When I asked my husband to describe me in three words… That was his response.
I think mental health awareness is often focused so heavily on the sufferer, that the people around them, the ones who are watching someone they love fall to pieces… they get somewhat bypassed in the chaos. They are the ones who are there to dry the tears. They envelope you in hugs. They carry you when you can no longer walk. They literally pick you up when you fall… but where are they, when we want to raise our voices and create awareness? Why are they not on the front page – the champions of mental health. Literally… saving the lives of the ones that they love. Helping them choose recovery. Again and again and again.
I went on a date tonight. A date with my champion. The man who has picked me up off the floor of the shower, and carried me in his arms. Dripping. Crying. Lost. The man who has held me until I have fallen asleep, after I’ve woken up at 2:00am kicking and screaming with night terrors. The man who has caught me more times than I can count, when my head gives up and I pass out from anxiety.
I asked him tonight what it is like living with me. What it is like living with Him. What it is like living with us – my depression… my anxiety… and me.
“Most of the time,” he responded, “I’m just worried.” He described that as the overwhelming emotion associated with loving someone who suffers from mental illness.
This was closely followed by “lonely”.
Physically, I am there with him. I cuddle and kiss him. I laugh with him. I cry with him. But my head is chaos. It is too full and busy trying to silence the storm, that he often feels I struggle to be by his side mentally. He has supported me every step of the way in my journey. I feel like he is so proud of how far I have come… But I know that there are elements of what I have been through that are hard for him to share. Embarrassing. Overwhelming. Complicated.
I asked him what he thought of my mind.
“It’s fucked,” was his first response.
I found that a rather amusing addition to the otherwise orthodox conversation.
“Your mind is absolutely lacking in reason and logic in the face of small tasks… but at the same time… it’s brilliant. Complicated… but brilliant.”
About me. About you. About life.
Those were the words that he used to describe himself, in his role as someone in love with me, and my crazy. I disagree. I see him very differently – I see him as a rock that keeps showing me patience, love, and kindness – even when I am at my most trying, unlovable, and mean.
To adapt a quote by Elizabeth Gilbert, he is here. He loves me. He does not care if I need to stay up crying all night long, he will stay with me. If I need the medication again, he will help me take it – he will love me through that, as well. If I don’t need the medication, he will love me, too. There is nothing I can do to lose his love. He will protect me until I die, and after my death he will still protect me. He is stronger than Depression and he is braver than Loneliness and nothing will exhaust him.
“Because you don’t want someone to save you, not really. You want someone who will plant kisses on your scars, and cover your bruised body with their own, and hold you at 2:00am when your world has fallen apart, and you have cried yourself into a coma. What you really want is someone who will help you save yourself.” – E.G.
I can not imagine the strength that it requires to love us. To keep loving us. To fight this battle with us. I do not think I would have what it takes to be a champion of mental health. And for those of you who are; who are there every day. Struggling. Striving. Learning….
With everything I have… And on behalf of everyone who is suffering through this chaos… On behalf of all of us… For your patience. For your love. But most of all, for your kindness. Thank you.
I for one, would not be here without it.