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Why It's Hard to Tell My Husband About My Depression

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My head can be a scary place to live some days.

Yesterday was one of them.

The depression fog had settled in and clouded my every thought. In the midst of a gorgeous summer day the world looked dark. The sweet sound of my kids’ laughter just sounded like noise. Loud, obnoxious noise. The connections with the people I love felt shallow. I felt empty.

Most days, when the depression fog starts to creep in, I can act my way out of it. I use the tools I’ve learned along this journey to help pull me out of my head and into the stream of life. Taking a walk to the playground or the pool with my kids, talking with a friend, shopping, cleaning the house — anything that gets me engaged in life.

But sometimes, submerging myself in activity isn’t enough. Sometimes the depression fog is just too thick — the sunlight beaming through the window is just too bright — and I want to hide.

My husband doesn’t have depression. He doesn’t know what it’s like to feel all alone in a room full of people. He’s never felt the sting of fresh air as you force yourself to leave the house for the first time in days. He doesn’t know what it feels like to have your child smile at you and feel nothing.

It’s easy for people who don’t have depression to look objectively at a person’s life and point out all of the logical reasons why one should not feel sad. But depression isn’t logical. Depression doesn’t care to reason.

Years ago, I remember talking to a friend who was in the midst of deep depression. She had a fabulous life. She was financially secure, in a loving relationship, had a host of friends, loved her job and was drop dead gorgeous. There was no logical reason why she should feel even an ounce of dissatisfaction with her life. She had it made. Whenever we talked, I reminded her of everything she had going for her. I just didn’t understand why she felt so sad. I was so busy trying to pull her out of her depression that I failed to take time to listen to it. To understand it. To get to know it.

What I’ve learned about depression is that sometimes it wraps us up so tightly we get trapped inside. The world isn’t seeing us, but rather the depression. People aren’t talking to us, they’re talking to our depression. Depression locks us up and holds us captive, making it immensely frustrating for those around us.

My husband fought with my depression yesterday. The angrier he got, the tighter the depression gripped me. He kept wanting to talk and asking me what was wrong. I couldn’t tell him. Every question that was left unanswered fueled his anger. We spent most of the evening in a silent scorn. He went to bed without saying goodnight. I felt defeated.

I sent him a text an hour later that simply said, “Deep depression, I’m sorry.”

He replied with more questions: “Why didn’t you just say that? Next time just tell me you’re depressed so I won’t think it was me.”

I can’t.

That’s the thing about depression. It won’t let me speak. I so badly wanted to talk to him. I needed that human connection. I needed support. I wanted desperately to let him in, but I couldn’t. The depression wouldn’t let me.

My depression fog never lasts long. It’s usually only a day or two. I’ve worked really hard at fighting it. Therapy helped, spirituality helped. Discovering passions, finding hobbies, making deep friendships all helped. But I’ve found the key to fighting my depression was getting to know it. Letting it in and listening to it. Figuring out what feeds it and what triggers it. Finding the holes in its tightly wound grip. And knowing when it seems like I can do nothing else — when actions just feel like motion and the fog gets too thick — the best thing I can do is be still.

My depression wants me to act. It wants me to make a mess of myself and my relationships. It ultimately wants me to die. It tries to convince me a permanent solution to a temporary problem makes sense. It tells me the world would be a better place without me. But because I know my depression well, I know it lies. I know it feeds off of me considering its lies. I believe if I can just be still, listen to it, talk to it and not act on any of its irrational thoughts, my depression has nothing to feed on and will eventually loosen its grip.

Depression is tricky. It’s different for each person it affects. My depression doesn’t look like yours. And your depression doesn’t talk like mine. But the one thing I’ve learned, is that when all else fails, I can just be still.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Follow this journey on Feelings and Faith.


Originally published: August 12, 2015
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