Living with depression & anxiety can mean having to think a little differently about things.
From time to time, my desire to think only about myself means I neglect the people who mean the most to me. This desire to look inward rather than outward has earned me a reputation for being self-centered and perhaps a little detached. And it’s true. I am self-centered and a little detached in a needy kind of way.
There’s a big problem in living with depression and anxiety and it’s not just the pervading sadness and fear. Add a whopping dose of guilt to the mix along with a dash of desperation (alright, a lot of desperation) and you’re starting to get a glimpse of the turmoil.
I think Harold sometimes likes it a little too much when I’m struggling. My sense of guilt for not being “well” means he has a drawer full of freshly washed underwear and a cupboard full of freshly ironed shirts. My zealousness around the house means that no self-respecting bacteria could survive and everything around the house is precisely where I believe it should be.
On the other side, when things get hard I start to forget stuff. Important stuff. Like where I put that bill! Or that USB stick! Or, that little wheel of whiteout!
If magic words like, “just leave stuff alone” could open Aladdin’s cave, we’d be rich beyond measure. But I can’t leave stuff alone. I must put it away. And, the worse I feel, the more stuff I have to put away and the worse it gets, the more I forget and the more stuff I have to put away..!
Just this week I realised that my closet space will not hold all my clothes. The space I have relies on a percentage of my clothing being in the laundry cycle. If everything is washed, ironed and ready for ‘filing’ there’s nowhere to err… file it.
I know my “behaviour” frustrates Harold. I can tell because he gets “that look”. But, because he knows that this behaviour can be indicative of my degree of fragility, he sucks up his frustration into “the look” and exits the room a little more purposefully than he entered it.
It’s lucky that Mr Adorable has patience (believe it or not) beyond measure. Not everyone is as lucky him to have a spouse whose guilt drives them to housewifely perfection. A spouse whose inward focus continually examines their own behaviour and rather than acting like an idiot stands awkwardly detached. (Unless there’s been a dose of chardonnay carelessly administered!)
To the outside observer, my behaviour seems reasonable. But it’s an act. The real me would be dancing on tables, making fun of the artwork, feeding red cordial to your children and laughing hysterically as they destroyed your daisy patch! Of course, there would be “a look” for that wife too!!
But, from now on when I see “the look” I’m going to accept it as affirmation that he does understand. That he’s willing, out of his love for me, to endure an illness that from time-to-time almost dries up the real me until I can be watered back to life.
In return, I don’t need to do anything. He needs no payment, other than the love I already have for him. Even when the circumstances seem impossible, just loving each other needs to be enough.
Today, something from the wife of Charles Lindberg, Ann Morrow Lindberg: “Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was, nor forward to what it might be, but living in the present and accepting it as it is now.”
Deb Shugg is an awarded business woman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety. To contact Deb click here.
If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor. If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.