“Don’t give up on me.” That’s what Becci Nicholls begged her husband not to do in a letter she wrote on her blog, titled “To The Husband With A Depressed Wife“. In the letter Becci asked her husband to not give up on her, to keep telling her that she is a wonderful person.
“I know you prefer the good days when I am happy and not anxious or snappy, and I wish I could have these days everyday, but I can’t. I feel the cloud approaching, and it petrifies me. Sometimes I tell you, and sometimes I don’t. Please if you notice the cloud before I tell you just hug me tight and tell me we will fight the cloud together. Please don’t ask me if I am OK, my automatic answer will be yes when in reality it is a big NO. Depression makes you feel ashamed you see.”
If your wife has depression, there will be times where she will feel like Becci. There will be times where she just can’t explain why she is sad or angry. There are things she wants to tell you, but can’t. Here are seven things your wife needs you to understand:
1. She’s not OK
Watch your wife to know how she is feeling. Know when she is falling into depression, when she is coming out of a bout of depression or when she is having a good day. If she is falling into a bout of depression, start paying attention more. She is more likely to get angry and emotional. She is clearly not OK during this time.
Instead of asking how she is doing, find out how you can help her. This will show that you care without making her feel like she needs to hide her depression.
2. She needs to talk about it
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having depression, but someone struggling will often feel like a failure, so they won’t talk about it.
Depression also affects people differently for varying amounts of times. Try to understand how your wife feels and thinks while she is depressed. This will therapeutic for her, but will also help you understand how to help her in the future.
3. She can’t fake it till she makes it
Faking happiness usually helps someone feel happy, but it often doesn’t work for people with depression. Your wife may be faking it to try to be a better mother, wife or friend, but in the end she will completely fall apart.
The stress of the world’s judgement can be lifted when you allow her to be genuine with you. Use these moments of honesty and openness to hold her close and remind her that you love her.
4. She isn’t thinking clearly
Depression affects how a person processes the world around them. It’s often referred to as a black cloud that consumes a person’s brain. Everything good vanishes and everything negative overwhelms you.
In Becci’s letter she talks about an old urge she will have to self harm. She says, “I know it’s hard to understand why I crave it, I can’t explain it myself if I am totally honest. It’s like an old addiction that comes to hurt me when it smells the dark cloud. One day I hope it won’t ever cross my mind again.”
If your wife is struggling and saying things that aren’t logical, don’t make light of her struggles. Help her see how wonderful she is. She needs that support from you to get through her day.
5. She needs you on her team
Your wife is fighting depression, and she needs you to fight her depression too. So talk to her, help her get out of bed in the morning and send her texts to tell her how amazing she is. Let her know you are grateful for her.
This doesn’t mean that you avoid hard conversations about things you need her to do. No, this just means you need to give her a little extra support. Encourage her to go to a therapist, and join her when she asks. She needs you on the front lines to help her battle the overwhelming creature called depression.
6. She needs a break
There will be times your wife just needs to get away and relax. She will need a break from all the stress in the world. This will help her put things into perspective.
7. She needs you to love her
The most important thing you can do for your wife is to love her. Love her with everything you have. This love will be her greatest support during the hard times.
Having a wife with depression is far from easy, but if she loves you and you love her then it’s worth it. Remember, you can make things better.
Becci’s letter summed up the role of a husband by saying:
“Sometimes it takes every bit of motivation to even get up in the morning, but I never let you in on this. A new day often scares me. I wonder will I cope? Will the sky be blue or black? Is the weather nice? The weather really affects my feelings and I do not know why! Every single morning is hard, but seeing you makes it easier.”
Your wife loves you and she needs to know you love her too. So, tell her and say it often.
Read Becci’s full letter here.