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How My Husband Responded When I Told Him About My Depression

You couldn’t have known how perfect your response could be. Or how desperately I need it. You couldn’t have known that the way you made me feel in that moment made my heart lighter. Or that it confirmed what I already knew. That you were it for me — the one, my soulmate. Something, or rather someone, I never thought I would have. Someone I thought my depression would prevent me finding.

On the way to visit your family for the first time, I had no plan to tell you about my depression. We had been dating for a few months and had been friends for over a year but my sometimes precarious mental health wasn’t something I’d ever mentioned. I knew I would have to tell you eventually, but that time seemed a far-off horizon I wasn’t anxious to see. I couldn’t begin to contemplate how I would tell you or that those few words might mean the end of our relationship. I knew I was falling in love with you and couldn’t bring myself to imagine my life without you in it.

I knew my depression could consume me as it had before. I knew it could erase my personality and leave me a shell of the person you knew, the girl you loved. How could I tell you that one day I might just disappear and all your help and love wouldn’t be able to bring me back. How could I ask you to take on that burden? How could I ask you to take that risk by investing in someone so broken, so vulnerable? I thought, if I loved you, I would let you go. Let you find someone that didn’t need to be fixed — or at least could be fixed.

And yet, the moment seemed right. Lying side-by-side in your room, curled in your arms, I took the chance. I mumbled into your chest that I had to tell you something. That I had depression when I was 16. That some days were still hard. And nothing. You didn’t ask me questions I dreaded or turn away from me. I thought I would dread your silence, but it was comforting. You tightened your arms around me, kissed me on the forehead and thanked me for telling you. I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect response. The ultimate acceptance I felt was incomparable to how I had felt before. The few people I had told in the past either changed the topic or avoided my gaze and stayed silent. But with you that dread feeling of guilt, for burdening another, or shame having to admit who I was didn’t come.

And now we work on it together. You’ve read some of my blogs, and you may read this one. They help me communicate to you how I’m feeling when I can’t tell you myself. You give me my space and let me tell you when I’m ready in my own time. You don’t push me or pressure me. You accept that I’m trying and that somedays I’m overwhelmed. You’re always ready to help me when I need it and I’m getting better at accepting this help. All too easily I isolate myself when I need you most. And most of all, you love me. You show me you love me in myriads of ways. You’re gentle with me when I need it most. You don’t let me feel guilty when I must lean on your strength. You accept that my depression is a part of me, but not all of me. It doesn’t define me.

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Unsplash photo via Cody Black