Friday, March 12, 2010

I have to stay strong, I have to stay strong...

I think we all have been there and repeated that to ourselves over and over in the hope that if we say it often enough it will come true. We all have times when we feel as if the whole world is passing us by, having more fun or at least not suffering as much as we do. How we deal with it makes the difference.

Living with someone who at times suffers from (severe) depression is not easy. No matter how good your mood is, no matter how great you think your life is going, it is easy to get sucked into that black hole of desperation. Over the past 3+ years of dealing with my husband's mental health issues I have been told so many times that people admired my attitude and how I was dealing with this. What most people didn't know was that so many times it was just a front. There have been many times when his depression managed to suck me in no matter how hard we tried to avoid it. The truth is though, that it is simply NOT possible. Most importantly, there is no shame in admitting that we get overwhelmed by our loved one's problem. As much as we want to be strong for them, we need to remember that we are only human ourselves.

My light switch moment came in January of 2008. We were in the midst of one of our 'bad times' when I got a gift card for a local spa for my birthday. Well, I had gotten the card in November but just kept pushing off using it because there was 'too much other stuff to do'. Finally, I decided to go ahead and get that massage I had been dreaming of for so long. It was only a 30minute massage but those 30 minutes made a huge difference. For the first time in a long time I felt relaxed, energized and ready to conquer the world. It didn't last as long as I would have liked but it showed me how much I had been neglecting myself and my own needs. There was always someone else to take care of. My husband (who at that time kept falling asleep at random times) had to be driven around to appointments, our daughter was barely a year old. For a long time I had felt that everyone else needed me more than I needed myself.

That massage opened my eyes to the fact that by not taking care of myself I was doing everyone around me a disservice. Most importantly though, I was my own worst enemy. Ever since, I have started to make time for myself and to do things just for myself. It doesn't make me selfish. It is the smart thing to do. Running myself in the ground is not the answer.

So if you ever feel as if you are the only one that has to be strong, remember that that is not true. Take time to take care of yourself. Read a book, take a bubble bath, go for a walk by yourself. Your problems won't disappear (trust me, they will be waiting for you) but remember to take that 30 minute break every now and then. It will make you stronger and you will be ready to tackle those issues head on again. At least for a few more weeks until you get your next break.


InsideOutBlack said...

Wow! I had no idea! You are extremely strong! I've had a few family members that suffer from severe depression as well and I know how hard it is! You have really opened my eyes! I really really need to make more time for me, I know how it feels to be the "rock" I've been there. I admire you for speaking out about this! I too need a massage like you suggested awhile back. Hopefully I can get one soon! Keep it up!

Kris said...

Thank you. I decided a long time ago that us suffering through this in hiding is not good for us. There are so many people out there that are dealing with mental health problems and despite the huge number of people affected by it it is still something most people are ashamed to talk about. It won't change though until people start speaking up and stop hiding it from the world.

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