Depression is a terrible thing to experience. It robs us of so many things which the human spirit needs to thrive, grow and be happy. It can rob us of the ability to think clearly, to make decisions, to feel love and above all it can rob us of hope.
One thing I’m often asked is, “how do I tell my wife/husband/partner about how I feel when I don’t even know how I feel myself?” The answer is always difficult because we all experience depression in our own way, even if the themes are similar.
Something that I think helps is to give a written letter to the person to whom you wish to communicate. If nothing else it lets them have a small insight into how you feel and it also conveys the seriousness of your situation. Also a letter is a special thing that we don’t often handwrite anymore, which gives it extra meaning.
With that being the case, below is a letter which you might find helpful to use as a guide, or you may even use in its entirety.
Dear [insert name of loved one]
I know I haven’t been myself lately. I know when you often look at me I can see the doubt and confusion in your eyes, or at least I interpret it that way. I also know that you love me but are unsure of what to do or what to say as you watch me drifting further and further away from you and the everyday life we usually lead together.
I’m writing this to you because I find it hard to articulate what is actually going on inside. My mood shifts on a moment-to-moment basis and although I may appear to be normal on the outside, on the inside I’m being tossed about like a tiny boat on a dark and torrid ocean.
I wish I knew how to tell you why I’m feeling depressed but the truth is I don’t fully understand myself. I know at times I feel totally empty, as if every particle of my being has been sucked into a black hole. At other times I feel crushed, my spirit devoid of human warmth, and these are feelings I simply cannot control. I often feel exhausted by the simplest of tasks. My body is heavy and my mind is sluggish. I am unable to respond in ways I used to and I know this frustrates you, because it frustrates me too.
I can see how concerned and distressed you become when I cry for no apparent reason. Again, I can’t stop this from happening. It’s like being stuck on autopilot and things are happening without my input. But what I do know is that after I cry I feel a little better.
I know when you ask me if I still love you I seem unsure how to answer. It’s not that I don’t love you, because I know that somewhere inside this depressed person I’ve become, I do love you very much, but depression has robbed me of the ability to show it right now. You may question this and question whether my love is real anymore as I’m acting differently toward you. Maybe you doubt me because I’m not looking at you the way I used to, or holding you, or even being interested in you sexually. But please know that it’s not that you don’t hold attraction for me anymore, it’s just that I’m finding it hard to connect to that part in me which connects to you. The truth is, I can’t connect to you because I can’t find a way to connect to myself right now.
This all may seem difficult to understand and I think this is what makes being depressed so hard to deal with. Nothing in my behavior or thinking makes sense to me. I know that makes me hard to understand and sometimes hard to be around, but please stick by me and don’t give up.
I am seeking help right now and I am doing what I can to find a way forward through this difficult time. I want you to know that I need you now more than ever, even if I don’t show or say it. I need your patience, I need your support, and above all I need your love.