Is it a privilege or something of a minor burden? I know that question sounds VERY selfish… and it probably is, but I find that as the person who is considered healthy it crosses the mind. In the grand scheme of things I am VERY thankful that I am blessed with a healthy and balanced mind (and for the most part body and soul). I have never experienced the lows of true clinical depression or the roller coaster of bipolar. I admit to anxiety here and there, but I think that is honestly a part of the human condition. We get anxious, we fight through it. Sometimes we win and find coping strategies, sometimes it overtakes us and we need assistance. Like I mentioned in my therapy blog post previously, there is absolutely NO shame in that!
But… at the same time… you are the outsider looking in, the cheerleader with no power to change the process, the speed, the outcome. There is a feeling of absolute dependence from time to time, I find. I am dependent on Ken to follow through on his process, to embrace his changes in order to attain his healthy lifestyle. I am relegated to the sidelines often when he comes home with a new strategy that only he can accomplish.
Yet, at the same time I am instrumental to his process. I am there to remind him, to support him, to pick up the pieces when something doesn’t work or he finds the burden of daily responsibilities too heavy in tandem with these new skills he so desperately needs and wants.
There is a weird experience of being silenced and yet heard at the same time. I can speak and it is a toss up as to whether or not my words will reach him at times, not by choice but a combination of his own existing issues (like the hearing disorder) and a lack of skills to process my ideas and my speed (and yes, I am well aware that I am a max level multi tasker with a high level of self motivation and perfectionism…). Sometimes it is my suggestion that is the solution, sometimes it is my confusion that exposes an issue… But at the same time, my methods, my “ways” aren’t heard or can’t be assimilated.
I know I have had my moments where I have wondered, is it so horrible, having the support… therapists, psychiatrist, doctor, people asking how you are (and sometimes even sitting long enough for it to be more than simple courtesy). Having a team and a network of people to all want you to be better, worried about you, working with you?
And then… I blink… and I remember the fear we had when Ken admitted those horrible thoughts were back. That he had plans in his head with manageable steps that would lead to me no longer having my family intact. That those ideas and such will never quite fade away. Where I have momentary doubt and frustrations he has the inability to truly walk away from it. Medication and vitamins and therapy, a lifetime of having to consciously change patterns that are easy (or easier) to ones that are safe or healthy… and all of a sudden I am reminded that maybe I should just look to my own support group instead.
And that is what I think is crucial for the one who is “healthy”. You may not have a team of medical professionals but you CAN have the ear of a friend. It is not wrong or bad or even embarrassing to admit to a good friend that the responsibilities you face weigh heavily. Or admit even to the person who is struggling through mental illness that you have fears and concerns. Or maybe visit a therapist to unload (We have gone a few sessions as a couple. It is amazing) It is hard to celebrate the victories and progression if you do not face the uncertainty and the concern.
So the benefits, when you are not sleep deprived, worried about your family and feeling guilty about not seeing how ill he really was sooner (yup still dealing with that one, even though Ken AND his therapist say that is not on me. I just love him so much and it feels like I let him down by not noticing sooner… and then he reminds me that his like max skills as deceiving even himself subconsciously when in the throes of depression), are amazing when you are the healthy one… YOU get to be there as they get better and better and reap the benefits of that. YOU are their main support and that means so much to you both. YOU are (apparently) an inspiration to him and (sometimes) others… or at least so you are told. And most of all, YOU are not chained to a disorder that could haunt you for the rest of your life. Instead you are instrumental in helping someone else break free as much as they can.
My experiences have led me to realize that those moments of “woe is me” and “why am I having to always be the healthy one” are crucial in that they remind me that I am human. I can have those down times, they are ok, they are not horribly selfish and meaningless. Rather, it is part and parcel of dealing with something so life changing and, hopefully in the end, life improving. I am not guilty of horrible things, rather I am working through my own process of healing, because in the end I was hurting too. Just my hurt is in turn healed as Ken heals himself.
So, once again… for those who are seeking help… we salute you… ok we send out tons of hugs. (I am not much of a saluter)… you are not alone, you have us in your corner… and for those of you who are supporting those brave and somewhat broken souls… well you aren’t alone either. Our shoulders are here, our ears open and hugs are always available! NO ONE needs to suffer alone! We LOVE YOU!