Written for WTAD.COM/WHITE PAGES
Forty years ago today, on March 9, 1977, Jeff showed up at my Florida apartment in the middle of the night, with a Buick Skylark full of his stuff. And a ring. I was finishing an internship in Winter Park, FL. I figured if went far enough away from ISU, (Illinois State) my supervisor wasn’t likely to pop in on me for a surprise observation. I was correct. Dr. Meyer never popped in on me, but I never expected Jeff to pick up his life in Quincy and PoP the question at 2:00a.m. We returned to Quincy and a smattering of family and friends, for a living room ceremony March 26, 1977 (yes, three weeks later); then high-tailed it back to Florida for our obligations.
We had a great run those first couple of years. We moved about every six to eight months, by design. When else can you live in multiple cities and move everything you own in two cars?
Along the way, an extra passenger hopped into my car, uninvited. The passenger would hang out in the back seat some of the journey. Sometimes it even in the trunk, and we didn’t know it was there. About 6-8 years later, my extra passenger hopped into the front seat and sometimes, insisted on driving. The extra passenger -or baggage- however you care to look at it, was depression and anxiety. There. I’ve said it. It’s very scary to admit. But it’s very burdensome to not admit. Do you know why? Those of us who have suffered are deathly afraid of the STIGMA. Especially in a small community, where everybody knows your name. Especially somebody like me: high school cheerleader, long-term career gal, the motivational humorist speaker and author, on my own time (a/k/a known as a laughter therapist). Who’d have thunk it?
We’re happy to announce that I’ve been a recovering train wreck since about 2000. If you do the math, our married and family life was burdened by my affliction, or illness, or whatever you want to call it, for years. To celebrate our anniversary, we will exchange the Hallmark cards and I’ll unwrap a crown of rubies, diamonds and sapphires, no doubt. We’ll take a week-end trip at some point. But, here’s our REAL gift to each other: we’re collaborating on a book about my depression and how it affects the spouse and the house. If you, too, suffer, it’s not just you who suffers. We think we hide it pretty well. Right. It takes a village to move a family through this muckety-muck. Thankfully, with a lot of help, we’re on the other side: still married, still learning about how it’s even possible and with terrific kids, who, thank God, I didn’t damage as much as I’d feared. Our message to those who may read our book someday is a simple one.
There is hope. There is help. We’re proof. bw