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The Life Partner of a Person With Depression

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As I cozy up into the blanket that he ever so gently covered me with, I gaze at him, sitting on the sofa by my side, working on his laptop. He gets me. I’m in turmoil again. What started as a little downer worked itself up into a full-fledged depression attack. I can feel the panic that I keep carefully suppressed by taking big breaths. I know  tears are just hovering, waiting for one tiny slip-up to engulf me. Some days I know tears will help. Today is not such a day. Instinctively I know that to let loose that flood today will mean letting myself experience a low even lower than what I am currently riding. I can barely bear the pain right now. I know I just cannot summon up the energy to work past the tears. Better to distract myself and squash the reflex to cry.

My husband gazes at me and instinctively knows my thoughts are beginning to crush me under their weight. “Just 30 minutes at a time,” he says. “Don’t think past 30 minutes. And just now we have established that sleep is your next 30-minute plan.” I nod and agree. I sleep. The thoughts subside. I sleep through the kids’ arrival from school, though I’m aware that I kiss them both and ask about their day. I sleep on. Hours go by. The husband has seen to snacks, got both kids out the door to play. He continues to work beside me. I see his face every time I open my eyes slightly. His presence is comforting. It is like having a soldier fight alongside me in my battle — this battle I am fighting even as I sleep.

It is not easy to bear the gigantic negative blob I become at intervals. But my man is a warrior. He does not let the person I become at times like this erase the memory of the person I normally am. He also never lets me forget that, other, normal person. Though, to be honest, some years the depressed me inhabits the house more days than the other me, and it has got to be tough for everyone. The kids, they know. They support me. My elder asks me to take deep breaths and rest. My younger one gives me hugs and space and beautiful letters and drawings. But my husband, he gives me his all, exactly like he would to the “normal” me. It devastates me to think what all this is doing to his spirits. But he shows me solidarity and refuses to let me think about this aspect as well. “You have enough on your plate, don’t serve me up,” he says, smiling.

There is not much I can do when I’m going through a downer. There is not much he can do either. But we battle on, together, waiting for the up we know is waiting for me, sometimes days, sometimes weeks, or even months down the line. I sleep for three hours and when I wake up, he is still near me. “Coffee?” he asks. “Yes,” I reply. “And maybe a snack, you missed lunch.” That’s my next 30-minute plan. So much easier to deal with life in 30 minute chunks. I’ll help with dinner I say. Maybe I will or maybe I won’t, but that nap and that company once awake sure make me feel invincible for just a microsecond.

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Thinkstock photo by oneinchpunch

Originally published: December 23, 2016
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