This is another reality that has become very clear to myself and Ken (through speaking with his therapist). There is no true cure for clinical depression (I have discussed this before). There is managing and something of a remission. But there is no out and out we are done with this YIPPEE we are free. And that is ok. This is something we have come to grips with, rationalized about, realized the reality and come to a point of peace with.
Invisible illnesses, mental illnesses, are frankly often something we don’t work to eradicate, rather work to manage, maintain and at the best control. Known quantity to most people… right?
The things that catch us unawares are those that are often symptoms and learned behaviours. Some so deeply ingrained that really you are not going to have them go away.
For our family it is the ever looming issue of PROCRASTINATION. Now, I am by nature, NOT a procrastinator. I am a go at it, get it done kind of girl. Nothing is more satisfying than tackling the issues (even in parts and over time) and managing to hit deadlines and goals. Give me steps and processes and I am your girl. Give me a simple form and a pen and I will sit down and it RIGHT THEN AND THERE.
Ken… well… I remember back in Canada (when we thought he was better, but apparently he was not in hindsight) when he had a form to fill out – something simple, to go back to the government about something to do with his status. Being an adult and all that I let him be, until the date was coming up. He rationalized the not doing it yet as – he was mad at the government for this seemingly duplicate and annoying form so he didn’t fill it out yet… to stick it to them???
Ok… rational and somewhat healthy adult mind goes – WHHHHHAAAAA? What it really was was that Ken’s full blown inclination to procrastinate was totally kicked into high gear. Why do now what can be done the day before a deadline (and believe you me… that is something that drives me MAD – I was a paper done in college weeks early kind of girl).
The reality of our situation is that procrastination is forever a part of Ken and his personality. Where I am like – let’s get this DONE. He is always on the other side tugging back and trying to slow down. It is subconscious (which makes it even harder to deal with) and persistent. It is also diminished as he gets healthier. BUT it is not going to be “cured”.
I think we all have these little… personality quirks. That trip us up. Kid you not, I am really horrible at saying no. I have a hard time hurting feelings (some jokingly say I am stereo-typical Canadian to the core). This leads to emotional investment in making people happy to a degree that is not always healthy for me.
It is on me to work hard to diminish the pull to be something of a people pleaser. Yet, I am always going to want to do it. That is the reality of it.
I think that we are used to adjusting and altering these personality quirks in a “regular” lifestyle. But, you add in mental illness and there is almost a feeling of let down or sadness that this more minor issue (compared to full blown depression) cannot be eradicated.
It can be hard to realize that BETTER or DIMINISHED is a good thing. In fact, compared to the overwhelming pressures of depression these smaller issues are so less dramatic and dangerous on their own that they really are NOT the huge deal they may seem to be when isolated and discussed.
We cannot expect the removal of a personality trait from a person who is NOT suffering from something like depression, bipolar, anxiety… anymore than we can look within ourselves and see to the destruction of some less than savory traits of our own in a healthier mind and body.
Our personalities are a combination of the good, bad and indifferent. While we can improve and alter ourselves we have to realize that we are who we are. The frustration at being unable to completely change a character trait is acceptable, but only if we also work equally as hard to control it. Blame cannot be liberally placed on it being who we are. Instead we need to know that about ourselves, accept outside support and realize that life is what we make of it.
So while Ken works against his instinctual need to procrastinate I have an opportunity to say WAIT you know we want this done in time. It is not easy on either side. He feels an urge not to, and when it becomes a sore spot often seems to be angry at me, when in reality he is angry at himself. Me, I am battling my need to be super fast and ahead of the curve and my frustration that once again Ken seems to blame me for his action. But we talk it out, we share and we try. And that is all I can ask for.