We’re always looking out for each other
During the three years they dated, Amy had heard her soon-to-be husband, Jason, talk about the depression he had been diagnosed with in college. But she did not get a glimpse of it until two years into their marriage, when their little boy turned six months old.
We went to visit my brother in DC, and when we returned to our house from the trip, Jason sat down and said, “I need to go to the hospital.”
It was the first of Jason’s 30 hospitalizations over the next dozen years. The couple hoped that each inpatient session and treatment would be the magic one—but antidepressant medications and high-tech procedures, like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), did not control Jason’s depression, which was so severe that he was often suicidal. Jason’s diagnosis: chronic, treatment-resistant depression.
As our son Cooper grew up, we would talk to him openly about his dad’s illness, in the most age appropriate way we could think of. He knew his dad sometimes needed to go to the “feelings hospital.” We didn’t want to hide it.
Through the years, the frequent disruption in their lives and the stress of caring for her husband became difficult for Amy. She now has her own therapist, and she and Jason participate in regular couples counseling, as well. While this is not the life Amy imagined for herself, there are many bright spots.
We are actually fortunate. Our friends, as well as supervisors and colleagues at work, are amazingly kind. The staff at Cooper’s school has been attentive and compassionate. I can’t imagine going through this and not having this type of support.
Amy pulls her strength from that support and from her love for Jason and Cooper. She deeply believes Jason, who is an artist and an avid gardener, is so much more than his illness.
I’ll come home from work and although he may not have been able to do anything else that day, he’ll have the table set for dinner. He’ll offer me a special salad, with the very best vegetables he grew for me in our greenhouse. I can see the care and pride in his eyes.
I hope he can see the pride in mine.