Picture the life: You are intelligent, love to be active, involved, affectionate, and funny. But your illness makes you dull and slow. Mentally lethargic, you'd rather just listen to the conversation rather than participate. You can sometimes make it to the party, but the first thing you need to do is find a place to nap.
Such is the life of my husband, the narcoleptic.
Understandably, he gets down about his condition. A born list-maker, he always has a million things he wants to get done each day. Realistically, he often has to settle with just getting through the day. This frustrates him and sometimes saddens him. Many times he gets very sad. So sad that he feels hopeless. So hopeless that he feels like giving up. He swings from ranting to crying and back again, in an exhausting cycle of emotions that drains us both.
My husband didn't think he was depressed. He thinks that he's just "messed up" sometimes. While I certainly respect his opinion (it is HIS body, after all), I vehemently disagree. See, about 10 years ago, I was clinically depressed. Major depression was a large part of my life for many years. Too many. I spent years seeing psychiatrists and therapists, participated in group therapy, tried several different anti-depressants, and was even hospitalized a few times.
Eventually, I decided that if I was going to get well, I'd have to take matters into my own hands. When I did, I slowly got better and now all these years later, I know I made the right choice. But that's another post. My point is that, if nothing else, I recognize the symptoms of depression. I recognize them like I recognize the facial features in a photograph of someone I once hated. Someone who stalked me relentlessly, teased and tortured me, and fought tooth-and-nail when I was finally able to push them away. Yes, I know depression.
So what to do? If you suspect that someone you love suffers from depression, can you force them to get help?
No, but you can show them what healthy looks like.
In describing my experience with depression to my husband, I saw recognition in his eyes. Now I just have to introduce him to something else.