This past week I read a fantastic advice column. The question was from a woman who has depression. Her boyfriend thinks depression isn't a real thing, and she wanted to know how she should handle that.
The advice columnist, Addie Zierman, responded by saying that if you struggle with depression, it's very important that your significant other understand that. She said it beautifully, and I highly recommend reading the whole thing here.
This is the section that especially stood out to me:
"When I say it – depression – it loses its power over me. The word gives it boundaries and lines and shape; it reminds me that it is just one thing, one piece. It is not the whole story.
"But I have to say it.
"And I can’t always do that by myself. There are times I forget to name it. There are times I don’t want to name it because I don’t want to admit it’s bad again. There are times that find me in denial, struggling under the weight, drowning.
"In those times, it’s my husband who almost always saves me. You see, he has learned to name it too."
When I read it, I thought: YES. This is so true. When we did our series on depression, I wrote about how after I got married and my depression got worse (not because I got married), Andy had to talk me into going to the doctor. I really, really didn't want to go. I wanted to be getting better, not going back to the doctor. But Andy could see the reality of the situation, and he helped me get the help I needed.
I am so grateful that he gets it, and he is able to be my strongest ally and support on this stuff. Even when I'm not able to be a great advocate for myself, he steps in and makes sure I'm taken care of. He speaks the truth with me, which is so important, because depression lies and lies and lies.
Having a spouse who understands depression is huge, but it's important to have other people, too. Before I got married (and still to this day) my sisters have helped me name depression. When I was going through a particularly dark spell I kept insisting that I was fine, and they gently responded, "Anna, this isn't normal. And that's ok. But it would be a really good idea to see a doctor." They helped me see my true situation.
Friends who have had depression and anxiety are also huge. They get it. They can see when I am struggling, because they recognize the symptoms from their own lives.
And people whom I have never met have been instrumental as well. When my mental illnesses reappear in slightly different guises, I take to the internet. I find stories of other people's struggles, and I say, "That's it! That's what this is!" For example, the column above. So helpful!
Depression is awful, but naming it helps to make it bearable and manageable for me. I need people to be able to do that. Today I want to say a huge thank you to all the people who help me. My life is so much better because of you.