Tip Toe Ballet

I cannot escape the feeling that no matter what I do or say today, tomorrow or the immediate future, it will be the exact wrong thing. Not only that, but it will do more damage than I could ever possibly intend.

It’s this walk across the tops of eggshells that I’m I’ll suited for. Especially the part where I feel like the crane holding the 40 ton wrecking ball is about 40 feet straight above me, following my every move. That wrecking ball is hanging by a thread of cable that is liable to snap at any second. I’m likely to crush some (most? all?) of the eggshells in the effort to avoid being crushed.

I felt this way for most of 2004. But this time it’s worse. This time I don’t have a name for it aside from depression. This time is different in unknown and unseen ways, but since meds are already involved, it’s much scarier.

That’s about all I can say right now. I’m really trying to keep my shit together. I’m doing an ok job, but I can’t help feeling that I could be helping more, that if I just lay back far enough, maybe that’s the best way to help. Shut my yapper and wait, despite the anguish, despite the fear and despite the feeling of impending doom.

The future holds its breath along with me.

  • Anonymous

    Just make sure to take care of yourself in all of this too.  I wish the best for you two.  I would hazard an extremely unprofessional guess that exercise will help her through (she was doing all the marathon stuff, which totally pumps your endorphins – and now that they aren’t getting nearly as pumped, things seem “dim”)  But remember that it will pass, in time… and she loves you.

    • Kristan

      My_way’s last line especially.


      Know this: it’s not your fault. Nothing you do, or don’t do, or say, or don’t say, is responsible. It’s just sh*tty luck, or an aberrant gene, or whatever. But it’s not your fault, and it’s not hers either. You’re both doing your best. Keep doing that, and you’ll get through, just like you did before. I believe in you guys.

      In the meantime, lean on us. In whatever way we can be, your readers are here for you.

  • Sarah R. Bloom

    I wish I had just the right words, but I don’t have them for you anymore than you have them for her.
    Be sure to take care of yourself as you need to, writing, talking, venting, crying, wherever you feel safe to do so.
    One thing I know for certain is that you are stronger than you think. And so is Heather. Just keep doing the next right thing, even if all that means is taking a deep breath.

  • blurb

    Thanks for the kind words. It means a lot to me.

  • Helen Jane Hearn

    I am over here, waving my tiny Armstrong flag as hard as I can. Take care of you.

  • Meagan Calahan

    You pretty much described exactly the way I felt for the first 6 months of this year. It was exhausting and scary and there were times when I didn’t know how I was going to get through it.  Thankfully, a change in medication and a few other tweaks brought my husband back to feeling like himself again.

    I hope you and Heather get through this faster than we did, but no matter how long it takes I have faith that it WILL get better. In the meantime, hang in there and try to remember to take care of yourself in addition to taking care of the rest of your family.

  • Colleen Schmitt

    I’m sorry you guys are going through this. Take care of yourself. You are in my thoughts.

  • Shalini K

    In Dory’s words (from Finding Nemo)… “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming”…. WE are all pulling for y’all! And winter doesn’t help… hopefully y’all can go on an adventure together to reconnect and recharge. Y’all are in my thoughts and prayers! :)

  • katherine reymann

    Jon, we are here for you anytime you need us. Love, David and Kate

  • MontanaJen

    Thank you so much for writing about depression from a partner’s point of view.  I know that my husband experiences the same thing, and it’s helpful for me to read your words in an attempt to help him help me.

  • Anonymous

    My thoughts are with you.  Wishing you and your family all the support and love you need.

  • Anonymous

    My now-husband saved my life back in 2004 by just being there for me. We lived far apart then, but he reached out to me and gave me another lifeline (besides the meds and therapy). Just let Heather know you love her, that you are there for her, that she is worth everything. 

    Also, My_way had a pretty good unscientific observation…

  • neeroc

    Such a tough time. Wishing your family all the strength and love you need.

  • Anonymous

    Remember, too, that a drug can stop working, or you can need a different combination. In any case, ICK. Take care, and stomp the damned eggshells if they need it. You’re more important than they are anyway.

  • Olivia Hackman

    This is never something that’s easy to go through and I am very sorry that you guys are facing it again, even if it feels like a new monster altogether. I remember reading back in 2004 as a college student and thinking that Heather was so lucky to have you and how I’d like to have a husband someday who could be there for me in a similar way. I have no doubt that you’ll get through it again since it’s clear how much love and support there is between you two. Just know that there are a lot of people pulling for you and that it will get better. I’m sending lots of positive thoughts your way and hoping for the very best for you and your family.  

  • Lauren

    Love you and your fam, Jon.  You and Heather have taught me so much about dealing with a significant other who has depression.  I hope you and Heather realize that telling your stories has helped so many people, monumentally. Your readers, and then the people that they help to cope, and then the people that they encounter… it’s a ripple effect.

    I’m speaking up to say so, but I am sure there are so many others who feel the same way.

    Thinking of you guys while you climb this mountain.

  • Amanda Brumfield

    I love you bro. Just know that this is not your fault. You can’t fix things and I know for a husband and father that must be excruciating. The depression will get better. I promise- promise. You guys are in my thoughts and prayers. 

  • Anonymous

    To quote my favorite book (Hotel New Hampshire) “Keep passing the open windows” For the last 9 months (which feels much, much longer) we have been trying to help our child find her way through depression, anxiety, anorexia and of course, all the normal teenage angst. I know the eggshell feeling perfectly..and sometimes being afraid to breathe too loud. Some days all that helps is knowing that there are worse things, and being grateful we are all still hanging on. Find joy where you can and love each other.

  • Annia V

    I don’t have the right words or answers but I’m thinking of you guys. x

  • Alyssa Gendron

    You guys are in my thoughts.  Don’t forget that what you do already does help Heather; she’s said several times how thankful she is to have you.  She is lucky to have a husband like you!

  • American Recluse

    Love to you and yours, Jon. No words of wisdom here, just empathy and support. And another one of those Armstrong flags flappin’ in the breeze.

  • Anonymous

    You’re my hero, Jon.

  • Amy Jacobs

    Jon, I know you and I disagree on politics, but on this, my friend, I can relate. Not necessarily with a spouse (though I’ve been down a path with him a decade or so ago that was definitely clinical and scary). I married into a family full of bipolar disorder and SEVERE depression…and personality disorders, to be honest. I am well versed in what it means to live with it in your immediate family. I feel for you. Sometimes the best you can do is just hover…deal with the girls…shield them from some of the bumps…encourage and make sure to have her closely followed. I honestly feel for you. I really, really do. Hang in there. I feel for Heather as well, but, like you…well, I know that does not one lick of good, sadly.

  • Gloatessa

    Jon, it’s not you and it’s nothing you do or say. You are not responsible. You must remember that. You are not responsible. No one should have to live walking on eggshells for any other person. That’s abuse.  Also, find a therapist you can talk to regularly for you, and perhaps a support group. 

  • Becky Cochrane

    Still sending good thoughts your way.

    • blurb

      Thank you!

  • Megan

    You and Heather have taught me a lot about coping with depression in general. Thank you for sharing good times and bad times with us.  I hope you know how much you help others by doing just that.

  • BigGay

    My mother is bipolar.  It was rough going until we found a combination of meds and holistic treatments that have given her a new lease on life.   Hang in there Jon. It does get better. 

  • Anonymous

    I found this thru Katie Ganju and I have to say that you are expressing what I feel almost every day.  My husband and daughter both suffer from anxiety/depression and some days it just feels like a lot for me to handle.  I can’t be responsible for their happiness and I know that but watching them and not being able to help is exhausting.  Now that my daughter is married and has a child of her own I’m one removed from being her advisor/help and that’s maybe even harder.  Her husband is great but I 

    • blurb

      Recently, I have been doing some reading. I don’t want to change the subject in this thread, but I’ve got a great book for you if you are interested. You can shoot me an email: djblurb@blurbomat,com for details. 

  • Anonymous

    Lived this particular nightmare myself. Sorry to hear of anyone ever revisiting a spiraling spouse. Here’s hoping something works soon. 

  • Anonymous

    Sometimes it’s all about letting go. Walking on eggshells is something that will eventually not only shatter the shells but everything else around you. Everyone knows what they have to do, including you but it’s getting there that’s really difficult. Don’t wonder about whether or not you’re on the right path, just follow the beat and it will lead you where you need to go [but not necessarily want]. I’m sorry for the loss of your marriage. 

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