It can be difficult to imagine what a person with depression is going through. There are no clear outward signs of what’s wrong — no broken bones, no deep scars, and no fever from an infection. So how do you even know when to help or when one needs the care of a professional?
In a heart-wrenching and personal Youtube video, dad La Guardia Cross opens up about the struggles his family has gone through in battling his wife Leah’s depression. In less than seven minutes, he shares the emotional roller coaster they have been on when his wife told him she wanted to end her life.
“I really came close to losing my wife last week. It's scary and it's not something that you ever want to come close to,” he says.
The couple has two daughters Amalah, 3, and Nayely, 1. “After the birth of our 1-year-old, there were things happening behind the scenes — it could have been postpartum depression, it could have been just a variety of things based upon the ups and downs of chemicals in the body after you give birth — but I thought it was fine.”
Leah has been dealing with depression for years, but the illness proved to be too much recently after the family moved to a new place. La Guardia said there were red flags like "changes and things that were happening to her mood." The couple had to find a new psychiatrist and get a prescription because the medication Leah took was discontinued.
The new drug treatment, however, was not working, and it did not help that the psychiatrist was hard to reach. Two months go by and Leah felt the need to go out of town to "clear her head." La Guardia said she seemed to be in "better spirits" when she returned. But when he asked her how she was doing, she would answer with “okay.”
La Guardia decided he and Leah needed a date night. “When you spend some quality time together you get a chance to see a little bit more.”
And in retrospect, it was a good thing they did because that's when the truth "spilled out." Leah was not fine.
La Guardia recalls, “The next day comes and all hope is gone — from her face, in her words. There was no hope left.”
At that point, La Guardia described the hesitation and confusion going through his mind. “What do I do? What is the right thing to do? How serious is this? You feel you can't do anything about it but you know you got to do something.”
La Guardia found the closest hospital, and Leah was transferred to an in-patient psychiatric facility. He told Today that he had debated about taking Leah to a mental facility. It had seemed too extreme, but he knew he had to do something. In the video, he said of that time that there was "no encouragement, no words left to give." His wife was in a state of crisis.
"All I know is my wife was planning her end and was telling me about it. And if I don't do anything, I may not see her tomorrow."
La Guardia talks about questioning himself, wondering about the red flags he missed and all the things he could’ve done to get better help sooner. “I think everybody alongside somebody going through this has things that they regret,” he says in the video.
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La Guardia provides a helpful insight that may help if you have a loved going through depression. “It's hard for the person dealing with depression to see outside of the negativity that floods in their mind.”
Yet, like in Leah's case, it's difficult for them to say that everything is not fine. “The word 'burden' is often used [by Leah] because she has felt many times that to ask for help, or to even need help, is a burden on me and everybody that helps her,” says La Guardia. “And that's so far from the truth.”
“I see all sides of it — medication, prayer, therapy. There's holistic approaches too, exercise, and all kinds of stuff could be used to help. But the most important lesson for me is just...I just want to pay attention.”