The Other Side of Depression

Ever since I started my blog a few months ago, I’ve had several people ask if I would write about my experience of being married to someone with depression. I don’t know why, but I was afraid to write about it. I guess it felt like a big responsibility. But it keeps coming up, so I talked to Wil about it and he thought it was a great idea.

From my experience of being married to someone with depression, having two kids with depression, and having a few friends with it, I see that it affects everyone in different ways. I think my fear of writing about it was that it wouldn’t be relatable to some people who would then think I shouldn’t be writing about it. But as I looked back on my previous posts, some funny, some just a walk down memory lane, I realized my experiences are my own and it’s ok to just share. That’s why I created a blog in the first place.

Before I start, I do have to say that if you are having any problems with depression or other mental health issues, please seek help. Talk to your doctor or find organizations near you such as NAMI to help you. If you feel like you aren’t capable of doing that, talk to a friend or family member who can assist you in finding help. Your brain is as vital to your body as everything else. You deserve to feel good, to feel balanced, and to enjoy life.


I met Wil when he was 23 years old. I had dated some pretty unpleasant guys before him so it took me several months to get used to him just being what I felt was “normal.” He was normal as far as not using drugs or being an alcoholic, or trying to start arguments with me or call me names. He was just a good guy with a good family and a great group of friends. He loved and appreciated the person I was and the kids I had brought into this new relationship. It felt so foreign to me, being with a guy who was like this. We were six months into dating when I finally let my guard down and accepted that he wasn’t pretending to be anything other than what I saw before me and that I could trust him completely.

Wil took being a step-parent very seriously. He read lots of books on the subject and we spent lots of time with the kids in family therapy (I wrote about that here) so we felt really solid in our relationship and how we would raise the kids. Along the way, we learned a lot about how the brain chemicals can be affected in a child’s developing brain when there are issues such as extreme stress and/or emotional abuse situations we couldn’t protect them from, as well as how some mental health issues can be genetic.*

As Wil and I got older, we had plenty of stress to deal with. Raising kids is stressful enough, but raising them and dealing with their biological father was awful. Add to the fact that we were really struggling financially and Wil was having an extremely hard time trying to figure out what to do with his stalled career, as well as dealing with some things in his own childhood that were making him really unhappy. Over about a three year span, as much as I tried to be as supportive as possible of Wil while he dealt with a lot of anger, self-doubt, sadness and hopelessness, I could tell my support was becoming less and less of a way to help him feel better.

One of the biggest things that kept happening with Wil was having an irrational anger reaction to things that shouldn’t be so upsetting. He never, ever yelled at me, our kids, our pets or any other family or friends. But if something like the computer wasn’t working right or if he was driving and hit a pothole, he would get REALLY angry at it. Any amount of traffic on the freeway would infuriate him. It seemed so out of character for him and it worried me. I also didn’t like it when he would yell at something when the kids or our animals were nearby because it scared them. Every time it would happen, I would ask him to please not yell and try to calm him down. I didn’t want the kids to think this was an acceptable way to deal with things and grow up yelling at stuff that made them mad, so it was important to me that they understood this was not normal.

Wil’s anger toward random things that upset him was only part of his issues. He started canceling plans with friends because he didn’t want to deal with traffic or felt anxious about being around a group of people or of meeting in a crowded restaurant. He began to have a fear of any travel and was full of self-doubt and insecurities about his ability of being an actor, a writer, or of doing any public speaking. It was at LAX airport a few years ago, when a particularly rude security line attendant for Delta told him we were going to miss our flight so we should just plan on rescheduling that sent him over the edge. He was furious and wanted to go home, which would make him miss participating in sold out shows in Minneapolis and Chicago that he was doing with our friends, Paul and Storm. I knew something needed to be done as soon as possible to help him.

I walked Wil over to a row of chairs in the airport, sat him down and told him I would handle the flight situation but the minute we got home from this trip, he needed to talk to a doctor immediately. I told him I didn’t like living like this, always worrying about what was going to upset him, and he didn’t need to live this way. He agreed and actually called a therapist for a psychiatrist referral while we waited for our flight.

When we got home, Wil went to the psychiatrist where he was asked to explain what was going on with him. He talked about how he felt sad, insecure and for some odd reason, angry at the most random things. The psychiatrist told him that a lot of people don’t realize it, but that type of anger is actually a sign of depression. They talked extensively about how brain chemicals work and how medications help to balance out those chemicals. Brains are very complicated and some medications work well for some people and not so much for others. Sometimes medications work well for a while but then the dose needs to be adjusted and that working closely with a professional while it’s figured out is really important. The psychiatrist also told Wil it was important to talk to me about how he was feeling so I would know if the medication is helping or in some cases, could make him feel worse, and that I could call the doctor if I had any concerns about Wil.

Fortunately, the medication (Lexapro) Wil was put on worked really well for him. It provided the serotonin boost his brain needed to be more balanced. That medication and dosage worked for him for several years but last year, that changed for him. The doctor increased his dose, which worked for a while, but a few months ago, the doctor added another medication (Effexor) and the combination makes him feel completely balanced.

Wil tells me all the time that he didn’t realize how bad he felt before medication because he feels so good now. He has worked so hard to create a career and life that is so wonderful and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t feel good about it, but there were so many times that he felt that way. He didn’t know that for some people, no matter how hard you try to just feel happy, you can’t because you have depression and the chemicals in your brain just aren’t there. It’s not your fault, it’s just the way your brain is.

Wil has been very vocal about getting help for his depression because it has completely changed his life. As his wife, it makes me so happy to see him enjoying time with our family and friends, his career, and being able to travel. I didn’t realize how much it had affected me all those years until writing this post now. It’s hard to see someone you love struggle but it’s so nice to know it can be treated. No one should suffer from mental illness and it makes me so happy that we live in a world that offers so many ways to get help.


*I’m not going to write anymore about my kids’ mental health issues because I want to respect their privacy. I have Wil’s permission to write about my experience with his depression but at the time of this post, I haven’t asked the kids for permission to discuss theirs.


80 thoughts on “The Other Side of Depression

  1. For those suffering from depression/anxiety who are looking for an alternative to medicine, neurofeedback worked wonders for me a few years ago. Here is info on the kind I did: It’s a commitment and can be expensive if your insurance doesn’t cover it, but it is worth it. I have nothing against medicine, this is just an alternative for those who mentioned they didn’t want to go that route or it didn’t work for them. Just thought I’d share. 🙂

    Thanks for writing about this. My husband pointed me to it. I have been having some irrational bouts of anger lately and it’s a good reminder that it can be due to depression and it may be time to get myself checked out again.

  2. This is great, I really enjoyed reading about your husband and i can see trough this post how your lifes changed in a positive way 🙂
    It’s a great encouragement for families with similar health problems.

  3. Yoga isn’t a “miracle drug” which works for every disfunction out there. It can help if you’re having a very mild kind of depression (as a lot of other physical exercises) otherwise it can be harmful.

  4. Thank you for writing this. Just THANK YOU. And much love to you and your family.

  5. I am a clinical psychologist and I see people suffering from a variety of physical and psychological ailments that can lead to depression. And it is often the depression that is the straw that breaks the metaphorical camel’s back. Life can be difficult enough without suffering from something that is very treatable (medically, physically, and psychologically). I very much appreciate your talking about depression in such a matter of fact way — you and Wil are doing much to reduce the stigma of mental illness.

  6. I’m really glad you mentioned this — you don’t know you have depression until you get help and notice a change. When I was first diagnosed with depression, I didn’t think it was a big deal. After going to a therapist and being on medication for over a year, I had finally realized that there *was* something wrong. I’m so glad I eventually got over my pride, accepted I needed help and pursued it. I’ll agree though, I never would have gone that far without a loving and caring spouse who was there to talk to me the whole time, who was mutually understanding of my issue and accepted me and my condition.

    Thank you for writing about this. And thanks to Wil for allowing this to be talked about it. Much love and much respect.

  7. Oh, thank you. My husband suffers from depression,and it’s so hard. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I also appreciate Wil’s honesty about his depression, and his crazy facebook posts.

  8. I’m glad I stumbled across this, knowing I’m not the only person (besides my sister) to go through the same type of pains, fears and to hear what I probably put my ex-wife through.
    Last year before my 31st birthday, I’d had enough (and by Me, I mean my Girlfriend) of being angry over little things all the time and constant mood swings and I thought that it was just me being me (pride talking). Thankfully with her in the medical field she told me what she thought and I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Depression.
    Thankfully my Dr. got me evened out a bit and I lead a much more level life. The meds still work but there are still shifts some days from time to time.

    I have Much respect to you Anne for sticking through this with him and also for Wil for finally getting the help he needed because it is a tough thing to do.

  9. Thank you for this, my husband is going through anxiety/depression and it’s hard but it’s comforting to hear someone else’s story.

  10. My wife has said for a while now she thought I was depressed. I felt she might be right but just kept moving forward. Then I read this post and it made me admit I am depressed. Told my wife last night and we are going to see the doctor next Friday. Thank you.

    1. It makes me so happy to hear that this helped you. Wil still tells me he didn’t realize how bad he felt until feeling so much better on the medication he needed. Good for you for taking that step to feeling better!

  11. I just happened upon this blog site after reading something funny you wrote in Twitter. About 20 years ago, my sister killed herself because she was suffering from depression. Back then, nobody had even heard of the ubiquitous prozac, much less any other drug that would alleviate depression. My entire family firmly believes that had Kris gotten access to something like this, she might still be with us today. My mother and other sister are each on anti-depressants and doing well. I appreciate you writing this post as well as the other health-related posts for others to see. And kudos to Wil for doing something about his depression; it really does affect more people than just the person suffering from it. Thanks for this post.

  12. I have had the same symptoms that Wil had for years. The way you described him was like you were describing me. This past year I got help and was put on Lexapro. Things that used to send me over the edge seem trivial now. I’m lucky that I never got into serious trouble with TSA, police, or ever hurt someone in an outburst. It’s odd for me to think of it as depression but after recent experiences with my wife’s depressive episodes I can see it for what it was and is, a symptom. This was a great article. Hopefully someone who may have these anger issues will read it and know that there is help available that works.

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