Wind-Back Wednesday ~ Marriage and Depression

Marriage and Depression -  'Until we have seen someone's darkness, we don't really know who they are.

DISCOVERING DEPRESSION

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 Serotonin deficiency.

GENETIC DISPOSITIONS

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 mother, 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.

MARRIAGE AND DEPRESSION

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 crept up on me without me being aware of it  until I was so immersed in it that I couldn't find a way out.

Fortunately, the last time it happened, a friend stepped in and asked if my husband's depression was back? She opened my eyes and helped me see that it wasn’t me, it was the depression raising its ugly head yet again. Finding a way to get him back on medication was a big hurdle because he hates the side effects (as do the vast majority of people who need to take antidepressants) – he is very fitness conscious and very healthy in every area except this uncontrollable one. But oh what a difference it makes 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 NEXT GENERATION

The final blow was to find out that our daughter suffers from the same shortage of Serotonin. She has been more open to taking medication when she needs to, but there were 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, knowing all that I do now, I'd still choose my husband and my daughter every time. Life doesn't promise to be perfect, it 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. They visit most families at some stage and we deal with it and move forward - love covers a lot of pain and tough times, and we come out stronger if we're prepared to weather the storm.

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Windback Wednesday ~ www.crestingthehill.com.au

23 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this. My mom (who I love, of course) was depressed for much of my tween/early teen years. When I was doing an acting dialogue many years later, I was trying (but not necessarily succeeding) to convey what it feels like to deal minute by minute with the effects of the depression and wanting desperately to help the individual, especially if they are able to "turn on" their affect and animation if they are with an outsider. It's confounding and affects a child deeply.

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    1. It is a really awful condition isn't it Paula - the ability to put on a mask in public is part of it - I guess because they can maintain it for short periods and it keeps people at a distance and not asking difficult questions. For all those who are anti-antidepressants, walk a mile in the spouse's/child's shoes!

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  2. My wife and step daughter both suffer from this. The teenager is much more open to admitting the problem and trying to deal with it, but its still been a challenge. Thanks for sharing

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    1. It never really goes away Jeremy - sometimes with treatment and doing all the right things, you can get it under control, but from my experience, it creeps back in when you aren't vigilant and the cycle starts all over again. Hopefully your wife will be better at dealing with it over the long term.

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  3. Just two words: thank you. I'm sharing this post and I'm hoping you realize how many many people you help through your willingness to be vulnerable and honest

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    1. Thank you so much Carla - it's a subject that so many people deal with behind closed doors and very few openly admit to - because of the stigma and the "just get over it" attitude. I would like to see depression normalized and understood a lot more - rather than being ignored or glossed over.

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  4. It is wonderful that people like yourself share their stories and people who suffer depression are more open about it. Past generations self medicated, ran away or took their own lives.

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    1. I look at my Mother-in-law Haralee and she has always been in complete denial. Her generation has never understood it and she refuses to accept that she (or her children, or grandchildren) may have to deal with it. In the end you can only help those who are willing to put in the hard yards to find a treatment that works. Unfortunately the rest continue on in less than happy lives and making those around them miserable in the process.

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  5. Depression can especially hit young people in their late teens and early twenties. Happened to both my sons, but they're doing better now. I admire your courage in speaking out about it.

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    1. Thanks Laurie - our daughter was late teens when she felt it descending on her. I think acting on it at that stage can make a huge difference to coping with it and managing it through adulthood. The longer you leave depression, the greater the hold it seems to get on our lives.

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  6. I have suffered several times in my life with depression. For me, it's like a glass pit with no way to climb out. The color is literally sucked out of the world. People who say "just suck it up and pull yourself out of it" have no idea what they are talking about. The anti depressant I tried made me so sick I had to figure out other ways to recover- it was a process with talk therapy. I hope it never, ever strikes again. I am sharing this post, too. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks for sharing Alana, my husband would completely agree with you about the side-effects of anti-depressants. He has tried several and they take a while to settle in and work, then their effectiveness seems to drop off and you have to find another one. He is a big proponent of exercise as a way to keep his Seratonin levels up, but that can only help to a certain degree and then it's time to look for a added resources. I'm so glad therapy worked for you - and I truly hope yours doesn't come back xx

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  7. Depression really is a family disease. While the stigma over needing medication is lessening it's still a stigma. Appropriate medication maybe difficult too. It is often trial and error before the right med is found. The stigma and the trial process are not reasons to avoid the very real benefits.

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    1. You are SO right Beth - the medication and its side-effects and long term effectiveness is still such an issue. To be able to take something that works and doesn't cause you to be foggy or sick or dizzy or fat (the list goes on) would make such a difference to those who are suffering enough already. And for the whole depression 'thing' to be less stigmatized would be wonderful too.

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  8. We have a family member who suffers from depression. It has been difficult on everyone but especially his mother. Getting harder all the time to find help. Thanks for linking up with blogging grandmothers.

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    1. It is a condition that has wide reaching ramifications Candace - other members of the family get dragged down by it too and it's so hard to find a long term solution.

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  9. Depression is so misunderstood by so many. This is a great post! Thank you Leanne for sharing it at the Wednesday AIM Link Party. I shared it on my social media sites.

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    1. You're right Dee - it still has such a stigma attached to it, and a lot of people don't grasp the fact that it's not a "feeling" or a "get over it and smile" kind of thing.

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    2. It sure does. I know people who think you can just smile and get over it or that they can handle it without medication. How so, so wrong they are. Thanks Leanne from Grammy Dee, #BloggingGrandmothers #LinkUp #BlogParty, social media shared.

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  10. Thanks for talking about this Leanne. I almost have a fear that someone close to me may become depressed, because as you say it affects everyone around, especially the closest to the person suffering. Thanks for the light you shed on the subject.

    Kathleen
    Blogger's Pit Stop

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    1. When you're close to the person you get sucked into the darkness too Kathleen - it is scary how it slowly encompasses so much of your life and you often don't see it until it has a really strong hold on you.

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  11. I'm so glad you shared this. I'm pretty sure my hubster has it but he rips my head off if I try to suggest he goes to the doctor. This despite the fact he's seen how well things have worked out for me after my own bouts of depression. He says his glumness and irritablity are caused by work - situational depression - so medication won't fix that. I can't make him see that while it may not fix the work situation, it will surely help him to handle it better. Sigh.

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    1. It is still so hard for men to get their heads around the whole issue of depression. Even with all the sports stars and politicians jumping on the bandwagon, it's still a very uncomfortable thing to discuss and most men are sure they can soldier on through it. I think it's a shame because they lose their quality of life - and their partners lose a lot in the process too.

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