To My Husband, Who Selflessly Cares for Me Through My Depression
I look at you on days like today, and my heart aches. You’ve run yourself ragged and used up all your energy. And you’ve done that because you’ve been caring for me.
We’re lucky to be surrounded by friends and family who are incredibly supportive, but even so, the emphasis is pretty much always on me. I’m the one who’s battling with my mental health; people expect me to be struggling, and congratulate me when I manage even the smallest tasks. I wish they could see your battle as clearly as I can, though. But the whole point is, they usually don’t see. Because you’re somehow managing to keep both of our lives ticking over, running as they should. Like a swan furiously kicking below the surface, people mostly see the effects of your efforts, rather than the efforts themselves.
I see you.
I see you having to hold down a full-time job and keep the house running and keep the cat fed and healthy and keep me fed and healthy. Make sure I take my meds, make sure I eat right, make sure I shower and dress myself. You’re there when it all gets too much for me. When the emotions overflow without warning, you’re there to navigate me through the storm. Without any prior knowledge or training, you’re helping me battle through mental health services, being my advocate, speaking up for me when I can’t speak up for myself. We’re 23 years old, and neither of us expected you would have become my carer 18 months into our marriage. You’re doing it anyway.
Less than a month ago, there was an entire team of psychiatrists, nurses and support workers providing me with 24/7 care. Now, there is you. Sometimes that responsibility gets temporarily delegated to friends or family, but in the end, I’m your burden to hold. I can’t tell you how proud I am to see you rise and conquer this challenge. I truly believe the battle I’m fighting is nowhere near as hard as yours. Because when you love someone as much as we love each other, you genuinely feel the other person’s pain. I won’t deny I’m struggling, but my struggle is anticipated and talked about. You feel all of my pain, and then have the added hurt of watching someone you love go through that kind of struggle. Then to top it off, you have all this responsibility on your young shoulders.
I’m sorry I can’t take it all away. I honestly wish I could. The best I can give you are the following two things. First, I promise to throw myself 100% into recovery, give the best I can each and every day to try and shorten the time it takes me to become the person I was again; the wife you married.
Second, I promise to love you. To love each and every part of you, especially the part that’s struggling today, because that part is completely borne out of your love for me.
And there aren’t enough words in the world to tell you how much that love means to me.
Your loving, (and weird and a bit “mental”) wife.
Unsplash image by Kelly Sikkema