I find the questions and advice challenging. I hesitate to write all of my thoughts: i expose myself, but i do not want expose Christine's struggles. So much of my reaction is caught up in my awareness of how we both support each other. In the values of the dominant society, i can imagine someone confronting me with a balance sheet. "Look," this person says, "You're providing all this. You should demand she provide at least X, Y, and Z." And i know that that's wrong, that there are things not on the balance sheet that flow to me that aren't as tangible as X, and Y, and Z.
Another part of the questions and advice that bothers me is that both of the non-depressed folks are the financially more powerful partners. Not that i think my mother's mental health is particularly good, but one can ask whether that was entirely true early on in her relationship with my father. I suspect she was traumatized early in their marriage when she found he wasn't perfect, and that included that he probably exhibited signs of depression. The advice given is easy for someone who can be independent to take on: what about someone who is dependent on the depressed person?
I'm not saying the advice is wrong, but the context of the questions seemed pinned on an expected partnership exchange of of breadwinning and housekeeping, childkeeping. Something in me chafes at that balance sheet.
One of the many gifts Christine has given me is coaching me to choose joy for me. Yesterday's outing to the central valley was her suggestion, remembering how i wanted to do it over the holidays. Leaving before light to drive and walk through murky woods is not something that i think she would have chosen on her own (although she does enjoy these outings, too). She chose it for me because she knew it was a joy for me and (apparently) i'd forgotten that joy as a possibility.
Acting as a memory for the depressed person, holding their joy for them: is that enabling? I think of a poem Thich Nhat Hanh relates:
I have lost my smile,
but don't worry.
The dandelion has it.
I suppose i am rebelling against the idea that the things we should demand of depressed partners are the depressing responsibilities: maybe we should be demanding that they engage with the things that give them joy.