My husband knows how to appreciate the small things in life. I am still learning. But as I crashed into severe depression, it was his ‘small’ gestures that constantly reminded me how much he loved me and helped get through each long, agonising day.
My nights had become torturous, plagued by nightmares of past traumas. My days had become endless as exhaustion deprived me of the energy I needed to teach, to be a mother, to be a wife, to simply live. Weight had started to fall off me; my face was pale; my eyes were blank; and my hair was thinning. Yet it wasn’t until I had a panic attack and the school nurse suggested I might be depressed and need help, that it occurred to me that that might actually be a possibility.
The biggest fear that immediately overwhelmed me was what my husband would think. We’d been together for eighteen years. In that time I had been strong, independent, purposeful…everything I no longer felt. He was a great believer in appreciating the small things in life, as well as the big ones of course. That appreciation escaped me entirely in that moment. Indeed, I couldn’t appreciate anything. Big or small.
What would he think of me? His strong, capable wife might be depressed, might need help, might even need medication. What on earth would he think of this new wife who had become everything that neither of us had ever imagined?
Well, I needn’t have worried. As the realisation hit my unsuspecting husband that this wasn’t a passing, rough phase, he immediately assumed the role of anything I needed at any time. If I was feeling that no-one loved me, he’d place a thoughtful note and a chocolate heart on my bedside table; if I needed to sob, but couldn’t talk, he’d hold me tight and dry my tears; if I made up too many excuses for lying motionless on the sofa all day, he’d insist that he really needed me to buy his coffee from the supermarket without delay. He started to call me randomly, just to check I was ok; he whispered to our daughters that all I needed was time and love; he brought me tea in bed with a little jug of milk because I always complained it was the wrong amount.
Each of these gestures, both big and small, have made every difficult day just that little bit more bearable. It’s been a long thirteen months. And it’s not over yet. But with my husband by my side, I know I can make it. I might even learn to appreciate the small things in life a little more, rather than always being alarmed by that huge, overpowering ‘big picture’.