The following story was submitted to us anonymously. We applaud their courage in sharing their experiences. If you or anyone you know is battling depression or contemplating suicide, there is help: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.**Trigger warning**
Love you to my Heart
You keep saying you are sorry, I forgave you when I married you.
You tell me you are holding me back, you are my driving force.
People say it’s all in your head, we know it’s in your DNA.
People say you will come out of this, we know you will never be the same.
Our children hear you weep, they nurse you back to smiles.
Our children watch your eyes fade, they see your strength endure.
Yes, I feel broken as you claim.
No, I will never imagine my life without you.
My husband and I are slowly finding confidence and strength to share our story, and I truly hope that by writing this I will be able to make at least one connection with somebody who is walking in shoes much like mine (or ours). I am asking to stay anonymous not because I am ashamed by any means but to honor my husband’s privacy as he finds his own voice through this. My husband was recently officially diagnosed with major depression and anxiety. Although when I hear those words, they so little depict what we are actually going through. As his wife I have slowly watched the shadow following behind him quite literally swallow him up. His anxiety started years back- close to the time we started dating. At the beginning, it was sort of light. A little social anxiety, anxiety about major life events, and discomfort. The next phase hit pretty hard and within a couple of years that we started seeing the initial signs- this time was vomiting, night sweats, some of the “shakes”. The third phase was much more intense and also the phase in which I would ultimately say- it began. His first panic attack. It should have been a red flag for us. However, we were “used” to this dealing with anxiety stuff. We ended up in the emergency room for what was some pretty seriously traumatic aftershocks of the panic attack itself. He took a few days off work to be at home and heal. We continued to see his general practitioner, got a medication adjustment and continued on. This fourth and final phase is what I would say stole my husband from himself, about two years later.
We began seeing a dramatic increase in panic attacks- and although the first few were scary, they were manageable to him. My husband is extremely strong, and strong willed. He never leaves a job unfinished and absolutely would never, EVER leave a job poorly done. So he fought. Hard. And one day I got a call while I was working. He was having a “heart attack”.
Well, it wasn’t actually a heart attack. If you have panic attacks- you know what I am talking about (what I wished I would have known at the time). We rushed him to the emergency room for some tests, fearing that what he would have would have to be dealt with my more tests, blood work, and possibly some type of heart investigation. Wrong, so very, very wrong. Anxiety, they said. He and I shook our heads. THIS could not be anxiety. We stopped eating gluten, and dairy, refined sugars, started using different strains of CBD and essential oils, chose certain music and wanted to continue to think that anxiety doesn’t do this to people. We were, at the time, basically the people that frustrate me the most now. Now that I know what I know. The panic attacks didn’t change from our behavior and environmental changes. They increased, drastically. As so did all of the other side effects and characteristics of anxiety and depression. The hopelessness, crying, anger, frustration, outbursts intensified. And suicidal thoughts bloomed.
We started seeing a family therapist that ultimately referred us to Centerpointe and my husband is on medical leave of absence for work undergoing treatment. I should have mentioned sooner that we have two beautiful children. I am a stay at home mom, have the dream to home-school and raise our children on our small farm of goats and chickens, dogs and a handful of other animals. My husband and I both share the joys of home and worked extremely hard to build the “life that you don’t want to escape from.” And in these past three months, so much has changed that the only thing that deeply matters to me, is that my children get to see my husband for all of the million reasons that I fell in love with him.
My story is different because I do not have depression and anxiety. But I am living with it. I am trying to cope with watching these diseases break my husband down every day. I am trying to keep my heart whole, while I watch his shatter. My husband’s diagnoses changed when he began his treatment. His first diagnosis is Major Depression and then Anxiety, although I don’t know that order really matters. His medications that he is taking literally fill up a shoe box that sets up in our kitchen cabinets. On the list of his medications are SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), anticonvulsants, anxiolytics, and a plethora of vitamins that they recommend he take. They have changed his medication and dosage weekly. We have been through periods of withdrawals that mimic those that you see in films representing heroin addicts or resemble those of opiate withdrawals. It is scary. We are scared.
What I wonder about the most is how I can show him that I will love him no matter what. That even when he feels like he is dragging me down, he is still pushing me to move forward and be stronger. That no matter how many times he feels like he must apologize, or how many times he doesn’t feel present, that having him here, with us, is the best thing for us. I try and do any little small thing he might need or want- not to be recognized, but to see if it makes him feel better. Most of the time, it doesn’t. When the kids call his name to show him something they made, or to do a puzzle or play a game, I gaze over and my heart clenches. I see his eyes fade. His arms are burning from a side effect of the medication, or he is drowsy from being up sweating all night. I don’t wan’t to interfere- but I do, “Ohhhh, can I play??” And I see the sense of relief wash over as my husband un-clenches his jaws, relaxes his shoulders. It makes my heart hurt in a million ways, but it is literally killing my husband.
I feel robbed of our lives. The activities that we used to be able to do with a small struggle, we can no longer do at all anymore. When we wake up we have one goal in mind, make it to tomorrow. Do it for our kids, and do it for each other, but at the depths of it all what I really want at the very bottom of my soul is for him to do it for him. I want him to love himself again. I want him to find himself through this shadow. He has told me he will not ever be “back to the way he was” and I am not asking for that. I am asking that all of this hard work, and enduring, all of this FIGHTING to get better will one day bring him at peace with himself.
**Love Will Voices is a blog series featuring those who are or who have struggled with mental health. It is meant to bring awareness, understanding and support. If you would like to share your story with us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org**