My name is Bridget and I’m married to someone who’s depressed.
One of the above statements isn’t quite true. My name isn’t really Bridget.
I’ve had episodes of depression since I was 17, some stronger than others, some longer than others. So when my partner of a year confided in me that he was miserable, I empathised.
The seven stages of grief on The Well.
I encouraged him to see a doctor, which he did. Matters improved and our relationship continued. We loved each other very much. That was the first time, four years ago, I became aware of my now-husbands’ mental well being.
Since then there’s been a lot of self-medicating, some awful episodes of sadness and some very poor behaviour, mostly his. In the last four years, including the year we got married, his mood has remained somewhat volatile.
I’ve tried to support him. I’ve tried to nurture him. I’ve tried being tough. I’ve tried to be happy in my own life and not let his illness take me over. I’ve called in the mornings to wake him up and tried not to let the fact he will probably be in bed all day bother me. I’ve pleaded with him to stop drinking or stop smoking weed. I have threatened to leave. I’ve called his best friend at midnight getting him to come over after he’s threatened to harm himself. I’ve screamed from frustration when he’s apologised for being ‘shit’ and a ‘huge disappointment’. I’ve paid the mortgage. I’ve made sandwiches, made the bed, made dinner. And then cleaned it up. I’ve apologised and defended and made excuses for him. In short, I’ve tried to love him enough for him to get fixed – and he never does.
He's been to the doctor, to counselors. He’s finished a job, started study. We get by – we have no children and the small possibility of that ever happening is becoming very remote. We have a mortgage and dogs and friends. But the changes happen and the attitude remains the same. He thinks he can't win and the world is against him.
One night last week I drove home from the station after work and I sat in the car for 10 minutes outside our house, inspecting my cuticles, and wondering what sort of mood he would be in when I went through that front door. And if he was angry or upset or sad, how that would affect my evening and what I would be doing about it. When he’s angry at the world, I get so anxious my bowels turn to liquid. My heart beats out of my chest, and I think, why is this happening? Why can’t he get happy? And at what point, what point, at what line, do I admit I can’t win? At what point do I admit defeat?
The Grief Episode on The Well.
It’s very lonely being with someone who hates themselves, and not only because it feels like you are only having a half a relationship. It’s because you are so limited in who you can tell. I have one friend who knows the depth of the issues, and a family member. And that's about it.
Before I met my partner I was on my own for years. And there I was thinking being single was shit. Looking after someone who hates themselves is exhausting and leaves very little room for anything else. He says he loves me. He says I’m his favourite thing in the world, and hates that his moods upset me the way that they do. But he can’t get happy for me. And if this goes on for much longer I don’t know if there will be much of me left. I feel quite depleted.
So, I am at the end of my tether. I don’t want to be without him. So I am in rather a pickle, really.