Eric Robillard comes to terms with his wife and her depression.
Sometimes you get up and bake a cake or something
sometimes you stay in bed
til your eyes roll back into your head
—The National, Racing Like a Pro
The depressive episodes were unnoteworthy—she would sit outside on the back porch with her cup of coffee. There was nothing unusual about my wife sitting outside; I would often join her, and we would waste the morning away doing nothing in unison. Except with every passing day, she would sit longer with the same cup of coffee, wasting more time away in solitude. Until she slept her days away.
I would call home when there was no Facebook activity on her profile. You don’t need to check up on me, my love. I would caress her face to wake her up once the work day was over with. I’m fine, trust me—I know what I am doing. I had met suicide personally. I didn’t trust my wife, I didn’t think she knew what she was doing. Depression I trusted, implicitly.
The next day, I called twice. I sent an email. Another one through Facebook. I called again. I’ve tackled this beast before, sweetie, you can’t fix this one. I wouldn’t hear the resignation in my wife’s voice. I didn’t hear her resentment either. I was all ears for the first cry for help. Depression wouldn’t trick me twice.
I hovered. I pried when she needed silence. I overlaid my father’s untimely death on her story. I anticipated her fate. I hawk-eyed her every move. My wife didn’t find solace in the cup of coffee she once enjoyed on the back porch. She would breathe at her own pace when I was at work. She would seek peace where I wasn’t.
I need time away. She found a sanctuary, a place where she could live her darkness unscrutinized. I brewed coffee for two, and a second pot. I was repelled by the bitter taste of defeat—I had lost my wife to depression.
During our hiatus, I couldn’t check up on her. Not for a single moment did I believe she was fine, or recognize that she could get through this on her terms. And yet, she recovered slowly. Away from me. Even when we regained proximity, she found most of her strength when I wasn’t racing around her, trying to fix it.
We started working together when I abandoned the fear of losing her to The Dark, when I stopped anticipating where her depression might lead her next, when I released the helm of her life. My wife was not my father—I needed to steer away from the idea that she would meet the same fate, and if a similar fate they would share, it was not my decision to make, however bleak it may be.
She enjoys her morning coffee, while she peruses Pinterest. On the odd day, she will sigh and sit silently in front of the computer screen. Please don’t worry, my love, I’m just having a bad day. If I need you, I will let you know. And I will go back into my world, reluctantly. Occasionally, I will send her an email. I’m still learning to let it be.
This post originally appeared at A Clown On Fire
Photo: maureen lunn/Flickr