Living with Mental Illness in your Marriage
It can be difficult living in a Marriage with someone who has Mental Health issues, but it doesn’t need to be as scary as it sometimes may seem.
I’ve always viewed the beginning of my breakdowns as a beautiful transition into a better person. For me, it was my body telling me that the way that I viewed life, and my perspectives were jumbled up, and those needed to be changed. It took me a long time to realise that the only person that was going to change it would be me, and longer to realise it’s no quick fix. It might seem daunting to read this at first but I will say that the journey that I took was incredibly amazing. I went from being bitterly unhappy with who I was to standing proud as the man that I am today.
If you’re being a fly on the wall it can be really difficult to watch your significant other tear themselves inside out as they slowly destroy themself. My wife experienced it with me right before our wedding — something that still makes me cringe today. Ridden with guilt over my actions I slowly began to shut down piece by piece until I was unable to communicate with anyone. I stopped eating, I stopped drinking, and all I could say was, “I’m a fucking arsehole” that was the only vocabulary I had in me at the time. Lucky, my soon-to-be wife was able enough to get the doctor out to pump me with 15mg of Diazepam. An amount that shocked even my wife, and me looking back. I slowly recovered, but it’s good to note that she was there for me.
Being a fly on the wall to living with Marriage and Mental Health is not without it’s challenges. Here’s a nifty listicle to help you manage life a bit better, from both sides of the fence!
Empower your partner, don’t advise them!
One of the most disempowering comments I’ve had as a person that has had Mental Health problems is when someone tells me that I should just lighten the hell up. We’re conditioned from a very young age to believe that negative emotions have no room in our personal space, and I get it, me being sad makes other people uncomfortable, and I understand that for some people that can be uncomfortable too, but you’re no use to me as a friend or anyone else when you are telling me that I shouldn’t feel what I feel. That’s essentially telling me that I shouldn’t be myself, which is dangerous thought. Instead, why not sit and listen to your partner, take on what she or he is saying and ask if there’s anything that you can do to help? Let them lead the situation and make some decisions of their own. These can be bad decisions mind you, but you have a voice, steer them away from anything harmful.
Stay away from Illicit substances
Including alcohol. The term the doctors finally used for my condition before discharging me completely was called “Alcohol induced psychosis” which meant that I had been drinking too much alcohol and it had put me into psychosis many times. The fact that I had stopped drinking for many years by then meant that my symptoms had cleared up. I’ve engaged in a lot of research since then and have realised that continually drinking alcohol can lead you into a horrible depression, as it did for me. Try and live a drug free life as well as you can, I promise you, as a t-totaller, I’m able to deal with my problems as soon as they arise rather than shoving them to the back burner.
Encourage them to make the most out of their life. By that I mean empower them to choose the right decisions. At the beginning of our relationship my partner was always encouraging me to read books and go to University (something I had always wanted to do), but your partners goals can be different, as long as you are supporting them in their goals then you’re doing good there! Here’s a good example video:
And above all – make sure you’re okay!
Everything I’ve said is all well and good but I’ve always been a huge believer in living by example, and if you’re not looking after yourself then how will you be able to know how to look after other people, right? You are number one in this, if you aren’t caring for yourself then stop, and shift focus for a bit and make sure you’re doing the best for yourself that you can do. Here’s a few good self care tips to make sure you’re doing well!
Live by experience – not by thought!
It’s great that you’re trying to help your significant other be the best that they can be but if you haven’t tried it or experienced it before then it’s no use telling them they should experience it themselves. You don’t know, right? Of course you can be honest and ask them if they would like to share the experience with you – it’s something I’ve used on my wife quite a lot. “I’ve never done this before, it’s supposed to be good, would you like to try it?”
Regular YOU time!
I know myself that I love my partner to pieces but if I didn’t have my little space in my office to dive away into at night and create I’d literally go off the wall. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing in my honest opinion. Make some time for yourself, even if that’s to put your feet up, chill and switch on some netflix, it’s what you’ll need from time to time. It’s nice to switch away from family life and just be left with your own thoughts from time to time. It’s healthy and it’s good to recarge.
Sometimes you just have to say NO
I am the worlds worst for trying to barriage my partner into a decision that I have in my head and she isn’t fully decided on it yet. She’ll often have to say to me, “You’re not going to force me into a decision I don’t want to do” that takes a good amount of strength, but sometimes it has to be done, because I’ll admit, at times, my decision making skills aren’t the greatest. There have been times when I’ve tried to force a decision of “take out” when she doesn’t feel too great, and she’s had to remain strong and say that we’ll cook. That may not seem important to you, but in our family, meal times are the most important because my wife has Italian roots. It’s her culture.