Who does it hurt?
Pretty much everyone in its path—a path of destruction. While the severity and duration of depression’s destruction is varied, the wounds inflicted are unavoidable.
Sometimes, we think that the wounds have begun to heal and then realize that, in fact, we have merely stopped the bleeding. As someone who suffers from clinical depression I am a firm believer in the “oxygen mask” analogy.
The oxygen mask analogy goes something like this: You must treat your well-being as you are instructed on an airplane prior to take off.
In case you are unfamiliar, the flight attendant always informs passengers to put on their oxygen mask first prior to helping anyone else. Despite gut instinct, we are reminded that if we deprive ourselves of oxygen we, in turn, will be unable to help anyone else.
Such is life.
If we, as individuals, are unwell then we are useless to those around us!
Admittedly, the challenge I faced during my last severe bout of depression is that my over-analytical and obsessive personality traits proved this analogy to be detrimental.
By my over-nalyzing all the negatives in my life, I lost sight of the good things. My falling into the “woe is me” mentality, served to bring everyone else down. My obsession with “getting my oxygen mask on” allowed those closest to me to endure undue burden.
I am ashamed to say, that my loving husband became like a single dad without my even noticing. My children began to question why they weren’t having playdates and why I was always tired. It was an unimaginable situation that I resolved to overcome.
But the phrase, “depression hurts” was coined for a reason, because it does just that.
Those who have battled depression know that if you have experienced one episode, odds are that you will suffer another.
So no one can truly overcome it. You can move past it. You can gain perspective and knowledge about it. But overcoming it is nearly impossible. (Though a good therapist and support network definitely help.)
And when I say, “no one can overcome it,” I mean no one. Especially the spouse and loved ones baring the burden, typically, in silence. I can only imagine the level of stress endured by those not only watching someone they love in such emotional pain.
Aside from the emotional drain there is also the physical drain to consider. In my scenario, my husband picked up my slack for nearly three months! So in addition to working full time and having a two hour commute, he came home to a messy house, a disgruntled wife and two kids acting out for attention.
Lucky for me (and my children), he handled it with grace. Never missing a beat, always composed and always supportive!
But let’s be realistic, what human can truly handle such a predicament in stride. So like so many other spouses of the depressed, he suffered in silence. “Depression hurt” him, and as hard as it is to admit, us as a couple. Albeit, only a short period of time, it is time that I cannot recapture.
Therefore, after sharing publicly my much-stigmatized illness, I am also announcing my recommitment to my family.
Why is this of importance to you? It’s not. My situation is not unique. My hope is that my experience will help at least one person—just one person suffering from a mental illness, in any capacity, the strength to begin to share their pain with others, that just one person will come out of isolation or that one person will seek treatment.
My recommitment to my family has led me to quite a few “a-ha” moments and several of my upcoming articles will deal with some of these topics, including “The coping skill of distraction and how it can undermine a family,” “Vulnerability to constructive criticism as an adult,” and “Stay at Home Parents, CEOs of the Family”.
If there is another topic that you would like to explore, I invite you to share it with me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance and as always, thank you for reading.