Monday, 15 December 2014

#3 Expectation: Health and Happiness

Marianne Williamson — 'Until we have seen someone's darkness, we don't really know who they are.

I’ve always been a healthy person – fairly robust and not prone to illness in general. I expected that this was the same for everyone and had never heard of the term “depression” until it took a swipe at my family. Pre-Google “depression” was what people got when someone died. I have subsequently found out it is also what people get when their family has a predisposition towards Seratonin deficiency.

My husband’s family turns out to be one of the many who have a history (back to at least his grandparents) of chronic depression.

His brother and sister and numerous nephews have suffered from it in varying degrees. So it turns out to be no surprise that he has experienced several long term periods of treated and untreated depression. It is an insidious disease that slowly eats up the happiness of the sufferer and of the family around them – especially the wife.

I am very prone to personalizing everything, so having someone I love withdraw and become isolated and reactive and irritable meant that I immediately thought it was me causing the problem and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find a way out of the pit we were being drawn down into. The coldness of feeling unloved and unlovable is not easy to explain and is something that creeps up on me without me being aware of it  until I am so immersed in it that I can’t find a way out.

Fortunately that’s where friends can step in and ask if Ross is depressed and it helps me see that it isn’t me, it’s the depression raising its ugly head yet again. Finding a way to get him back on medication is the next hurdle because he hates not being in control of his body – he is very fitness conscious and very healthy in every area except this uncontrollable one. But oh what a difference to our life together when he becomes himself again after being treated for a while and having his brain chemistry return to normal again.

The final blow was to find out that our daughter suffers from the same shortage of Seratonin. She has been more open to taking medication when she needs to, but there have been some dark and scary times during her late teens and early twenties when she was away from home and alone with her struggles. Thank goodness she reached out and came home to recover and then returned to her life in the city. So many young lives (and older ones) have been lost to this condition and I am grateful that I haven’t experienced that loss.

So, would I choose to marry a depressed person or have a depressed child? Never in a million years, but life goes on and perhaps it has been enriched by the darkness giving balance to the easier times? I’m not sure, but I do know that I can’t have the expectation that disease or discomfort won’t visit me or my family.

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