The Other Side Of Depression

In my last post, I talked a bit about my parents and their recent struggle with one another. That post made me think about a topic that I haven’t covered but semi-relates to the previous post; depression.

However, I’m not going to write an article that articulates the warning signs of depression, or what it’s like being depressed. Many of you have probably read those articles, or, if you have a family member or friend that’s experienced depression, you’ve witnessed everything first hand. What I am going to write about is what it’s like for those on the other side of depression; the family members and friends (such as some of you reading this) who sit in the emotional sidecar and get pulled every which way. I’ve been there, and I’m hoping that if there is anyone out there with depression that this piece can help demonstrate what it’s like for those that love them.

1. My Mother: I never knew that my mother was prescribed anti-depressants until about a year ago. If you’ve ever met my mother, you’d think she was one of the sweetest, nicest people in the world. When I found out about the anti-depressants, my heart sank. Thoughts of, “am I a good enough daughter?” ran through my mind constantly. I worried that if I caused her trouble or made a rude comment that she would have an awful day and rely on her medication even more.

I felt so lost and I didn’t know what to do to make it better. Should I be spending more time with her during the week and on weekends? What if I volunteered to cook a few family meals? Do the laundry? Wash the dishes a few times a week? Would any of these make her feel less burdened, happier, healthier?

When she retired to care for my brother and the house full-time, I knew she was happy at first, but her joy quickly faded. As if she didn’t think her life was exciting or meaningful before she quit, now, her daily routine consists of household chores and running errands. She was and is lost. She wants to go back to work, but she doesn’t think she has any skills. I constantly worry that one day she will just up and leave because she’s sick of doing the same thing day-in and day-out.

I try to get her out of the house and go on adventures as much as possible, but nothing changes. She’s still lost; I’m lost. I don’t know what to do to make it better. I don’t know how to help her, and every time I ask, I get the same response, “nothing.” But, she’s living in a state of ‘nothing,’ and ‘nothing’ can be a dangerous thing.

2. My Boyfriend: Meeting Matt, you would have no idea that he used to severely suffer from depression. He was a freshman in college and I was a senior in high school. We were living in different zip codes (something we’ve gotten used to) for the first time, and he wasn’t making as many friends at school as he would’ve liked. He had also lost contact with a lot of individuals from our high school, and he felt more alone than ever before.

Almost every night of my senior year was spent sitting by my computer with a TV tray off to the side. While I did my homework on the TV tray, I would be talking to Matt via MSN messenger. The conversations went back and forth for hours. But, the conversations were the same every day. Every day he told me that he had an ‘ok’ day and was feeling worthless. He felt that he didn’t have any friends and wasn’t good at what he was doing. He would then advise a plan to get more friends, or to reconnect with the old ones, and it would fail…miserably…for no good reason!

It was hard watching him struggle. I told him over and over again how much I loved him and gave him advice on what to do about his extreme sadness, or reassured him about his plans for the future. We saw each other almost every weekend, and I even tried bringing a few of my friends to visit him..but nothing worked. On multiple occasions, he brought up suicide. Even though he said he wouldn’t do it because he loved me, I stated that I was the only thing keeping him on Earth. How could I give up on him? What could I do? I thought I’d tried everything.

This pattern continued on into my first year of college, but it got better. I was still on messenger with him every night, but it was hard to see each other every weekend. Eventually, we broke up. But, when we did break up, he was at least on his feet. Of course, we’re back together now, and he’s doing much better.

For both of these beautiful people in my life, I had no idea what I could do to make it go away. I tested multiple ideas, did what I thought was right…what THEY wanted me to do…and no matter what, meds or not, I couldn’t get through to them. It’s something that they need to overcome on their own, but they need help just as much as the rest of us do with our daily lives. Talking to specialists or reading articles can work, but only so much. To those that are depressed, we love you, and we’re hurting because we see you hurting. Communicate with us, help us help you.

Granny Smith – over and out

20 thoughts on “The Other Side Of Depression

  1. As someone who has sat on both sides of the fence I found this piece compelling reading. Your last paragraph is true but when you are going through depression (for me anyway) the last thing I needed was someone highlighting my depression. For me, it was only overcome when I sorted through the maze of thoughts running constantly about in my head.

  2. Also having sat on both sides if the fence I think therapy is important for those living with depressed loved ones, to help prevent depressions if our own and also to help us see how we enable depressions in family systems.

  3. My ex husband suffered from depression. He blamed me for it, though, which maybe made it easier for him to deal with. It got to the point that, by the end of our marriage, my own personality started to change. I tried so hard to be a “good” wife, to try to guess the kind of mood he wold be in so I could react accordingly. I never did, of course, which only made things spiral out of control. I was under this constant hum of anxiety that I’d never felt before and it sucked the life out of me.

    I’m so much happier (and back to my old self) now that the marriage is over. I was sad, not because of the marriage failing, but because the man I divorced wasn’t the man I married. He’s the one I miss.

  4. Hello Ms. Smith! It’s a pleasure to meet you. :0) And, nice place you got here. ( Who doesn’t love Granny Smiths?!) Depression. That’s a biggy. I battled it for many years. In my teens- clinical depression. In my 20’s- I battled an inevitable black hole that sucked me deeper into its nothingness. My 30’s- more of that. (You can read the full story in my Bio.) Now, I’m 45- and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. 🙂

    When I was younger, my depression was mostly circumstantial. Some of it was a learned behavior from both parents. But I’ll share something with you. About 10 years ago, I was lying on my couch. I was massively depressed, and as usual- merely watching the pictures move on the T.V. I remember saying out loud, “I reject you depression. I will NOT be depressed any longer.” And it went away- for good.

    Faith is a powerful weapon! I believed that it would simply “be gone”; and it was. I’m a rare case though. Most people lack the willpower (and insight) to be able to kick it like I did. It’s such an awful thing- depression. I’ve been a psych. student for almost 5 years now- I can’t tell you how much this has helped me too. It’s good to have direction in my life finally! Anyway, don’t get me started in psychology; I may never shut up. ;0) You’re right about this: your mom and boyfriend (and anybody else who suffers from depression) absolutely must help themselves too. I learned long ago that depression is actually anger that is turned inwards, rather than outward We implode, rather than EXplode. Also, it’s a form of control. When we cling to our depression, we do maintain SOME control over those around us. it’s as if we’re switchboard operators and we’re plugging and unplugging other people up to our negativity- and we get a charge/response from them. Many people aren’t aware of these things; they think depression is mostly a biochemical disorder- but it’s much more than that.

    Anywho- I digress! Again, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I don’t get the chance to meander about in bloggie-land these days with all of the schoolwork/papers/etc., but I wanted to pop in and say hello. (Also, your writing style is a lot like my own.)

    So, hello. 🙂

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