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Why I’ve Had Enough of the Backlash to My Husband’s Mental Illness

Editor's Note

This story has been published with permission from the author’s husband.

My husband has always been my caretaker. Everyone knows he is the one who has been there for me every step of the way when it comes to my mental health.

It’s always been him. From the day I tried to die by suicide, to when I got sent to a psychiatric hospital, to when I lost my apartment, to when I lost my job… and most importantly, to when I lost myself. The world looked at me like I was lazy because I couldn’t keep a job and I isolated myself from everything and everyone.

What nobody knew was that I was fighting a battle every single day. My husband drove everywhere, paid for everything, took care of my daughter when I couldn’t get out of bed. He woke up with me every single night for over a year, whether it was because I couldn’t sleep or because I had night terrors when I finally did get my eyes to close. It was my husband who sat with me at every single therapy session and didn’t miss one. My husband was who kept an eye on the side effects I had to deal with when I had a shitty doctor who loaded me up with a million different medications that made me seem unstable. It was my husband who made sure to listen to every single word I spoke during therapy so he could understand why I am the way I am.

I thought I’d never get better, but he assured me every single day even though I didn’t see it or feel it, I was getting better day by day. I never believed him because I couldn’t see a future without my symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — without my anxiety and depression. It seemed like a lifelong commitment I didn’t want, but couldn’t see a way out of. But little did I know, everything would change with the blink of an eye.

As of today, I know how my husband is viewed by some people. I’ve pretty much heard it all.

“He doesn’t work.”
“He doesn’t drive.”
“He doesn’t come around.”
“He doesn’t do anything.”

Neither of us saw it coming, because when it happens, nobody ever sees it coming.

My husband, the man who had been protecting me all along, had suddenly become overwhelmed one day and none of us saw it coming. There were no signs. There were no warnings. It was a normal day for us until we got home and he simply needed a hug.

A hug turned into a meltdown, and that meltdown turned into one night of insomnia. One night of insomnia turned into a week, plus paranoia due to loss of sleep. Insomnia and paranoia led to weeks of night terrors and waking up once or twice a night and staying up for hours at a time. It led to visits to the ER that resulted in nothing simply because he was a man who didn’t have any visible physical injuries.

When I needed to go to the emergency room for anxiety or panic attacks, I was treated with respect, given medication to relieve my symptoms and taken seriously. When my husband, a man, went in for his anxiety attack, he was put in a room and dismissed with a referral to see a primary care physician who could prescribe him a daily antidepressant. What he needed was relief and they gave him a cold shoulder.

When his PTSD came, it came fast and hit hard. I was forced to forget about what I was going through because I knew this time my husband needed me the exact same way I needed him when I had nobody. Nothing could describe the pain I felt looking at the man who had always been my rock crumble to pieces.

Was it hard for me to suddenly pick up my own pieces to support him? To wake up with him in the middle of the night, multiple times, every night?

Absolutely.

But was it even harder for him, as a man who was always the protector and provider, to suddenly need his wife’s protection and caretaking?

Absolutely.

Just like he was there when I needed him… I was there when he needed me.

It took absolutely everything in me to pick myself up while picking him up. I now sit through every therapy session and listen to every single word our therapist says so I understand why he is the way he is.

I now pick up the pieces where my husband cannot. Why? Because it is proven he would do the exact same thing for me.

I’ve had enough of the backlash from people on the outside looking in all because I am the one who works, who drives everywhere and takes care of things financially.

This man has gone through hell and back for me, would not think twice to give his life for me and has put me first no matter the situation.

I don’t know what it’s like for other couples who help their spouse live with a mental illness every day, but for me… it’s life. It’s love. It was my promise to my husband, in sickness and in health, and I intend to keep my word.

I have never cared what anyone on the outside has ever had to say about my husband because both him and I know the battles we fight every single day just to survive.

It’s now been two years since my husband has been diagnosed with severe PTSD and almost four since I have been.

We fight together to get better.
We fight together for our kids.
We fight together for a better life.

So no, it’s not that my husband is lazy and makes me do everything. We take care of one another in ways nobody will ever know, and for that, I am so thankful. When it comes to men’s mental health, it’s not fair. It’s not fair it has to be the man who doesn’t show any emotions, who doesn’t let the world know he is hurting or needs help mentally.

Men get tired, whether it’s physically, mentally or emotionally. I will never stop speaking out for men’s mental health.

Because they, too, are humans. Men’s mental health matters to me and we all should be educated about it.

Unsplash image by freestocks.org