being a teacher

A Story Shared #SemiColonEDU

Note from Pernille:  Once in awhile I lend this blog to others whose story needs to be heard.  This on one of those moments.  SOothis post is not written by me, but instead by someone who wishes to remain anonymous.  To learn more about the movement behind #SemiColonEdu see Nick’s post here.

I want to post this to my own blog in the worst way, but I can’t.  It wouldn’t be fair.  Its not my battle to share.  You see, I have not been diagnosed with depression, but my husband has.

While his battle with depression is not mine to share, my story of living with him is.  Depression does not only impact those living with the diagnosis; it impacts the lives of everyone close to him/her.  Living with a spouse who deals with depression everyday is difficult, and loving him/her seems impossible at times.  Depression manifests itself differently in people, and for me, my husband is quick to anger, but unfortunately, it seems like myself and our children are the only ones who get this version of him.  You see, he’s the funny guy to everyone else.   But I want to tell you about the day I pushed for help…and got it.

While my husband has suffered from depression for many years, it was a tragedy in his life that gave me the courage to gently nudge him to seek help.  I thought it was gently; he likely disagrees.  My husband experienced an extreme tragedy.  He and his brother were the first firemen on the scene of a motorcycle accident that claimed the life of his “second set of parents.”  It was horrible, and the sadness still looms.  Shortly after the accident, his anger spiked.  He lashed out at me horribly.  He accused me of cheating on him repeatedly which clearly did not happen.  He fabricated it in his mind, but his imagination was wildly vivid…and hurtful.  He barked at the kids loudly and repeatedly for actions typical of kids, like leaving the light on in their bedroom.  If he was not angry and yelling, he was angry and silent which was worse.  While I knew he was struggling because of the tragedy, it was so hard not to internalize his pointed anger.  My kids and I treaded lightly in fear of setting him off.  He would never physically hurt us, but his words packed a power punch to the gut.

About six weeks after the tragedy, he had gone on a hunting trip with a good friend.  He had been texting me from his tree stand; it was a combination of I love you and I hate you.  I stopped texting because I was scared.  Through these mixed signals, I realized his thinking was not rational.  His mind was working outside the realm of reality.  He realized I was ignoring him which fueled his anger, but I could not subject myself to his criticism and mind games anymore.  His thoughts were so extreme.  Honestly, he was delusional.

Prior to his return home, I called his brother and said, “I’m very worried about [your brother], and I’m going to ask him if he has considered suicide.  He is going to be angry with me, and I need you to know that I’m asking him because I love him.  I also need you to know I’m not walking out on him.”

Later that day, I did just as I said I would do.  I asked him.  I used the word. SUICIDE.  I cried. So did he.  Then he got mad.  He assured me he would never do that, but to this day, I’m not convinced it was not a thought in his brain.  He slept downstairs that night.  The next morning he woke me up to say this, “I haven’t slept at all.  I cannot believe my wife is trying to convince me to off myself!”  Yep.  He said that.  I’ll never forget it.

He called me later to tell me he had called the doctor, and there was relief in his voice when he said, he could not get an appointment for five weeks.  FIVE WEEKS!  The tears poured as I hung up the phone.  Once I collected my thoughts, I called the clinic and demanded to speak to our nurse.  Apparently, my voice sounded desperate because they put me through immediately.  Five minutes later, I had an appointment.  Ten minutes later, my husband agreed to go.

The diagnosis started out as situational depression which he could deal with because of the trauma he endured.  It has been almost two years, and while I have accepted his mental health diagnosis and the longevity of it, he has not.  He doesn’t want to be a “pill popper” for the rest of his life.  He doesn’t want to have to take Viagra to counteract the side effects.  He doesn’t want to say, “I struggle with depression.”

The rest of the story is being written.  Day by day. Month by month. Year by year. I pushed back that day because I love him.  I love him everyday; even the days and months he refuses to take his meds.  I’ll never know just how close I was to losing him, but I’ll always know he loved me enough to let me help him, and for that, I am grateful.

7 thoughts on “A Story Shared #SemiColonEDU”

  1. Depression affects more families than we know:( anger and depression are bed partners–as is paranoia and fabricated stories. I know this from experience. Sadly my husband has suffered from depression for many years-it is a struggle for me to stay positive and to keep looking forward. While I don’t want to always hover, I know taking his meds are important, so I always ask.
    I read the article on semi colon tattoos as well-I get it. I’m glad more people are talking about mental illness-it’s hard but important.
    One thing that I can add is that it is imperative for others to practice self care. Exercise, counselling, friendships and healthy eating are a must to combat the negative toll depression a member takes on his/her family.

  2. Thank you for sharing this Pernille. To the writer: you have more courage than I can express in words. Courage for everything you’ve done and courage for sharing your story. All the best. Lx

  3. Thanks for sharing this woman’s story. Depression hit my family hard and we lost 2 members to suicide because of the stigma of their perceived stigma of having a psychological disorder and thus refusing treatment. I wish this writer and her family all the best.

  4. Thank you for allowing this person to use your blog to tell her story. We are all touched by depression everyday, students, family, ourselves. The more we talk about it and get the information out there the better we will all be.

    Thanks again for allowing this story to be told. We all need to keep all depression sufferers in our thoughts and prayers!

  5. I took it seriously. I meant it. I mean it still… For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. My husband, my daughter, my son. All sufferers of depression. All on meds to calm the anxiety which haunts them. I am unsure of how this happens. No traumatic event…just a knowing that something inside them is just not right. Thank God for research, for honest folk willing to tell the truth, seek help. For less stigma and more revelation. For compassion, understanding and voice. For the semi-colon. For love unconditional. For Pernille and the platform she provides. For all of us, in this together.

  6. I knew we were kindred spirits. My 16 yr old son battles depression, and until a year ago was cutting almost daily, and did attempt suicide – twice! It’s a daily dance with demons and we frequently walk on egg shells to keep from having another break down. One day, I will write his story. I pray it will continue to become more positive. Thank you for sharing your story. It spoke to me on many levels.

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