How to love a father with depression.
You must know that your love cannot win this battle for one. In fact, this battle is never to be “won.”
I recently found a journal entry from 2012, right in the thick of my parent’s divorce, and in the midst of my father’s battle with depression, that bore these weighted words:
“Daddy didn’t answer his phone. I was at mom’s house for the night, his heart on my mind, and he didn’t answer the phone. I don’t know if he will answer the door. There are so many demons I cannot see, and wish to fight myself, but how can I fight what I cannot see? I hope daddy answers the door, maybe we can fight them together.”
These are words of a 15-year old daughter, arming herself with swords of forgiveness, armor of empathy, and the most desperate hope that his life’s flame was not dimmed forever. My armory, my weapons, and my love, were never enough, and they never would be.
I wanted, so desperately, to enter the battlefield with him. But sadly, this battlefield was laced with mines of the mind and foes of a past that long preceded me. It was not my battlefield to stand in, it was not my war to win.
After 10 years, I no longer feel the sharp concern at the sound of dad’s voicemail.
After 10 years, my mind has shut off its internal alarm clock, which used to wake me up at every hour of the night, listening for his heartbeat, however far away it was.
After 10 years, I retired my tool belt, realizing that my father was not to be fixed, nor did he want to be.
After 10 years, I have a father with depression.
After 10 years, I have a father with depression, who has found a love for life that far exceeds his invisible demons.
After 10 years, my father has a daughter with depression, and he watches her on her battlefield with pride.