Where have you been my darling young one?
When you live with depression and anxiety you go places others dare not travel.
I’ve never wanted to write a song more than when I read the lyrics of Bob Dylan. The more I read them (and sing them in my head) the more I feel connected to my inner self. Which, interestingly enough isn’t a place with which I’m unfamiliar.
Living with depression and anxiety, often pulls us into an introspective assessment of our value to the world. The ongoing questioning of our worth and the meaning of our life beyond the obvious contributions are all called to account and often found lacking. We’re known to question our negative attributes (everyone has them) highlighting them as the cornerstones of our personality. Our positive offerings are assessed as being good luck and timing rather than anything positive in our nature. In fact, I’ve been known to find it easier to believe it’s the gullibility of others that makes me successful rather than anything I have achieved through hard work and determination.
Mr Wonderful is often frustrated by my ability to see negative things in myself that are so small and insignificant that only my most intimate friends would know they exist. He’s frustrated by my willingness to believe stuff about myself that cannot be substantiated by known facts. And he hates that I live with an illness that’s dominant symptom is an overwhelming desire to believe nothing but the worst of myself.
Of course that’s what a ‘significant other’ is supposed to think. Only a person who loves you will overlook all your ‘crap’ and seek out only what’s good. Or is it?
Relationships can be tricky things for the able-bodied but when you factor in a debilitating illness (any debilitating illness) there can be a dynamic shift that isn’t always helpful. For anyone.
Depression, anxiety and other emotional illness are steeped in misunderstanding and negativity. They’re often thought to be created by incorrect belief systems and thinking. And, we seem happy as a community to accept this as fact and believe that a healthy dose of ‘perspective’ will make us better. Understandably, in a relationship it’s possible that this belief creates an irreconcilable conflict over who’s not ‘trying to get better’.
Sadly, it’s also possible to form a style of co-dependence that relies on one party being sick and the other being strong. When it’s more important for the strong one to be strong than the un-well one to be well, you have to wonder about how this influences the individuals within the relationship.
In respect of depression and anxiety there are a number of factors at play. It’s a known fact that I’ve relied on Mr Wonderful’s strength to keep me grounded at ‘peak’ times. And it’s because of his relentless desire for me to be well that I self monitor and independently seek out improved treatment. Together we understand that I have a treatable illness and that the success of our relationship is based on our ability to care for one and other. Not the ability of one to care for the other.
There’s no complete answer to where we go when we’re living with depression and anxiety. The things we see and do when we’re seeking out answers can be difficult to understand. However, there’s no doubt, it’s a hard rain that’s gonna fall.
Hard to resist from BOB Dylan: Oh, what did you meet my blue-eyed son? Who did you meet, my darling young one? I met a young child beside a dead pony, I met a white man who walked a black dog, I met a young woman whose body was burning, I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow, I met one man who was wounded in love, I met another man who was wounded in hatred, And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.
If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.
If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.
(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)