I was watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy with my hubby tonight, and it touched on mental health issues. It’s such a difficult subject for so many people. And unless you’ve been there and done that, it’s one of the most formidable things to try to explain to someone else.
My first husband suffered from depression. Looking back now, I can see a little more clearly the struggles that he had each and every day.
We were young when we got together, and I had just gotten out of a tumultuous relationship with a high school boyfriend. A high school boyfriend who also suffered from mental health issues and it ended with me having to let his mother know that I couldn’t do it anymore and that I felt her son was going to need suicide watch.
And in walks this new man, with the best laugh I’ve ever heard in my life. I still miss that laugh and that huge smile.
What I would learn over the next couple of years was that smile was hiding a lot of angst. And worry over the future of everything. And what felt like the weight of the world on his shoulders.
It was a very challenging relationship, but I was determined to see this one through. We bought our first house together, discussed children. I had a ring on my finger that was all we could afford at the time. And we really worked on making it.
Until we just couldn’t do it anymore. I kept the house since he wanted to go and explore the world. And he left, just like that.
To say I was devastated was an understatement.
I spent the next 3 years putting myself back together, learning who I wanted to be outside of a relationship. I learned how to be truly happy, all by myself. I found that I could go home at the end of the day by myself, and be content.
When he returned from his travels, he asked about getting back together. I had given this a lot of thought and decided that I really didn’t want to. I was actually really happy just being me. And I wasn’t willing to give that up to go back to who I used to be. I didn’t like that girl anymore.
I moved on with my life, meeting my husband, and falling in love with Jesus. I found a man that loved me, quirks and all, and we had dreams of changing this world together.
He moved on to what we all thought was the perfect girl for him. They shared all his common interests. She loved the outdoors. And they seemed to be really happy.
Until his Dad walked into my workplace one day.
He looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. He had just been released from the hospital after a death defying fight with adult mumps, which left half of his face paralyzed, with scabs all over his face and neck.
And upon being released from the hospital, he found out his son had lost his life-long fight with depression.
He walked up to me and said “He’s gone.” Naively, I asked where he had gone. Had he left on another trip?
And my life would never be the same again. Neither would anyone else who had loved that man at one time or another.
I managed to keep it together while my ex father-in-law was there, comforting him as best as I could through my own shock. And then he left and I just fell apart.
All I could think was how could I have left this happen? How could I have not done something to stop this? It wasn’t rational. There was no logic to these thoughts. And to be perfectly honest, I still have days, over 10 years later, where I wonder if I could have done something differently. Could I have been his saving grace somehow?
My brain tells me that no, there was nothing I could have done to change the outcome.
My husband doesn’t really know what my life was like before him. Not because he hasn’t tried to understand, but because he can’t.
It’s hard for someone who has never gone through it to understand that your logic becomes a little bit warped as your mind tries to make your world make sense. And everyone’s situation is just that little bit different. And it’s difficult for me to go back to that time. I survived, and some days, that’s all I want to say about it.
I don’t know where you are. I don’t know if you’ve ever walked the lonely rode of depression, certain there was no help for you, that you were just too far gone to be helped. I don’t know if you’ve had to watch someone you love struggle with every day life, not knowing what to say or do to make things different. Please, ask for help. Do not think that you have to do this on your own, but reach out. There is someone out there that would love nothing more than to help you, if only you would ask.
I know that writing this has been one of the hardest, most exposing things I have ever done. I pray that it helps someone out there to know that they are not alone in this. And maybe gives some insight to those on the outside.
Heavenly Father, I am so grateful that we are never truly alone. I thank you for picking me up out of that pit and showing me that I could have so much more, if only I could put my faith in you. I thank you for your patience and grace as you introduced me to the new me. I lift up all of those who are suffering because of mental illness. I pray your strength and peace over them Lord, and ask that they feel your love and grace beyond measure. I pray that they would turn to you as I had to, so that you could make me whole again. In your name. Amen.