Thursday, March 26, 2009

Depression And Multiple Sclerosis

The last few weeks I have sat through training on depression and had a dear friend lose his wife to depression. I have also sat in the car for hours this week and had time to discuss this topic with my wife. It amazes me how depression can take over and control your life. I know that my wife's MS has led to depressed states and moodiness. Every once in awhile she allows her MS to get to her and I can see her slip into a depressed mood. I can usually catch it and help her to handle the emotions, but there have been times that I am clueless and she is dealing with issues that come out later.

For my wife the depression seems to come from the way MS messes with her life and the unknown of the future. The "what ifs" can grow at times whether it is out of frustration with her body not cooperating, or an attack, or if life is just giving her struggles. She worries about being a great mom, great wife and being able to feel like she has something to offer the family. When you add in the unknown of what her MS will do from day to day and sometimes minute to minute, it can really stress her out. She gets overwhelmed and then begins to sink into a depressed state. I know that there have been times when she feels like she is receiving more than giving, and my daughter and I have to reassure her and love on her for who she is.

Multiple Sclerosis is so inconsistent in the way it affects my wife, and at the same time the inconsistency is always consistent. The inconsistency stresses my wife out when she is wanting to accomplish a goal or is focused on a task or her work. Right now she is nervous about going back to school because she doesn't know how her memory will affect things or if her body will hold up while trying to juggle school, work and our family. I know she can do it and hate to see her stressed when we are all here supporting her. At one point in our marriage she gained 30 lbs in 6 months due to depression from the work environment we were in. Over the years, we have learned to recognize the signs of depression for my wife and then take immediate action.

My wife has commented over the years that we are very fortunate to have a relationship where we can be raw and real with each other. More than anything else, I really think this has helped to release emotions and feelings that my wife carries with her. I know that over the last year my wife and I have grown more aware of her tendencies and as we learn more about how her body is affected by MS, we have been able to take more control over emotional highs and lows. It is hard to work through our junk, but as we work through the mess she is able to find more peace in her life which directly affects her health. Depression is serious and MS adds a whole different element to the struggle, but we will continue to press into each other and God to find peace.

1 comment:

Jessica Bennett said...

For coping with depression (and a number of other stresses, frustrations, etc.), I recommend the book "Wherever You Go, There You Are" by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It's been helpful in being aware of what/who you are in each moment of your life. It's hard to explain the book in a short post here, but the book is written in small sections, and each section can be useful, so even if you don't have a lot of time, you can still get something out of it by taking 5-10 minutes to read a section each day. The book isn't about changing anything about yourself or becoming a "positive thinker", it's about being yourself and accepting who you are and what you can or cannot do at each given moment.