness is one of the hardest situations a person can be in, and I really do believe that. If someone is in a wheelchair, everyone can see that and make accommodations. If someone has Down syndrome, that is apparent and there is a certain about of understanding.

But mental illness is so often invisible, and even if it's known, it is so spectacularly misunderstood that you just want to kill people for being so stupid and ignorant and not-helpful.

I'm sorry you're dealing with it, that your family is dealing with it. Artists, creators, people who change things and make beauty for us in this world have always struggled with these issues and I hate that we ask so much from our artists and yet revile the mental conditions that so often accompany their greatness.

Rita/Fighting Off Frumpy said...

Oh Allyson. Your strength just amazes me. I know how hard this lifestyle can be - I also have an anxiety disorder and my husband doesn't, and sometimes I marvel at the stuff he's been able to put up with from me over the years.

I don't have any sound advice for you, but this much I do know: take care of yourself too. It's so very important. You can't make everybody better and keep everybody happy, especially not while neglecting your own needs. I hope you're tending to them.

Many hugs to you, my friend.

LanaBanana said...

Whew. That was a hard one to read. You're the best person I know. Not like, "Oh, anyone that can deal with that must be someone special...." Just that I know that I wouldn't be as loving or patient or kind as you've been. You receive so many blessings from the Lord on a daily basis to get you through--even if it's just the ability to do the little bit you feel you can that day. You aren't forgotten. As always, our prayers continue for all involved...

Grace Adams said...

Oh, baby, I'm so sorry. Sometimes I think it's harder to be the support person because, like you said, you hate to see someone you love suffer, you don't know what to do, and you feel like you're walking on eggshells.

I'm thinking about you.

Tara LaRue said...

I love you Allyson. Thank you for sharing.

jen said...

Allyson, my friend,
First, I love that your first comment is from Tuck. You know he means it.
Second, I grew up in a home with a dad who suffers from chronic clinical depression. It is so hard. I watch my mom and her lists and gentle encouragement and frustration and tears, and I know there is really no answer. I hope that doesn't sound too negative.
You are so strong, and I admire you for the way you stick to it. Prayers your way.

Teresa said...

My heart goes out to you dear one. Life is so difficult under the best of circumstances, lean hard on the Lord and make sure you enjoy your life in spite of what is going on around you. So hard I know for sure but critical that you keep up with the things you enjoy, hobbies, friends, whatever brings you joy. Praying for you and Jere.

azandersens said...

To me, the brain is just another organ in our body, and it can get sick too. There is no shame in taking medication to balance things out, just as you would for your kidneys, heart, liver, etc. You are amazing and I admire you so much for your strength.

alison said...

i know that this was hard to write....and frankly, it was hard to read. i always want to believe that everyone's life is the perfect facade that is presented to the public, but that is rarely the case. my friend, i would only wish fun and laughs and merriment in your life...because that's what you deserve. but instead, i sincerely pray for you to have strength, peace, comfort, and love. i know that jere is an amazing person just because you chose him!! this story reminds me so much of my little sister. she's never been diagnosed, but i remember having to walk on eggshells around her through much of my life. she was always like a timebomb. she is the life of every party, people love her, she is an absolute BLAST to be around....until you get to the other side.

Sarah S said...

Allyson, my husband also suffers from depression and I'm pretty sure anxiety too. He won't do anything about it in terms of going in to see someone or taking medication. I bear the brunt of most of his emotions and can completely relate to your words that it is painful and exhausting. Sometimes I think, this is NOT what I signed up for when I married you!! I definitely did not see this side of my husband when we were dating. But I love him and stand by him, even when he has crazy outbursts that are completely unreasonable, or when he says things that are so off base and it makes me so mad. Hang in there.

Your relative in some way, I'm too tired to think of hwhat our exact relation is (I'm Alice's granddaughter),
Sarah

Mel said...

I love you Allyson. You are such an amazing woman and I'm so blessed to have you in my life.

Crandell Fam said...

I hear ya sister. It's hard, and it's not something I wish on anyone. Call me and talk. :) Love you!

Bryson Jones said...

Wow, I know that was difficult to get out there, but it's so refreshing to see that we all have struggles (cuz sometimes I feel like it's just me). Like was said, people fight so hard to try and prove their perfection, when in reality everyone faces challenges like you guys are. So in a nutshell, thanks for your post, it's somehow comforting to know we're all fighting our own "dragons".

Definitely praying for you both, and do know that Heavenly Father is so aware of you. In thinking about trials and testing in this life, I love the thought that we should be grateful for those tests b/c we have been deemed worthy of testing. How said if we weren't. Just goes to show you the trust that God places in you. Love you both! Hang in there :) P.S. we need to do a singing night and games soon when Jay and I get back!

The Coolest Allen Family said...

I too want to thank you for this post. I have suffered from depression for a long time but it has only been these last few years that I have finally received help for it. I appreciate your perspective, it helps remind me all that my husband has had to deal with. He is awesome like you are. I must remember not to take advantage of him, lean on him too much. I must work harder at doing those things that can be so difficult for me. I really needed this; thank you so much!!! (it was so great seeing you today!)

DianD said...

There aren't many who could recognize the good through all the hard when dealing with people who have and fight such deamons. And, though you can recognize the problems and KNOW they are caused by an illness, it takes a REALLY SPECIAL PERSON to survive on "the other side", come out whole and strong in order to help the sick one. For sure, "This life is the test," for those who fight the deamons and those suffering because of and with those who battle the deamons. We'll continue to pray for medical miracles and peace in your home. Love to your both.

Natalie said...

Wow. I've read this post now several times and only now can I comment. This sounds so familiar and relatable to what I hear from my husband. He tells me how hard it is to deal with me when I'm not taking my medication; how different I am. Some of the things that you said are things that he's said to me.

I guess that I'm usually so tied up with my own issues that I've never stopped to consider it from his point of view...from "the other side".

I think you are so brave, and I admire you for writing this and for sharing it with so many people. It is going to help more people than you can imagine.

Although you didn't write it this week, I'm going to include it on my Saturday post "Monster Likes"...anybody that has ever dealt with someone dealing with any mental illness will be able to relate to this.

Deborah said...

Hi I found your blog through Monster Likes. I have a daughter who struggles with OCD and anxiety. It is so difficult to watch a loved one struggle with mental illness. I also have a son who battled and thankfully survived cancer, but there was such a difference in other people's reactions to a physical illness verses a mental illness. I wrote an article about it at the following link if you would like to read it. :) I think its great you are blogging about the "other" side. Sometimes I felt very lonely being on that side.

http://www.mothersnotes.com/read/189/you-are-not-alone