Short Stories: Living with Depression

» Posted in Mental Health | 7 comments

 

The alarm buzzed stridently, waking Gwen with a start.  Confused for a moment, she looked around blankly before glancing at the clock and groaning.  After a long and restless night of tossing and turning, she was in no shape to start her day.  Her head was pounding and she felt like a heavy weight was pressing down on her chest.  Even though she had just spent 10 hours in bed, she felt exhausted and drained.

As Gwen thought about the day ahead of her, waves of hopelessness came over her.  I can’t do this, she thought.

Just then, her 4 year old daughter, Annie, burst into Gwen’s room and bounced eagerly on the bed.  “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, I want Mickey Mouse pancakes for breakfast!”  Before Gwen could respond, her 9 year old son, Johnny, followed his sister into the room. “Mo-o-o-m, I forgot that I was supposed to bring cupcakes to school today for the Chinese visitors who’re coming.  Can we go to the store before school?”

Gwen started to feel the panic rising in her.  I can’t do this, she thought again.  She bit back the scream that was rising in her and gritted out, “I’ve told you both a thousand times to knock before you come into my room.  Now, both of you, go get ready for school and I will deal with you when I get downstairs!”  Gwen could hear her voice becoming shrill, even as she fought to keep calm.  As she watched her kids back out of her room, eyes wide, she could feel the familiar guilt settling once again in her gut.

I’m such a horrible mom, I can’t do anything right.  I can’t believe that I just lost it again with my kids.  What’s wrong with me?  Look at me, I’m a total mess.  I’m a fat slob who can’t get her act together.  It’s no wonder Jim is hardly home these days, when he’s coming home to this pigsty.  I hate myself!

Gwen shook her head angrily and gave herself a mental slap.  C’mon, stupid, stop whining and get your fat butt out of bed!  Even as she chastised herself, she looked longingly down at her bed, wishing she could hide under her covers all day, hide from her unbearable life.  It took everything in her just to get out of bed each morning.  Gwen didn’t know what was wrong with her, but she’d been feeling worse and worse each day.  She felt like she was tumbling into a dark abyss.  It was starting to scare her.  What was wrong with her?

Oh, Lord, help me through the day.

Gwen snorted, as if prayer would help her.  But then she immediately felt guilty for thinking such angry thoughts about God.  Sorry, God, I know I have to try harder.  I know I need to have an attitude of gratitude.  You’ve given me so much, I really am blessed and I know I shouldn’t feel this way.  I know I’m not being a good Christian.  Please forgive me.

Gwen forced herself out of bed, sighing.  She felt so sluggish and flat, with this feeling of emptiness inside of her.  Hopelessness, really. Every muscle ached in her body but she knew that she had to push herself to keep going.  Her kids needed her.  She’d already let them down far too many times, so the weight of the guilt lay heavily on her.

Just then, Jim came out of the shower, towelling his hair dry.  He took one look at Gwen and sighed inwardly.  He could tell that today was going to be a bad day for her, and he fought back feelings of frustration and sadness.  He didn’t know what had happened to his vivacious and charming wife, but he missed her.  It seemed like she was slowly disappearing into this darkness and he was starting to wonder if she would ever come back.  Jim loved his wife so much but he didn’t know what to do to help her.  He had never felt so helpless before.  What should he do?

Jim knew that he was staying at the office longer and longer each day because he found it hard to come home and see his wife this way.  He felt guilty about avoiding her, but she was so negative and irritable that he felt like he couldn’t do anything right with her.  That somehow it was all his fault.  Like he had to walk on eggshells around her all the time now, not knowing how she would react.  It was torture.

“Honey, what’s wrong?” he asked her gently.  Moving next to Gwen, Jim began to rub her shoulders.  Irritably, Gwen pushed his hands away.  “Nothing, I’ve just got a busy day ahead of me, so I don’t have time for this!”  Stepping back with his hands up, Jim shrugged.  “Okay, sorry I asked.” As guilt pierced through Gwen’s dark mood, she turned towards Jim, but he had already left the room.

Gwen sighed.  I did it again.  I can’t help feeling so mad at Jim and I don’t know why.  I don’t know why I keep pushing him away.  Is he going to start avoiding me too, like all of my friends?  A wave of loneliness came over Gwen.  She felt completely alone in her misery. 

—–

“Jim, there’s a call for you on line 2.” Jim’s assistant poked her head into his office.  “I think it’s Gwen but it didn’t sound like her. I think you should take it.”

Jim braced himself, and picked up the phone.  Before he could say a word, he heard hysterical sobbing.  “Jimmy, I can’t do it anymore!  Help me, please, please!”  Jim’s heart jolted with panic.  What was wrong with his wife?  He had never heard her sound so incoherent and desperate.

“Honey, honey, it’s okay, I’m here.  You’re going to be okay.  We’re going to get through this together.  Where are you?  I’m coming to get you right now!”  Jim spoke as gently as he could.  He wasn’t sure if he was getting through to her as he could only hear Gwen crying, out of control.  Feeling completely helpless, Jim began to pray out loud, “Oh Lord, please be with Gwen right now. Help her feel your presence and your love right now.  Let her know that she will be safe with you.  And give us the strength to get through this together.  Thank you for your love and your assurance that you are always with us.”  Jim felt like he was babbling as he prayed, but he could sense that Gwen was starting to calm down as her crying became quieter.

“Honey, I’m coming to get you right now.  We’ll get through this together, okay?  I love you, hon.”

Two hours later, Jim sat stunned as their family doctor diagnosed Gwen with Major Depressive Disorder and directed them to the hospital immediately for admittance.  His wife was suicidal?  Was it his fault?  How did he miss how badly she was doing?  What was going to happen to their family?  Jim shook off his fear and squared his shoulders.  His wife needed him.  His family needed him.  Oh God, help me take care of my family.  I don’t know what to do!  As Jim prayed fervently for his family, he began to feel a sense of peace settle on him.  Even though it had been a brutal day, he was thankful that his wife was getting the help that she needed.  He was starting to see that this wasn’t his fault – that it wasn’t anyone’s fault.

Their doctor had given them a brochure explaining that depression struck almost one in 10 people in Canada.  Wow, Jim had no idea.  Apparently, depression was a very real illness that often had a physiological basis.  But unfortunately, almost half of the general population believe that sufferers use mental illness as an excuse for bad behaviour.  Unbelievable!  Jim felt angry just thinking about the possible stigma that Gwen would face with her illness.  No wonder so many people don’t tell others that they’re suffering!  Some crazy perecentage like 2/3 of people suffering from mental illness don’t get the help they need.  Oh, Gwen!  I’m sorry that I didn’t get you help sooner.

As Jim sat waiting with Gwen in the emergency waiting room, he held her hand tenderly.  Gwen looked sadly at her husband, knowing that he was feeling out of his element, but loving his strength that she badly needed right now.  I’m sorry, Jimmy.  She was exhausted after her breakdown and just wanted to go home, but she knew that she needed help.  Gwen was terrified of what was going to happen next, but she also felt a sense of determination that she was going to fight this thing.  That God would somehow give her the strength and lead her to the people who would help her overcome this.  She knew that it was going to be a long road ahead of her, but she knew that her kids needed her.  Somehow she was going to claim back her life.

Does Gwen’s story remind you of yourself or someone you know?  What about Jim, helplessly watching his wife suffer but now knowing what to do?  Please help get the word out that depression is very real by sharing this blog with others.  And if you have your own story to share, please feel free to comment or email me directly.  I would love to hear from you.

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7 Comments

  1. Thank you Merry for this insightful and heart tugging story. Depression is a difficult thing to live with and hard to know how to help others that are struggling. This story so powerfully illustrates the reality of it as well as the hope one can have that there is help

    • Thanks for your comment, Lorie, I really do hope that this story will help people begin to recognize the reality of depression in our midst, but that there IS hope and help for it!

  2. As one who has struggled with the depths of depression, thank you for such a compassionate and realistic portrayal of what it really can be like.

  3. My story began two years ago after the sudden death of my dear sister when I was suddenly hit with severe depression, anxiety and fear. After attending my GP who would not prescribe antidepressants as he said it was just grief I went deeper and deeper into such a state I felt suicidel.. My life was turned upside down. I tried every possible help I could get, doctor who prescribed antidepressants second time round, group therapy, councilling, and a physiatrist. I was unable to sleep, eat, wash or do any housework and spent most of my time in bed not that I could rest as I was so agitated I could not relax for I moment. My mind was racing, I felt guilty for past mistakes and had no feelings for my husband or family. I really thought I was going mad. I was numb inside , sometimes I couldn’t cry and other times I couldn’t stop crying. I lost 16lbs in weight and food didn’t appeal to me at all. All I did was pray to god for relief. Every night in bed I hoped that I would not wake up as the mornings were so horrific it terrified me. Finally after eight months things slowly and I say very slowly things started to get better, an hour one day and then maybe after a few days another short spell , but at least I had some hope. It took until December to feel just ok. In January of2012 I felt good but made the worst mistake ever. I came off the tablets slowly over six months on my own accord. In September of 2012 I began to feel down again. Never thinking I would fall back as bad as I had been I was wrong. It is now may of 2013 and I am as bad as I was in 2011. For the last 4 months my life is on hold once again and am feeling desperate. Everything is the same as it was before. I have not had a lift since then but one thing is for sure if these tablets work this time I will stay on them for life. Your health is your wealth. It has been good to be able to tell somebody how I feel right now even though its only the tip of the iceberg. Hope everyone here on this site will recover, I will remember you all in my prayers

    • Comment

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Irene, I really appreciate your honesty and your accurate description of what it can be like to suffer from depression. Too often, people hide their struggles out of shame and try to deal with it on their own, and so I’m glad that you’ve done all that have to try and get better. You’re right, it’s an ongoing journey and one that can really challenge our faith when our struggles don’t lift, regardless of what we do. Please don’t give up; reach out once again to others for support and get some counselling. I know that you will find God in the midst of your desert experience. I’m praying for you too.

  4. I’m nazrul from bangladesh,I’m suffering depression anxiety from 6yrs but I didn’t overcome when I’m alone i feel horrible so anyone tell me what should I do now.

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