When you are dealing with a Mental Illness it causes a dreadful ripple effect- the whole family has to deal with it. It is not self-contained and your caregivers, if you are lucky enough to have them, are deeply impacted by the daily war that is something like depression. I have Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and combined they have nearly destroyed my life, dealing sorrow upon sorrow to my wife and kids.
My wife was my primary caregiver when I was diagnosed and has been supportive, caring, and compassionate. It has not been easy for her- I have been unreliable as a breadwinner due to my depression and anxiety. I isolate myself and sometimes don’t listen to her advice, which is almost always the same thing my therapist ends up telling me. She has seen me try to kill myself and lived with that heartbreak without making me feel worse about myself. She has a lot of empathy, so when I am in a depressed state she really feels it too. She feels the hopelessness and shame and the whirlwind of dread from my anxiety.
My children are not left out of this equation just because I don’t tell them everything I am feeling. They can see me lying in bed for months on end. They know that I am struggling and it rubs off on them. They have both developed depression and anxiety issues that I am sure are rooted in my struggle. I feel an enormous amount of guilt over this, but I have to try to get better so that I can help them get well. This misery has to end for me- I use the desire to not be defined by my disorders as motivation. I want to put an end to depression and anxiety as a ‘family affair.”