To My Husband, and Countless Others Fighting Mental Illness: I See You
To my dear husband,
I was thinking back to when we began talking six years ago about psychology, mental illness and our various struggles with what we’ve both been through. We connected back then through our shared enthusiasm for the mind and how far the medical profession has come in the advances within the mental health field. We shared our counseling experiences, our medication experiences and our desire to be better people who will work together to end the stigma attached to mental illness.
You made me feel safe and less broken. You understood a part of me no one had ever dared to acknowledge. You made me feel whole for the first time in my life. I had no idea at that time the depths of your own illness. You’d explained it to me, the diagnosis of bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). You expressed your history in terms of the guinea pig syndrome we all go through when trying different medications, the therapy sessions and the attempts to take your life that you sought help for by going into a mental institution.
We talked at length about your recovery. You told me about all the things your therapist had done to help you and that you were on this path to wellness for the first time in more than 20 years. I did not know at that time what a roller coaster ride of emotions we’d ride together. I only knew I loved you with a fierceness that left me breathless. I wanted nothing more than to be by your side.
I’ve been here for six years and I’ve never contemplated getting off this roller coaster that is our life because I see you. I see you in the moments when you think no one does. I see you when you are striving so hard to fight your illness on a daily basis and it sometimes wins. I see you when you are euphoric because you learned something new or you’re in your element of directing, acting or asking the big questions from some of the biggest minds we admire.
I see you in the quiet moments when the world disappears and there is only you, me and some music playing. I see you when you are railing against the injustices of the world and declaring a war on ignorance. I see you in the moments of despair when it is so dark and your mind has left you drained. I see every part of you even when you think I don’t.
I want you to know you are so much more than your mind leads you to believe. You are the best part of all my days. You are the reason I am on a mission to change the face of mental health and why I know I will be successful. You inspire me to keep going even on the days when it’s hard and I want to rail against the world with you. You make me and so many others want more out of life.
You change minds even when you think you don’t because your mind won’t allow you to see it. I see it. I see the spark in people after they’ve encountered you. You don’t give up and that, above all else, is what I see. I love you with everything I have and am eternally grateful for you.
To the world, I am sharing this with, I want everyone who experiences mental illness to know someone sees you. You are not your illness. It does not define you. It is only a part of you, and, even though it may get the best of you sometimes, it does not have to take all of you. We, my husband and I, are fighting for you and alongside you. We are striving to make this world safer for those who wish to speak out by being open ourselves. We see you.
As I see my husband, I also see the mother working hard to provide for her babies while simultaneously juggling multiple diagnoses. I see the artist being driven half mad by the voices in his mind that tell him he’s not good enough. I see the anxious woman who wants nothing more than to enjoy her life but is plagued by constant doubt and fear. I see all of you who refuse to give up, just as my husband refuses to give up. I see you all put on brave faces and face each day. You are seen and you are so much more than you realize.