Monday, April 4, 2011


About eleven years ago my husband Bill went through a time of severe depression.  He didn’t go to work; he couldn’t read ~ not his Bible, not the newspaper, not his Louis Lamour books; he couldn’t watch TV or talk on the phone.  On a good day he could walk to the end of our driveway and back.  The depression paralyzed him. 

I went through it too, vicariously.  Those were very difficult months for both of us.  Over the years I’ve been asked how I responded to Bill’s depression and how this experience affected me. 

This was a new experience for us both.  It blindsided us.  I didn’t study on how to live with a depressed person.  But a nurturing instinct kicked in and these are some examples of my responses.  I’m sure these are not right for every situation, but they worked for us.

  1. I protected.  When the phone rang, I was quick to answer it.  Both the ringing and the voices were more than Bill could handle.  While I was talking I always went to another room behind a closed door.  When the doorbell rang, Bill would hide in a bedroom behind a closed door.  I didn’t make excuses for him. 
  2. I accepted.  I didn’t push him beyond what he communicated he could handle.  Many well-meaning friends had books they suggested he read.  They piled up and that was ok.  There were suggestions of what foods to eat or supplements to take.  I let Bill decide.
  3. I honored.  I let him lead.  He did have some better days.  I remember the first Sunday of Advent.  Bill decided he wanted to go to church.  Although I loved the service, it was overwhelming for Bill and we didn’t return to church for several weeks. 
  4. I suffered out loud.  God provided some wonderful friends for me during that time.  I’m an extrovert and being able to process our experience verbally was a great help.  We had one friend who checked in with me every day!  What a wonderful gift!
  5. I continued with my activities.  There were some activities that I did pull back from.  But there were others that I did not.  Those times of normalcy ministered to me.
  6. I realized that this was part of my journey too.  Although that did not happen right away. 

Going through and coming out of the depression was a process for us that started with a visit to our medical doctor for Bill.  There were some medical issues that needed to be addressed, but after about a month our very wise doctor accurately diagnosed what Bill was experiencing. 

The process also included starts and stops.  There were three trips that we took during those early days.  Two went well; one did not.  We were always adjusting. 

Letting others into the process took time as well.  We're thankful for the contributions and encouragements from many friends.  At one point Bill thought he was ready to return to work.  After one day, he wasn’t back for several months. 

The huge turning point for us both was the counseling intensive a good friend arranged for us.  We moved to Denver for the two weeks and met with a counselor every day.  That’s when I realized that this was our journey.  Both of us were tremendously helped by the time.  The big truth that both of us needed to reclaim was that our identity rested in the fact that we were the beloved children of our heavenly Father.  That made all the difference. 

Bill did go back to work.  He eventually stopped taking the anti-depressants.  But the process that started in the counselor’s office continues to this day.  It’s been a good journey.

“For I know the plans I have for you”, says the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for evil to give you a future and a hope”.  Jeremiah 29:11

1 comment:

  1. Oh how I wish I'd had this to read when Jim went through his depression! This is pure gold Sue! Every single word resonates in my heart! Thank you so much for sharing this!