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What It's Actually Like Living With Mental Illness Alongside Someone Who's Also Living With Mental Illness

Hey! Just wanted to come on and offer a second side of the story. One that we often forget about because we need to focus on the individual who's having the experience at this time. We glaze over the support workers in an effort to give the person in obvious dire straits our maximum attention. Of course we do. That's just human nature. Tbh I would think it was weird if we didn't. We want to care. We desire to care. We even think we feed off of giving care and support to someone else. It's all I knew for years and years. Care for others FIRST. Other people's problems are more IMPORTANT. You are strong enough to figure it out for yourself AND help others.

SPOILER ALERT: you are not. No one is.

So for the longest time, I believed this. I believed that I could fix and manage everyone's problems and challenges. I would find solutions in accommodating others before myself on the regular. I would offer my support unwaveringly and at the cost of my own mental health. I would regularly and deliberately keep to myself because I didn't want someone else to have to hear me express my feelings. It made me uncomfortable to even think about doing it to be honest. Divulging my true whole heart and mind. My biggest fear- what if they don't really listen? Easier to just keep it locked up tight. Safer, really.

Except for when you're no longer getting joy from - or realizing you never really got joy from caring for others more than yourself. Solving other people's problems wasn't exactly my job to do. Although I thought I was pretty good at it thanks ;) But alas, you can not fix or solve anything. It's painful. And fucking uncomfortable to now be in this position where I'm completely looking after myself and myself only because that's who needs it right now (and always, but sometimes I can share a bit).

When Michael went to the hospital the first time I was traumatized. It seemed more like a freak accident than anything and that's all the doctors really chalked it up to be. When we went the second time it felt different. It felt really powerful because of the way Michael stood up for himself. He fought for himself. So unbelievably hard. It was devastating, and daunting, and confusing, and hopeful and inspiring all at the same time. But do you want to know the most frustrating thing of all? That inherent caring human thing ... We're waiting to be triaged and Michael looks over at an individual who just came in with some friends and is bleeding from the leg. Without even blinking he goes, "oh my god they need to go before me." The triage nurse assured us, they'd be okay and they would take care of it. It was this painful moment of realization that for so so long this man hasn't believed his story was worth sharing and his feelings weren't worth being heard. For so long, it didn't matter who tried to support or help him, he felt trapped and alone. It is not easy to pull yourself through this. And really it is for a lot of it, dragging yourself day-to-day. Riding the rollercoaster of emotion not knowing where it's going to stop who you're going to argue with what you're going to cry about and how anxiety will show up at a moment's notice. And I've rode this with him, we both have for one another.

So here we are, working on self worth. Another night in the hospital, a couple but not nearly enough one on one counseling appointments, a medication change, new doctor, more medication, couples therapy, and dialectal behavioral therapy on the books for the winter - we're moving along. Sharing the good and bad, the highs and lows, the monotone... Because that's what it is, living our lives to our best possible ability, and helping eachother along the way.

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2 comments

  • You are so brave. And I am so so proud of you. You never did say too much. About you. But your button, you can’t pour from an empty cup, is such an important realization. I’ve learned through work that I cant solve everyone’s problems, cant make everyone else happy. Sometimes I sit with a pad and paper and just take notes, listen. And I can see, and I’ve been told, that it is very cathartic for the person talking. I’ve haven’t done a thing. Haven’t changed anything. But they take the opportunity to share, in a safe place, and they feel better. It sounds like you are realizing the importance of taking this opportunity for yourself. I am always here to listen, even if you have to say “I just want you to listen”. I love you to the moon and back 💞

    • Nicole
  • I love the confidence you have to actually recognize how much this affects you .., you both. Being selfish when it comes to mental health is your recovery! Amazing people you both are! Keep on this journey!! You’re doing great things! ❤️❤️❤️

    • Cathy