For all those who suffer mental illness, we all know keenly the effect on ourselves and the toll it takes on every part of our being.
As Bart Simpson says, it sucks. I’ll add big time to the end of that.
We go through so many dark emotions, dark places and the journey through is lined with traps and snares to keep you in that horribly bleak place, alone. Waking up of a morning to be met with a cold, empty feeling in the pit of your stomach, almost that your sliding down into a black void and better strap yourself in, it’s going to be bumpy. You’re going in.
Although I am conscious of how it affects others around me, I was brought up short when listening to Lady M talk to the psychiatrist the other day and the effect it has had on her, for the past couple of years especially. She saw my illness before I ever did, years before we put a name on it, and I was unaware she knew anything about it. I always tried to hide my down moments from her and the rest of the family, thinking she never knew. She always did know, it turns out.
The specifics may have eluded her, when I’d sit on my own late into the night or in the car and let out what was bothering me, she always knew. Better than I did myself, as she thought I was prone to mental health issues.
Even at my darkest times, when I’d tell her she’s better off without me saddling her and the kids, that for their sake she should go, she never wavered, telling me unequivocally that we are a team who are better together. Not in the same way the disparate parts of the UK are, her being English and me Scottish, but as a unit, a strongly bound loving partnership that would make it through together. We are one.
Then to see this strong woman almost reduced to tears talking about losing her partner, her husband and best friend to this Bastard of an Illness at times, was a lot for me to take. Sometimes I am so much in the dark place that I fail to acknowledge the depths of crap she goes through daily and struggles with constantly. It has an effect and not a good one, staying strong for everyone else, watching someone you love and care about traverse the lower reaches of their psyche, wondering if that time you go to work will be the last time you see them alive.
We must be grateful for those around us, for if they are sticking with us at our worst, they are seeing something worth loving. At my worst, I can irritable, resentful and remote from everyone, which must be damned hard for others close to me to understand or take. For their sakes, I try to hide it, swallow it and retreat away from them to avoid them getting hurt but that in itself doesn’t do any good.
I am truly grateful for Lady M being there. I can never agree that I deserve her or shake the feeling that she could do better, be happier elsewhere but her being there for me – for me – is something which deserves my immense gratitude and respect.
To everyone out there with an MH sufferer, I salute you. You’re one of a kind.