Sometimes, We Need a Little Tough Love
My wife recently left a note by the bed that hit me right between the eyes. And it hurt.
“I’m not sure what is going to make you better, maybe nothing,” she wrote. “I’m not sure what else there is out there to try. Right now, I feel like we are back in a bad place, and I am finding myself exhausted and apathetic.”
It got worse.
'We both deserve more'
“I’m not asking you to fake it,” she wrote. “I’m asking you to be aware that anxiety and depression have control over both our lives right now, and that is not how I want to live. We both deserve more. I don’t want this to make you feel worse but I have to be honest with you, and this is how I feel.”
Then came the part that really stung.
“You are struggling right now, well so am I. I am juggling three kids’ schedules with school and soccer and trying to find time to help my mom, who is battling cancer. I am getting up at 6 a.m. every morning to try and get my head on straight and get everyone what they need.”
That note came not long ago after one of those miserable days. I was so consumed with how badly I felt that I forgot to even ask how my mother-in-law’s latest chemo treatment went. We ended up talking about my depression most of the night.
When morning came, that note I found on my dresser jarred me back to reality. It made me realize how selfish I had become because of my all-consuming battle with depression.
Depression: A Selfish Disease
My friends and family probably wouldn’t describe me as a “selfish” person. But one of the consequences of mental illness, or at least in my case, is that it’s hard to get beyond yourself, even though investing in others is one of the things that can make us feel better. Even if just for a little while.
It also made me realize that those who have loved ones battling mental illness need encouragement and support as much as we do. Only I don’t always know how to give it. When my depression is at its worst, I’m utterly incapable of investing in others, in really being there for them. And that’s sad.
So what to do about it?
I don’t have the answers except to wage war on my illness every day and try to defeat it. By exercising. By taking my meds. By working hard on the things my therapist has told me to do.
I’ve advanced in my recovery since the morning that note was left waiting for me to read. My wife gets the credit. I’m lucky to have a supportive companion who offers support and love—sometimes the sort of tough love we all need.
Jack Smith also hosts a personal blog at onemanswar.blogspot.com
Smith, J. (2012, January 13). Sometimes, We Need a Little Tough Love, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2012/01/sometimes-we-need-a-little-tough-love
Author: Jack Smith
I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer and the very first thing out of my depressed husband's mouth was, "What about me?"
He fretted about our finances while I was in treatment. Mind you, I pay for the health insurance and we have separate checking. I paid for all of my treatment too. So...I worked full-time throughout my treatment. I took off a total of 8 entire days for AC chemo and its aftermath and 12 half-days for Taxol. I had radiation treatment after work. I was supposed to have 8 weeks off after my double mastectomy, but I went back after 4 weeks. I took care of all the usual chores and the kids.
He moped and cried about how hard this was on him. He drove me to four appointments and to and from the hospital for the surgery. I took care of my drains, I did all the changing of bandages, etc.
I asked him for help on occasion but he would foot-drag to the point that I would throw in the towel and either do it myself (contravening my surgeon's order) or when they were available, get one of the kids to help me. My spouse? Sitting in the den playing video games or going to work and telling people how hard it was for him to cope because I was so needy.
This was while he was on medication and in therapy.
The irony is that when he was treated for cancer I took care of the kids, got him to and from all of his treatments, took half-day leave so I could get him there and home, paid all the bills on my salary alone because his was cut significantly due to running out of sick leave (not his fault!) and trying to keep him at least comfortable - which was impossible because the chemo was SO awful on him. He lost pounds, was cold all the time, developed pneumonia and had to be hospitalized, etc. It was awful to witness and I was terrified that he was going to die. He complained that I wasn't doing more - but I did this for months and on 6 hours of sleep nightly if I was lucky.
I'm filing for a divorce on my birthday. It's going to be the best gift I give myself. After 24 years, I deserve someone who can not only recognize when someone is burnt out, or at least respond appropriately when called upon to do so instead of getting angry.
I'm not a rented mule and I would rather be single until the day I day than endure another year of the world revolving around his depression and his complete disinterest in DOING something about it.
Thanks for the comments. I forget to battle this thing "one day at a time." So true. Thanks again and please come back.