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Echoes of the past

When you’ve lived for a long time with depression in someone you love, moving past the illness can be a real challenge.

Even once recovery and good health becomes a reality, those who walked alongside the depressed person in the worst of times carry scars that can come to the surface pretty easily.

I was reminded of this fact yesterday. Though my husband is currently, in almost every aspect, living a “normal,” healthy life, he’s having a rough week. He’s fighting a low-grade virus (illness has always triggered anxiety and intensified his depression). He’s had some minor, temporary setbacks in his new career area. He’s frustrated with a do-it-yourself auto repair project that’s going nowhere.

And yesterday I saw some echoes of depression in his behavior. I had to remind myself several times throughout the day NOT to overreact. I offered a bit of gentle nudging in the right direction, along the lines of “you might feel better if you get out of the chair and do something to keep busy.” Later in the day, I witnessed him self-correcting his behavior when small depression-related actions/reactions appeared – without any nudging from me.

The fact that he kept himself moving and relatively positive in the face of stress is a definite sign that things are much better for him now. The fact that I’m still on high alert for any depression-type symptoms (though I work very hard not to be an alarmist) is a side effect of caring for a person who’s struggled with depression for a very long time.

It takes a lot of effort and teamwork to navigate these echoes from the past, even when health returns.


7 Responses

  1. I’m going to see if I can get my husband to read your blog. Maybe it would help him. I swear, the worst question he asks me is “what’s your problem”? If I wasn’t already irritable, that question will set me way over the top—which increases anxiety, and then ultimately a bout of depression—or is it further into my depression?

    • I’m afraid I’ve been guilty of asking the question, “What is going on with you?” Generally what I really mean to be getting at is “how much is depression affecting you right now and what are we going to do about it?” But I think from my husband’s perspective it’s just an obnoxiously obtuse question. Sigh.

      • I would much rather have the sentence, “What’s going on with you?” I think it would make me stop and think about my actions. Y’all that live and support us, are Saints.

      • Oh, my goodness…so NOT a saint. Honestly, I think I’m a mean pain in the butt much of the time. I’m pretty sure that when his depression takes a dive, my attitude takes a dive, too…

  2. Great post, and I can relate to it in terms of my son’s OCD as well. He has been doing well for four years now but had a particularly trying year: his long time girlfriend broke up with him, his cat died, and he injured himself in a bike accident. He reacted as most of us would in these situations…..he had a tough time. I had to remind myself that didn’t mean his OCD was coming back full force. You are so right when you say we caregivers carry our own scars!

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Janet. It can be really easy to go back to old patterns of thinking and reacting, even though we know better intellectually.

  3. Wow. I blogged on the weekend about the link between not being well and sinking back into a depressive state as that is exactly what happened to me. I’m glad I’m not the only one.
    It took a lot to get me to move and do something. 🙂

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