When Life - Married to Mental Illness
There have been so many stories from those who live with mental illness. But what about those who live with those who struggle with mental health issues?
I feel like I need to preface this by saying that I love my husband very much. And I certainly hope that none of what I’m about to say implies otherwise. Being married to someone who has severe depression and anxiety can be very hard. It can be difficult to see someone you love and who you know is capable of so much think so poorly of themselves and are in a constant state of worry, stress, sadness, or any of the other many symptoms associated with it.
It makes me nervous sharing my feelings for fear that people will judge me and think I am a bad person or wife for feeling like this, but I know that I am not the only one that does.
I knew when we were dating that he suffered from depression and anxiety. It’s not like I didn’t know or understand that his mental health would take a toll on our marriage.
Of course, I could have never known how much of one, but still…I loved him and loved all of him including his demons. Still do.
This story isn’t to vent about frustrations or anything like that, but rather to share with you how challenging it is to have a spouse who has poor psychological health. Even though he sees a doctor and is on medication, it has not been the answer for all of it. We are still trying to find what will work best for him.
One of the first things you have to understand is that it can be isolating.
Being at work with people drains him and when he comes home, he doesn’t really like to talk. He isn’t much of a talker to begin with, so I often feel like I have no one to really share things with. He does listen but I often end up feeling like I am just talking “at” him. I like to talk so I just keep talking anyways but I know at the end of the conversation there will be no questions, no feedback, no interaction… I’m used to it now but if you have a friend in my position and they call, just let them talk. No one asks how my day was. Home can be a lonely place some days.
It can also be very overwhelming.
One thing about people with anxiety and depression is that they can sometimes feel so inundated with things that need to get done that they end up doing nothing. I usually do most everything at our house and take on the bulk of most of the responsibilities with the house and the kids. It’s not that I want to be an enabler, but I know that if I don’t do them, they absolutely won’t get done. When it comes to things that I physically cannot do, I typically have to ask him a lot in order to get them done. I used to feel bad about this but now understand that it’s just part of it all. Sometimes it’s because he has forgotten. Sometimes it’s because he honestly just has zero motivation, but I try and keep pushing him so that he sees that he has it in him to achieve and accomplish tasks if he will just start somewhere. The will to start is one of the biggest obstacles.
Lastly, it’s sad.
I know, I know, don’t compare yourself to others on the internet. Don’t look at other people’s highlight reels. I get it. I really do. But here’s the thing. I get sad when I see happy couples. Even if they are fake happy. The reason is because I know that there ARE truly happy couples out there. That is a real thing. I want us to be happy. I try and not base my happiness around whether he is happy or in a good mood but being married to someone who rarely truly laughs or smiles can affect your mood. Even when you make a conscious effort to not let it affect you, after so many years, I’m sorry it just does. I’ve read enough self-help books and motivational quotes to know “you are the one in charge of your own happiness.” But who cares for the caregiver?
So, for all those individuals who have a spouse who suffer with severe or debilitating anxiety and depression, just know your feelings matter and you aren’t a bad person for feeling frustrated, sad, or even angry some days. You aren’t a bad person for occasionally wishing things were different. No one understands unless they personally suffer from mental illness or live with someone who does.
Thank you for this story. I don't think you are a bad person at all and as someone who is married to someone with depression and anxiety, I am grateful you shared. Your feelings DO matter and I'm thankful you felt safe to share your story here.
The t-shirt that pairs with this story is our #whenlifeheartbreak tee.
Love and lemons,
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