Let me start again by saying that I think my husband is incredibly strong. I cannot imagine living with such crushing depression and anxiety. I don't have the discipline to deal with the running, therapy and medication he must use to battle it. He is resilient, he is strong at his core. The core is sometimes hidden away by the symptoms of disease though. The layers of anxiety and soul robbing sadness seem to conceal his strength from him and from me too. Often we deal with the symptoms and conversations arise with a rhythm all their own. Conversations so familiar, we have repeated them over and over again.
I am strong too, at the core, but sometimes in the midst of these conversations, I lose sight of my own strength. It gets buried in worry, frustration and anger. I hold it together in the midst of crisis days, days when that dreaded suicide word creeps up. I remain encouraging, I field anxious texts and pick up slack around the house. I do my best to equip him, to prop him up, to be the other half or more. Often though, when things relax, when things start to get easier for him, then my resentment, my anger, my frustration creeps in. I lash out at Valentine, at the kids. It's not really an anger at anyone though, not him, not them. He does his very best to cope, he does the therapy, the meds, the running, all of it, he isn't giving up, he is fighting. It's more a frustration, at the illness itself, at the loss of just easy fun, stress free days.
So here is a conversation that comes typically as things start to settle down, when I think maybe we might have a fun day, an easy day, a light day together. It's not always the same exact wordage, but this is a typical example. I start to relax, I start to breathe and at the same time my frustration starts to release...
On our way for a fun day...
Val- I am really depressed today.
Me- (internally- are you kidding me, we are all going to have fun together today what could possibly be sad) WHY?!?
VAl- I don't know?
Me- CAN"T YOU JUST BE HAPPY TODAY?!?
Val- (looking very stricken) I'll just stay in the car.
Me- No way, what is going on?
Val- I don't know okay, I'm sad. Sorry I am such a burden to you.
Me- No wait, you aren't a burden, I just, I just get frustrated, I just want a day when we are all happy together. I am sorry. So sorry.
Damage done, I made him feel like a burden, and HE is NOT. He carries a weight of crushing sadness. As his partner I carry it with him. I am free though to lay it down, instead I get angry and frustrated. Then I feel so, so guilty.
I have more conversations, conversations with God.
Me- Why God, why can't we have life without depression?
Please heal him God, take it away.
Keep him safe today
Help him be happy
Give me strength
Take away my anger
Please forgive me for yelling at the kids
Please let my kids forgive me, and love me
God give me patience
God give me love
Thank you for our friends
Thank you for our friends
Thank you for my kids
Thank you for Valentine
Thank you for having him choose me
Thank you for loving us
Thank you for blessing us
I don't get a lot of answers, in the form of words spoken from God's mouth to my ears. What I do get is love and support from friends, from the kids, from Valentine. I get encouragement through music, through nature. I turn to that crazy book, The Bible, and I find incredible words about joy, and strength, faith and love, that seem at times like they were written just for me and for Valentine too.
I work things out in conversations with God and I work them out in conversations with Val, and we try as best we can to work them out in conversations with our kids. Sometimes they end in laughter, sometimes in tears, sometimes in more buried feelings.
Conversations come in many forms, some are played out over and over again. Some with yelling, some with laughter, some without words. Conversations with depression aren't always pleasant, often not, but they have a way of bringing out the truth, of exposing the heart. Once that is done strength can be found, faith can be found, and light is let in. At least a little bit, until the next conversation.