I wish I could shield my husband from the overwhelming emotions that take hold over sense and logic.
I never believed in fate. I never thought someone could love me despite all of the things I hate about myself. It didn’t seem possible that anyone would choose me, the girl with the broken brain.
The symptoms of my depression have poisoned many relationships, romantic and otherwise, with their crushing influence over me. Past experiences indicated my beliefs were accurate and so I’m still sometimes shocked and in awe that I am happily married now.
I remember looking into eyes deep and blue like the ocean. There was a gentle kindness in the way he spoke, such a comfortable conversation between two strangers. I felt at ease with him and yet every word had me intrigued. I divulged my demons, my diagnosis, to him in that first conversation. I don’t recall the exact circumstances that led up to the reveal, but I know I did not have any feelings of regret or anxiety during or after we spoke.
I knew then and there I wanted this man in my life. With unspoken words, he told me he could handle my worst and still see my light. We only had four days together; I was on vacation when we met. As fate would have it that was just the beginning of our time..
‘Home’ was 1500 miles away from him, but that didn’t keep us apart. We utilized all forms of communication; texting, skyping, emailing, talking on the phone, and traditional mail. The storms of my depression raged despite the beaming rays of light this man had brought into my life. Panic attacks left me shaking, crying, and short of breath curled up on the floor. Food wouldn’t stay down yet every medical test came back negative. If there was nothing physically wrong with me there had to be something very wrong psychologically.
I called him hysterically crying when my parents told me they were coming to take me to the psychiatric unit at the hospital, just months after we met. The demons’ maniacal laughter echoed in my ears as they whispered “He won’t love you after this,” and I was quite sure they were right. Yet his strong, gentle roots held steady and only grew deeper.
Eleven months we were apart, the demons danced and sang a thousand different ways to convince me it was all a lie; he didn’t love me, he didn’t want me to move to be with him, he was probably seeing other girls, he was leading me on because he was bored, and on and on. There were ugly accusations and hurt feelings and pointless arguments via skype, and the demons were delighted.
I couldn’t see through the darkness but he could, so he took my hand and guided me through it by his side.
That was almost four years ago and we have been married almost two years now. The major depressive episode I was going through when we met was, at the time, the worst I had ever experienced. My world was shrouded in darkness, no light at all. During that time I lost every single friend I ever had going back to junior high, with the exception of one. Yet this man, whom I randomly met on a four-day vacation, stood by my side and loved me through it all.
Just as comfortable as that first conversation was, living together was seamless from the very first day. He went to my doctor appointments with me, choosing to take an active role in my treatment. Without consciously realizing it I started feeling better, I was doing better, I was happier than I had ever been. One day my doctor told us that I was in partial remission and I remember thinking I didn’t even know that was possible! So apropos that the one person who chose to love me completely during my worst got to experience life with me when I was at my best.
Remission didn’t last, I could feel it slipping away and I tried, oh how I tried to hold on. I was sure that a little tweak in the meds would do it; I got in to see my psychiatrist immediately. For those unfamiliar, psychiatry is more of an art than a science, they take educated guesses as to what medications might work based on your diagnosis and symptoms. They increased one of my meds and within a week I was suicidal. Like trying to hold onto sand, the tighter I gripped the more I slipped. Thus began my current episode of major depression.
Depression affects every aspect of my life. When I’m in it I am engulfed by it, sucked into a hurricane of emotional destruction, whipped about like a child in a riptide. Patience snaps like a dry twig at the simplest provocation, tears rain down with unfathomable stamina until exhaustion sets in. Darkness takes hold and entangles its long cold fingers throughout my body drowning my sense of hope. It is not easily hidden nor easily ignored. It ebbs and flows there are bad days and worse days with a few good days thrown in occasionally.
My husband, my strength, he is my shelter from the raging storm and the roots that hold me firmly in place despite the lies my brain tells me.
Depression has definitely affected my relationship with my husband, though not in the ways I thought it would. It’s difficult for me to break down cohesively because the demons want me to believe my depression poisons our marriage. That my intense sadness adversely affects his mood and quality of life, that he must hate me for my lack of a sex drive, sometimes I even ask him if he regrets marrying me. He assures me that there is no regret, that my depression does not rub off on him, and he loves me no matter what.
The reality is, everything we have been through with my depression has brought us closer together and stronger as a couple. There are no secrets, no topic is off limits, we are always finding new and different ways to communicate as depression works hard to isolate me. His coping skills for my erratic behavior keep improving so when I have a meltdown he knows how to handle me, how to calm and comfort me.
I wish I could shield my husband from the overwhelming emotions that take hold over sense and logic, but they are part of me. I never thought I would meet a man who could, or would want to love me despite all of the madness that goes on in my brain.
I certainly never believed in fate. Yet I have no other explanation for how we met, what we’ve been through, and the intense love we share. I’d say it took a while for me to fall in love with him, but that would be a lie. I fell in love with him during that first conversation.
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.