Living with Someone Else’s Mental Illness – Aaron’s story

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It’s more than grumpy.

It’s the panic attacks we have lived through. It’s the darkness of the depression. It’s the cutting. It’s the days I have missed work to be home with her because I was scared to leave her alone. It’s the irrational arguments. It’s the stress and anxiety. It’s more than just grumpy.

My wife is diagnosed with general Anxiety disorder, PTSD, agoraphobia, OCD, and depression.

It is hard sharing a house with these illnesses. It’s hard sharing my wife with these illnesses. But that is the reality of living with my wife who has a mental illness. I have to share her with her disease.  It’s hard sharing my wife with such an invisible illness.

I forget that her anger is not always at me, and sometimes is just there and irrational. I forget that she lives in a more heightened state of anxiety than I do. I forget that she has trauma to work through. I don’t mean to forget, but I do.

I love my wife. Even with the hard stuff, I am determined to be a better husband. See, I have to share her with her mental illness, and she has to share me with mine. We are both living with someone with a mental illness.

Sometimes our moods clash and we fight. Sometimes my apathy feeds her self-worth issues. Sometimes I don’t know what to do when she is having a panic attack. Sometimes my mood swings drive her up the wall. It’s all part of navigating living with mental illness.

There are always good times. My wife is an amazing mom, and I love seeing her play, teach and love on our boys. There are dance parties, Lego building, and coloring. It’s not always this hard, oppressive thing to live with my wife and her mental illness.

Understanding mental illness has meant that I know there is no quick fix to make my wife “better”.  There is treatment, therapy, medication, and healthy lifestyles that contribute to her health and fight the hard stuff. It’s a long term thing though, and that means that we live through the hard stuff knowing that it isn’t forever, no matter how much it feels that way.

The hard stuff will come and go, and it has gotten easier over time, both with us learning how to navigate her mental illness and because of the ongoing treatment and therapy she is involved in.

No matter how hard it is in the moment, it gets easier.  I don’t want to paint a bleak picture of living with someone with mental illness, but the reality for me is that it is hard. Not impossible or too much, just hard.

I need the support of family and friends, just as Sarah does, as we live through this illness.If you know someone who is living with a mental illness or living with someone with a mental illness, please be there for them.

It’s a tricky, rough road to walk, and the love and support you can give is important. Don’t cut them off. Instead, be there as Christ would be. I love my wife and I wouldn’t trade her for anyone in the world. Even with her mental illness, she is one of the best people I have ever known. Her mental illness can’t change that, no matter how hard it can be to live with.

13135602724_81a94d47fc_zAaron is a husband, father, believer, writer, nerd, coffee chugger. Just a typical Jesus obsessed, question everything, bipolar, poet-punk. You can find his blog here and he’s on twitter @culturalsavage

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  • I know many of these feelings as well. My wife has a mental illness (bipolar disorder). She’s doing quite well now, but I can relate to this post, Aaron. Thanks for sharing. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.