To the husband whose wife has depression, 

First of all, it’s already a blessing to your wife that you have chosen her to spend the rest of your life, even eternity, with. Depression is never a battle you’d want to face alone. So having you as her companion, either standing next to her or carrying her in your arms and being that support to her (sometimes, even literally), is a gift she may not always be vocally appreciative of. But trust me, she is deeply and unequivocally grateful for it. 

It’s no question that she has her “off” days when she just doesn’t know how to function. And to be honest, she’s just too exhausted and drained to even want to function. So you’re there waiting for her to wake up, or get out of bed. You wait until, at any moment during the day or when you finally get home from work, you get to see a smile form on her gentle, yet haggard, face. I say “gentle” because it’s a milder way of saying that she’s simply worn out to the point of not being able to show through her countenance that she still has the energy to fight another day, without ultimately breaking.

But you’re there. Patiently waiting. Even though you cannot and may never understand what she’s going through, you still try. You try, in so many ways, to love and care for her. To make her feel that she does matter, and she’s the most important person in your life, and all you care about is her happiness.

And it is weird, probably even frustrating, for you to hear from her that she feels guilty about it. She would tell you that she feels like a selfish person for taking so much from you, yet not giving as much in return. She feels terrible, yet she secretly yearns for help, although she will often not admit it.

There are times when she’s desperate enough to cry for help that she’ll give you subtle hints here and there. But she would hold herself back, fearing that she would be imposing on you. She feels like she should at least give it a try, to fight one or two episodic battles on her own. Why is that, you may wonder? Because, even in her weakest state, she still fights with all the emotions in her heart and mind and all those thoughts of torment creeping in and out of her head, telling her that she should gain or regain control somehow. But the disappointment and discouragement becomes all too real when the results end up betraying her desires.

She feels sorry, EVERY SINGLE SECOND of her life, that you have to go through this. You, her husband, an inherently happy person, who is now mired in the struggles and hurdles of a mental health victim. And for that, she feels like you’ve ended up her victim in a way.

It gets pretty strenuous, I bet, when you have those moments when you need her the most, and she can’t even be there for you because she’s too caught up with the troubles in her mind. It does feel like she makes everything about her. When will you also get the same care, love, concern, and help that you give her?

Honestly? She does not know the answer to that. She can’t even figure out how to help herself yet. She’s still in that deep, dark pit that is her mind. She may need you more than you will ever need her. She really needs you more. Even, and especially, during those times when she seems like she’s only pushing you away. That itself is a call for help.

So you stay with her, even when she says she wants you to leave. And when she tells you she wants to be alone, you give her the time and space that she needs. But usually, she just wants you to be alone WITH her. It sounds ridiculous, but sometimes having you next to her or just in the same room, sinking in silence is enough until she’s ready to break the ice.

She loves you with everything she is and with all her heart, every broken piece of it. And even though she may feel like she’s too damaged to love and be loved, too broken to be fixed, she still hopes that she’s enough for you. She wants to believe. And in those beautiful days when the darkness seems to disperse momentarily, she does believe and her hope gets stronger. That’s because you believed in her first. She needs that. She depends on that. She will have to continue to lean on your belief in her for now, until her foundation becomes strong enough to stand on its own. Just like how you’re pulling her out of that deep, dark hole, she will rely on you until she learns to climb back up the ladder on her own.

With everything you do for her and everything that you are to her, she’s forever grateful you’ve never given up on her. You are her light and her angel. Your love is what keeps her going. It’s what helps her get out of bed. You help her live each day. You help her want to live each day.

So when you think you’re not doing enough to make your wife happy or not depressed, remember all these things that make you the number one reason for her happiness, joy and eternal sense of purpose. Remember, she also knows that both of you are in this together forever. She will never give up on you either. You’re doing an incredible job.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Irish Vreeken

I am a wife and mother of two cute and rowdy toddler boys, and another baby on the way. We moved to Utah from Hawaii 2 years ago. I am inspired to write about my very personal experience with severe and major depression and anxiety with the purpose of making others feel, especially moms like myself, less alone and that we can all support each other not only as mothers but as human beings going a human experience, and that there is always hope.