I had a bit of a revelation whilst talking to wifey this afternoon. I told her about how I’m doing much better, and about how good my last couple of days with the boys have been.
Her response? “Is this something I should be worried about?”
There are a couple of things to unpack in that sentence, one from each side of the conversation.
First, my side.
There I was, trying to puzzle out why she should be concerned that I’m having good days. Since I finally told her about my struggles with depression, I’ve tried to keep her looped in, whether I’m having good days or bad. She’s been wonderful with support, ideas, even simply listening. It’s amazing how much good there is in simply having a sympathetic ear.
But this time when I told her I was doing really well, she was concerned. Which worried me. Why in God’s name would she be worried when I’m doing well? Because I didn’t yet understand her side of the conversation.
Second, her side.
My husband has been having a really tough couple weeks. Sure, I get that Christmas is stressful, and while I don’t understand his depression, I certainly know that it’s real, and it’s hard for him. But I took a week off work and busted my cute little backside (Note from Andrew, okay, maybe I’m editorializing a bit here) to make it a special time for the whole family.
Within all that, he’s been having a rough time, and he didn’t really come out of it until I was back at work. Now he’s alone with the boys, and he’s having good days. Should I be worried that when I was around it was hard, and since I’ve been gone, it’s gotten better?
Well, we got that stuff cleared up. My coming out of it had absolutely nothing to do with her being absent.
Okay, that’s not true. Her absence forced me to suck it the hell up and make sure my boys are having a nice vacation, without grouchy, miserable daddy bringing them down. Helping them, entertaining them, playing with them, got me doing the things I need to do to break the downward spiral of depression.
But it was certainly NOT me doing better because she wasn’t there.
Which brings me to the point of all this. Normally I write (or make videos) directed at those of us who struggle with depression and other mental health issues.
Today, I make a point to those of you who live with one of us. Please, Please PLEASE don’t work from the assumption that it’s about you. It’s not. It’s about us.
This may sound selfish, and maybe it is. Your love for us has placed a burden upon us to try to get better. At the same time, your love for us has placed a burden upon you to live with our problems.
Our highs and lows are very much our own. You contribute to them, both the good and the bad, but they are ours.
We’re very much in this struggle together, but where our unique burden is to battle the monster, your unique burden is to understand, it’s not about you.