Many of us know someone who struggles with depression. Depression significantly impacts the lives of those who struggle with it--affecting their daily functioning at work, school, and in relationships. Below, guest writer Jennifer shares how her husband's radical hope propelled her through the first door of healing. Be encouraged that your care matters as you walk alongside your loved one. Read on:
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I first sought treatment for depression when I was nineteen, urged by a friend. That first therapist refused to talk to me until I agreed to be medicated, ignoring my family history of substance abuse. Next, I met a psychiatrist who spoke to me for twenty minutes and prescribed a drug that produced
plenty of side effects but no relief from my depression. My therapist determined I was simply stubborn. “The meds should work,” he said. “If you aren’t feeling better, it’s because you aren’t trying.”
Twenty years later, still dogged by a depression that had never lifted, I fell into despair after the birth of my son. I got lost in the woods of my tangled emotions. Towering devotion to my new baby gave shade to the creeping undergrowth of guilt, self-doubt, and loneliness. Surging memories from my own early childhood blurred the lines between the past and present. I couldn’t stop crying for more than an hour or two, plagued by old wounds and regrets.
“You need help,” said my husband.
“There’s no help for me. This is my own fault. Any therapist will tell you that.”
Undeterred, he found a qualified therapist, drove me to the office, and sat next to me through the first session. Introducing me, he said, “This is my wife. She’s in a lot of pain.” If I’ve managed my depression in the seven years since it’s because of the expert care I couldn’t have received without my husband. His radical hope propelled me through the first door to healing.
Depression is a demon, hounding patients and deceiving them. It drives wedges between sufferers and their loved ones. It steals hope as patients fall into spiraling ruminations, convinced they are incurable. Symptoms of irritability, moodiness, anger, and paranoia are less and less manageable, and the chances of recovery dimming with each passing day. My husband stepped into this darkness, shining the light of radical hope. “You are not a lost cause,” he said. When I doubted, argued, and objected, he gently made the decisions that changed my life and shook loose the clinging demon.
“I’m going to fail at this,” I said, heading into the office.
“I’m right here. I’m holding your hand.”
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul wrote, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Only love has this power. It conquers fear and banishes darkness. When we walk together in love, the demon depression shrivels in the light of radical hope.
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Could you use a little encouragement and support as you work to understand and walk beside a loved one who has a mental illness? The support group, Supporting Loved Ones with Mental Illness, meets every second Thursday of the month at 6:00 PM in Room 209. All are welcome. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.