Could you fall in love with someone with a history of depression and a suicidal past? This man’s wife did.
I am not ashamed of my past dealing with suicide and depression. These things are a part of my history and make me who I am today. I’m open about these experiences if the subject is brought up and I’ll freely share with anyone who is going through the same experiences I did. As a survivor it’s important to not be ashamed, but when it comes to dating, that openness can scare away potential marriage partners.
This was the case while in college as I explored the dating pool on campus and went on several dates that never got past the initial stage. I was extremely open back then and would bring up my mental health history in the middle of getting to know each other on the first date. In hindsight it was probably to much to soon but I wanted to let my dates know who I was and that I wasn’t ashamed of my battle with depression. It never seemed like anyone was ever frightened or turned off by my story, but it didn’t help me get a second date either.
It wasn’t till I met my future wife that it all changed. Unlike the women I pursued she was different because I wasn’t attracted to her in the beginning. Instead of getting to know each other on a date we grew close through group study and participating in similar school activities. She heard my story from the perspective of a friend who stood amazed at my ability to persevere through life. Without the pressure of being on a date she wasn’t afraid that I wanted more then friendship, so she didn’t have to make a decision about dating someone with depression. She could just be a friend and that’s not as scary.
During our time in college we grew extremely close and it became apparent that we both had strong feelings for each other. It took a while for both of us to admit it, but with every day that passed we created countless memories that proved we could be more than friends. We couldn’t imagine living without each other, and by the time we got our four year degrees we were married.
Now I would like to tell you that we lived happily ever after, but sadly this isn’t a Disney movie. Instead we’ve gone through countless struggles because of money, family, education, and my mental health. The past ten years have stretched both of us to limits we never knew we could reach and through it all we still stand together. Through it all she still stands by me.
This letter is to my wife and to all those who have given their heart to someone living with depression and any other mental health issue.
Thank you for your support these past ten years of marriage. I am amazed that you have stuck with me through all the drama I provide because of my battle with depression. You could have married anyone or at least someone without the weaknesses I have. You could have had a husband who was psychologically strong and easy to predict instead of one who can go from hopeful to down trodden within a day. I have proven unstable when dealing with stress and more times then not you have been asked to be the strong one in our relationship. Thank you.
Thank you for sticking with me through the bad times. You know I sometimes worry that you’ll wake up one day and realize you’ve made some horrible mistake. I wouldn’t blame you if you left me and on some days I wish you would because I can’t help but feel like I’m dragging you down. Who wouldn’t get tired of the unpredictable nature that my depressive episodes bring but despite my fears you’ve always focused on my strengths. What I could do or become? You remind me of the things I’ve accomplished despite my issues and your confidence in me is the spark I use to get pass my dark days. Thank you.
Thank you for teaching me that I could be a good parent. When we had our first child I was worried sick that I would be a horrible father. I worried that my depression would affect the way I raised my kids. What if they became depressed because of my issues? Lucky for me you’ve shown me what it means to be a good parent. When our kids are overwhelming me you always know how to cool me down. You’ve taught me how to speak calmly and discipline without resorting to physical punishment. Thank you.
There are so many more things I could say, but in the end it comes down to your commitment to this imperfect man. Your love for me is what pushes me to do things I never thought I could do. Getting my Master’s degree isn’t possible if it wasn’t for your belief in my intelligence. Writing for The Good Men Project wouldn’t have been possible if you hadn’t encouraged me to submit an article during a time when I doubted my ability to write. Now I’m in the middle of writing a novel that I wouldn’t have the guts to undertake if it wasn’t for your belief in me. Thank you.
Now I want to declare my commitment to you. I will do everything I can to help you pursue your dreams. I am willing to sacrifice what I can to see you happy. There will be times that I won’t be able to be the strong one but when I can, I will. I love you and hope that when my last day on earth is up I’ll be able to deserve a thank you for my part in our relationship.
Even though I believe my wife is one of a kind I also believe there are many people out there supporting their loved ones who are dealing with depression and other mental health challenges. You should be commended for your compassion and I hope your loved ones realize how much you do for them. Don’t give up on them as my wife hasn’t on me. You may not hear it but you’re making a difference and the affects of that are innumerable.
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Photo: Joelle Birano