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An Open Letter to My Spouse Struggling with Depression

Dear Husband:
 
As I lay here in bed with the baby, you’re in the other room drinking a beer. You always have that beer in your hand when not working. And although society says it’s what you should do to unwind, I’ve grown to loathe that can. The contents have gone from the more expensive craft beers to the cheap beer you drink now—because we can’t afford your habit. 
 
I would say that alcohol is your problem. But that’s a lie. Downing a few beers every night to calm you and then drinking coffee like an I.V. in the morning? These symptoms just mask the real issue: your depression.
 
The statistics on depression are pretty clear. Fifteen million Americans struggle with a depression disorder. It also runs in your family. So we know the effects of this ugly intruder. Those with depression need to get help, the experts say. But whenever I repeat those words to you? You insist you’re fine. “I don’t want to talk about it,” you say. And you shut down like an uncharged cell phone. So we haven’t talked about it for a decade. 
 
Anyone who sees you can tell you’re unhappy. This depression has impacted your work, your friendships, your family, and your health. You isolate yourself with the pain when there are people who love you and don’t want you to be alone.
 
Husband, I’m tired. I’m tired of carrying the burden and of making excuses for your unengaged interactions. I’m tired of being the sole joy-advocate in our household. 
 
Your kids don’t know how to handle your mood swings. You have never laid a hand on them, but sometimes it’s hard to tell how you will react to simple things. One moment you may be fine. The next moment you get snippy or angry. Or you don’t respond at all. When I look in your eyes? It’s like you’re lost behind that dead stare. 
 
There’s a part of me that is angry at how your depression has piled extra responsibilities on my shoulders, affected our finances because of your inability to stay focused at your work, and inhibited deep connection with other couples. There’s also a part of me that is heartbroken for how you must feel on the inside and how that deep pain must play with your perception of the world around you. Because, husband? You have a wife who loves you. You have children who adore you. They light up when the real you fights his way out of the darkness.
 
Your family needs you to get help. We need you to get better because we know that you’re hurting. I need a husband that is present and engaging. Your kids need a father that shows them how to live a full life. 
 
Most of all, you need to get better for your own sake. Do it for the sake of the joy you’re missing, the work you love, and the life that is passing you by. You need to get better for the sake of your future. Because depression doesn’t have to define you. I love you, husband. Please get help.
 
Love,

Your Concerned Wife

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