BC, CANADA: How To Tell A Depressed Spouse From A Jackass: A Mom’s Guide

BC, CANADA: How To Tell A Depressed Spouse From A Jackass: A Mom’s Guide

100369250_3cd4e5760dOf all of the illnesses that can descend upon a happy family, I consider depression to be among the worst.

Depression kills.

Suicide is one of the top ten causes of death in Canada. In my age group, it is the #2 killer, after accidental death. I am more likely to die by suicide than from cancer. I am four times more likely to be killed by myself than by a murderer.

My husband is even higher risk. He has a 20% chance of dying by suicide… that’s a 1/5 chance, worse than a toss of a die.

Shortly after my miscarriage, my husband, who has always been prone to depression, became suicidal. He was committed, he went on short term disability, he got put on a bunch of medications, none of which seemed to help.

For months I spent all day at work worried that I would find a corpse when I came home, and wondering how I would explain his death to our three year old son.

Now he seems to have leveled out a bit, and while he still has suicidal thoughts, the chance of him acting on them is much less. But he’s still unable to work, unable to do much of anything. He’s not himself.

I miss him.

Depression affects the mind and body. Not only is the sufferer often physically unable to function, but they also suffer personality changes. That makes life extremely hard for the spouse, because even though I KNOW it is a disease, even though I KNOW my husband is in pain, even though I KNOW it is out of his control…

I sometimes have to work hard not to get frustrated or angry.

Because, quite honestly… a depressed spouse closely resembles a jackass.

For the past 6 months, I have essentially been acting as a single parent, while my husband lay on the couch.

If I was on the outside of this relationship looking in, and I didn’t know about the depression, I would think my husband was a major ass.

But depression is NOT the same as being an ass, and if you are married to a depressed spouse, there are little things you can look for to assure yourself that, yes, they are, in fact, sick and not actually jackasses or jerks.

How To Tell A Depressed Spouse From A Jackass

  • A jackass sleeps in every morning, while you get up with the kids…. But a depressed spouse physically cannot be woken up at times, and may sleep for 24 hours straight.
  • A jackass doesn’t help around the house…  But a depressed spouse knows that your workload is too heavy and is grateful for any housework you manage to do.
  • A jackass leaves you to do the majority of the childcare… But a depressed spouse still exerts special effort to stay involved every now and then. He will physically collapse after attempting this.
  • A jackass never wants to do your favourite things with you… But a depressed spouse never wants to do his own favourite things any more, either.
  • A jackass snaps at you out of the blue all of the time… But a depressed spouse sometimes cries out of the blue, too.
  • A jackass wants to live… But a depressed spouse may not.

All you can do is be as kind as understanding as you can. I like to ask myself, “Would it be okay for me to expect this of him if he had cancer?” or “What would I say if he had cancer, instead of depression?” and then I do that. Because he has a deadly disease, and I need to remember that.

The best thing to remember when trying to get through life with a depressed spouse is to constantly remind yourself of this:

  • A jackass will always be a jackass… But a depressed spouse used to help with the housework, used to contribute equally to childcare, used to do fun things with you… and will again some day, when he recovers.

Do any of you have loved ones with depression? How do you cope?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Carol.  She can be found blogging at If By Yes and on Twitter @IfByYesTweets

Photo credit to Paranoid Monk.  This photo has a creative commons attribute license.

Carol (Canada)

Carol from If By Yes has lived in four different Canadian provinces as well as the Caribbean. Now she lives in Vancouver, working a full time job at a vet clinic, training dogs on the side, and raising her son and daughter to be good citizens of the world. Carol is known for wearing inside-out underwear, microwaving yoghurt, killing house plants, over-thinking the mundane, and pointing out grammatical errors in "Twilight". When not trying to wrestle her son down for a nap, Carol loves to read and write. Carol can also be found on her blog, If By Yes, and on Twitter @IfByYesTweets

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JAPAN: In Review

It’s that time of year again. New Year’s is the biggest holiday on the Japanese calendar, and as it approaches Japanese TV is full of “talent” (celebrities with no actual, recognizable talent) reflecting on the year that has passed.

And it’s been an awful one for everyone in eastern Honshu.

So I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the things I am thankful for thus far in 2011:

-I’m thankful we didn’t die in the earthquake on March 11. For two or three minutes there, I wasn’t so sure.

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Melanie Oda (Japan)

If you ask Melanie Oda where she is from, she will answer "Georgia." (Unless you ask her in Japanese. Then she will say "America.") It sounds nice, and it's a one-word answer, which is what most people expect. The truth is more complex. She moved around several small towns in the south growing up. Such is life when your father is a Southern Baptist preacher of the hellfire and brimstone variety. She came to Japan in 2000 as an assistant language teacher, and has never managed to leave. She currently resides in Yokohama, on the outskirts of Tokyo (but please don't tell anyone she described it that way! Citizens of Yokohama have a lot of pride). No one is more surprised to find her here, married to a Japanese man and with two bilingual children (aged four and seven), than herself. And possibly her mother. You can read more about her misadventures in Asia on her blog, HamakkoMommy.

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