My husband walks into a carnival. He sees all these rides, ferris wheels, roller coasters, game booths, all in varying degrees of fun/risk/danger.
He walks over to the biggest and scariest roller coaster and asks the man in charge for a ticket. The man in charge laughs at him. “Son,” he says “This is a ride for the big boys. It’s a really good time, but it really packs a punch. Are you sure you can handle the drops?”
My husband looks over the ride, noticing the shiny paint and the slick rails, and confidently announces, “Pshhh I can handle this. Totally not a big deal, I’ve been on scarier rides.”
He grabs the ticket and takes a seat. The man in charge shrugs and turns the ride on. And then my husband experiences the worst case of whiplash in his life. The ride takes off at 70 miles per hour, zooming around corners and rockets up a climb that leads the single scariest drop of his life.
He screams, he pleads, he cries. JUST LET ME OFF I TAKE IT ALL BACK.
This is how imagine it’s like to be married to me.
And I don’t mean that in a woe is me, my husband hates me, give me compliments till I feel better kind of way. I mean I don’t think he really knew what he was getting into with me.
He’s experienced so much whiplash in our four months of marriage. Some days I wake up and don’t want to move or talk or even look at him. Some days I bounce out of bed and want to plaaaayyyyyyyyy.
But more than anything, he’s had to learn how to love me through all this. When I ‘m sure all he wants to do is bail. Leave, run, escape, and find some place safe to catch his breath.
But he’s like, super loyal and whatever, so we’ve gotten creative with finding ways to make it work. He’s nice like that.
So, if you’re married person, or love someone with depression, pay attention, class is in session.
- Avoid being the caretaker. Your significant other needs food and sustenance, so the desire to do everything for them is strong. But you can not do this. Help them, encourage them, but you can not go full susie-homemaker. Nothing is less sexy that feeling like the parent of your lover. Nothing. Except maybe a large oozing growth on their face. Make sure there is food, but do not takeover all household duties for more than a week. Ask friends and family to come help. Do not become their parent. I’m begging you.
- Give yourself a break. Leave the house and find a friend to talk to. Your health matters too, so don’t let your struggling spouse take over your life.
- Understand you won’t understand. You can’t get in their head, and you probably don’t want to. You don’t need to understand why it’s happening to help them. Help them find a counselor. If your cuddle buddy cut their arm open you wouldn’t try to sew it up yourself.
- Set up boundaries. If you’re ok holding them while they cry, but hearing about childhood traumas kills you on the inside, tell them that. Nicely. Recommended dialogue. “Honey bear boo-boo face, I love it when you share your feelings with me. I never want you to stop that. But certain stories from your childhood are really hard for me to hear. Is there someone else you can talk to about that?”
- Establish rules. My husband and I have an agreement. I’ve agreed to stay on medication and attend counseling when I need to. We also set up a secret language to communicate feelings in a less awkward way.
- Set up more boundaries. Sometimes, an evening will be all about me. If I’m really struggling, we just commit to the fact that all the focus is on getting me better. BUT we (try) to make sure he gets his nights too. When I can, I put aside what I’m dealing with and focus on him.
- Don’t minimize your own feelings. Just because your soul mate is struggling with depression doesn’t mean you can’t have an off-night and feel sad. You’re allowed to have feelings too.
- Give yourself grace. You aren’t going to get it right all the time. And that’s ok. You’re trying.
I hope this helps. My husband and I haven’t figure it out, but we have made the roller coaster feel just a little more safe.