When Kevin and I started our lives together as husband and wife, nothing really changed in our relationship. We didn’t feel any different the day after our wedding, just tired and happy. We had been dating for three and a half years by that point, had managed long distance and even longer distance, had lived together for several months with no hiccups…what could go wrong?
I can’t say for certain when it showed up. There may have been signs immediately after the wedding, but I chalked that up to post-wedding funk. I mean, who wouldn’t feel sad knowing that the happiest day of their lives was in the past? Maybe that’s why I jumped into buying a puppy so soon, despite people telling me to wait. But Kevin was on board, and so we got our little fur-baby.
At first I was the perfect dog mama. I would train him every day, spend hours snuggling and playing, and I loved coming home from work to him.
So I knew things were wrong when I found myself sneaking into the house after work, quietly putting on my pajamas, and crawling into my bed, leaving the dog asleep in his crate in the guest bedroom. I felt guilty as hell, but I couldn’t physically make myself deal with his craziness. These days started only occasionally, but grew more and more frequent until it was an every day occurrence. I spent most afternoons feeling not only like a neglectful dog mom but a terrible wife.
You see, I had this stupid dream of being the perfect Stepford-wife. I love both of my parents, but they got divorced when I was three years old, and so I never grew up in a house with both parents to use as an example of a healthy marriage. I latched onto this idea of being a super-wife so that my husband would love me forever and we would never have any problems ever. Stupid, I know. Especially since he’s told me a million times that I don’t have to work at keeping him happy. But I still felt like I needed to do more.
When we got married my husband worked more hours than me at a job he hated, and had an hour commute in each direction. There was no doubt that he was the breadwinner in our relationship. He was often exhausted, and rightfully so! I grew paranoid that he would grow to resent me, this girl with her (then) easy job, flexible work hours, shorter commute, and lack of drive to do ANYTHING.
I dreamed of days that he would come home to a clean apartment, dinner in the oven, laundry in the dryer, and a happy dog already tired from an afternoon of playing and training. Instead, he would come home to find me hiding in the bedroom, blankets pulled over my head. I would apologize again and again as I dragged myself out of bed and followed him around as he took care of the dog, figured out dinner, and dealt with his stress in a much more productive way.
I’m embarrassed to say It honestly took me months to figure out that I was depressed. I thought, “how can I be depressed when I’m so happy, and have nothing to be depressed about?” I even saw a doctor because I thought there was something physically wrong with me, like chronic fatigue syndrome. There wasn’t but she correctly pinpointed that it was depression, and we decided to up my anti-depressants, with the go-ahead from my new therapist.
This made me jittery, twitchy, weepy, and exhausted from lack of sleep. So we switched to a different drug, a process that took several months and left me with side effects from the new drug, and withdrawal symptoms from the drug I had been taking since I was in seventh grade (Crazy, right?).
It was a dark time, but I finally felt as though I was taking steps in the right direction. I could see the tiniest bit of light at the end of the tunnel. I began journaling, and over two months I saw my writing become so much more positive and hopeful, where it once was full of self-loathing and fear. My bad days happened less and less, and I worked on developing better coping strategies to help me when I did feel the urge to crawl into bed.
And if I need to hide under the covers, I have learned not to feel guilty about it, because that just prolongs the sadness and laziness. I have a little moping session (or as my husband calls it, wamby pamby time!), then I get up and get on with my life. Because life keeps going. And all you can do is get through the bad times so that you can enjoy the good times.
Which I will do this weekend as we celebrate our one-year anniversary and look forward to the years to come. Because, hey, if we got through this past year relatively unscathed, we can handle anything.