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Halfrunner, August 10,  2020  3:36pm EST

Dealing with the depression that goes along with the disease

When I started dating the love of my life 9 years ago, I knew he had a chronic heart condition. He had had six heart attacks and had an ICD implant. We had both been married before and had known each other and dated in highschool. We knew each other well and were very upfront about our personalities, issues, expectations in a relationship, etc. We were also relatively young (I was 42, he was 44) and led healthy lifestyles. I am a runner (used to run half marathons, but a couple of car-wrecks side-lined me.... I'm just now back up to 1.5 miles). He lifted weights, walked a couple of miles/day and we were both in pretty good shape. About three years into the relationship, his ICD went off for the first time. He was in great shape and had just finished a workout. It side-lined everything for him. It sent him into his first real depression since we had started dating. He'd been there before after his 6th heart attack when he thought he would be dead in  a year, but had come out of it when we started dating. I'd never really been around someone in a true depression. It was hard to watch and even harder not to take personally. I still have a hard time not taking it personally. It got better and worse and better and worse. We moved to Florida and the ocean seemed to help. We had to move back and it sent him into a downward spiral, but he came back out ot it. Two years ago we bought a house together. It got better. We love the house and he had projects. It gave him purpose. Then, the projects became too much (he tends to take on too much). Then the shocks started becoming more and more frequent. The disease was progressing. In May of this year (2020), we were faced with the fact that he would have to have cardiac ablation, something we were hoping to avoid because of how scary it seemed. Learning more details about the risks of the procedure made it seem less scarey, but waiting in the waiting room for him to get through the 7 1/2 hour long procedure was one of the hardest things I've experienced. 70% of patients who have this have to have a second procedure. We were one of the 70%. The second time through was a little easier. Only 5 1/2 hours this time and we knew more of what to expect. Even though this procedure has been successful (the V-tach seems to have disappeared altogether and they are weaning him completely off the amiodarone in the next six months), the depression has returned. Where the first go-around was deep, this go-around is crippling. He knows intellectually that he has a cool place to live with people he loves that love him back, but all he can see is that his anger ruins our days, he doesn't have any control of his life and he is dying. Maybe not today, or next week, or next year, but it is going to happen. There are days he won't get out of bed because "it doesn't matter." It's hard to watch. It's hard to be so unable to help. It's hard to not follow him into the darkness. I don't have any friends I can tell this to because I don't want the pity and he definitely doesn't want the pity. That just makes it worse. We have good days. We have great days. The bad days are coming more often. Today is definitely a bad one. Tomorrow will be better, or maybe it won't, but better days will come. No matter what, I won't give up because the good days are worth everything.

2 Replies
  • AHAASAKatie
    AHAASAKatie, August 12,  2020  10:28am EST

    I am so sorry that this is what you both having to manage. Would your husband be willing to talk with a therapist to help process what has occurred? Would you as well? Please know that we are here to support you both during this time. Best Katie

  • yoadrienne
    yoadrienne, August 22,  2020  1:38am EST

    Tomorrow marks exactly 4 weeks from the date of my 37 y/o boyfriend's stroke...I've now noticed he's been through the "stages of grief" begining with harsh denial, anger and frustration.  We are now in an emmotional stage and although he has improved with walking, speech, and all area's in general, he has clearly expressed his feelings of "frustrated, emmotional and depressed"....Which is why your post grabbed my attention. Although i am new to this role of "caregiver", it has definately been a roller coaster. Thank you for sharing your story... your "seasoned" strength and persisitence is truly inspiring for a newbie like me <3.   "No matter what, I won't give up because the good days are worth everything"...... what a powerful way to end your post and i will revert to that during these upcoming tough days. Thank you!

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