Tag Archives: supporting spouse through depression

Hope, wounded puppy

20 Apr

I know a lot about depression. Kyle was diagnosed in 2003, right after our wedding and honeymoon. It was his first episode. I can still see him peering into Canyon de Chelly from one of the National Park’s viewpoints, his damaged soul grasping for answers, desperate for a glimmer of happiness, knowing his behavior was ruining our honeymoon, destroying his sleeping patterns and his sexual cravings. He tried. He tried so very hard. And I tried with him, rummaging through the cold and flu medicine aisle at the local Arizona Safeway, buying up anything to do with depression, though it was over the counter, hoping for a temporary miracle that would redeem our honeymoon, not wreck it entirely. But that was before we knew it was an illness, one that would require of us more strength, energy, consistent effort and quantities of hope that I didn’t even think could be manufactured in one’s body.

Even when I was about to leave Kyle or contemplated ending our relationship, the hope reared up, like a wounded puppy, and I attended to it with a mix of mother, nurse, armchair psychologist and raving lunatic. I had to match his behavior with in-kind sometimes. And I needed to vent now and again. Still do.

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Marriage to Depressed Husband

14 Apr

Kyle's official diagnosis of depression came weeks after our wedding.

What I have been most afraid of, in really, truly documenting my life with Kyle, is that I will have to face all of this. I have stared down the beasts, I have hacked at hooded demons with my scissor hands, emitted fierce breath that turns to windstorms in an effort to send the darkness to another universe and attempted, through it all, to extinguish the black fireball that has enveloped my husband’s, and by extension, my life. I hear the voices of dozens of people, advising me that I was only human, that what I did was only an act of understandable tragic, sad and desperate twisted hopefulness. I remain hopeful despite it all. This is my story.

It would be easier if Kyle’s illness was in fact a disability, one that others could see, like a broken leg or a cancer that forced him to go for chemotherapy. People would see him losing his hair and they would understand. They would be sympathetic and there would be no value judgment. No one blames you for getting cancer. But they do find fault in not bucking up and dealing with a mental illness. I wish I could file with the insurance company that we need financial help because my husband can’t find work, that his mind gets in the way and he suffers from bad interviews under the pressure of depression. We’d receive payments akin to worker’s compensation, just like when an ironworker’s safety belt snaps. The man cannot physically work, but he will still be able to provide, albeit at a reduced rate, for his family.

When you are chronically depressed and that depression is debilitating, but you are not hospitalized, well, society doesn’t know what to do with you. You don’t qualify for much. Even your health plan will only give you ten to twelve psychiatrist visits, if that. You better sort out quickly what is wrong and pray like hell that the medications you are offered are the right ones in the right doses. And you pray even harder that you find the right doctors.