***So many of you have emailed with questions for Cody, how he manages my depression, what helps and what does not. I can say that it has been a very bumpy road and it has taken years for him to know how to best help me. I’ve never asked how he does it, I’m just grateful that he does. He’s very worried about coming across as insensitive, it’s a lawyer thing. The truth is he’s the best thing that ever happened to me. He gets me. And I can only hope that anyone that deals with this misunderstood disease can have a Cody in their life.***

My wife asked me to explain how I deal with her depression as her husband. I must first note that how I deal with my wife’s depression is not going to be the same for all spouses who deal with their spouse’s depression.

I had to learn and accept that my wife does not choose to be depressed. My wife cannot control her depression. She cannot just “get over it” as I had believed people could do prior to meeting my wife. I have learned to approach her depression from an objective standpoint. I cannot take her actions, inactions or thoughts personally while she is depressed. I had to learn that her depression is not a reflection of how she feels about me.

We now have a rule that she is not allowed to stop taking her medication. It is an unfortunate crutch that she needs in her life, but it is necessary. I try to pay attention to subtle changes in her personality/mood/emotions/interactions to make sure she is taking her medication. Occasionally, she will stop taking her medication and we start the depression cycle.

It is important for me to recognize when my wife is beginning to feel the effects of depression. I must constantly watch my wife’s emotions and how she reacts to her surroundings. I have become so familiar with her depression that I can now recognize the signs of when she is entering a slump. She becomes more withdrawn and quiet the further she slumps into depression. She will begin to “sleep,” meaning lying in bed with her eyes closed even though she isn’t really asleep.

When she is suffering from depression I do things to try to keep her from sinking deeper into depression.. If I allow her to sit in the house and think about her depression she will sink deeper and faster. I try to keep her distracted and occupied by encouraging her to get out of the house to see friends as much as possible, or I will try to find things she can do that may help keep her mind from focusing on her depression.

Ultimately, unless on medication, the depression will get her. At some point it becomes necessary to “help” her hit bottom so she can begin to recover. This is the time that is the most difficult to handle as her spouse. It is tough to see her struggle and to see her not even want to exist. This step is only necessary if she has refused to get help from a doctor. When she is not on medication she will refuse to get help from a doctor, and she will continue to refuse that help until she hits bottom.

Helping my wife reach the bottom may sound harsh, but it is what has worked best in our marriage. To nudge her off the ledge I will talk to her about how her actions and her current state are not healthy for her or the family. That conversation usually results in what she believes is a fight, and if other people could hear the conversation they would believe it was a fight as well.

When she hits bottom she gives up—she will no longer fight getting help. It is very important that I be there when she hits bottom so that I can be there to take her to the doctor for help, and so I can make sure she does not make a poor decision. My being able to be present when she hits bottom is the main reason why I help nudge her to the bottom—she cannot be alone when it happens. Unfortunately, we have both learned from experience that she cannot be alone when she hits bottom.

Everybody deals with depression in different ways—this way seems to work for us best. However, no matter how your spouse deals with depression, you, as the supporting spouse, must view it objectively, and you must focus on not getting frustrated with your spouse’s depression. People do not choose to suffer from depression.

Comments

  1. I’m in awe of how your marriage has evolved around her depression, while still staying so strong.

  2. This post is so touching. You are so very fortunate to have someone who has takent the time to accept you for who you are and has learned how to help you cope.

    Wishing lots of luck for you and your family. And your photography is AMAZING!!!

  3. Thank you, Cody. I hope someday my SO will have such a deep understanding. I think he will.

  4. the love you feel for her is palpable in this post, it’s so great to have the other side’s version. Thank you so much Cody :)

  5. Oh my goodness. I have to let my husband read this when he comes home. I’ve only recently realized what it’s truly like for him when I hit rock bottom…and this helped me to see it even more as I imagine this is what it’s like. I just read your pregnancy post and man…I know that feeling. I was hours away from trying the same thing myself…just haven’t been able to write about it in such detail yet. Thank you so much for being so transparent. I’ve wondered (as has my husband) if I was bipolar before…but have never been tested (mostly out of sheer fear of being diagnosed I think). I don’t know if you ever read other people’s posts about similar situations…and mine isn’t in quite as much detail but here’s a link to mine (http://handshouseandheartfull.com/2009/10/relinquishing-control-an-end-to-one-life-and-the-beginning-of-another.html). Thank you SO much. You two are so awesome.

  6. You, sir, are a superhero.

  7. Your wife is very lucky to have someone who understands that she cannot just snap out of it. I may have to make my husband read this. Thank you for sharing.

  8. heather says:

    this. is. love.

  9. Cody- I think it’s wonderful that you see the slide. It’s amazing that you are an active partner in handling her depression. Can you train my husband? :)

    Casey- I’m sending you my good thoughts and good vibes! I know first hand what you’re going through.

  10. I wanted to thank you both for posting this and other open posts about depression – I am going to try to start using this as a tool to start discussions between me (who suffers from depression) and my husband.

  11. I don’t suffer from depression, but my spouse does. And it’s so awful to not be able to take away his suffering. I feel ya, Cody. There’s little I can do, but being there to pick up the pieces is one thing I can do. So I do it. And I help him take his medication. And I pray.

  12. This is a real marriage, and what you’ve written here is why it works.

    Woven into each word is how much you care about Casey, woven into each sentence and paragraph is your love, your concern.

    So glad Casey has you.

  13. Some of this feels like you’re talking about me. I know how hard it can be to deal with someone who has depression. Thank you, Cody, for all that you do.

  14. you have no idea how much this helps. thank you.

  15. Amy in StL says:

    Wow. The love and committment that shines through in this post just leaves me stunned. I mean we’ve all read Casey’s side and seen the love and trust she has for you – but it’s awe-inspiring to see that it’s a strong two way street. Just….wow.

  16. It’s difficult as a health care provider – but much more so as a spouse- to understand why people with ANY illness stop taking needed medicine. I’ve learned that there are no answers, just individuals with unique perspectives.
    Your a good man, Cody.

    p.s. Be brave, Casey.

  17. Oh how I heart him.

  18. What an awesome marriage you have. Cody, you must be so strong to have to ‘help get her there.’

    Hugs to you both.

  19. Cody you’re such a sweetie. Hugs to you both.

  20. Your marriage seems pretty amazing. It’s built on solid stuff.

    Thanks for sharing, both of you.

  21. So many people think that depression is a choice we make. I am so thankful that Casey has you and that you ‘get’ it. It has taken my husband years and its still hard for him because he can’t fix me, but he stands by me…like you do her and I am thankful for the both of you.

  22. I love that you recognize that it is not a choice, and that you support Casey through getting back to being herself. My husband does the same for me, and I consider myself damned lucky to have him. I just wish more people had the love and support of their significant other. It’s so, so hard.

  23. Thanks Cody. All things I’ve learned in dealing with my husband over the years. It’s not easy but so worth it. I’m glad you took the time to lay it all out there.

  24. Casey, I’d like to thank you for sending my email to Cody. I really appreciate it. His response was wonderful. Again, thank you.

  25. Awesome. Glad He put you two together.

  26. I love you guys. Your strength is awe inspiring.

    Cody, I can’t even tell you how grateful I am you are there for my dear friend.

  27. I think the biggest problem with depression is the word “depression.” That term makes it sound like a serious, well-defined psychological condition is akin to a slight, momentary decline in an otherwise flawless surface.

    If instead we called depression something like “negative debilitating mood disorder” it wouldn’t be associated with merely feeling a little sad. Depression is a real and serious commitment and requires comprehensive treatment and support. It’s hard *precisely because* so many people think it isn’t.

  28. Thank you so much for sharing this…. You’re so blessed to have each other and the knowledge, courage and unconditional love necessary to deal with this condition. ((Huge HUGS))

  29. bless you all… for sharing this… for sharing you.

  30. Thank you. For saying it outloud, for “getting it”, for for not running away screaming, for taking care of her. It can’t be easy, but please believe me when I say that she (we) are worth it. Even if we dont’ believe that ourselves. Again, thank you.

  31. I printed this post out to share with my husband. “Here read this, especially this part about not taking me personally when it is the depression that speaks.”

    “And this part about helping me reach bottom, pushing me and catching me at the same time.”

    He read it all. We talked for a long time. Cody’s words helped him understand the “pit” as I call it better than five years of me trying to explain.

    Tonight, at dinner, I saw the Moosh’s fabulous skirt before anything else. As we left the restaurant, I elbowed my husband and asked if he saw the beautiful girl with the ringlets and her mother. “That’s the Moosh,” I said.

    “Here?” he said, turning to catch a glimpse. He didn’t realize that you all lived here, right here, in our city. “Isn’t is amazing that you found someone who can help us relate to each other who also lives right here?” he said, holding my own daughter’s hand, as we walked to the car.

    I almost ran back and paid for your meal. YOU make such a difference.

    Thank you.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Brooke Randolph, robbyslaughter. robbyslaughter said: RT @ChoosingChange: You should read @mooshinindy 's hubby's post about her depression http://ht.ly/1H46Q [...]

  2. [...] Cody said in his post about managing my depression that one of the biggest things he attempts to do for me when I’m sinking is to distract me, and the very best way to do that is with my camera and Photoshop (and my new crush, Lightroom.) [...]