Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why I do what I do

I am sure that many of you have wondered why I have this blog and why in the world I would 'broadcast' that my marriage is going through difficult times. I know not many would like to talk about their spouse's mental health issues and the issues resulting from that. Most people would hide these issues and pretend to the outside world that everything is fine. My grandfather-in-law was saying a few months ago that FINE stands for Feelings I'm Not Expressing. And isn't it true that we tend to say we are 'fine' when in all reality we are not doing well at all? We have since tried to not use that word in our family anymore.

Back to why I do what I do now. I am a firm believe in being the change you want to see in the world. Even in 2010 there is still too much stigma attached to all things mental health. Especially when it comes to men and mental health. They are still supposed the be the "strong" ones and admitting to something like having depression is seen as a sign of weakness. The "just get over it" mentality is still very prevalent.

Luke was originally diagnosed with depression and GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) in November 2006. This was just a few weeks after our oldest daughter was born. Imagine me being hormonal from being pregnant and mix that with a husband whose mental health issues were untreated at that time. Things were much more manageable for a while until he left the military service in August 2007. That is when things took a turn for the worse. He had a severe nervous breakdown and his first suicide attempt in October 2007 which resulted in inpatient treatment for a few days and the first mention of bipolar disorder. Between the first hospitalization and December 2008 he was admitted to the hospital a total of 5 times. We were 'hospital-free' for a long time until a couple months ago when he stopped taking his medication for the first time ever. That resulted in us almost getting divorced (I had moved out into an apartment with our two daughters) and him being suicidal.

And that is where we are today. Picking up the pieces from that and trying to get our marriage back on track.

Again, most people would not want to talk about this. But I simply refuse to live in the shadows of my husband's mental health issues effects on our lives. I know there are more people out there who are dealing with similar situations. There is nothing worse than suffering in silence and feeling alone. Mental illness has that effect not just on those diagnosed with it but for those living with and around them. Unless we start refusing to let it run our lives we will not change anything. Strength is in numbers. We join support groups for physical illnesses, when out loved ones are in the military, mommy support groups, cloth diapering groups, Veteran groups,... You name it. There is a 'support' group for it. Why should mental health be any different?

16 comments:

Sindorella said...

I think you being willing to talk about it is a good thing. So many people stay silent and that is why others are afraid to talk to anyone when they need to. Mental illness does have an unfair stigma attached. I am dealing with trying to get my sister to get the help she needs to deal with her alcoholism right now, and most of it is cutting through this idea she has that getting into treatment or asking for help means she is weak when in reality it means the exact opposite.

I also firmly believe that people with "perfect" marriages are most likely lying to not just others, but to themselves, which only leads to ignoring issues that need to be addressed to insure a long happy marriage. I have watched at least four "perfect marriages" completely self destruct and end in divorce just over the past few years. It bothers me that we are made to feel like we should have these perfect fairy tale lives and end up feeling like failures if we don't when real life isn't like that. My marriage is not great because we never fight, never have problems, or things are perfect all the time. It is great because, despite getting on each others nerves, fighting, and being unhappy sometimes, we recognize and work on those things and love each other through them.

So, keep on talking honestly about your marriage and your struggles. I wish more people would. It would set up a much more realistic expectation for future generations.

Kati said...

I'm proud of you! It takes a lot of guts to openly write about a negative situation like this. I think it's great that you are because, you never know, you could be helping someone in a similar situation. Props to ya, girl!

Heather said...

I think it takes an incredibly strong woman to talk openly about your marriage and the issues around mental illness. I pray that your marriage comes through stronger for everything you are doing!

Heather said...

I firmly believe in strength in numbers. Just knowing you are not alone in your struggles is so edifying. The situation in my family has not reached the extreme, but it is still a frustrating and lonely feeling at times and I definitely do not want to vent to my husband. He is trying so hard already. I'll be following your journey for sure!

Kris said...

@Heather, that is exactly what it is. When all of this started I felt so alone and as if nobody would understand. While there are not many that will ever fully understand, there are many more that feel alone and are just afraid to speak out out of fear of other people's reactions

Melissa said...

Kris,

I admire you for sharing so much of your life in this blog. A lot of people suffer from depression and it affect them as much as it does the people around them. When my mother was diagnosed when I was a teen, we knew nothing of depression and had a really difficult time understanding what was happening.

I hopped over from our Frog discussion. I'll post more thoughts on our brutal honest discussion there.

I'm now following you!!

Sonia said...

I'm so glad I found your blog. I'm an anonymous husband blogger and I write at http://sonyasworld.wordpress.com about my wife, who has major depression with psychotic features. We too have been through a terrifying journey. I look forward to following your story and finding inspiration from a fellow spouse who tries to navigate mental illness like I do.

Kris said...

I am glad you have found my blog. I have only read your first entry so far but so much of that sounds so familiar. And yes, this journey at times can be extremely terrifying.

sallyo said...

I'm with you! The stigma is still unbelievable, and the spouses (I'm also one) really don't get the support and help we need. I like your definition of "FINE." I'm going to remember that one.

Kris said...

@Sallyo It's great to 'meet' another spouse! And I agree, more often than not the spouse gets overlooked (from both outsiders but also on their own doing) because the ill person takes away so much attention.

La Familia Garcia said...

That's sooo cool! I love how you made your blog so easy to find your way around. I'll have to refer my mom here. I feel like she's alone out there and needs to find support. This is great!

Kris said...

@La Familia Garcia, yes please send your mom my way! My email is open for you, her and anyone else. It is ourjourneythroughlifeblog@gmail.com

Night Owl Mama said...

talking about it may not only help you but others dealing with the same situation too. Men are just boys with bigger pants and they too have a tough time dealing with stress some manage and some need more help. Hugs for you for being a great wife to help him though his difficulties

talesofmy30s said...

thank you for sharing your story, as difficult as it might be.

Jamie said...

Kris, Thank you for your honesty. As someone with depression, I can't imagine what it's like to be married to someone with depression (although I guess my husband could tell me a little about it). Take care and keep on doing what you're doing.

AdmGln said...

I just found your blog. Good for you for writing this blog. I am a depressed person whose wife does far more than her fair share around here, and it will be interesting to read a blog from the spouse's perspective.

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