Mental illness. It affects so many of us and if you aren't suffering from it, I can guarantee that someone you know is. It's hard for those who have never been through it to understand what it is, or how it affects us on a daily basis, and that's OK, but what is it like to be with someone who simply cannot understand it? It's fucking hard, that's what it is.
I had suffered for years before I became a mother, however after having Max, I was diagnosed with post-natal depression - which didn't only hit me hard, it hit the kids father pretty hard too. He had never dealt with it let alone been with someone who suffering from this type of thing, so his way of dealing with it was walking away from it. To be honest, from one aspect I didn't blame him, and on the other, I hated him for it. At that time in my life when I needed him the most, he had given up.
Moving forward a year, I still live alone with the kids. I have come leaps and bounds from where I was last year. I was in a horrible mental state when I went through the separation and for good reason. I learnt how to live alone, fend for myself and two kids and most of all, learn how to take care of myself. There were countless moments of crying on my kitchen floor, screaming at the top of my lungs because I couldn't handle the stress and had my fair share of times where I didn't think that I would get through it. But I did, and I did it alone.
That new found strength made me feel like a new person. I was happier than ever, stronger than ever and was kicking ass in every aspect of my life. I could handle talking to the kids father without a drama and was not phased by anything he did, until he saw this new and improved Lauren who had ultimately learnt how to overcome the shitty feelings and thoughts that were associated with PND. He saw, he liked, and he put a ring on it (which obviously I took part in - I thought that I was ready to give it a red hot go, and that's MY choice).
We got to an amazing place in our relationship, but then every now and then my anxiety kicks in and I feel like I'm fucking up again.
When you have a second chance with the person that you're convinced is the love of your life, you jump at that shit. I friggin' loved Drew, and after being heartbroken, I had to learn to love him again. I didn't want to be one of those "what if" people, so I let him back into my life. We had started to nail the co-parenting gig, so I thought maybe that was a sign that my new found strength meant that our relationship would be a success...
Well we all know that sometimes when you try again with someone, generally some of the past will come up and you'll fight like cats and dogs, which we did (and still do sometimes). My anxiety started to enter the building because I was honestly scared to trust him again, but because I was falling for him, I knew that they were mountains that I needed to climb.
I'm gonna be completely honest, I still have my moments where aspects of my mental illness take over and I become a different person. I think that when it gets to an extreme, it's because I just want someone to hug me and let me know that I'm supported. Anxiety does take the rational thinking out of the mind, so what might seem like nothing to others, might seem like a disaster to me. As much as my mindfulness techniques have very much improved my symptoms, I think that I shouldn't be punished if I have a moment of weakness. I'm still learning.
So this is my question to you all... how do you maintain a healthy relationship with someone that doesn't understand mental illness? Do you just give up when the going gets tough or do you work through it together? I've only ever done it alone, and I don't want to jeopardise any relationship for a moment of weakness.
To me, love is love. If you love someone and you want to be with them for the rest of your life, you work through things when they're tough, together. I've never given up on anything that I want more than anything in the world, but there's not much that I can do when I'm in it alone. So as I write this with tears streaming down my face because I have worked so hard to get to where I am, yet my anxiety still affects my relationship, I have no idea what I am meant to do.
"Never give up on someone suffering from mental illness - when I is replaced with WE, illness becomes wellness".
- Shannon L. Elder
Let me leave you with that.