How My Husband Loves Me on My Worst Days With Mental Illness
I spent the first half of Mother’s Day on the couch. Wrapped up in a blanket and watching cartoons with my kids. The Husband bought me flowers and breakfast and coffee.
Mmm… coffee. Starbucks to be exact.
I said no presents. I wanted us to save our money for things we want to do, like go on family vacations, but not on things that neither of us really need. He took the oldest to the pool. I put the youngest down for a nap and I sat there under the blanket staring at the television, but not really watching it.
I felt my heart racing and my breathing got heavy. I started fidgeting and my skin was crawling. I got up, walked into the garage, looked around and starting pulling things down. It was too messy in there. I needed to clean it. Now. Every single thing I’ve been holding onto to sell on Craigslist or give to a friend who has a baby or to use later or, or, or…
We have moved seven times in the 11 years that we’ve been together. One would think we would throw things away, but really it’s easy to tuck things away into boxes and not have to deal with them. So many boxes in our garage, stuff with the little stickers and brown wrapping papers from the moving company still on it. Two whole walls packed almost to the ceiling with stuff.
Nope. Done with that.
When The Husband returned from the pool, the garage was in shambles. He looked around, looked at me, sent Pea to change, rolled up his sleeves and jumped right in with me. No questions asked.
This is the man that I married.
While we were cleaning I’d think, “I could take this down to the battered women’s shelter,” or “I could give this to…” No. I hate that the Goodwill resells stuff and I’m not sure what they do with the things they don’t put on the floor. Sometimes, shit just needs to go, get out of your life. This was one of those times. So if it didn’t go in the dumpster, it went to the Goodwill drop-off.
We were in our hot ass garage for about two hours. My anxiety was nonexistent by the time we were done. It was glorious. At the end of the day, he said, “I’m sorry we didn’t do anything great for Mother’s Day.” I replied, “Babe, today was awesome.”
My man helped me calm the raging storm that sometimes lives in my brain and he didn’t tell me to stop. He didn’t ask me what I was doing. He just let it ride. He does laundry. He folds the clothes. He puts them away. When I do laundry? It will live in the basket for weeks.
He gets takeout. Some weeks I cook every single day and some weeks I can’t even manage to take a pot out of the cabinet. I just beez like that sometimes.
He lets me sit on the sofa under the blanket. He tells me to get off my butt and go run or workout. He does it all. I’m sure that loving me is hard. I am unpredictable. My moods change like the winds. Managing mental illness is like that.
Some days I’m happy as hell and ready to take on the world. Some days I’d like to crawl into a cocoon and come out next spring. I’m trying my best. I go to therapy. I talk to my doctors. Most importantly, I talk to him.
He squeezes me. Holding me tightly to him when I cry. He acknowledges my anger, but doesn’t coddle me. He is able to redirect me when my anger spins out of control. He holds me when I’m scared.
There is no way that we would make it through this life if I didn’t tell him: I feel sad. I’m so angry. I have anxiety. I’m nervous. This is scary. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. No way.
He needs to know these things so he can help me help myself. He needs to know these things so he can help our kids when I just can’t. He needs to know…
I asked my friend Kim, who is not only a mental health advocate but a confidant who can talk me down when I think I’ve lost all of my shit, “What makes Shawn awesome for you? What does he give you in regards to helping support your mental illness?”
Here are her top four things:
- Open communication
- He doesn’t point out in/engage in arguments
- He knows it’s an illness. He knows she’s trying.
Marriage is hard as it is. Being married to a partner who struggles with mental illness can be tricky, unpredictable, difficult and confusing, especially if your partner didn’t display any of these behaviors when you got married.
I often wonder if he looks at me and thinks I’m not the woman he married, but I quickly push those intrusive thoughts out of my mind. He is in this shit, for the long haul with me. Every anxiety attack. Every bout of depression. Every fit of rage. All of it. For better or worse. Til death do us part.
I couldn’t do this thing called life without him. I know I’m crazy, crazy in love with him.
Babe, you da real MVP.
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