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 sneaky and horrible condition 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, seeing with clearer eyes, can ask if my husband is depressed again. 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 suffered from the same chronic depression for several years during her late teens and early twenties. She was more open to taking medication when she needed to, but there were some dark and scary times when she was living away from home while studying full-time at university, and alone with her struggles. Thank goodness one time when things were particularly difficult, 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.

Since then she's gone on to have a fantastic career, met and married a wonderful young man, and is managing to live medication free with a good diet, exercise, support, and an awareness of when she is prone to stress and sliding down emotionally. I'm so grateful to see her living her life to the full and not being dragged down by this insidious condition.


So, would I choose to marry a depressed person or have a depressed child? Never in a million years, but having done so has made me aware of the highs and lows that life can deal us. I think those of us who live with someone who is prone to depression can learn tolerance and patience if we keep in mind that the darkness will hopefully eventually lead to easier times. I would like to have had a less complex marriage, but I also know that I can’t have an expectation that disease or discomfort won’t visit me or my family, and this is a manageable condition if you're prepared to work your way through it.

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Cresting the Hill - a blog for Midlife (Middle Aged / 50+) women who want to thrive