I’ve been meaning to write about this for quite a while already, but I thought it isn’t my story to tell. Something pushed me to write this today, so here I am. (Hey, I got permission to write this so..)
It started early 2016. Jeff’s father died because of cancer of the lungs. During the wake, he suddenly had fever and some pains that he can’t seem to explain to me. Somewhere on his back. Like spasms of some sort. Since we were all busy, he just took some medicine for it, slept some, and drank some more meds. A few weeks after the funeral, we left for Tokyo for a scheduled training. He signed up for that long before his father became too sick.
It was winter in Tokyo and when we got back from our ten-day trip, he had so many bouts of migraine. I just thought maybe his body was adjusting again with the weather. His acid reflux also got worse and he was pooping blood at times. (He had a history of polyps in the intestines which we had removed a few years back). We also thought (and still thinking) that he is allergic to gluten because he suddenly falls asleep after eating bread.
Some of his Sunday afternoons were spent fidgeting on the couch because he dreads Mondays. He dreads going to work for whatever reason. Jeff is an HR head for a healthcare/pharma company in BGC, and he really hated days when he had to fire people. My husband is a generally a good person and knowing that he’s fired a minimum wage earner who provides for his family haunts him.
Those, among other things, were my warning signs.
But since I’ve never met anyone with depression, I just brushed it off and thought my husband was just acting up. I also have a lot of things to think about. My start-up business, my clingy son, the household, and some other things. I technically don’t have a job, but I’m quite a busy person. I also have a condition called PCOS, which I’m not using as an excuse for being cranky almost all the time. But hey, my hormones are all messed up so I can be cranky.
Sometime in October 2016, we had a big fight. I almost told him that I wasn’t happy anymore. Which I am. Or was. I wasn’t happy on how our life was turning out. We traveled a lot — Japan, Singapore, Bohol, Hong Kong — but in between those trips, we were miserable. After two days of not talking to him, I felt really bad for being an awful wife. I booked us a hotel in Alabang just so we can talk privately. (We live with my mother-in-law and yelling at each other is not quite a good option).
Finally, my husband opened up. He told me that most mornings, he would wake up but doesn’t want to get out of bed. Sometimes, he wakes up in the middle of the night and so many thoughts come to his head. He said that he dreads going to work because he feels like his boss just keeps insulting him. Jeff, who is educated in Ateneo and with 10 years of training experience, who had a decent life and family, is being insulted by someone who doesn’t know him. He told me that he knows that he has so many reasons to be happy, but he just keeps going back into sulking. He said that I should be thankful that he’s still alive.
That hit me. I’m such a horrible person. I am his wife. He survives the day because of me and our son, and yet I keep brushing off his attempts to tell me that he is going through depression. I didn’t believe him. I just thought that he’s acting up, or he’s just having a bad day, or whatever. I was so contained with my own issues. He even asked me why I was working so hard when he didn’t even tell me to do so.
Everything suddenly flashed before me. All those missed warnings. All those Facebook ads that kept popping on my timeline about depression and counseling.
Jeff is not clinically diagnosed with depression. Going to the doctor was our main plan, but it’s still a push and pull thing. I don’t want to force him. He’s a psychology graduate, so I trust that he knows that there’s something wrong with him. I just thought of a few things that might be causing his anxiety.
Although his father stayed in the hospital for over a month and the doctors kept telling us to be ready for the end, it wasn’t really enough time for him to accept it. No one among us was ready when my father-in-law died. He didn’t have a great relationship with his father, and I told him maybe he’s still hung-up on that. There were times that he’d cry when he remembers him. You know, unresolved issues. He’s also suddenly the man of the house, taking care of his mom, me, and our son. There’s the pressure of earning a lot of money to support us. He also sometimes compares his career with his peers, which I told him is totally unnecessary.
So how do we manage his depression? We don’t. We just live everyday, accepting the fact that he has his episodes. And our lives has greatly improved ever since that talk we had in October. We can now openly talk about it, as well as seeking counseling and treatment.
Knowing and understanding the situation were the most important steps that we took. I had to totally change my perception towards my husband. Sometimes I’m tempted to think that he’s just acting up, but I slap myself and try to control the situation. I can’t lose my husband to depression. Lately, we’ve also been using essential oils which is of great help to calm him down or to boost his energy and confidence. Vetiver and Lavender make him sleep well, RC and Valor stop his snoring, and Lemon and Peppermint boost his energy. We’ll still see a doctor soon, but I hope he won’t have to take too much medication.
How about me? How do I manage? I don’t know. I also just live everyday, hoping and praying that we get by alive and well. There were days that he still fidgets on the couch thinking of Monday, but I don’t let him be. I distract him. I tell him that we should go out. Or that I will drive (he can’t relax when I drive haha!).
It’s hard to live with depression, but it’s harder if you keep on shutting it down or brushing it off as if it’s just your imagination. Let’s stop thinking that someone is just emo because they were posting weird things on social media. Ask them. Check up on your friends and family. How are they doing? Don’t let depression take your loved ones away from you.