Dear husband, we need to have a real conversation.

You are the first to admit that lately things have changed for you. Things that used to be simple for you suddenly feel impossible and require so much energy.

Getting out of bed is hard. It feels so much better to stay in bed and avoid it all.

Tackling household projects and chores just feels like too much. So, you ignore them.

Taking care of yourself by eating healthy and exercising doesn’t sound appealing at all. But, boy, do chips and salsa, brownies, and sitting on the couch sound like comfort.

Your new instinct to avoid the challenging things only makes you feel worse as your to-do list grows longer by the day.

Everything annoys you — people, music, movies, work, weather.

Everything for you feels extra heavy right now.

You are overwhelmed, frustrated, and scared.

I get it. Depression has been a constant companion in my life for so long. But this is new for you. Depression is a stranger in your own life— an unwelcome stranger.

Depression robs you of your joy, your lightness, and your ability to fully experience your life.

It also robs the people around you: people like your wife, your children, your friends, your coworkers, and your family. Depression eats away at who you are, leaving only a shadow of the man we all love— the man we still love.

Maybe the stress of the pandemic has finally caught up to you.

Maybe the challenges of aging have taken their toll on you.

Maybe the struggles of parenting children have become overwhelming.

Maybe depression has always been there but you’ve been able to cope with it and keep it at bay.

Whatever the reason, depression has seeped into your life, causing you to change right before our eyes. You snap at me and the children. You are quieter than usual around your friends. You eat and sleep for comfort — turning inward instead of to those around you. Work tasks bog you down and by the end of your workday, you are completely empty.

You have depression and that is OK. None of this is your fault.

But, the most important thing to know about depression is that you can’t just ignore it when it finds its way into your life.

Depression can be addressed and you can find your way back to the person you used to be. We want you back in our lives — the real you. We miss you and I know you miss yourself, too.

It can be scary to reach out for help. Terrifying, actually. The fear of being judged, the guilt of needing support, and the worry that it won’t actually change anything for you can be overwhelming.

But help for depression can be life-changing and life-affirming. Medication can help to bring balance and make things feel not so hard in your day-to-day life. Therapy can help you to learn ways to cope with depression. Talking about it with others can help you to see that you are not alone in this battle — lots of men face the same challenges.

You are not weak or broken. You are not less of a man. You have nothing to be ashamed of for having depression.

But, you can’t ignore it. You have to address it so that you can find happiness again.

It’s time to reignite the spark that makes you who you are.

It’s time to get back what depression has taken from you.

You deserve to feel better.

You can do this.

We can do this together.

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Jenni Brennan

Jenni Brennan, LICSW is an author, podcaster, college professor, therapist, and mother. Her work centers around the topics of grief, health and wellness, relationships, and parenting.