I have to admit that I can be somewhat of an ostrich sometimes. When a situation starts becoming a little too real I prefer to bury my head in the sand. I’ll come out later- when the coast is clear. This time, however, there was no hiding from our problems. It was time to face the monster head-on.
In March 2012 my husband and I were having one of our typical arguments. I needed something from him, I needed to be heard, and he was being a stubborn goat. I couldn’t get him to see what I was trying to get across. Nothing was new about this fighting and each time we had this conflict I would get more worn down. In one incredibly brave moment I shouted “Why don’t you just get your bipolar checked out?”
For the next split second there was a deafening silence. I dropped to my knees, sobbing. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” Was I sorry for what I had said? No. I was sorry that this man I had spent years covering up for and protecting in various ways had to hear the truth that had been fluttering around in my mind for quite some time. I could no longer pretend that there was nothing wrong. It was a make-it or break-it moment in our relationship.
Daniel walked out the room in silence. I thought for sure our marriage was over, that he was on his way into the bedroom to pack his bags and head out the door. Surprisingly, he came back in the room, sat down on the floor with me, hugged me with an embrace that said he would never be walking away, and asked, “Do you really think that’s possible? Do you really think there could be an answer for what is wrong with me other than I’m just a jerk?”
So began our journey to a bipolar II diagnosis for my husband and the subsequent travel to wellness. Daniel has taken his health extremely seriously; even his psychiatrist has praised him for his effort and his writing skills that assist the doctor in making medication adjustments and getting to the bottom of disturbing symptoms. This has not been easy, and it is far from over. But, we are on our way to a new life of stability, routine, and comfort.
A friend once said that people are afraid of mental illnesses. People are uncomfortable because they don’t know what to say, what to expect, or how to respond in order to help. She is absolutely correct. It was all of these reasons that caused me to panic once my suspicions were shared with my husband. Yes, life has been a roller coaster for the twelve years we’ve been together and Daniel has been untreated. How, though, was life going to change once we started digging deeper?
Hiding our heads in the sand isn’t going to help anyone. It may prevent an awkward moment, but I think of all of years of pain and distress my husband has endured. I think of all he has suffered because he didn’t want to cause me to feel the same grief, to suck me into the hole of the depression he was feeling.
If you suspect that someone you care about has a mental health issue that is unchecked, I urge you to put aside your own feelings of discomfort and encourage that person to seek professional health. Life is full of uncomfortable moments, but those few awkward hours and days following a discussion about mental illness are nothing compared to the years of suffering you can save a loved one from. It is, in the end, the most compassionate step you can take.
I can say from experience that coming out on the other side, being forced to walk this incredibly difficult mile with my husband, has been well worth the effort. I’m not going to lie. There are still days I would like to pretend that bipolar disorder doesn’t even exist, much less face the fact that we have to deal with it. The truth is, though, that this will never just go away. Sometimes we have to pull up those boot straps and face reality. Today I will choose to be strong and proud instead of the ostrich with her head stuck in the sand.
This inspirational post was written anonymously by a mum who is a member of my Facebook mums group. I have full permission to share her story. If you can relate to this post and would like to share your own anonymous post please contact me.
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