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How to explain depression to someone that doesn't have it

TabooPhantasyTabooPhantasy Registered User regular
I did one of the hardest things of my life a couple nights ago and admitted to my husband that I suffer from depression. He... did not take it well. He basically shut down (wouldn't even look at me) and told me I can't use it as an excuse for why things aren't going well at work.
Does anyone have any resources that I can give to him to help him understand what is so hard for me to explain? Is there a "What To Do When Your Spouse Suffers From Depression" pamphlet?



  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    Here's a TED talk with a couple of my favorite quotes about depression.
    You don't think in depression that you've put on a gray veil and are seeing the world through the haze of a bad mood. You think that the veil has been taken away, the veil of happiness, and that now you're seeing truly. It's easier to help schizophrenics who perceive that there's something foreign inside of them that needs to be exorcised, but it's difficult with depressives, because we believe we are seeing the truth.

    Echo wrote: »
    Let they who have not posted about their balls in the wrong thread cast the first stone.
  • joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades 地獄のようにかわいい あなたは嫉妬深いかRegistered User regular
    It's every bit as real a debilitating condition as a physical injury.

    I've dealt with clinical depression my whole life, and this brought me some comfort. To people who haven't experienced depression, it seems odd that you can't "just snap out of it". All it takes is a little willpower, right?


    It's obviously not a real 1:1 analogy, but it is not "just an excuse". It's a serious medical issue which doesn't get treated like one by society because by all outward appearances, a depressed person just seems sad. It's not just sadness, and attitudes like that can actually deepen depression.

    ceresbowenEchokimeFyndirL Ron Howardchrishallett83StrikorCalica
  • joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades 地獄のようにかわいい あなたは嫉妬深いかRegistered User regular
    Is there a "What To Do When Your Spouse Suffers From Depression" pamphlet?

    As for this, I've found it difficult to get significant others in the past to read materials about depression that I provide. Sending someone who is convinced you are making a sympathy play to a website to explain things will probably just think you are seeking feedback that echoes what you feel for validation.

    The best possible thing you can do is to take him with you to talk to your doctor. A licensed psychiatrist/psychologist will hopefully be able to set him straight. Taking this tack also has the benefit of allowing him to ask questions and for your doctor to give him advice on what is helpful and what is not helpful in a neutral environment.

    Magic PinkLostNinja
  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    You can also try explaining it by saying it's an imbalance of chemicals in your brain. Even if that's a huge oversimplification, I've found that it helps people to see it less as "something you can just snap out of" and more "oh, okay, maybe this is being thrust on them against their will?"

    After having received that kind of reaction from your husband, though, I'm not sure that showing him a comic or telling him anything that simple will get through to him. If you can get him to sit down with you to have a serious discussion, that might be a good first step. It sounds like he's looking at it as a temporary thing that you've had...You can explain that your depression is something you've had for awhile, and it exists whether work is going well or not. Have you ever been professionally diagnosed? That could work in your favor as well - that it isn't just you "making this up when the time suits you", it's something that a medical professional with years of experience has determined.

  • ArtereisArtereis Registered User regular
    Ask him to go lift a bus, and then berate him every minute of every day that he hasn't accomplished it.

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    I've also had it my whole life. For me it's not specifically depression, but it can look similar. Both Hyperbole and a Half and Robot Hugs have helped me out a lot, not only in explaining to others how I feel, but they also helped me realize that sometimes these things are out of my control. It's better and safer for me to recognize what's going on in my head and ride it out than to try to fight it all the time. That's exhausting, and it doesn't help.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • A Dabble Of TheloniusA Dabble Of Thelonius It has been a doozy of a dayRegistered User regular
    edited January 2015
    I've been following this blog that's basically a diary of a guy that's manic depressive. It's a pretty interesting read. Open and honest about everything.

    Well screw you, mobile formatting. Oh well, link should still work.

    A Dabble Of Thelonius on
    Steam - Talon Valdez :Blizz - Talonious#1860 : Xbox Live & LoL - Talonious Monk @TaloniousMonk Hail Satan
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    FYI, manic depression is the old term for bipolar disorder, which is my diagnosis. But yeah, that's pretty much what it's like.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    A Dabble Of Thelonius
  • PantshandshakePantshandshake Registered User regular
    Also, keep in mind that some men have a real "Can I fix it? No? Well... leave me out of it" mindset. Not to try and bring up gender stereotypes or anything, but if you run into that, then bringing him to a doctor with you is probably the only real course of action.

  • RendRend Registered User regular
    Sky Williams did a really great video about depression:

    It may or may not be what you are looking for but maybe you will find it useful somehow.

    TabooPhantasyL Ron HowardMichaelLCSorce
  • TabooPhantasyTabooPhantasy Registered User regular
    Thank you for the links and videos, everyone(@Rend that video was a punch right in the feelers). I took a big step and made an appointment to see a Clinician in hopes that she can help me figure out what it is I need going forward. That starts next Tuesday. Picking up the phone to make that call was terrifying. But the world didn't collapse in on itself and I'm glad I did it. I wish I'd done it sooner.

    @NightDragon After my husband accused me of using depression as an excuse I told him I wasn't trying to pin all of my problems on "a chemical imbalance in my brain" but that it was probably a big part of it. So, that phrasing didn't seem to do any good.

    I was diagnosed over 10 years ago (before we met), but it had never seemed like it was an issue that was impacting my life again until this past year. Looking back, I can honestly say it has been longer, but I never figured it out. I had no one close to me that had experience with depression to tell me, "Hey, I've seen this before. Maybe you should do something before this gets worse." It wasn't until this past weekend that I got some time to talk with a friend about some of his past issues and it really helped me to look at myself and go, "oh fuck."

  • NocrenNocren Lt Futz, Back in Action North CarolinaRegistered User regular
    Yeah, mental stuff is hard to explain to some people. It wasn't until a couple years ago that my dad accepted that my mild depression (never been debilitated by it, but I sure as hell just went through the motions for weeks/months at a time) and my ADD (not hyperactivity, just lack of focus on many things or hyper focus on ONE thing) weren't things I could just snap out of with a stern talking to and being more proactive on my part. I'm 35 now, and lived with my dad for about 15 years (from high school then after I got out of the service).

    Good on you for getting help and I hope that hearing it come from a professional opens your husband's eyes.

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    My husband has seen the depression in action for a long time so he's on board with that but does not believe for a second that I have ADD. I'm just not trying.

    It sucks. I mean, sure, a doctor says I fit all the criteria, but really I just need to nut up and focus.

    Which.. l don't even know what to say to that. I mostly ignore him when he says stuff like that and keep going to my doctor, and he'll come around to it or not.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    There is a D&D Thread about Depression that might be helpful.

  • GreeperGreeper Registered User regular
    Playing Elude and Depression Quest helped me understand what depression is like for some sufferers:

    Greeper is now Minister Of Communication in my new regime.
    BeNarwhal wrote: »
    Syndalis, if you knew anything about Greeper, you would know Greeper is never not field dressing a stag.
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