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.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.