It’s difficult to know exactly where to start talking about this ‘journey’ me and my husband are on; I’ve known since the early days of our relationship that he has struggled with depression and anxiety and, to be completely honest, it didn’t really phase me. He’s had ‘episodes’ of both over the last few years, the worst (until now) being two months off of work because his anxiety got to the point where he couldn’t leave the house.
We got through it.
I’m used to him telling me that he feels low, and that he’s been thinking awful things - that goes with the territory when you have depression and low self-esteem. But I am not used to him telling me that he wants to end his life, that he has been searching online and has found his method.
This is exactly what happened on Wednesday 8th November.
It was the scariest moment of my entire life, I cried with fear, I felt sick with worry, but tried to keep it together for my husband’s sake, and switched automatically to ‘fight mode’.
It will be no surprise to anyone who knows me that my ‘fight mode’ involves switching straight into control-freak project manager!! THIS is the situation we have; what is in my control right now? What are the immediate risks? What options do we have? What questions do we need immediate answers to? What is it gonna cost if we can’t use our insurance? What is the longer term impact of this? What is the desired outcome etc etc?
What happened next is a total blur for Gary; an emergency appointment with his psychiatrist, a strong recommendation that he has a spell in a psychiatric unit, a ‘normal’ night at home and then admission to the psychiatric hospital, which is where he has been since.
He asked me recently how it makes me feel when I see him ‘like this’. I’ll admit I was reluctant to tell him at first, as I know he’s been really worried about how I’m ‘coping’ with our current situation, but if there’s one thing we are learning at the moment, it’s that being honest and transparent is the most important thing. With that in mind, we discussed it, and agreed that we would both share our feelings, good and bad, with everyone.
Gary is definitely on the worse end of this situation, but we think some insight on how it affects those supporting someone with depression will be useful.
So here goes...
It’s exhausting. It’s constant. It’s emotional. But it is worth every minute I have worried, or not slept, or snapped at people, because my husband is alive and is facing this head on.
It’s this approach that makes me able to cope. I mean I’m not taking it all in my stride as such, and I’ve eaten enough chocolate to sink a ship recently!! But I am being logical, trusting the process and asking the relevant questions to get the information we both need to understand what is happening, what will happen next and what I can do to help.
Am I tired? Yes!
Am I worried? Of course - I am human!!
Have I cried? Yes - lots! (Most recently on Sunday when my soppy husband sent me a link to a beautiful song) I actually think crying is a really important outlet... although me being me ‘time-boxes’ it so that I don’t lose it for too long!
But am I scared? No - Not anymore!
I am the strength Gary needs when he doesn’t feel he has any, I can look at this whole situation from the outside (and by that I mean I am not the person struggling with depression, who’s judgement can sometimes be clouded) and see how much progress is being made, and I am lucky enough to have an awesome support network around me (husband included!).
Would I change all this? Hell yeah of course I would - I don’t want to see my husband going through this. But he is. And what he is doing, what we are BOTH doing now, is learning how to survive, cope and thrive when you have depression. It is possible, and we will get there! It’s not about bravery as such (I think we are both getting a bit tired of hearing that word now - sorry folks, definitely not being ungrateful, but I did promise honesty!!). It’s about not wanting to be in this situation forever, and finding the best way to get past it.
In the meantime, I will hold his hand, bring him AMT coffee, keep his geeky t-shirts in good supply, and keep encouraging him to move forward even when he feels he can’t. Unconditional, in sickness and in health with my hunka-hunka burning love!
That’s our marriage. That’s our love. And for now, that’s our life!
With our blog, we want to break the stigma by talking openly about what it is like from both sides of the journey. We will be honest, we will use “scary” words like suicide, self-harm and depression. And it will be a roller-coaster.
It’s the elephant in his mind, I am the lady by his side. And this is our blog.