written by Becky, a former graduate wife
When I was asked to write about my struggle with depression during my time as a graduate wife, two thoughts came to me. One, I’m not going to do it. And two, I have to do it. Depression rears its ugly head at far to many to be allowed to remain a silent killer of marriage, family, hopes, and dreams. It is my goal in this snippet to expose it and hopefully encourage some of you to pursue healing.
For as long as I can remember I hid my struggle. I was so ashamed that I didn’t have it all together and that I wasn’t really the outgoing bubbly Becky everyone knew and loved. I was so dark, angry, hurting, and no one saw it.
No one except my husband.
In his second year of seminary, my husband had to pick up the phone and call the seminary’s counseling department because I was suicidal and wouldn’t leave my bed for three days. He helped me when my depression brought me to where I had no voice. He was my voice.
A year of intense counseling later, I thought that I was free.
My son Nolan was born one year after Graham graduated from seminary, and the joyous time that should have been wasn’t. Tainted with extreme weight gain, exhaustion, crying everyday at 4 o’clock on the dot, anger at everyone, and isolation, my son’s first months were shrouded by a cloud as dark as those Floridian summer afternoon thunderstorms. I thought it was the baby blues and normal issues brought on by moving across the country, trying to put down new roots, buying a home; all those things associated with a major relocation. Yet, six months passed and I was still a mess. Finally, a friend suggested I see the doctor to ask about medication.
Meds, I thought, were for the truly insane. Not for me.
I was so desperate, however, to get better, I went and was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety. In a weird way I was relived.
I wasn’t crazy.
Oh sweet, sweet meds. I had found myself again. The medications took three months to really start working but once they did, I didn’t know how I made it this long without them.
Am I healed? Is life perfect? No way. Depression is a jealous mistress that fights for your attention daily. You carry it with you like the diabetic carries their diabetes or the cancer patient carries their cancer. But how I choose to carry and deal with my disease makes all the difference in how I do life in the uncertainty of being married to a man whose direction in life turns on a dime. I could choose to go back to my hole of hiding and shame, and sometimes in my weakness I do go back, but most days I put on my boxing gloves to get out of bed, take my meds, and live life to the fullest, squeezing every drop of beauty and love out of every moment. I don’t try to be that fake outgoing bubbly Becky anymore; I try to be the truest and most raw and real me.
If there is one thing a graduate wife is, without a doubt, it is strong. Sometimes, however, if any if my ramblings are hitting you and you’re thinking, “Yeah, that’s me,” being strong means getting the help that you need to be able to be your truest and most raw and beautifully broken self.
Don’t let depression kill you.
There is hope.
There is help.
There is healing.
All you have to do is ask, or in my case, have your already stressed, stretched, academically overflowing husband ask. That’s what marriage is all about. Holding each other up. There is no shame in your struggle. Be free to pursue healing and get the tools you need to control that mistress. Be free to be you and all of you. After all, isn’t that why most of our husbands are in this? To bring hope and healing whether through academics, ministry, medicine, or law to a world that is in need? Allow that hope and healing into your heart and soul.
After all, doesn’t the graduate wife deserve it?
With a smile on my face and warmth in my heart to you, the graduate wife reader, I say a big resounding…
As a graduate wife, have you struggled with depression?
Conclusion from Mandy –
I asked my friend, Becky, to write about her struggle with depression during (and after) her time as a graduate wife. Even though we were friends while our husbands were in school together, I had no idea she was going through this, until our last 2 weeks of living in Florida. Let’s be honest: depression isn’t something really talked about among graduate wives, and in my opinion, it’s often because we think other people might view us as weak.
I have been there.
I, too, told people I was fine, while I suffered silently. It was only after I reached out for help did I truly understand how much I needed it.
My challenge to each of you: talk to each other. Be willing to be vulnerable to someone, even though it may be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. If you think you need help, pick up the phone and find someone to talk to. DON’T do this journey alone. And, by reaching out, you are being ridiculously strong and brave. As Becky said above, “…being strong means getting the help that you need to be able to be your truest and most raw and beautifully broken self.”
MC and I are also here – feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you feel like you need someone to talk to. This is why the blog was created.
3 thoughts on “Depression is a Jealous Mistress”
Thank you for posting this today. I really needed to hear that I’m not alone in all of this…I’ve been struggling with depression my entire life, and while I’m happier now than I’ve ever been before, the challenges of having a husband in graduate school are a lot different than anything I’ve experienced.
What an amazing post, Becky. Thank you for writing it. The title is spot on…depression is a jealous mistress. I, too, have made the mistake of thinking that I have “dealt” with my depression and therefore it is gone forever. What a bummer to realize that is not the case at all. After years of counseling to deal with my anger, sadness, confusion and “why me’s” in hopes that I could be free, I failed to acknowledge that it’s a process with no finish line. I still, to this day, struggle with depression and anxiety. I have come to terms that I will always wrestle with this affliction, BUT (and that’s a big but :D) the great news is that God is with me through it all. Depression will never overtake me as long as I have the Lord and really awesome friends that write posts like yours to remind me that I am not alone. My “thank you” to you comes from the depth of my heart. It’s filled with all the gratitude I can muster, my friend.
I have never experienced chemical depression, but I have (while abroad to volunteer and study) experienced depression that I now see was caused by my worry and fear, which always lead to despair. I worried that we would be there forever, that our situation wouldn’t never change, that I’d never have normal life near family, etc. etc. etc. This fear brought on despair, which of course caused depression. I wonder how many other women also experience depression for similar reasons, fearing and despairing about today, tomorrow and forever. I’ve learned that each day I need to trust God for every day. It’s not enough to “trust God” in principle, but in every moment when I begin to feel anxiety about something, I need to choose to trust him for that moment and for every day and need I have. That brings freedom from despair and thus freedom from depression, because rather than being depressed about the day or my future, I have joyful expectations of how God will guide and provide for me and those I love.