Welcome to the first in my new monthly series where I open my blog for an anonymous guest to share their mental health story.
If you are affected by this story in any way, links to relevant mental health organisations are listed below this post.
Please be mindful that it has taken great courage to write this post when leaving any comments. Comments will be approved at my discretion.
No Names, No Links, No Link-ups, No judgement.
I remember sitting in the Doctor’s office next to my husband. I don’t really recall getting there, but there we were taking a step forward.
After a few questions, the Doctor suggested medication. “Really?” I thought to myself. “Is that where we’re at?” I kept quiet and tried to soak in what he was saying. There were side effects to watch out for: ‘make sure the pills are taken in the morning as there may be nausea’. So many things to remember! The words swirled around and became jumbled but I kept a poker face, and listened intently.
After a trip to the chemist to fill the script, the medication started. Perhaps this would be the end of the middle-of-the-night panic attacks. Perhaps mood-swings would abate and things would return to normal.
After a couple of months, the medication had settled in and it seemed to be doing its job. The nighttime panic attacks had ceased and there was a sense of calm. Maybe I was worried about nothing at all? It seemed so.
One day things started to get tense again. More than tense. More than your normal, run-of-the-mill anxiety. It suddenly clicked: he had stopped taking his medication.
You see, although I’m living with mental illness, it’s not my own. My husband suffers anxiety and depression. From where it stems, we’ll never know. There are weeks at a time when it’s all smooth sailing and life carries on. Of course there are stressful and mildly anxious periods (we have children so there’s bound to be!) however I can recognise the signs when it’s beyond ‘normal’.
He often tries to self-medicate. He’ll feel ‘better’ and decide to stop taking his daily capsules. A few days down the track and he’s in an almost manic state and it’s a few more days before the drugs kick back in…the circle goes on and on and on…
I’m supportive. I AM. However I have to confess this here, under this anonymous veil of secrecy: I don’t know how much longer I can be ‘supportive’. I understand it’s not his ‘fault’, but how long do the children and I have to put up with poor behavior and chalk it down to his mental illness? If a grown man chooses to repeatedly self-medicate and the family have to live with the consequences, when do you say: ‘ENOUGH”?
There are things he says and does that are so incredibly hurtful. He usually apologises but that’s no longer enough. Sorry doesn’t mean anything any more.
I’ve lived with him, and loved him for ten years, but if I’m brutally honest, the illness has eaten away so much of my love for him. Every time he stops taking his drugs I think he’s selfish. He knows what happens. The house-of-cards that we’re trying so hard to build comes crumbling down around us. We all suffer.
I’ve asked him to go back to the Doctor and have a chat to see if we can change medication or perhaps try something else. No. Counseling? No. Does he want to chat to someone on his own? No.
I honestly don’t know what to do any more. I’ve lost my desire to fight for this relationship. Mental illness has taken so much joy from my life and I’m at the end of my tether.
Do you want to hear something really sad? The kids and I are happier when we’re away from him. There’s no stress, no tiptoeing on eggshells. We can laugh loudly and be silly.
That’s the first time I’ve admitted that, but it’s true: life is happier when we’re apart. Am I being defeated by his depression? Has it won if I admit that?
I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do from here…but it feels really good to share.
You see, that’s another thing about mental health issues: we don’t talk about them enough. I don’t want to tell my best friend what’s going on for fear she’ll judge my husband. His family is completely oblivious and I tried to get in to see a counselor but there’s a 5 week wait. What’s the point?
For now, I’m going to keep fighting against this horrid illness that is taking away all that is good in my life. I’m going into battle one more time for his sake.
One. More. Time.
Let’s see what tomorrow brings.
If you are affected by this post in any way, you can contact Mental Health Organisations here: