Nadia Sawalha and her husband Mark Adderley have been refreshingly open about his mental health struggles, detailing how they get through the tough times together.
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In a deeply personal piece, written as part of HELLO'S! Digital Mental Health issue, guest-edited by Scarlett Moffatt, Nadia shares how it really feels when Mark is in a deep depression.
Nadia and Mark share a podcast where they openly chat about their marriage
"I am married to the smartest, funniest, kindest man I know and I count my blessings every day for our marriage.
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"I'm also married to a man who has to endure the horrors of depression. And by default, so do I.
Nadia and Mark have been married since 2002
"Except it's easier for me than it is for him. Much easier.
"We've been married for almost twenty years, and I would say it's only really in the last few years that I've fully understood what living with depression means.
"I will be honest, a couple of decades ago I was from the school of thought that said: 'Think positively and cheer up'. Why wouldn't I have been? I had never had a conversation, read a book or 'knowingly' met anyone with depression.
Nadia and Mark share two daughters
"Unfortunately I have had to witness many times, how depression is, like my friend Denise Welch says: 'an unwelcome visitor' who can smash through the doors of your home at any point. And when he does, everyone that lives with someone with depression knows it's time to take a back seat.
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"I can usually tell before even Mark can when an episode may be on its way. He will become quieter, sadder and sometimes more irritable.
"I know now to ask, and I mean really ask, how he is feeling. I will often say to him "I don’t want the sanitised version, I want the mucky one."
"It breaks my heart when he tells me how sad he is because I adore him and it feels so unfair. But it's also much better in the long run to know the truth.
Nadia and Mark love to work out together
"Sometimes he will need me to help him push through his feelings – maybe cajole him into a walk, suggest the gym, or distract him with a trip to the cinema. But when the depression is all-encompassing, overwhelming and at times debilitating, I have learnt that what he needs from me then is to let him be. Give him space and kindness and remind myself and him that it will pass.
"In sickness and in health is one of my favourite vows and I take it very seriously. Knowing I can ease some of his pain by just being constant and kind is a privilege. Don't get me wrong it’s incredibly tough at times for me but never as tough as it is for him.
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"I am blessed to have friends that I can cry with if I need to and a wonderful family. Our beautiful daughters are incredibly kind and supportive and Mark and I count our blessings for their huge hearts each and every day.
"I would say to anyone living with depression to try and share with someone how things are for them. Nobody can solve it, but a listening ear is a powerful thing. Also don't neglect the things that make you happy. Friends, nights out, exercise… whatever it is for you. These are all really important to keep you well too.
"P.S. I wouldn't change a thing about Mark... but for his sake I wish I could smash that ‘unwelcome visitor' in the face the next time he comes knocking!"
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