A Love Letter to My Husband, From Your Wife With Mental Illness
It’s about 3 a.m. and I’m wide awake, as usual, listening to you snoring next to me. This is when my anxiety is at its worst: when the world is quiet, but my brain is not. My chest tightens with each to-do list item I remember, full of nervous energy that has nowhere to go, and I’m tempted to snuggle close to you with the hope of finding relief. I know that would wake you though, and even though I know you wouldn’t mind, I’m going to let you sleep instead.
I know you wouldn’t mind because we’ve been there before. You are my closest confidant, so I turn to you often. You’re the first one who knows when my depression rears its ugly head — not always because I tell you so, but because you know what it looks like on my face and what it sounds like in my voice.
You know that sometimes my anxiety expresses itself as frustration, and you give me endless free passes when I unleash some (or all) of that on you. You do the laundry and clean the kitchen while I sleep our weekends away on the couch, and when I’m finally upright, you still let me choose what we watch on TV.
You’ve asked countless questions of supermarket employees, and waitresses, and hotel staff when I have questions but can’t find the air in my lungs to ask them myself. When the table we got for our anniversary dinner was in the middle of the room, and 10 minutes in I was overwhelmed by noise and the thought of extra eyes on me, we moved without any protest from you. And when we got home from that dinner, when you were at your most romantic and I still wasn’t “in the mood,” you not only understood, but insisted that just cuddling was enough.
With you, even when my mental illness tries to tell me otherwise, I know I am never alone. My fight isn’t just mine anymore. You are the embodiment of “in sickness and in health,” even though my sickness is almost invisible and seemingly impossible to shake. Where others have seen baggage, you just see me.
Tonight I’ll let you sleep, because I know you’ll be by my side for as long as I need you to be — and in good times and bad, I’m hoping that’s forever.
Unsplash photo via Bryan Apen