This is part one of two. My part. I feel guilty even calling this “my part” because every part of this is his.
However, the saying goes “What’s mine is yours” and in this case it does effect how my world spins in some way. Mike is wonderful. He is SO hard working. He is money conscious. He is strong and has overcome more than I can imagine in this life. He is stoic but loving. He is a hilarious and caring partner to me. He is a great father who always makes time to be silly with L. This all comes crashing down on him sometimes though because no one can be all of these things, all of the time and not have it get to them.
He has coped with anxiety and depression his whole life and throw the stress of a toddler, home ownership and a mortgage payment in and it is bound to catch up to anyone once in a while. I can always tell when he is internally struggling because he paces and cleans. Plays guitar. Shuts me out. Then paces and cleans some more. And it always passes and it’s only a matter of time until he is back to his funny, sarcastic, witty self again making me laugh so hard that I cry.
To be entirely honest, the hardest part is him wanting to be left alone. I know that makes me sound needy and selfish but I hate feeling like he is torturing himself and I just want to say something, do something that will take his pain away. This usually includes me buying him junk food, or stuff he really doesn’t need/want and trying to talk him through it. That never helps because it’s not what he needs, which makes me feel rejected and then we end up arguing which is SO not fair to him. Again it’s not about me, it’s about him. He needs to be left alone to work it out in his head, because this is an internal struggle and I have no right intruding.
But I can’t help it! Something mentally triggers in my head to want to “fix” it, make it better. I have a college education that is psychology based, I should be able to walk him through it, know what to say to pull him out of his funk. But having this background, I know very well that not everyone handles these issues the same way, and not everyone needs a hand to hold as they deal with their inner monologue. But I love him, and I want him to be at peace because we have such a beautiful life together. I worry that he is going to stop appreciating all of the fantastic things going on around him. I hate feeling helpless.
The truth is I am not helpless. I know exactly how to help him, it isn’t some mystery or secret code of his I have to crack. It is really clear he needs to be left alone, to cycle through his stream of consciousness on his own. It is just hard when we are partners in every other aspect of life to step back so he can face these problems alone. It makes me feel like I am doing the wrong thing, leaving him alone to navigate the inner workings of his mind. It’s this weird paradigm where helping actually means NOT helping.
What I need when I am sad or stressed is his attention, his hand to walk me through it, junk food and to be bought things I really don’t need or want. I focus so hard on treating L as an individual, letting her make her own decisions, remembering to speak with her before I change her diaper or clothes so she understands boundaries. Sometimes I forget to give Mike the same courtesy of giving him what he needs instead of what I feel like he SHOULD need.
Mike- I will give you space when you need it and be there with arms and ears wide open, when you need it. I love you, always.
At the beginning of this blog I mentioned it was part one of two. So let me explain, when I pitched the idea about writing how I struggle to be what he needs when he is depressed or anxious, he was less than thrilled because how could I portray his depression and anxiety properly? I told him about how writing about my post-partum anxiety helped me tremendously to not only get it “off my chest” but also see the incredible amount of support I received. We spoke about how great my other blogs have been for our relationship in helping him understand my thoughts and feelings in a way that I am not so great at verbalizing. He likes to call it “verbal judo.” But my writing makes how I am feeling a little more definitive and clear.
So, Mike is guest writing a blog that I will post soon because he is right, when it comes to explaining his mental health, I could never do him justice. Now, for anyone who knows Mike, you know he is a man of few words. I personally am so grateful he agreed to this so I can get a little more insight into the way his brain works especially in his moments of despair. Hopefully, this blog “mini- series” will help other couples and/or individuals be more open to starting a conversation about mental health. Every time I get information that helps me to understand him more, it allows me to love him better. Add incredibly brave to the long list of wonderful things this man is..