Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Whose Depression Is It Anyway?

So for years I thought I was simply dealing with a moody spouse. My husband's moodiness was often the subject of light-hearted teasing. I picked up a Good Mood/Bad Mood button years ago so that he could give all of us a little heads up on which person we were dealing with at any given moment.

I bought into the whole idea of moodiness going hand-in-hand with creativity. He was an artist who needed lots of head space. I could relate as a writer. There are definite times when I need to be alone and think. This is why I prefer to run alone and am fond of the long hot shower.

But unlike me, when my husband was involved with his art, there was no joy in the act of creation. I thought this was just the normal frustration that comes from trying to marry the desire to create with living in the real world. There's nothing worse than being right in the middle of some creative burst and then having to stop to take care of something outside of this creative haze.

I have always tried to make certain that my husband had room to work. I appreciate the fact that he is the one who is working at a "real" job to sustain our life. I encouraged him to carve out time even when I desperately needed time to write myself. It was important for me to feel that he was fulfilled. It seemed simple but little did I know I was dealing with an unknown foe.

Moodiness was simply a cloak covering up the depression that has always been present. I was spending a lot of time and energy trying to make everything as perfect as possible for him without understanding the ground rule: satisfaction does not exist. I've been running like a hamster on a wheel trying to please him while my husband's been emotionally checking out of our life.

Over the past year the depression has gotten worse. My children have been affected by my husband's moods. It's been very difficult for my two oldest children since their father is not involved in their lives. My husband is unable to engage or be involved with anyone other than his daughter from his first marriage. It has been most upsetting to watch him explode at our youngest son when he behaves in the same way as my step-daughter did when she was the same age. My children feel I am their only parent. My daughter once described my husband as "just the guy who lives in the house."

After my husband's depression led him towards a self-destructive act, I've had to put a magnifying glass up to my life. What I've seen is that my husband's depression is a weight my whole family is bearing. My children and I have been experiencing the fallout that comes from living with some one who has been in denial about their mental state for a very long time.

My husband is making a start. He has begun seeing a therapist but he is still having a difficult time understanding the impact he has had on us. For him depression is still a "me" disorder but from here we're all going through it.


  1. Sandra, I'm writing my thesis on this very subject, How depression affects families. any insight on this subject is very valuable to me. Very good your spouse Is working with a mental professional. Are you seeking help also, this is important. Also you say he has poor relationships with your children, as you know with an absent father it is important for children to have a very strong relationship with the man they live with. Has this always been true? Do you have a solid relationship with your step child? How does she fit into the your life in particular and the life of your children? Finally, you work hard to please him, sex is paramount in a marriage. Much hinges on this. Good sex can alleviate tensions, lead to reduced anxiety, alleviate depressive tendencies and solidify family bonds. Over the years before his indescretion, how was your sex life? had YOU been happy? Are you happy sexually now? Women often focus on needs of their spouse ignoring themselves. Children and chores do not fulfill the life of today's woman typically. Have you put a career on hold? Financial burdens on one spouse also lead to tension and depression, with your kids all school aged have you considered financially contributing to fulfill yourself or to prepare for a separation if that is possible? Thank you for any help. You can also reach me at

  2. Thanks for reading. I'm sorry I am taking this long to respond but I'm still processing this. We're still trying to figure this all out. I'm not in therapy, not because I distrust it, but because I am not feeling that I am in a place of needing it. I'm very process oriented and it has been helping me to take a deep breath and analyze what is happening. For the past three or four weeks I have been going through a state of intense mourning and grief- recognizing this has helped me to move forward to healing myself. And this is where I am at now. I'm not very comfortable answering some of your questions which are very personal but thank you for your concern. I will continue to post as I go through this process.