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To My Husband Who Has Depression, From Your Sick Wife

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You tell me you can’t feel joy anymore.

That you can’t feel.

And I know depression was was lingering there before we met, but it’d be a fool who thought caring for someone with a chronic illness doesn’t also affect your mental health.

I know the weight of our life takes a toll on you. You may not voice it, but I feel it.

Here’s the truth: sometimes my illness feels like a dagger twisting into your already deep sense of loss and despair.

You’ve heard doctors say, “it’s a progressive disease.”

You’ve seen me through multiple surgeries. You’ve cleaned bloody bandages from my tumor removal. You’ve pushed me in a wheelchair.

You sat next to me when I received my third rare diagnosis over the phone and refused medication. You heard my doctor say, “If you don’t take it, the next time you fall ill can kill you.”

And you went to bed right after. Turned off the lights. Didn’t say a word. I let you be.

Sometimes I wonder if I should tell you how I’m feeling.

Should I say, “I’m in pain today,” or “I feel so weak and I don’t know why.”

How will the weight of those words affect you?

It makes me sick to my stomach to watch you watch me laying down, and having to rest for weakness doctors can’t explain.

I see you, working long, hard hours. And I can’t help but think that if it wasn’t for my exorbitant medical bills, you might not have to. If I was able to be an independent person, maybe you could finally take a much deserved break.

I want you to seek help. You say you’re too tired. Where’s the time to make these appointments?

And again I twinge. I feel if you didn’t have to work so hard to cover our expenses and care for me, you might have some more time for yourself.

You’ve spent many holidays with your family, having to explain my absence because I was ill. Having to answer to those who may not know about my illness. Having to explain that your 27-year-old wife couldn’t make the six-hour drive to see family.

As we get older, I feel the weight of your sadness each time you “like” our friends’ family photos with their children. The loss. It’s what you wanted. It’s how you hoped to move forward in life – by starting a family. I never thought I’d see the day where even adoption might not be an option, because my body doesn’t have the energy.

And sometimes, in the darkest of moments, it makes me want to run.

Run, far away. I want to sit on the edge of a cliff, high above, watching the world pass me by. There, you wouldn’t have to feel the additional weight of my illness. You wouldn’t have to drown in my tears as I feel my body being able to handle less and less these days. You wouldn’t have to bear the heaviness of the words, “Today I’m in pain – and I don’t know why.”

But doing so would be running away from you. And you’ve had many opportunities to run from my illness, but you never did.

Depression will never be a path you will have to walk alone. I want you to know it’s OK to say, “It’s all too much.” It’s OK to say, “Today, is not a good day, and I need your help.” It’s OK to feel overwhelmed and saddened as we delve into the unknown of our illnesses and take the journey that strays far from others our age.

I will never stop asking you how you are. I will never stop asking you to seek help. To find the value I see in yourself. You deserve to feel again. You deserve to experience the joy and love around you, and I promise you, there’s much of it to be found.

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Originally published: November 9, 2016
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