Yesterday I realized that I had to get out of the house. Usually I have no problem being in and around the house. There is plenty to do – a yard that needs regular care, projects galore in my office and the rest of the house, and good places to relax and reinvent.
But yesterday I realized that the depression that has overtaken my husband was threatening to overtake me. Gloomy days with the threat of rain usually give me a feeling of coziness, of wanting to nest and just be, reading when I want, working when I want. But this gloomy day was affecting my mood from the time I opened my eyes. I couldn’t do my regular gym workout. Something was holding me back. I ate more than I usually do at breakfast, and I was unable to get into any of my projects, opting instead to play solitaire and binge watch a program on Netflix.
Dishes sat in the sink, the bed was unmade, and I announced that dinner would be whatever anyone could find – a practice I don’t usually engage in. And just before lunch I found, horror of horrors, that I was sitting in the living room chair, just as my husband does each day with his eyes closed, contemplating his worries or swimming in the darkness.
I jumped up and announced that I was going out. I grabbed the car keys and went, no destination in mind. I drove for a bit, stopped, messaged a good friend asking to get together sometime soon, and then went to a park, got out and walked, taking in the smells and watching the birds in their spring frenzy. I don’t know how long I was gone but I do know that when I returned, the house was my haven again. I didn’t see the darkness hovering. I could see my husband in a calm, caring light. And I felt myself buoyed up by my interactions with people and nature.
Whenever we feel depression threatening to overtake us, we have to act with haste. We need to do something for ourselves, do something that will renew us, will give us strength, will make us laugh. Whether it is talking to a good friend, running, treating ourselves to lunch. Whatever it is, we, as caregivers, need to help ourselves and sometimes that comes in a flash when we realize that those things that gave us life are slipping from us.
When you recognize this happening to you, don’t hesitate. Your life and the lives of those you take care of depend on it.
Filed under: anxiety disorder, caregiving, Clinical depression, Illiness of depression, Mental health | Tagged: caregiving, depressed spouse, depression in the caregiver, depression recovery, health, relationships | Leave a comment »