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He’s Not Depressed!

“You don’t look depressed.” Or the corollary for caregivers is “Depressed? You can’t say that person is depressed.” I can’t begin to tell you how many times I heard the second line.

My husband has had the ability to put on a face for people he meets and works with and another face with me at home. People we know consider him a person with a great sense of humor, in love with life, and just fun to be around. They have never encountered his other side: An inability to laugh at jokes, sleeping immediately after returning from work, quick to anger and very self centered, talking for hours about how all of life impacts him and how he is responsible for everything that happens. They have not encountered the dourness that encompasses his being or the hopelessness that creeps into him.

I don’t mean to minimize the fact that my husband does indeed have a good sense of humor, is very loving and can pinpoint the crux of a situation clearly. But that doesn’t take away the fact that the illness of depression does cloud those gifts, especially for the ones he holds most dear.

Somewhere someone said, “Everything is not as it seems,” and that is so true about depression. Depressed people can be very good at hiding their depression (as can the caregivers) and they can be very good at acting the way a situation wants them to. But those abilities do not have any impact on the fact that they are depressed, that they struggle day in and day out with this illness.

When people said my husband couldn’t be depressed, they minimized me and my feelings, caused me to question if I was seeing the picture correctly. It was yet another thing to cope with in a sea of already great obstacles. When I needed a life raft, I received only more waves, telling me once again that perhaps I just didn’t know what I was talking about, causing me to doubt myself.

Next time someone tells you their loved one is depressed, do not counter with “he/she can’t be depressed” because you see only one small window into a person. Be aware that there are many facets to this person and perhaps the one who is saying he or she is depressed is the one who is looking through the right window.



3 Responses

  1. So very true. I’ve had what’s called dysthymia (minor chronic depression) for years, and it’s been largely controlled by various anti-depressants. I was able to hide it from just about everyone, through a combination of acting, intelligence, and humour, until one day I took an experimental drug and became manic (I’m not manic-depressive). You can’t hide that kind of behaviour…the overspending, the telling a major publisher that I could write a novel in a week, the philandering even. I got over that, and came down (reluctantly because it was a great high) over the course of a couple of months. I was fine for a few years, so fine that I felt I could go without medication and abruptly stopped. That led to major depression, and I truly thought I was dying. I slowly recovered with the help of a wonderful psychopharmacologist dotor, and am reasonably balanced today. I only tell my story because it’s much like the story of your husband…he can’t be depressed…and it’s usually those inner qualities that I mentioned before that get him and me through. One thing I’ve learned as well is you can never really describe what it feels like to a person who has not experienced or is pre-disposed to depression. That hurts too, that the people around you, whether they are loved ones or family (I make a distinction, ha) or friends or workmates, cannot really understand.

  2. I completely understand this, and the attitude you describe (“you can’t be depressed”) can be appalling to hear/. deal with. Sorry that you and your husband had to put up with that kind of nonsense. It’s “easier” to show your better side to those less close to you, particularly if you are polite and wish to make a good impression! But those positive attributes and attitudes don’t negate the shadow depression casts at home.

  3. Excellent post. Depression, like many other illnesses both physical and mental, is not always obvious to others. You’d think people would realize this and not be so quick to judge.

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