I’ve been married to a wonderful woman for nearly thirty years. She’s creative, dynamic, a loving wife and mother and a hard worker. To the outsider she’s confident, funny, strong-willed, and engaging. But the truth is that as long as I’ve known her she’s struggled with severe depression. At times she completely withdraws and except for her work and the daily interaction with our daughter, she hardly talks, eats, or shows the slightest sign of enjoyment in any other area of her life.
It tears me up inside to see how devastated she often feels and I don’t know what to do to help her. I see her as exceptionally courageous because I know what it sometimes takes for her just to get out of bed in the morning. From what I’ve read some people can’t even function on a daily level when severely depressed and yet she gets up and puts on a warm, receptive face even when it takes everything she has to do it.
I’m not writing this because I’m an unhappy husband. She tries very hard to show me I’m loved and the guilt she feels over her depression and how it limits her is so sad. Sometimes I get so angry over how unfair this is and I want to just strangle something, but of course there’s nothing and no one to hold accountable. We can’t tell our family because in the past whenever we’ve attempted it, they respond by disbelief (“Oh but she always seems so upbeat!”), or simplistic ways of fixing it by “thinking positive.”
What can I do to help this remarkable woman? How can I make her see the beauty in herself? Is she, as she often says, doomed to this for the rest of her life? She’s on medication and sees a wonderful therapist, but is this the best it’s going to be?
Signed, Desperate to help
Read more: Ask Asrianna ~ Desperate to help
My youngest sister is a drug addict. She’s several years younger than I am and I spent a significant number of years practically raising her.
When I was eighteen I moved to Hawaii to escape the grief of an ended love affair. I have never forgotten my little sister’s howls of pain at the airport as I boarded the plane. I know now I left her when she needed me most.
Over thirty years later I see this small shell of a once beautiful woman who mutters to herself, sits drugged in a chair rocking, lost in her drug induced world.
She has a teenaged daughter and a grandson as well as a precious eight year old boy. They’ve all watched her at every ugly stage of her addiction.
To add to this, our father is an alcoholic, mother is a penniless gambler living off another sister, and my addicted sister’s husband is abusive both physically and verbally. As I write this I feel certain it all sounds unbelievable. The gallows humor part of me hums the old Hee Haw variety show song, “if it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all, gloom, despair, and agony on me.” Sorry, but this is too bizarre even for me.
I have another brother and sister and after a bleak series of events over the holiday, we did a sibling, family intervention. It was hard, heart-breaking, and cut me to the depths. At one point I was sitting in a rocking chair and my tiny sister climbed into my lap and curled up like an infant.
As I rocked I wept, wondering how to help her. I live out of state and my siblings and I are desperately searching for a rehab center. None of us has any money of significance and although we have some clues, it’s hard to know where to turn.
I know you can’t cure my sister and I don’t expect a miracle. But can you help me make any sense of this? What are the spiritual lessons I need to learn? I feel fundamentally guilty, as if I failed my precious sister in some way. What is the purpose of this suffering? I’m angry at my parents even as I know they did the best they could.
In many ways I feel the most to blame.
Signed, Oldest Sister
Read more: Ask Asrianna ~ Oldest Sister