Tracking my own instability

August 29, 2016 § Leave a comment

I live with a husband who suffers from depression. By some miracle we were able to fall in love 20 years ago. It is that love that endures today. I struggle with my own mental health on a daily basis. I don’t know what effect my husband’s depression has on my own state of mind. I have never known what it would be to live with a mentally healthy person. I have only loved, and been loved, by people who suffer from chronic conditions of mental illness.

I wonder if there are any truly mentally healthy people out there? So, then I have to ask myself, could it actually be any better than it is right now? And, if that is the case, how am I going to make the best of the situation I find myself in?

Right now I am triggered and unhappy on a daily basis. Whatever respite I find from my husband’s depression is invaded with my own unhappy interpretation of the condition of my life.

I am working hard everyday and I am exhausted. I would like to retire but that is out of the question. I am facing at least 3 years of major renovations on our home, probably more like 5 years. We hope we have enough money to get them all done before we run out.

Last week we finally pulled the permit to implement our plans. Since then I have been feeling even more out of sorts than usual. Today I got up at 4 am to prepare our rental suite, which amounts to an extra part time job for me to help make ends meet.

I have been trying to recover from burnout after 10 years of graduate school.

I continue to struggle to just get daily chores done and practice some modicum of self care.

I could use mental health support, but I can’t afford the time or energy to actually find a counsellor or therapist. I know from experience when I get this low and distressed that I will turn it around and I will feel better by implementing a few simple steps. The first step is admitting I need help and acknowledging that my point of view has been corrupted by my own interpretation of my husband’s depression. I cannot demand that he not be depressed and I can’t demand that he make our working together more pleasant.

I just need help to get my own mojo back and not be so dependent and distractible by his moods, attitudes and behaviour. I need my own base to work from instead of leaning on him.

the loneliness of living with insomnia

August 8, 2016 § Leave a comment

It is hard to describe the loneliness of living with an insomniac. There is no mutual bed time. That is, there is no time when you are both in bed and ready to sleep. There is never a time that you fall asleep together. You live in parallel worlds, never quite feeling in synch because one of you is asleep or the other of you is sleep deprived.

For years I have fought to find a commonality with my insomniac husband.

I typically go to bed at 10 pm and am asleep by 11. Especially on work nights, when I know I am going to be up at 5 am. He typically does not go to bed until 2 am or later. He gets up with just enough time to get ready to go to work, and we are always rushed to get to work on time because he just cannot get out the door with enough time for a relaxed drive to work. I find the possibility of being late for work anxiety provoking, so we are generally tense and unhappy on our drive to work.

His insomnia wakes me up. I will go to bed and put myself to sleep. Alone. Every night. Later, he will be creaking around the house, running the bath, and rustling clothing as he gets ready for bed. I will wake up and feel this awful wave of loneliness and inadequacy. The way my brain processes the situation is that I am not worth him wanting to come to bed and spend time with me. I am somehow inadequate. Deeply, irrevocably inadequate. This plunges me into a state of panic and despair. I am triggered into childhood trauma of abandonment and betrayal. He would get into bed and fall asleep while I would lie there in a state of contained emotional turmoil. Eventually I would fall back to sleep, but not without a huge expenditure of emotional and mental effort. At the same time, because it was so late, I would be afraid of waking him up.

Eventually I opted to make my own bedroom and sleep in my own bed. At least then I could sleep all night and not go through a nightly ritual of feeling rejected. However, we have never really talked it through and I still, after 20 years, feel deep loneliness in my relationship with my husband.

a Sunday dinner

August 1, 2016 § Leave a comment

Yesterday I attended a lovely dinner with my family. In attendance: My 93 year old Uncle, 90 year old Aunti, 85 year old Mother, 67 year old Cousin1, 65 year old Cousin2, and 63 year old Sister. Also in attendance, 64 year old Old Family Friend (OFF).

If you have never spent time with your geriatric relatives, I highly recommend it. Everything moves at a different pace. Canes are important. Words must be chosen carefully, enunciated clearly, and spoken louder. Be prepared for small appetites. Don’t get hung up on issues of ideology, politics, or selective memory. They have lasted this long, why not let them keep what they have.

It is hard to explain the aura of these old folks, but it seems like time itself has slowed down. There is no rushing, no urgency, no crisis. If you decide to move everyone from one room to another it will be more like the tide washing out of one room and into another.

Family history can be opaque, the truth of past family relationships obscured by mythical embellishment. However, with these elderly relatives, the truth can appear in unguarded moments. I glanced at my Mother’s resting face and was surprised to read deep sadness in her unconscious expression. In that moment my Sister spoke to her and her entire countenance brightened into a big smile.

My Aunti and Uncle have always appeared to me to be a stalwart, conventional family, my own mythologized definition of ‘normal’. We had finished dinner and were dishing up desert when my Aunti announced that she was not able to help my Mother when she was succumbing to mental illness back when we were children because she was struggling herself with her own inability to take care of her children. She recounted that she was deeply ashamed because a babysitter had to be brought in to the house to take care of the kids after her fourth child was bornĀ while she was still in the house. As Aunti shared these remembrances I saw a dark shadow of pain cross her face.

Cousin1 is afflicted with a strange disease that is covering his body with an ugly rash. Apparently the rash is weeping cancerous cells. Medical treatments have failed to arrest the disease and they do not know how long he has to live. Cousin1 was mentally disabled as a young child when he suffered through a childhood illness. I have never been clear on what the illness was – rheumatic fever? Anyway, the illness left him with brain damage that meant he was never able to complete his education, get a job, have a girlfriend, or live on his own. Despite these hardships, Cousin1 has one of the most buoyant dispositions of anyone I know. For the dinner party he brought my Sister a gift of two iconic Doors albums. It was wonderful to hear that music played on the record player while we hung out together looking at photo albums.

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