Marriage is difficult when one partner is experiencing depression. Many things fall on the non-depressed partner — everything from practical needs, to emotional ones. The non-depressed partner needs to pick up the slack and ensure that shit gets done and that life doesn’t completely fall apart until things improve.
But what happens when both partners are depressed?
As I’ve written about before, I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. I spend my winters feeling exhausted, irritable, anxious. I have things I can do that help — using my UV lamp every day, exercising regularly, getting lots of sleep, and taking vitamins. The truth is, this can only do much. For the most part, all I can do is just try my best to get through it until spring comes. Some years are better than others, but for the most part, the months of December-March are about survival.
And so this year, here I am, with a spouse who is not only depressed, but who has been unemployed for months now. A spouse who has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. In August, September, October, I was in a a place where I was able to help and support him through it all pretty well. And honestly, he didn’t need it as much then either. But now? Now when every day is a concerted effort to keep myself afloat, I’m just not really able to help him carry his load.
You can’t save a drowning person if you’re not able to swim yourself.
And so, I’ve realized that the only thing that I can do right now is help myself. It’s all that I’m capable of, unfortunately. I’m launching into self-preservation mode. I’m focusing on me — on helping myself, on taking care of myself. My hope is that my husband will pull up his bootstraps and do the same for himself, but the harsh truth is that I can’t be responsible for that. And if he can’t, then my next hope is that he can hang on long enough for me to be in a better place so I will be able to help him more.
The only thing I do know right now, is that I’ve got to take care of me — of my well being, of my health, of my happiness. I’m only capable of being responsible for me….and honestly, some days, even that is a little more than I can manage.
On my darkest days I am comforted by one single thought: Spring is coming.