Depression and all its lovely effects has created a wee bit of a control freak (in some respects) out of Ken… I come by this more, naturally? There are all sorts of personalities in the world, which is marvelous. It is the meshing of these personalities into cohesive, and (hopefully) healthy relationships that is the trick. Especially when you take into consideration that we are all always changing and evolving. The Me of 10 years ago is certainly NOT the Me of now. (Which I do believe is a VERY good thing… there is all sorts of positive to growth and change, if it is productive and fulfilling)
Control is something that someone in the throes of deep depression holds onto like a lifeline. It is that control of every moment, every choice, change and challenge that allows them to remain muddled and mired in a quagmire of bad thought patterns and self depredation. BUT, control is also the way out – control of one’s self and one’s negative thoughts, actions and patterns.
Control for a “healthy person” can be both a good thing and a bad thing in this situation as well. Take over too much of the control and you release the other person with too few responsibilities and choices to learn new life patterns and growth. Control too little and you join the spiral.
It is a very delicate balancing act in the beginning. You want security. You want to KNOW that you are in a moment of calm and support but at the same time fear that the other person is going to yank all that back and tunnel into the same destructive life patterns that led you both to the brink (I know it sounds VERY dramatic, but in our case… it really was. I still struggle with guilt –HERE– of not seeing how bad he had gotten and the fear of potentially losing him, we were really way too close to that for any sort of comfort). Marriage and friendship are built on trust and often in the middle of a bought of depression that very foundation is shaken and tested.
That is the reality of this invisible illness. Even now we battle over control from time to time. When will this be done, how much do I need to know. Can I control enough that I feel our foundation is sound? Can he have enough control that he is able to test those new limits to extend them and still be an adult in a relationship where that is his right?
There is a constant level of processing going on when I am dealing with balance and issues and goals and responsibilities. It can become tiring, this constant need to process everything and insure that the decisions being made are not only the correct ones, but that they are followed through on.
One of the huge concessions or maybe compromises I have found, is that Ken and I process everything differently. I am a very organized and list led person. I love my list of to do items neat and tidy and there for me to see. I like to have it be all encompassing, the length is not daunting for me. Rather, it is a lovely reminder of what I get done, and a path to follow to lead to future finishes. Ken… not so much.
A lengthy bullet point list becomes a mine field of potential failure and procrastination. Where I see micro managing as a wonderful guiding light Ken sees it as being controlled and in turn overwhelmed. Processing is important, if you avoid it you lead right on into procrastination and avoidance. If you over process you fall into obsession and mistakes are made that way.
I am always in the middle of some sort of processing. Be it the kids, homeschool, Ken and his health, the future, the present… my brain is always organizing, always wanting to find a path of least resistance that leads to the most DRAMA FREE result (of a positive nature, of course). The process for each and every task becomes more belabored when you add in a personality that is trying to rewrite negative ingrained behaviors.
We have had to find ways to make things manageable. A list of 3 things per day, breaks in discussion of goals instead of a lengthy one time discussion. Processing has to become a joint effort when the decision and the control are shared.
Which leads to the hardest (at times) thing of all – RELEASING. How much of our problems and emotional turmoil is due to inability to let go? We make decisions, process a problem, find the control we figure is correct and still we agonize. There is a taste of the Justification and Proving Oneself I discussed previously in all of this –HERE-. When we are constantly agonizing over every choice, every unique point of our lives instead of embracing we rarely release and enjoy.
Releasing seems to be a key skill that is lacking when depression is severe. I have seen Ken hold onto feelings, onto doubts and wrong choices like they are lifelines. I find myself mired in moments of retaining something absolutely NOT beneficial to any sort of positive movement when I mire myself down with mistakes, worries and pre-conceived notions pertaining to failure. Healthy or sick, happy or sad… we need to nurture the ability to release. Not only is it of benefit to let go of the sad but it is also good to share and release happy thoughts, feelings and opinions. We get back a lot of what we put into the world.
So our lives are a constant cycle of these sometimes difficult processes. That is a somewhat exciting and daunting thought. We have control… but we need to relinquish control. We have to release but hold onto things at the same time. It is all processed in a way unique to the individual… the mind is such an amazing thing.