Friday, August 08, 2008

Worth Repeating

This is probably the most searched post I have written. The searches: depression, wife's depression, selfishness and depression. There are a lot of people struggling out there with depression or their spouse is. Either way it is a horrible ordeal to go through. No matter what I came up with originally when I published this post, I consider myself more of an expert about it now, because now I see depression from both sides - as a helpless spouse of a depressed person and someone who is/has been so depressed myself that I wonder if I can handle even another breath.

I am reposting this with some additions and perhaps some editing. My new perspective on it mandates this.

Who can figure out how a normal person, for no apparent reason, can transform into someone who is one breath away from dramatically changing the lives of everyone around them? Like putting on a costume in the play of life, the character is transformed into a hopeless shell of a human being. It is enough to make Stanislavsky proud.

Depression is a form of selfishness. Am I saying that it isn't a medical problem (i.e. chemical imbalance)? No. For some, it very well may be. It is still selfishness, because by definition, a person dwelling in a state of depression is consumed with the self, although it is not a conscious choice of selfishness. Depression is so debilitating that it leaves one with the notion that he has little choice but to be immersed in the self for survival's sake. Whether it is chemical, spiritual, or situational depression, life seems so hopeless. That is why merely surviving is center-most in the thoughts of those struggling with this.

The problem with depression is that it is a disease of the soul. The soul is the intellect + will + emotions of an individual. Depression attacks the soul and causes the person to dwell on the self. There is an old saying, “Misery loves company.” Depression flies in the face of that bromide. Rather, depression is a suspicious spouse, or a jealous best friend. There is no room for anyone else to suffer with it or any other problem, for that matter. No, one with depression can only consider his/her own hopeless state. No one else has the right to have it, lest some focus may be taken off the self. It really can be brutal in the mind of the depressed, "I don't want to hear about your problems; I am dying over here!"

I never grappled with real depression until after I met my wife. That is not to say that, previous to this divorce, my wife caused my bouts of it or that my marriage was depressing me. However, this divorce has shattered my world and has lit up the world of depression like no other time in my life. Despite my blog rants, I learned to be somewhat contented with my marriage. I didn’t really blog about the good times so much. The troubled spots are easier to analyze and that is what I do, but I digress. Before the past couple of years, I never actually had to deal with depression. Sure, I had sad times. I was sad when appropriate, maybe even downright despondent, but there were always reasons. It was part of the natural cycle of being human in a fallen world. However, depression is another matter. Depression is its own entity. Now, I have stared it down and my spirit screams in horror with the sight.

Perhaps my small (and they were relatively small) stints of depression were a form of sympathy pain for my wife. She has struggled intensely with this unnatural despair. Maybe God would have me get some doses of it so I could understand and reach out to her instead of doing what my flesh craved at times which was announcing, “I can’t deal with this; maybe you aren’t ready to have this kind of relationship.”

How prophetic that last paragraph was when I originally wrote it! I have had a couple of conversations recently with my wife and she marveled at how I understand her now. I think that was the crux of her unhappiness with the marriage. Now, it is just ironic. I have come to find out that irony is just another word for cruel, VERY CRUEL joke.

Whatever the reason, these dates with melancholia are a reality for me now. However, no matter how it feels, complete hopelessness will never take hold. I have found the secret, and I thank God for that revelation. The spiritual aspect of depression did find out that secret, and as some of you have read before it was removed, I have struggled with the God aspect of this divorce. Still, God has been educating me and I have moved from that position (of being mad at God) quite a bit.

This whole situation has also educated me about my wife's spirituality. That makes it all the more depressing. I KNOW that God will and is delivering me from this - that I will someday be alright and whole again. The pain is just normal and necessary. Walking in the fires of depression will polish and proof me. However, my wife doesn't have or is unable to see it that way. For her, it is completely black and hopeless. For me, right now, it is merely a temporary darkness - no matter what it feels like. There may be only one set of footprints in the sand, but I DO know exactly who made them.

11 comments:

kristen said...

Having seen a number of people deal with depression, I can say that it is quite debilitating and all-consuming.

Jeff, I think what you're feeling is completely normal. Anyone would feel 'depressed' if in this situation, especially one who tried so hard to make this marriage work. I think that's what makes it harder.

I have no doubt that you will rise above this. And not that I would ever wish this on anyone, you will be a better person because you will be shaped and molded by this experience. You will be stronger and a more compassionate person. Trials tend to do that to us.

Still wishing you well..... ;-)

Epiphany said...

I have to echo Kristen's comment. She said everything I was going to say.

You are in my thoughts, Jeff. Just keep taking those breaths, and putting one foot in front of the other, and one day you'll notice that the sun has come out again. xoxo

Michelle said...

I do believe everyone enters our life for a reason, or a lesson. I don't believe God ever gives us more than we can handle, I don't believe God wants us to suffer. I think we create suffering by not figuring out the lesson and therefore not moving on - just as how you describe the difference between your attitude to depression and her attitude to depression.

I also believe that not everyone who comes into our life is meant to stay forever. WE create the pain by not accepting the fact that some love relationships (whether friend, family or romantic) are purely there to teach us a lesson or to help us grow and once that is achieved... that person needs to move on.

Bill said...

Jeff,

I wholeheartedly agree with what you write. I'm only 23, but have had such a myriad of life events that I've struggled between normal sadness (which is healthy, but nearly as difficult to pull out of) and full-blown severe episodes of depression.

I empathize with you and hope for the best. The twists that life can bring are cruel sometimes and too often we couldn't have done much different to change them, no matter how much we think we could have.

Bill said...

Jeff,

Also, I've been reading your blog now for a few months and after getting into more of a habit of it myself I'd like to add a link to yours on my own. Is this ok?

Jeff said...

Kristen: We may clash heads about politics from time to time, but you never let me down at the personal level. I appreciate you.

Steph: I echo back my thoughts that I gave to Kristen to you. You know how I feel about your friendship!

Michelle: You are right, but when you don't know, you can't prepare.

Bill: Welcome. I appreciate your remarks and I am glad you are here. I feel a kindred spirit in you. I would be honored if you linked to me.

Michelle said...

"..but when you don't know, you can't prepare."

To be honest, even when you do know it isn't easy to prepare. Looking back at my own life there were always gut feelings, niggles, signs when deep down I knew a relationship was not going to last, or that a person I loved was "leaving" (one way or another), but we still cling grimly most of the time.

(((HUG)))

Sayre said...

How 'ya doin', Jeff? No pressure to write, just wondering if you're doing okay.

HoosierGirl5 said...

Jeff,
My phone lost all my numbers, so I can't call you! E-mail me or call me or something! We miss you!

J.

chosha said...

Maybe her depression is also temporary, but she just can't see that yet. I'm glad you can see a light at the end of your tunnel. It's so much more hopeful a place to be in, even if pretty dark right now.

I don't think depression is selfishness when there isn't a conscious choice to stay in that state. I think true selfishness requires choice. But sadly in the end the effects can be the same as if the person were being selfish because of that self-absorbed aspect. Makes it hard to remember they're not doing it on purpose.

Someone said that God doesn't give us more than we can handle. No. But sometimes other people do, or we burden ourselves. Life is hard. Depression is sometimes the appropriate response. I'm glad you don't feel defeated by it. Keep trying.

chosha said...

Maybe her depression is also temporary, but she just can't see that yet. I'm glad you can see a light at the end of your tunnel. It's so much more hopeful a place to be in, even if pretty dark right now.

I don't think depression is selfishness when there isn't a conscious choice to stay in that state. I think true selfishness requires choice. But sadly in the end the effects can be the same as if the person were being selfish because of that self-absorbed aspect. Makes it hard to remember they're not doing it on purpose.

Someone said that God doesn't give us more than we can handle. No. But sometimes other people do, or we burden ourselves. Life is hard. Depression is sometimes the appropriate response. I'm glad you don't feel defeated by it. Keep trying.