Last week was lighter than usual on the blogging front. You know how when life gets to be overwhelming, and then you distract yourself with blogs and social media, and realize those things are (shockingly) hurting rather than helping you deal with it? That was me. So I distanced myself a bit from all that and enjoyed a weekend of hanging with the puppies, visiting D.C., and soaking up the gorgeous weather that has (hopefully?) come to stay.
Moving on, today’s guest blogger is a former “Lucky” Ones interviewee, Sarah Greesonbach, who just launched an ebook on switching careers. It’s geared toward teachers who are second-guessing their path, but it’s packed with advice that I think could be helpful for anyone feeling stuck. Her post today touches on some of the overwhelming effects of a dark period in her own life, and how that affected her relationship with her husband.
Have you ever felt sorry for people who are in relationships with depressed people?
I have. Especially because often that depressed person was me.
Josh and I have been married since November 2012, so I thought it was about time to interview him about what I consider the darkest period of my life: a time when I felt trapped in my career as a teacher, stressed by our long-distance relationship, and overwhelmed by health concerns. Here’s Josh’s take on being in a relationship with me during that time.
Hi Josh, I guess it goes without saying that it’s kind of awesome we can talk about this stuff. But some guys seem put off by talking about depression. Why do you think you’re okay with it?
I’ve always considered myself more in touch with my feelings than other guys. It is very helpful when it comes to writing music and being a teacher, but most guys aren’t up for it. I like to think I’m above stereotypes. How humans act and feel has always been more interesting to me than the traditional dude stuff like sports and grilling.
That’s probably why I married you. Now, about that time a few years ago when everything seemed to suck to me. Did you know that I was depressed?
Yes. You would cry a lot and you didn’t want to do things. Things being anything that wasn’t being in bed and crying. I think I thought that us doing distance was very difficult so I didn’t know what to do about it. I thought that was more to blame than the teaching, so I looked for ways that we could be together more.
What made you feel better and what made you feel hopeless about the situation?
I would say being with you was nice, knowing that eventually we would live nearer each other and not do [the] distance anymore. Nothing really made me feel hopeless. I found ways to cope myself, by playing a lot of video games and developing a schedule like going to the movies, getting wings, that sort of thing.
What did you do to try to cheer me up that worked and didn’t work?
I left cute notes and things around the house. I also tried to text and call as often as I could… even though sometimes you would refuse to talk on the phone. We should have talked about that more openly, I think, too, to save some hurt feelings on both sides. It didn’t seem to work when I tried to talk to you about feeling better or to try to make fun, distracting plans. I like to have something to look forward to, but you didn’t want to feel obligated to go out and do stuff in case you were feeling low.
How did you feel when I told you I was considering going on anti-depressants?
I was worried it would change who you were. I grew up thinking that medicine like that makes people act differently and out-of-character. Now I think I understand that it allows people to be more themselves during a rough patch (or long term).
Were you ever depressed during this time?
Yeah, definitely. I was teaching at that time too, and I resented having to show up early and try to be of service to students who were often unappreciative when I wanted to be spending time with you. I would find myself staying up really late to be intentionally out of it for the school day. That way I wouldn’t really be conscious of the day and be in a dream state ’til I got home. I really lived for the weekends.
What advice do you have for dudes (or just people) in relationships with someone who is experiencing depression?
I would say to call them a lot. Even if you don’t feel like talking, making yourself stay in touch with friends and family is really important. You and I would have Skype dates when you didn’t feel like talking, and we would spend a lot of time just being together instead of filling our weekends with things to do. Focus on the fact that the distance won’t last forever, and if it will, consider fixing that. You should also consider seeing a counselor—the person who is depressed and the person in the relationship with them can both use some perspective, tips, and just someone to talk to to make sense of it all. I think it would have helped me a lot to go to church more regularly during that time, too.
I’m so grateful that Josh and I were able to get to the place that we could speak candidly about this time in our lives. It certainly wasn’t so easy at first—there were miscommunications, misunderstandings, and just plain arguments all through it! But open dialogue and focusing on our priorities allowed us to grow and blossom together. Especially in the case of long-distance relationships, this kind of rough beginning can make the first year of marriage (and hopefully the rest) seem like a piece of cake!
Have you ever dated someone who was depressed or been the depressed one? What would you ask your spouse or partner?
Sarah Greesonbach writes and curates the lifestyle and personal finance blog Life [Comma] Etc. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter for commentary and hot links, as well as pictures of her husband and cat (both are super-cute). She releases her first eBook this month, Life After Teaching: The Hands-On Guide for Transitioning Out of Teaching and Into a New Career.
Want to be a guest blogger for Witty Title Here? Send your pitches to me at wittycassiehere [at] gmail [dot] com.