Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Black Dog

My wife is in the midst of a depression.  She has been to see a therapist and is starting with a new psychiatrist next week.  Talking with her is difficult because  she tends to hold everything within.  She works all day to stay busy and to chase the sadness away.  It's difficult for me to see her like this because every part of me wants to help her, make her feel better.  Yet, I know that isn't possible.

I realize that the black dog is within me at times too.  But at this time, I can't feel anything but acceptance and compassion. I am not depressed but filled with  hope.  Honestly,  it seems that for the better part of our marriage there has been either alcohol or some other issue that has pulled at us.  Yet, here we are: Two people who love each other but who struggle with our own demons, sometimes separately and sometimes together as a force against what tries to pull us apart.

I am continuing to do those things that I enjoy, although I am concerned about my beautiful wife.  My hope is that she will be able to shake what has caused her such anxiety, let it go, and stop blaming herself for the problems of others.  She feels sad because her mother stayed with her father for so many years, probably emotionally battered by his alcoholic behavior.  She feels anger and sadness for her father who she no longer wants to visit.  She expressed her frustration that over the past year, she has had a heart attack, had to be responsible for her parents and their financial affairs, and hasn't really had a chance to do the things that she wants to do.

I could explain that her parents are well taken care of, her health is now good, her mother is now apart from her father and made her own choices over the years, but I know that all I really need to say is, "I love you and am here."

"I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me." ~ Elizabeth Gilbert


  1. Sometimes words just aren't the answer. Sometimes, you're right, just being there and loving is the answer. Depression is a thief. Maybe, on a good day, she may consider meds and talk therapy. I know they have helped me in the past. (yay, doing much better now, thanks.)

  2. You are doing exactly right, Syd. Trying to talk a depressed person out of depression is useless and even destructive. Logic has nothing to do with depression and the depressed person often knows quite well that his or her life is really a fine life and that knowledge
    truly only adds to the guilt of it all.
    But being told and shown throughout the bouts that they are loved and honored and cherished, no matter what- that is powerful and helps to heal.
    I know.

  3. the fact that you are there means the world to her at this moment..and that is the beauty in facing these things together....depression is tough...i am glad you still get your breaks to keep your own stamina as well....

  4. I would like to throw this into the mix,sometines meds are not the answer.Two years ago I was on a nedication that one side effect was susicidal behavior. I have been on many meds in the past where that is a side effect and when I go so low I did attempt to take my life.the reason I say this is that Two years ago I survived a serious bout of depression and I did attempt to take my live using my anti-depressants and my anti seizure medication as well. I had chewed up and swallowed so many pulls it was not funny and I almost did die.if I had not thrown up while the paramedics had me on my side I would have.
    Tell her that you ar e here for here and we are as well. BIg Time Hug.

  5. Her parents' declining health and overall decline and aging are a huge factor in this depression. It's something I can relate to - my dad has late stage Parkinsons in his late 70s. Sometimes, no matter what - seeing someone sick and declining is a frightening reminder of our mortality and just is depressing no matter how many systems you have in place to cope. My dad has the best care, incredible health insurance, enough money and I still battle fear, depression and all that stuff watching him. I am coming out of something similar after a month of May and June watching my Dad struggle - I had a hard time feeling joy myself.

    Even though C's parents are well cared for C still will go through burnout. She needs to recharge in one way or another. For me it was a week in the mountains at a music camp that recharged my spirits and got me back to that place where I started seeing and feeling clearly again.

    Will keep both you and C in my prayers.

  6. I would stick by my husband no matter the illness-physical, emotional, or spiritual. He would do the same for me.

    I hope C feels better.

  7. I think the words "I love you. I am here for you" go a long way.

    Meds for depression never did anything for me, but I know people who have been helped by them. I don't think my depression was chemical, so perhaps that's why (although I do believe my brain chemistry was altered by the depression and the things that contributed to it).

    I just came out of an interesting therapy session in which I realized I didn't need to continually "forgive" myself for all my missteps. It was a bit of a revelation for someone who basically made apologies for everything while beating myself up.

    I'm glad your wife is seeking help. I hope she has a terrific therapist in addition to her terrific spouse.

  8. Oh, Syd, I read your blog and was going to post a comment, until I read the quote from Elizabeth Gilbert you placed at the bottom.

    At the moment, I am overwhelmed with grief, love, and simple homesickness for something I once had - - - and that quote sums it up. My beloved husband died in my arms after an 11-month bout with cancer, declaring his love to me with his last breath, and even hanging on long enough for me to reply to him in kind. Thanks for letting me share this.

    These feelings are all God-driven, and I can accept them with His love.

    Much love to you, and prayers for you and your spouse, and the parents.

    Anonymous #1

  9. Syd, my heart goes out to C -- that quote from Elizabeth Gilbert says it all. Depression for me is the dirty little secret in recovery because so many of us struggle with it. I do hope the therapy helps.

  10. I wish C well. This 'fog' can vanish as quickly as it descends and I hope for both your sakes it will pass quickly. You are both in my thoughts and prayers.

  11. Hi Syd - I can relate in a way - all I remember during my serious bout was how much my husband wouldn't give up on me. He kept saying to me "we will get thru this" and I thought "thru what? this is beyond being able to get thru?!" and yet I'm here and realize that my thought patterns needed to be changed, I needed to be kept busy, distracted and I had to avoid things that would remind me of my depression.
    I avoided such things as TV, movies and radio because no matter what it was - my mind would warp it into the item that depressed me. I did this for over a year.
    My husband amazingly kept telling me how much he loved me and complimenting me. I would barely acknowledge or crack an expression or give him the time of day and he never gave up and it helped SO MUCH. Someone that never gives up.
    This may not be the case for C, but I'm just sharing.
    And, sometimes, when you are not in a good mood, but everyone else around you is, drives it deeper. If he had a bad day, and was miserable for a moment - I didn't feel so alone and alien-like. Haha - that helped too.
    I love Ms. Moon's comments.

  12. Many people in AA can also benefit from AlAnon because they too are children of alcoholics. I think Al Anon meetings help a lot with that kind of daily depression, which could be an issue for many people in all 12-step programs. It doesn't get directly discussed much in meetings, though. As a child, you might see people regularly avoiding their feelings with alcohol; why wouldn't make you tend toward sadness? I think it would affect most people that way.

  13. Offering heartfelt wishes to your wife that the depression will ease. I hope her therapist is a good fit and can help. Maybe she is going through the process of grieving her parents' losses as well as her own. And with all that has happened, perhaps she is feeling burned out as well, and burnout takes awhile to get through. All the best to both of you.

  14. I feel you on this. I've actually lost some of my perspective on it too. My husband has been in this weird funk for a long time, it's been a slow slide and it's ugly. My funk, is now getting just as bad honestly. Two in the house in a funk is so MUCH more ugly. I'm getting really honest with my sponsor, committing to continuing to go to meetings, talk with newcomers, as the cheesy but true mantra says 'this too shall pass.'

    But while it's happening it is really a hard trudge.

  15. I'll be praying for your wife.

  16. Syd, With all that C has been through in the past year her depression is understandable.
    My daughter suffers from depression and is a chronic alcoholic with other addictions. After 20 years of this with no results from meds or therapy or AA, I am hoping TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation)therapy will help.
    Peace to you and C.

  17. I appreciate the quote of Elizabeth Gilbert's. I needed it the other night when I was feeling anxiety. Anxiety is a close cousin to depression, in my experience.


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