Papa Bear is depressed.
I don’t mean that he is sad. It’s not that he “feels blue” or is “out of sorts”. He has depression. We’ve analysed it, and it seems apparent that he’s suffered this debilitating condition since at least his late teens, if not longer.
What does this mean?
Well, it means that he’s tired all the time. He is physically incapable of “helping out” around the house. It’s all he can do to get up in the morning, and seeing clients a few times a week takes mammoth self-motivation. Billing clients is practically a superhuman feat. Once these basics have been achieved, he has no resources left.
It means he needs to be taken care of. He needs someone to make sure he eats well and gets adequate nutrition. He needs help remembering – well, pretty much everything.
It means he needs understanding. He needs acceptance. He needs sympathy. He needs love.
He does not need condemnation or judgement. He gets enough of that from himself.
Giving it a name and understanding what it is and what he needs has been vital for me. I can accept the limitations his condition places on him, and not expect anything beyond what he is able to deliver. When he does more, I can accept that as a wonderful, unexpected gift. I can care for him unconditionally, as one would care for any sick or disabled person. He can’t help it.
It means that, a lot of the time, I’ll have to take up the slack a little bit when it comes to things like earning and income or taking care of the kids. Not because he doesn’t want to do those things; just because he can’t. Accepting that fact alone has been the defining characteristic of the past few weeks.
Working all things for good
I have been struggling with understanding how I can use this situation to help others, when I feel angry and isolated though it all.
Then, last week, we studied the story of Esther in Sunday School. Mordecai says to Esther:
“and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14c
In our church, and among my friends outside of church, at least 6 of the ladies are married to men who battle with depression. Most of them are on medication for this, and a few have even been hospitalised for it. When they try to reach out for support, they’re told to “honour your husband”, “stand by your man” and “pray for grace”. Those things may all be true, but hearing them doesn’t make you feel loved, supported or understood. It makes you feel alone.
That’s why I’m coming clean with a very personal story. Because perhaps I can help. Perhaps I can be here “for a time such as this”; I can understand. I can listen. I don’t have advice, but I do have experience, and I do have a little, tiny bit of hope. Perhaps I can share that.
– By Vanessa Davies – daily discovering Joy on a Shoestring.
Do you livewith someone battling depression? Do you battle it yourself? How do you cope? I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice on the subject.