Thanks to my husband for opening up and sharing his side of the Depression story. The following was written by him:
"Doug is medically unable to work for a minimum of two weeks, effective immediately."
That is the text that rocked my world nearly two years ago. There were multiple items that converged on me at the same time, and eventually I was unable to stand the strain.
If you haven't walked through depression as part of your story, it is very difficult to understand. Depression isn't just having an "off" day, or bad week. Instead, it's months of slowly losing motivation, clarity of thought, and the ability to find hope.
A problem was evident, so I wanted to find a solution but really didn't know where to begin.
I started by redoubling my efforts at work and at my volunteer efforts (Confessions of a workaholic), hoping to reignite my passions and thereby my energy and perspective. There was plenty to put my hands to: A promising career opportunity, an active position on a board, and beginning to understand the challenges that my youngest daughter was and still is facing.
It didn't work.
I found myself unable to focus on the items that were in front of me - my mind would almost inevitably other items. If I was at work, I was concerned about family, friends, or my church board obligations. If I was at home, my thoughts wandered through the things I felt should have been accomplished at work or to matters related to the church board. (Interestingly, when I was at meetings related to the church board, my focus was primarily upon the matters at hand. Perhaps it's related to my overdeveloped sense of responsibility, but I think it was more likely a prudent Spiritual intervention)
Red flags started to come to the forefront. I recognized them quite readily from a previous time of depression when I was in high school, and then from the self-education that I undertook to support my school friends as well.
Withdrawing from social interactions that had previously been my lifeblood was one sign.
Losing my optimistic lens for issues was another... I had to really work at finding a positive angle on the challenges that came my way.
My children started to ask why I wasn't happy - Why I didn't laugh anymore. (That revelation struck deep in me)
I saw the signs, but felt powerless to change the circumstances that I was in. (Yes, that IS yet another sign of depression.) I have always viewed my word as my bond, but I had simply given my word to too many things!
From the time that we started dating, Stephanie and I have found that we can have some of out best discussions while driving down the road together. One evening, Stephanie asked if I might be depressed. By that point in time I was certain that I was depressed - I was just wondering to what degree.
I made an appointment with my GP, and the diagnosis was confirmed. I started on antidepressants through the two weeks that I was off work... and Stephanie can attest to the fact that it was a rough time. The emotional roller coaster settled down, and the world slowly came back into focus for me.
Alright. The truth is that some days are still rocky, but there are more good ones than bad at this point and I can still say that in the things that really matter, I'm well.