So…this was different for me. My husband had some thoughts. So he put them down in writing. And it was so interesting, and kinda sad, but mostly nice to read this. This is his story-about my story. I cried reading it, which is no news there. I love him.
“Help me help you.”
This is a phrase my wife is very familiar with. It is common language really, having frequently exited my mouth for the last 3.5 years.
My wife somehow fell over backwards into post partum depression and still struggles with the trigger-happy illness today. I’m not sure, however, if we can still call it postpartum considering our youngest is three. But nonetheless she still fights some days-with something.
Before I realized it was an illness, I simply believed Courtney could choose to be happy, but instead was unexplainably choosing it’s counterpart, sadness. But I was wrong. It’s an epidemic that took her mind into submission and created choas.
I first saw depression take its form when Courtney was pregnant with our 3rd son Jude. She was still fighting the residual pregnancy hormones from just giving birth to our 2nd son and recovering from that pregnancy. Hormones and a rollercoaster of emotions took over her mind. She wanted to abort Jude. A phrase I would have never imagined hearing from the lips of a mother who was (is) madly in love with her children. Through a lot of listening and little talking, we hurdled the evil and she gave birth to Jude. God changed her heart. But her depression would then take a different form. Something in her drastically changed.
Coming home from work was like walking into the eye of the storm. Especially when it was her eyes that read anger and resentment. Always anger. Seldom any talking. I used to ask myself WHY? After awhile, I stopped asking.
I understood that she was annoyed that I had the “luxury” of working all day while she was home with the kids, but often there would be no reason for her sudden, very sudden, change in emotions. The thing with my wife is that she is a mover and a shaker-but being home with the kids wasn’t her idea of moving and shaking.
I learned many things during this time. Her depression made simple tasks unbearable to handle, for example, springing things on her like, “Hey, let’s go to breakfast in 10 minutes” or “is it ok if so and so comes over?….in 20 minutes?” In these situations I could feel the anxiety and fear well up in Courtney. She would say “I just need time to think about it first.”
Another symptom she was trying to navigate was extreme insecurity. Her insecurity was debilitating, she always needed time to evaluate her outfit so it fit properly on a body that she swore was getting bigger by the day. Nothing ever fit right. She hated the way she looked in pictures. We only have a few of her with Liam and Jude when they were babies.
Courtney lost interest for certain hobbies, (sex), became a master “Jedi” pessimist and Oh, the TV volume….that was an unexpected side-effect. She couldn’t be in the room with a loud TV and people trying to talk over it. I actually saw her fangs come out from this one. And tears, always tears.
And then there was the sleeping. All she wanted to do was sleep. I knew it was a way of escape. Some days I let her. Others I forced her to get up.
Many times I felt helpless and the times I felt like I could help, she didn’t want it. The few times my help was welcomed, I ruined it by telling her to “get ahold of yourself” or suggesting she just “pray about it” or “you’ll feel better if you get out of the house” and even worse, I would make her feel guilty for the negative impact she was putting on the family by placing blame. Fail, fail fail and….fail.
Sometimes though, I still feel alone. But then again, I feel like I am one in a million husbands that get it. But don’t talk about it.
That’s another thing about depression. No one wants to talk about it. Especially not the people living it. Maybe everyone thinks it will just go away. I did.
I think the light bulb has finally turned on for me though. I didn’t read a manual or catch the Post Partum Depression episode on Dr. Phil (they should have a PPD for dummies book out there…) but I think my experience in this might have kicked in.
I won’t bow to the depression that sneaks up on her, but I can make adjustments that will help see her through this trench, for as long as it takes for her to get to the other side.
I’m realizing that I need to try and make decisions with her instead of springing plans on her.I understand that I need to help around the house more, listen, just sit with her (iPhone, Mac, Netflix disengage) pray, listen, put her concerns in front of mine…(ouch), listen, pursue sitters and maintain date nights, pray, listen. Lots of listening.
Guys, if you are in this with me, let your wives (or woman) know that It’s ok to be an incredible mother and wife, but also feel extreme sadness . It really is ok!
Oh! and..it’s almost impossible for me to bring Courtney “up.” What happens is that she just ends up going down. I can’t cure her depression. I do know that in those severe moments of anxiety, all I have to do is hug her. Boom. Reset. Then we can attempt to move forward again. Telling her to snap out of it has never worked. I don’t think it ever will.
She read this to me the other day- “They (women suffering from depression) don’t need someone to tell them to get a grip. They need someone to walk them through the valley so they don’t stay there.” -Micah Maddox
Gentlemen, we’ve got to walk through the valley with our wives. Yup, Not enticing or easy, but come on,
Every night we’re the ones allowed to fall asleep next to them. Bargain.
One of the kids in my youth group is a Rubik’s Cube wizard. I love watching him turn the cube over and over until he solves it. Her depression reminds me of a Rubik’s Cube. We keep turning the cube, hopeful that one day the colors will align. And then, I guess, we will just move on to the next cube we need to work on.
For better or for worse. In sickness and in health. Cube after cube. Valley after valley. Holding her hand.
As a follower of Jesus I did a lot of praying, yet sometimes I felt my requests were in vain and let’s be honest, some days I didn’t feel like praying anymore. If you’re suffering from depression or living with someone who is and don’t know what to pray, maybe this scripture can help. This is more like a mantra-than a prayer. But saying it helps.
Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(P.S.- this is a peek at an almost three year journey. Courtney is doing so much better.)
Hi friends! Although this post is two years old, it is getting a ton of response and traction! I wanted to mention a few things. First, I am doing so much better! Second, and most importantly, I started THERAPY and GOT ON MEDICATION. THERE IS NOOO SHAME SWEET FRIEND. Also, I have found diet, exercise (I know, gag) and scheduled days out of the house have helped tremendously. They really have, although on a sad day going outside is the LAST thing you want to do.
It is a scary, scary thing when your mind takes over in a way that feels like imprisonment. Hang in there. One breath at a time, one task at a time, one day at at time. You aren’t crazy. Let go of that lie. Try again. With you.