from the author:

“I am happily married to a hard-working and loving husband. A homeschooling SAHM to three beautiful children, one with autism, one with ADHD, and one with both autism and ADHD. A follower of Jesus. On a journey of maintaining my own mental health through it all and sharing my experiences in the hopes of spreading awareness and encouraging others along the way. You can follow me on Facebook or Instagram @lifewiththecouches”

Dear husband,

Living with depression and anxiety is like a constant battle with myself. The continuous flow of
conflicting thoughts and emotions is exhausting. On the one hand depression makes me
lethargic, grumpy, depletes all motivation and makes me not care about anything. On the other,
anxiety makes me fidgety, unable to sit still, and all the emotions about everything flood in at
once and it’s s too much to bear sometimes.

Feeling these two things simultaneously can be extremely confusing. There’s a never-ending
war taking place in my brain and most days it takes everything I have just to manage that alone.
That’s not even taking into account the everyday tasks and responsibilities that all fall on my

Being a wife, mother, raising three children with autism and ADHD, and managing my own
mental health is quite the job. You know all of this. You know how I can’t stand messes and
clutter yet how at the same time the mess and clutter overwhelm me to the point that it causes
panic attacks and I can’t bring myself to clean. How between my own struggles and our
children’s struggles, there are times where I just need a break. To be alone and have time to
regulate my own emotions.

With depression and anxiety come other symptoms like chronic pain and fatigue. My body feels
foreign to me somedays. The aches and pains and feeling physically sick can be all consuming.
Anxiety likes to amplify those symptoms making me think I have some deadly disease, which
sends me into panic attacks that leave me buried under the covers in bed, unable to function
because of the irrational fears.

The constant feeling of exhaustion never really lessens or goes away. It doesn’t matter how
much or little sleep I get. It isn’t that kind of tired. It’s the kind of tired that goes so deep through
your body and bones that no amount of rest can make up for it. I could sleep for twelve hours
straight and still feel like I’d been up for days. This is one of the many reasons why getting out of
bed in the mornings is so difficult.

The funny thing is that depression and anxiety also cause insomnia. So even though I'm
completely exhausted every day, I can never sleep at night. For whatever reason, nighttime is
always the worst for my anxiety. I lay down to sleep and even though my body is ready to shut
down, my brain never is. I can’t turn it off. The thoughts come racing in and there’s no way to
stop it.

All my worries and fears come crashing to the front and I lay there panicked, wishing
desperately for sleep to come. It usually takes hours and most nights I have to turn on a show to
distract myself from my thoughts in order to sleep. When sleep finally comes it is rarely
peaceful. I toss and turn all night long. Nightmares regularly fill my dreams. The kind that feel so
real that I awaken terrified and unable to fall back asleep.

Basic tasks can seem daunting. So much so at times that I won’t be able to do them at all.
Things like making a phone call, scheduling an appointment, going to the store, taking a
shower, doing laundry or dishes– these things can seem impossible for me during the times
where my mental health is in poor condition. Sometimes it’s only a day or two, but other times it
can last for months.

I can go weeks at a time without leaving the house. Or push off needed appointments for
months. Sometimes I finally manage to schedule it but when the day comes I can’t bring myself
to go and I cancel last minute. Bathing feels like too much work when I’m struggling mentally,
and it takes all my willpower to find the energy just to shower. Dishes and laundry often pile up
due to having young children who make constant dirty dishes and laundry. I can’t keep up and
the overflowing sink and piles of clothes by the washer can be too overwhelming to manage.

Then add in raising our special needs children. Dealing daily with meltdowns, stims, food
aversions, aggression, manic behaviors, and I’m sure you can guess how that would have a
negative impact on my already poor state of mental health. Don’t get me wrong, I love our
children more than anything and I’m so blessed to be their mom. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t
hard. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t take everything I have to get through a day.

There was a time earlier in our relationship where you didn’t understand these things. But over
the years you have learned about depression and anxiety and I’m so thankful for everything you
do for me. How you love me through the storms and never give up on me. Not everyone is so
lucky. You have done the work to learn about my struggles, to listen, to learn what I need during
the hard times. You can now recognize the signs when I’m about to have a panic attack or when
I’m falling into the dark abyss of depression.

You reassure and comfort me when the anxious thoughts have me spinning out of control. You
Google things for me to find answers so that I don’t have to because we both know Google is an
anxious person’s worst enemy. You help me with household chores and the kids when I’m
overwhelmed and struggling to so much as get out of bed. You tell me to rest and take breaks
and you never resent me for my struggles. You pray for me and always remind me to look to
God and of everything He has brought us through when I feel like I’m drowning. I’m beyond
grateful to have a partner in this life who truly loves and supports me. Mental health illnesses
and all.

Your Wife