Jim, I feel you.
My husband of almost 10 years and I are very much still together -- but our collective battles with depression have put a strain on the relationship more than a time or two.
You try living with someone who always feels guilty and worthless.
Someone who is irritable and restless.
Someone who can't sleep at all or sleeps too much.
Someone who has no interest in anything -- sex, the Yankees game, what's for dinner.
That's life with a depressive. And it's hard not to take it personally. Your partner doesn't want to have sex, and your first thoughts are, Is it me; am I just not doing it for him/her?
Then they snap at you, as though your words are pin pricks and they're the cushion saying, "Just leave me alone!" And all you said was, "Please pass the pepper."
That's life with a depressive.
It's tempering yourself to allow them -- nay, force them -- to feel. It's trying to find the person you love beneath a prickly coat of thorns, but fearing the times you'll uncover the marshmallow-y underbelly more than any thorny scratch.
It's being afraid of hurting them, even if they're hurting you.
Bob Murray, PhD, of the Uplift Program reminds people that the depressed person in their life needs help -- but you're still part of the relationship. "The depressed person may be ill, but you still have needs of him," he says. "All relationships are based on the mutual meeting of needs."
Crawling out of our depression together, my husband and I have found our mutual meeting place. But it's been the fear of losing him that at times has forced me to take more seriously my own issues, to head back to the doctor, to exercise, to not become a Jim and Jenny-type statistic.
There are no hard and true statistics of how many marriages or relationships have been torn asunder by depression -- you can file for divorce based on irreconcilable differences, but there's no "my partner is depressed" box on the forms.
Sometimes getting out is scarier than staying in.