It's been over a year since he left me alone with a 4 month old baby and no way of coping. He was gone for 6 weeks. It wasn't long, but the unknown of it was eternal. I never thought i'd be a single mum. But for 6 weeks i was and i was terrified.
When he came back, i learned a lot about what life was like for him. And it took a lot for me to open up to the truth of it. He lives with depression. Depression is considered the 'common cold' of mental illness. This is what we're taught at uni - they send social workers out in to the world to minimise the significance and devastation of depression. But living with depression, or living with someone who has it is full on. There's nothing common about it.
He isn't overly articulate about what it's like for him, but if i open my eyes, i can see. He sometimes seems inauthentic, like he is pretending to have a reaction of a 'normal' person. This is when he's feeling numb. He can't sleep, because his brain wont quieten down. He has his fathers voice in there telling him that's he's a failure. He forgets things, get's annoyed easily, hates certain noises. He's defensive, frustrated, despondent. And none of it is his fault.
For me, living with some with depression is really hard. I find it hard to connect with him, and worry that he over estimates his abilities. I worry that i'll catch him in a bad mood and end up in a fight with no outcome. I worry that he's doing too much, so i'll try to protect him from it and end up exhausting myself. I want to have another baby, but he struggled with me during my last pregnancy and i often felt unsupported. There are a lot of unknowns in our future. And sure i'm scared that he's going to leave again without warning, but i love and trust him and want to support him through this.
Depression is so pervasive and so significant. It is not pedestrian, run of the mill or commen.
It manifests differently in different people and is profoundly underestimated. My family lives with it everyday, as do many of our friends.