September 09, 2018

A very personal post that I've been questioning writing for 10 months

The last 10 months or so have really taken a toll on me. I've been wanting to write about it, and I had the go-ahead to do it, but I questioned whether I wanted to or not. I know how cruel people can be on the internet, which is what prevented me from writing about this before; but I also know how kind people can be, so I am counting on that to outweigh the negative.

The whole thing started last December. (It actually started before that, but I didn't really take notice of it until December when it became very apparent.)

It was early December, and Jerry and I were sitting in the living room with the kids. I forget what we were chatting about, but the topic of Christmas came up. Jerry is obsessed with Christmas--he LOVES it. He always wants to go all-out at Christmastime, and I am the total opposite. I'm a grinch. I think Christmas is stressful and pretentious, and I would avoid it completely if not for Jerry. It's even become a joke between us every year.

Anyway, we started talking about Christmas and Jerry started to talk and then he got choked up. He sounded bitter as he said something about Christmas not meaning anything to any of us. I was in shock. Jerry NEVER gets upset with us--even when he legitimately deserves to--so to see him actually have tears in his eyes about it felt surreal.

That was when I knew something was wrong. At the time, I didn't want to believe it; but in retrospect, when my stomach just sank. I knew that Jerry was experiencing depression.

It broke my heart. I wanted to fix it. I wanted to make it better and seem like it never happened. I wanted him to be back to the normal, happy-go-lucky, carefree, super FUN guy that he always had been.

I decided at that moment that I would do anything it took to make Christmas special for Jerry. As much as I disliked Christmas, I planned to make a big deal about it for him. As you may remember, I planned a surprise date for him--going to Somerset Collection (a mall) to have family photos with Santa.



He LOVED that, thank God. I also wanted to make a big deal about decorating our Christmas tree. When Jerry had a night off, I planned for our family to decorate the tree. I told Jerry to get the lights that he wanted, and he had gotten the lights the week before. On the day we were going to decorate the tree, I asked Jerry if he had checked the lights to make sure they worked.

He plugged in all four boxes. One of them didn't work.

Jerry was super upset. It was one thing that really triggered him.

He called Wal-Mart, where he had bought them, and they were out of stock of these particular lights. He became very upset, and actually cried and went into the bedroom (SO unlike him!!). I felt horrible. The kids were stunned.

I decided I was going to go out and find these particular lights that he wanted. It was 8PM. I told the kids what I was doing, and Noah asked to come with me. He felt really bad for Jerry. I tried to think outside the box--what is a store that people don't typically go to for Christmas lights?

I chose Lowe's. Noah and I walked into Lowe's, and wouldn't you know it, there was ONE BOX of those lights on the shelf. I plugged them in to make sure they worked, and then we bought the box and went home. Jerry was so grateful, and said it was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for him.

We made a big production of decorating the tree as a family while playing Christmas music (Jerry's obsession, starting on Thanksgiving) and making the whole thing important to him. He was so grateful!


It was that night that I really knew things were serious. He wasn't just messing around; he was depressed.

Ever since then, I've been doing my best to help Jerry deal with depression. He'd never had an episode of depression in his life; this was completely new to him, as well as to me.

I was so used to Jerry taking care of me during my depressive episodes, and when he was showing obvious signs of depression, I was taken aback. I knew what to do, but it scared the hell out of me. He'd always been my rock, my "constant"... I knew that no matter what I was feeling or going through, he would still be the same old Jerry (happy, carefree, and funny).

It's now 10 months later, and I'm still going through it. Jerry has been trying to write a guest post for my blog, but he has no idea how to write it. He told me a long time ago that I could write about this, but I just didn't feel like it was the right time. Recently, he really wanted to make it known--because I am such an advocate for education on mental health/illness, he wanted his story to be told.

I won't share his story, because I'd love for him to do that one day. But I'm writing my side of it because it just feels like the right time. Depression can literally hit ANYONE at ANY time. Jerry never showed any signs of it before.

Remember when I mentioned that Jerry went to the emergency room from work one night? He was having symptoms that he believed was a heart attack; but it turned out to be anxiety related, and he was having a panic attack. It was awful to watch him go through that. After the testing they did in the ER, we knew he was okay; but his symptoms were alarming to me.


I am desperate to make it better. I don't want him feeling that way. I know how horrible depression feels, and when he talks to me about it, I feel like I would give anything at all to make him feel better. I've been encouraging him to reach out to his friends and to make plans with people.

There have been a couple more incidents that have happened since Christmas, and each time, it makes me worry. I am so glad that I was able to get diagnosed with bipolar and start the correct medications before all of this happened with Jerry. But I also feel the guilt and I always question myself about whether I caused this somehow.

I'm so glad that our relationship is as strong as it is--otherwise, we may not have been able to handle all of this. With my bipolar and his depression, it sounds like a huge recipe for disaster. But we have managed to make it work in a positive way. We been honest with the kids, and they have been awesome. They were in just as much shock as I was last Christmas regarding the Christmas lights. That's why Noah decided to go with me to find the lights for Jerry.

Jerry and I went to see my therapist together, hoping that it would help us to learn how to help each other. He didn't want to talk to me when he was feeling depressed (because he didn't want to upset me), and I didn't want to talk to him when I was depressed (for the same reason)--we were too worried about making each other worry. So, my therapist helped us to understand how to talk to each other about it. And then, we read The 5 Love Languages, which helped more than I can even describe. I can't recommend that book enough! (Here is a review that I wrote about it)

Jerry really just wants people to know that depression can happen to anybody at anytime. He agrees that it's super important to validate one's feelings, no matter what. He plans to write a guest post about all of this. In the meantime, though, I wanted to share my feelings about it...

I am scared to death that he won't feel better. I am desperate to make him feel better. I would give just about anything for him to feel happy! I feel like I can handle my own depressive episodes, because I'm used to it; but seeing him go through it is the worst.

I've wanted to write about this frequently, especially when I've been feeling down and I feel the need to explain.

A few days ago, a boy that Noah went to school with in preschool and elementary school died by suicide. Noah just started 9th grade--he has his whole life in front of him. When I heard of this boy who took his own life (just before starting 9th grade) I was completely heartbroken. His family was not secretive about it being a suicide, which I think is fantastic. People need to talk about it more.

Jerry doesn't feel suicidal (thank God) but his feelings affect the whole family. It hurts to see him upset for any reason at all.

Anyway, Jerry may be sharing a personal post about all of this himself soon, but in the meantime, he said it was okay for me to write about it. Depression can appear out of nowhere and hit just about anyone. Jerry was always super carefree and happy, and this was a huge shock to me.

I feel relieved to write about this, because I can better explain what is going on and why I'm feeling the way I do in certain circumstances. Jerry is the most amazing husband, and I want to see him get the support he needs. Since his family and friends view him as the exact opposite of someone who is depressed, he needs people that understand; people that will treat him well despite the circumstances.

I know that you will all be kind, so thank you very much for understanding. Jerry is such a great guy--he deserves to feel the love and understanding from all who know him.

I hope everyone has a great rest of the weekend!



39 comments:

  1. I don't really know the right words to use here but basically, good luck to both of you.
    It great that your both learning how to communicate through this both verbally and physically (sometimes a hug is better than a thousand words).
    You know from you diet 'Never give up' so never give up on each other or youself including when things go wrong, which they will sometimes.

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  2. Thank-you Katie for this heartfelt posting. Thank-you Jerry for giving permission to the love of your life to share your concern with us. This posting gives hope to many of us as we too have a family member battling depression. In my case, my family member doesn't want to acknowledge her depression. I strongly support therapy and/or medication; however, the parties involved have to be aware that it takes time to find the right balance. Blessings to both of you (and your adorable sons) for sharing this with us! Let's keep this open dialogue going.

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  3. My heart goes out to you, and thank you both for your strength in sharing the story. I’m hoping above everything that you both find the happiness you deserve x

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  4. You two are so kind and considerate and supportive of each other. He is so lucky to have you and vice versa. Good luck as you go forward managing his condition and yours. Will look forward to Jerry’s guest post.

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  5. This is such an important message. Thank you BOTH for sharing. It's brave and vulnerable. Mental health has been in the shadows for too long. I wish you guys all the best as you figure this out.

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  6. I love Jerry. He's awesome and is responsible for a lot of who you are today. Hey, what's the difference between being sad (depressed) for a few days and full on depression that requires meds?

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  7. I’m so sorry your family is going through this. Depression hits everyone differently, and it affects the whole family. Sending love and comfort your way.

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  8. I hear you....

    I can only imagine how relieved in a way Jerry must feel to have you on his side and "out there". (If he ever felt he had to hide his feelings when you were depressed must have been so hard on him)

    Depression is so personal and yet effects so many around. I think the best thing we can do is simply talk more about it ~ make it more understandable to all and not just this weird thing only some of us "feel" or "make up" in our heads.

    Keep talking and sharing......Thanks and hugs!!

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    1. Yes, yes, yes, yes! The more dialogue there is hopefully this topic starts to bring about change...change in the societal stigma that still, in 2018 is there. I'm depressed, I have anxiety and panic attacks, I see an incredible therapist and take meds and I will shout it from the rooftops if I need to. I'm finally not ashamed of what I'm going through and when I was finally able to really see myself that I needed help, I also realized that I have some great people in my life (my sister and her hubby and kids) who are there for me, no judgement and unconditionally. They even let me move into their home when my son left for college and I started panicking and sliding into a deeper depression because I didn't feel like a mom anymore. I have been a single momma since 2004 so I've essentially raised my kids on my own and it's just been the 3 of us. In May of 2017, my daughter graduated from college, moved out of my home and into her own 2hrs away, my son graduated from high school 2 weeks after that and left for college 9hrs from home the 2nd week of August....so it was me and the dog. I didn't feel like a mom anymore and wow, it hit me hard. I still deal with that, in fact i have tears just writing this but I'm SO much better now that I live with my sister (and have her 2 kids to "mother") and know that while this is going to be a lifelong struggle, I'm learning ways to cope. Mental health NEEDS to be discussed more and people need to start understanding that needing support while trying to fight back against our triggers doesn't mean we are "crazy".

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  9. Thank you for sharing, Katie...it's so hard to see someone you love so much struggling. I've always been so impressed by your relationship and how you support each other--sending you lots of love as you work through this!

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  10. I cried when I read this. You are both so brave to share your struggles. You are not alone. Keep talking to a therapist you like. I found It to be a life line.

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  11. Thank you for a powerful and very helpful post. You will help more people than you realize with your candor. I am not sure exactly why, but I feel as if you will find a larger meaning (mission?) in your life, beginning with this post. You and Jerry are kind, honest people whose struggles will resonate with many who have been afraid to identify their own depression or embarrassed to admit it (especially men). Your posts and future discussions will help others to deal with depression and move the needle in prioritizing the importance of mental health. So thank you!

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  12. Thank you for a very heartfelt and important post. You and Jerry will be ambassadors for making the discussion and treatment of mental health a priority....this post is badly needed right now, as depression and suicide rates are rising in our country, most tragically among children and teens.
    As you go forward, sharing what you learn about how to talk to each other when one (or both) of you is having a depressive episode will be critically important. Depression thrives on isolation and shame (probably especially for men) and bringing the topic out into the open provides the light needed to help it slink away, hopefully for good.

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  13. Thank you so much to both of you. Depression is sneaky and worms its way into everything it can. I'm so glad you both have each other and therapy and understanding. I hope you both can find your balance and know that there are so many who know the struggle out here in the world supporting you. Thank you for being brave and vulnerable and sharing your stories. Hugs!

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  14. Thank you for sharing your story. It's wonderful that you two have each other and are supporting one another. I wish the best for you both.

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  15. Hugs to you, Jerry and the boys!!! I think you are BOTH on a healthy path to learning how to walk hand in hand and make things better as you learn how to cope ANDhelp each other!!!

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  16. Thank you for sharing. I'm glad you and Jerry have each other to get through this. You both have also raised two very sweet children and I'm glad that they are in the know about what's going on. It's a topic that should be discussed openly.

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  17. I'm so glad you are so open about this Katie. As someone who worked in the mental health field for 4 years, it makes me so angry how stigmatized mental health is. I think it's good to let people know personal stories and how anyone can have it. I hope you and Jerry are able to find the right combo of coping skills and perhaps medication to help him with his depression.

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  18. I can understand. I have never dealt with depression but i have dealt with panic attacks and they are scary. I wish you and Jerry the best and know that there are people cheering for you and him. Thank you for sharing your side of the story. I know how hard it is to be vulnerable. I am grateful I came across your blog and look forward to reading more about your Journey as I begin my own journey towards weight loss. hope you can stop by sometime and say hi.
    https://unmaskingthetruthofoneself.wordpress.com

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  19. Thank you for sharing this Katie. It seems like there is so much shame about mental health issues. I think an important way to help people is to bring the issues out into the open and make it something that can be talked about. My heart breaks for that boy who committed suicide and his family.

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  20. I have been reading your blog for years and I feel like I can relate to you on so many levels. I struggle with major depression that has left me (by my own choosing) very isolated, lonely and withdrawn from the world. Like you, I have my own "Jerry", my husband, who has been my rock for almost 20 years.
    My heart hurt reading this tonight because what do we do when our constant, steadfast partner is suddenly hit with the demon that is normally on our backs? We do (hopefully) what you are doing, Katie... We become their rock and the lighthouse in their storm.
    You and Jerry are good people, you're real, you're honest and raw and relatable. Thank you for sharing about this and please know that I am sending massive amounts of positive thoughts your way. Hug Jerry for all of us and may you both experience some peace very soon.

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  21. It sounds like Jerry may actually be suffering through male menopause (yes, it’s real) called andropause. Andropause and male menopause are used to describe decreasing levels of the male hormone testosterone that come with aging, starting around 40. Most men see testosterone levels drop as they get older. some symptoms of low testosterone: diminished sex drive, reduced muscle bulk and strength, night sweats, infertility, fewer spontaneous erections, depression, loss of body hair, swollen breasts, palpitations, shrunken testes, height loss, fatigue, irritability, reduced self-confidence, poor concentration, memory loss, sleep problems, increased body fat and anemia.

    A simple blood test can tell him if this is what’s occuring and there are treatments like some hormone replacement therapy.

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  22. Thank you for sharing. He's lucky to have you!

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  23. I appreciate how brave and open this post is and I so appreciate you for sharing! I am wishing your family the best. I know you guys are strong and can pull through anything! Send Jerry my best. You two are very lucky you have each other and your relationship will only grow from this! <3

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  24. So wife to wife, I will share a very personal story, but essentially my spouse and I went through something similar during my depressive episode back in the winter. It was not pretty. He was my rock, but that also meant that he was shouldering a lot of responsibility on his own while also watching his wife basically crumble and say/do some pretty intense things. There was a similar breakdown on his part because he had caretaker fatigue, felt helpless and was having to bottle up his own feelings and emotions because his impulse was to not burden me with anything. He was absolutely burned out and I didn't see it because I was in my own fog. I think we as a society put pressure on men to be strong, but they have feelings and need self care too. Anyway, it was a good thing it happened because not only were we able to course correct and make sure his emotional needs were met, but it was the kick in the ass I needed to make sure that I was taking therapy seriously and doing my 100% best to get better. We are in a really wonderful place now, but it took a lot of hard work and being very honest with one another to get there.

    I encourage you to encourage him to be honest about what he needs self care wise. What does he find life giving and emotionally fulfilling? Give him time to explore it, then let him do it. Let him find an outlet to be honest in such as therapy or even internet forums. Reddit has some great advice subs and is a great anonymous place to talk about things with people and get perspective. It sounds like he may feel pressure to always be happy/upbeat, and maybe doesn't feel he can fully express when he's not. Being able to get those feelings out is VERY healing.

    Also, and hopefully you will take this advice from an old lady in the spirit it's given, but I would also take care in referring to a loved one's passions as "pretentious" or snarking in any way about it. (I'm a naturally snarky person, I've had to really slow my roll over the years on that part of me, so I get it.) My family tends to be snarky about some of my interests, and while I smile and am self deprecating about it to their face, it honestly wounds me deeply. The end result is that I just don't share certain parts of my life with them because some hobbies of mine are just too sacred to me and that I've put too much work into to have them made fun of, so unfortunately they miss out on a lot of what makes me, me. Perhaps this is the INFP/HSP in me talking but when you have a hobby, interest or fandom, that thing is a part of who you are, so when people make fun of it they are basically making fun of you as a human. My husband loves a couple of bands that I don't personally care for, but what I do love is watching his face light up when he talks about them, and his happiness makes me happy. And I know he probably thinks I'm a weirdo for some of my obsessions (like crows!) but he gets amusement and joy from watching me be excited talking about them. Making it a positive thing and about feeling happy/excited at your partner's enthusiasm/joy for something is where the magic is. It's food for thought, especially as you guys determine what he needs going forward to emotionally fulfill himself and find joy. He sounds like a really great husband and person, and I hope that he will get the help he needs to feel better. Depression is the worst. :(

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing this...I think so much of what you said is important for everyone to hear, not just married people/in a relationship etc..This is important for everyone whether it's parents, siblings, Aunts, Uncles, best friends etc...we all need and deserve support from the people closest to us and while they may not enjoy or understand the things we do, that's ok but don't put us down because of it. I've pulled away from a lot of my family for that exact reason. I'm trying to find my way back to some of them because they are important to me but I have to find the strength to set those boundaries so they know how they have made me feel. Easier said than done but it needs to be done. Thank you again, this was so important to hear.

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  25. Amazing......! And thank you both!

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  26. I'm so sorry to hear your family has been going through this, but so glad you've opened up to your readers about it! I myself have struggled with anxiety and panic attacks for almost 10 years, but with some medication and lifestyle changes, it's been much better for the last year or so! I don't really experience the depression side of it, but my teenage daughter is dealing with depression and anxiety, and I feel the same way as you - I would do anything to help her, or prevent her from having to suffer with this! I really think it is helpful to talk to others that have had similar experiences, and realize it's very common. Let Jerry know we're all thinking of him, and hope he can find something that helps!

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  27. You two have such a great relationship and are so connected. Jealous!

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  28. I'm so sorry that you guys are going through this. I do however think it is so wonderfully brave of him to let you speak on his behalf about what he is going through. I think it's great that more people are speaking up about mental illness, compared to just a decade ago, but I think men still have a harder time talking about it. I'm an open book and I've dealt with both depression and anxiety for a long time and like you my husband has always been my rock even when he didn't quite understand it all. Then when I noticed a change in him and he finally told me he was depressed it was so hard for him to be open about it, he just kept shrugging it off and pretending everything was fine when we both knew he was struggling. I'm sure you must be feeling so helpless when all you want to do is fix him. But know that what you are doing by being so supportive is exactly what he needs. You are his rock even if you're not feeling so strong yourself, but you just being there I'm sure makes him feels safe. You both seem to be so perfect for each other and I hope that he feels better soon. Stay strong and you have so many people supporting you both. ❤

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  29. Thoughts are w/you guys! Depression is real and yet you will get through it. I read recently that some people find that, besides meds and therapy, it helps their mental/emotional health to keep structure in their amount/time of sleep, meals, exercise. IDK but am going to try to have more routines for my body.

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  30. Lots of love to you and Jerry and the boys. Thank you for sharing.

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  31. Thank you for sharing. Mental health awareness is so important, and your support of each other is amazing.

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  32. https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/92449159/posts/5311
    Hi - you may already have seen this or follow Therese, but thought I'd share this. I had trouble when my husband also had some depressive issues - after my own really bad clinical depression. I didn't feel like he understood what I was goign through or supported me the way I needed; so it was hard to try and be there for him. I am so glad you are both there for each other. hugs.

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  33. Thank you for sharing your part of y'all's story. It can be very hard to identify or help a loved one to understand when they are depressed. I have struggled with depression sense I was a child ir took me over 20 years to admit that I was depressed. It's very brave thing to admit being depressed in a hardcore place. People can be very mean. I have found that art and specific songs helped me. You are doing great by trying so hard for Jerry. Tell him to hang in there it gets better.

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  34. Hi, thank you for sharing the story, both of you are amazing human beings, keep looking forward, your family is inspiring and real. If it helps I am sending a lot of hugs and good thoughts!

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  35. This post moved me to tears. Katie, I've followed you from just about the beginning, years now, and I can understand why see Jerry like this is upsetting. I have gone through a lot in my life, including a life threatening illness and subsequent kidney transplant as well as just life stuff in general. Until last year, I never would have admitted to anyone, let alone myself that I was dealing with severe anxiety and depression. My daughter graduated from college, a week after she officially moved out of our home and into her own 2hrs from home, a week after that my son graduated from high school and 2 months later, left for college in Cincinnati....9hrs from home. As I am a single momma and have been since 2004, I thought I knew what to expect as my son left for school and I was going to be home on my own but nothing, and I mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING could have prepared me for the pain, depression, anxiety and panic that set in starting literally the day after I returned home from dropping him off. I couldn't even go into my room, unless I needed something for 5 MONTHS! His bedroom is next to mine and even going upstairs sent me into a panic...like gasping for breath, sobbing and feeling like my heart was going to explode. I slept on the couch, brought down as much as I knew I needed from my room and essentially created an area in my dining room for my make-shift "bedroom" and used my daughter's bathroom/shower on the first floor. I suddenly felt like I wasn't a mother anymore. When I talked to friends and family, which honestly got very sparse, I put on the happiest of faces and told them I was enjoying my freedom. My family, knowing damn well that I was lying, gently, talked to me about it and I just let it go...I told them everything. I started therapy and half of the lowest dose of an anxiety medication and, the biggest thing, I moved out of my house and into my sister's house. She and her husband and their 2 young children opened their home to me so that I didn't have to be alone. I'm happy to say, that while I'm far from being "fixed", I don't think there will ever be a time that I will not go to therapy and I'm really starting to thrive again.

    I say ALL of this because while I thought I was ready for my kids to go to college, I wasn't and I'm wondering if you think that in some ways, Jerry is starting to think about the time when your boys are off doing their own thing and starting to worry about making the best memories possible now while their still living at home? I can totally look back and see that those are some things that I started to do when my kids were still in middle and high school but couldn't recognize that at the time. It's only now, thinking back, that I'm starting to figure out that while I didn't really think I had anxiety and depression that long ago, it's clear to me now that I did and it just peaked when my life was literally turned upside down starting in May 2017. Just something to think about. But thank you to both of you for talking about the importance of mental health and that it's common, it doesn't mean you're "damaged" (and yes, my exhusband called me that which is why i divorced him in 2004) and that the more we as a society can talk about it, the less people will start to think of mental illness as taboo to discuss.

    Thank you to you both. So much.

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