Monday, May 2, 2011

Helping Your Loved Ones Recover from Your Depression

I write on here quite a bit about overcoming depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Dance has been a huge link in the chain of one hundred million things that have made that possible.  But the central link, the strongest link has been Marcy's love for me, her belief in me, her patience, and her willingness to wait when waiting has been called for.

And there are still days when all of this is asked of her yet again, because "overcoming" these things is not a one-time deal. It happens over and over, at ever deeper levels of understanding. I am barely recognizable from the person I was when Marcy first met me, and my Sick Mind is no longer in charge of my/our every day, but still...there is work to be done and then there is more work to be done.

We are reaping the benefits, for sure: My eyes are no longer deadened as they were 17 years ago -- they are alive with hope and, as Marcy would say, earned wisdom; I get out of bed in the morning, ready to meet the day's challenges, rather than barely wanting to move; I am able to challenge myself and take risks and meet fears head on.

Great, right?

But what I want to write about is Marcy. I want to write about all the loved ones who sit with us when we have nothing left to say and are overcome with grief; the loved ones who hold us and soothe us when crying seems to never stop; the loved ones who feed us when we cannot remember to feed ourselves.

What of them when we start to finally get better?

I am learning that Marcy has pain and sadness and hurt from all those years. She is not angry with me, but she is angry at the time we lost to depression. She is sad from experiencing the depths of my sad.  She has anxiety from all the times when she feared for me.

There are repercussions beyond ourselves and this can feel confusing. We are getting better so we wonder why our loved one might not be on the same page.

They are not on the same page because they have had to, for so long, stay so many pages ahead just to help us get from day to day, month to month, year to year.

And now, they are tired. We are better and they can finally feel all that they set aside in order to care for us.

Our loved ones are not perfect. They are not saints. They are human and came into the relationship with their own problems like anyone else, and as we finally get stronger, they can finally get weaker.

It is our turn to care for them.

I know, now, that I am called to patience and love, just as Marcy has demonstrated for so many years. I am called to sit and hold her, soothe her, wait with her, as she did for me.

I can easily feel daunted by this task. I have spent so many years of my life "suffering," "doing depression" (that phrase will piss some of you off; I don't care; I am ready to take full responsibility for what I have been through; I might not have caused the harm that was done to me, but I succumbed to unproductive behaviors in response to that harm and consequently caused others harm).

Depression, illness in general, creates a sort of self-centered vacuum around us. It sucks the energy out of everything.

Upon waking from depression, we cannot be surprised by the pain we have caused, and now we are called to new levels of bravery. We must courageously pick up the mantle of responsibility and we must care for those who so lovingly cared for us.


Tess Giles Marshall said...

This is a beautiful post, Christine, shines with love.

Heather Plett said...

Thank you.

Brenda said...

This is ever so helpful for me and my husband.
I am not sure he was aware of what he signed up for when we married.
Now he tells me he is not leaving me, emotionally or any other type of leaving. And that we will get through this together.
He says that he loves me and that he can't stop loving me. I have not always understood this.
I have what we call "melt-downs",
when I just cry and cry...
I know that he becomes very tired sometimes.

I have found your blog to be educational and inspirational.
Over the last year, it has slowly dawned upon me that I have many symptoms of ptsd. In fact, I am trying to cope with having grown up in a home where there was lots of anger, rage and sometimes violence. Love was mostly in hiding. I have learned the meaning of that word, love, from my husband. It took many years for me to learn...perhaps I am learning still.
I am thinking now that when a person of great inner beauty is found, if you look closer, of course, you will see at least one other person equally as beautiful, if not more so, who has been in support of the other.

J Semenza said...

Awesome and exactly what I needed to hear. Am recovering from debilitating accident and have started to be able to take care of myself again. The joy of making your own breakfast is indescribable. It has been hard on my family and I really needed to hear the reminder to be gentle with them as I regain my independence.

Becky said...

Thank you for sharing your hard won wisdom Christine! As I listen to and coach the families of those with eating disorders I am often asked the question, "What do I do to help him/her with the depression?" It is so good to hear you say that having your partner love you and hold you and commit to being there helped.

I love the other comments here as well, so helpful to hear that being told, "I will never stop loving you" helps so much.

Thank you for also helping with your blog to reduce the stigma that has been, and too often still is, present with depression as well as eating disorders.
Becky Henry
Hope Network

svasti said...

Ah, so the cynic in me observes that going it alone - as I have - has at least one upside!

But it's not surprising, this thing where our crippling disorders of the body and mind affect those who would support us.

Wishing both you and Marcy well as the healing continues for both of you. xo

Graciel said...

amen, sister.