Deeper Than Down: Depression From The Outside
January 31, 2009 in Deeper Than Down
I am not depressed.
Lucky me, right?
Yet depression has become an inalienable presence in my life over the past few months and its impact has been devastating.
In May 2008, I gave birth to my second daughter. She died during labour. There was no reason, no explanation. She was perfect, but she died.
My husband spoke at her funeral. As he struggled to articulate his feeling of loss, my then 20-month-old daughter piped up: Daddy’s crying.
He’s still crying now.
He tried to go to work, but found himself staring into nothingness, or sobbing in the stationary cupboard.
We tried for another baby; when I told him I was pregnant again, he looked at me with dead eyes.
He saw a doctor, who told him to get some exercise. He saw another doctor who prescribed so many different drugs that he rattles like a pill bottle. He’s a mess. I come home from work laden with toddler, groceries and pregnant belly to find him sitting, blank-faced, in the same place I left him. Or shaking, struggling to breathe, panicking on the bathroom floor.
I try so hard to understand, to be compassionate. But honestly, it’s unbearable. He’s unbearable. I bitterly resent him. Intellectually, I know that this is not his fault, that he’s sick; I try to imagine it as a cancer, or a broken leg. I try to remember why I love him, but all of the things I enjoy in him have disappeared. As awful as it sounds, I find him pathetic.
Looking back, I can see the seeds of depression in him: the way he shut down when under pressure; the little lies he told to avoid a moment of unpleasantness. Before now, his problems – our problems – always had solutions. Nothing can fix this one. Our baby died and that’s that. However much I frighten myself by imagining a zombie baby scraping at the door, or a ghost baby floating behind me when I look in the mirror, I have to admit that these things are, on balance, unlikely to happen. She will not come back.
I am glad I’m not him. I’m glad I don’t feel the way he feels. But I wonder, given the choice, would he prefer to be me? To be pregnant, with a toddler and a mortgage and bills to pay, caring for an unrecognisable shadow? I’m not so sure.