In the middle of the night, I lay crying out and gasping for breath in the worst panic attack I’d ever known. My husband, Rob, turned to me and quietly said, “It’s time for you to get some help.” Those words were a rope thrown into my pit of depression to begin pulling me to safety.
Depression was a cruel enemy since my early teens. It led to irrational mood swings. Isolation. Suicidal thoughts and actions. I began to find freedom when I received salvation in Jesus in college, but it never fully left my life. Fast-forward to age 30 and the birth of our third child, and exhaustion paired with postpartum “blues” knocked me lower than ever.
God brought complete healing through his Word, therapy, and the hard work of self-care. But he also used my husband in powerful ways I’ll never forget. Rob loved me where I was–I didn’t have to walk the dark road of depression alone.
He served: For many months I was exhausted and drained. The daily work of caring for three young children was overwhelming. Rob gave me space to “check out” in the evening. He washed thousands of dishes and handled baths and bedtime stories without complaining. When mommy was no fun at all, he filled the kids’ days with laughter and trips to the playground. There was no score-keeping while he gave much more than he received.
He gave grace: Depression is ugly and so was I. He met my anger with gentleness. My withdrawal and distance with patience. My tears and negativity with comfort and hour after hour of listening ears. As I wallowed in misery and self-focus, he chose to stay close. Giving faithful love when I was the least loveable (and he was tired and discouraged himself), showed tenacious compassion and grace. It revealed God’s heart of forgiveness and mercy like I’d never known before.
He took charge: On that night of anxiety, Rob knew we’d reached our limit. The cost of depression to our family was too high. The risk of permanent damage to myself, our marriage, and our precious kids’ hearts was real. I was too weak to reach out for help, so he took authority and insisted on change. Within days I was in the hands of an excellent therapist who put me on a path to wellness. Rob provided whatever time and support was needed to make sure I was OK.
That season of deep depression called Rob to keep his vows in ways we never imagined on our wedding day. He proved his love in sickness and in health. He stayed faithful and kind when we were “poor” in spirit instead of “rich” in happiness. He kept his promise to provide and protect me in life, even from myself. Best of all, his care helped me to experience God’s love in practical, tangible ways.
Thank you for holding me together when I was falling apart. Through the gift of my husband, you proved your love is real and deep. Show your power and faithfulness to other couples who suffer depression today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Resources for help and support:
Association of Biblical Counselors
Joanna, tears well up in my eyes sweet sister in Christ. You were so brave I’m sharing how depression has impacted your life. Thank you. Thank you! And thank you, Rob for modeling love in the most powerful way—leadership and servanthood. Love you guys!
Thank you for your kind words, Sonya! I love how God keeps his promise to use everything–even our broken places and worst days–for good in the end. He definitely used depression to show how good he is and what a huge blessing he provided in Rob.
Thank you for sharing, for your openness. I’ve been there, but never expressed it this well.
I’m sorry to hear you’ve walked through the same struggle. Thankful that God keeps his promise to show up when we’re hurting. And thankful we both have husbands who love us well!
Thank you for sharing your story. As someone who has had panic attacks and has anxiety, I can certainly relate to your story. God has certainly blessed us with amazing husbands!
So glad to hear you could face hard things together as a couple! God bless you and your family as you celebrate Christmas.