Agony: extreme and generally prolonged pain; intense physical or mental suffering (source)
Life has a way of battering, bruising and taking much from me. My gut has taken a beating. It actually feels like a few feet have taken turns kicking it in. Bedraggled and torn, that is me. My heart must look like a tattered and worn blanket at this point, full of holes; it surely has been used and abused by hard times and losses.
If you look at me you may see a smile on my face, it may even reach my dark, blue eyes. But, I’ve gotten good at hiding my pain and showing no fear. In fact, I have learned to swallow my tears and breathe through the agony. Just please, don’t let one more person ask how I’m doing, dear God!
Depression, anxiety or any other struggle that takes a toll on the mind, body and soul– well you may know exactly what I’m talking about! Or perhaps you have a loved one that suffers from mental illness. It can be nearly as hard, yet an inability to fully understand or help, this can leave you feeling helpless.
Empathy can truly be a breath of fresh air, finding a person that understands the path you’re on. Sympathy is also an amazing gift, but can feel like a slap in the face too. No one wants to feel like a basket-case that you pitty or are sorry for, especially during an already very low, difficult time. So, while you love and care for that person in your life, be sure that you work together to find ways that make them feel positive about your compassion for them.
I have felt for years that depression was my journey to go alone. My husband could not fully understand this struggle, so it was not his to help me through. In taking this approach I pushed him away every time I was faced with a low. After all, it is my illness and my difficulty. But, after nearly 16 years of taking this attitude, I will tell you, it was to my detriment. Over time, I have injured our relationship in a myriad of ways, in “going it alone”!
I don’t know why I have felt the need to do [this]. My thought process, he couldn’t possibly understand all the thoughts and dark places that my mind goes. The ups and downs, anger and sadness, all that runs through my mind, perhaps within five minutes! But, I often haven’t even give him a chance to comprehend where I am or consider ways he may make my journey easier. No, he can’t remove this burden from me, but he can help to alleviate some of the weight and pain, and even brighten some of the darkness.
We have recently decided to come up with a plan to put in place for when I am completely consumed with my emotions; times where I get so dark and tend to push everyone away. These are the times when I actually need people the most, but tend to be in too deep a fog to know how to even help myself, let alone tell someone else how they can help. My mind can be so weak that it will go to places that it should not and would not otherwise, go. I feel like I am a different person, looking from the outside in, like an out-of-body experience, almost. I don’t even know the person looking back at me in the mirror sometimes. My poems Counterfeit Identity and I Feel Like A Monster are poignant in regards to these feelings.
Create An Action Plan (6 Ways To Support A Spouse Living With Depression)
This is the most important tip I have to share about this topic. Sit down with your spouse on a good day — a day where they’re feeling happy and calm. Open up a dialogue to co-create an action plan for their low days. How do they want to approach those days? What would they like to experience on those days? And what would help them shift through those days? As the spouse of someone with depression, it’s easy to unconsciously become an enabler by giving into their behavior or letting them slump around the house for days on end because it’s harder to confront them. Don’t let that happen! Co-create an action plan to inspire them to get through those days so they can shift into a happier state of mind. For example, I told my husband that yoga always helps me feel better and even if I have zero desire to leave the house, a yoga class has the power to shift my energy. On my low days my husband will always suggest yoga, and that serves as a reminder of the beautiful action plan we co-created to help get me through those horrible days.
When in the right frame of mind, I and Hubby have come up with our “Action Plan.” These are things that are positive for me, help my mind focus away from the negative and can aide in bringing me out of my low (even if for only a short time). The list includes things such as: foot massages, bubble baths, ice cream, music and journaling. These are things that I don’t do on a regular basis, but are treats that help me feel well. Most are done with the help of Hubby, because he needs to be involved. If I need my space, he is still there, but in a different capacity. Even these small changes have a big impact, not only on me and my depression, but on our relationship. I highly recommend an action plan!
Now, I am looking to the future and trying to not deal with my agony all alone, because we are a team, and a team works together. One may have strengths where the other has weaknesses and vice-versa. That is how a team works; they are there for one another, cheering thee other on when they go up against an opponent. So, go team Mac! ©
**Find the song “Dear Agony” by Breaking Benjamin, my inspiration for this piece, HERE.