His: Mental Illness
The week after telling Linz about my problem with pornography, I had a full on panic attack. I saw a doctor to help with my anxiety. He gave me medication. I met with a therapist. I never knew that my emotional health was out of wack and could be affecting my life the way it was.
My hands had been getting progressively shakier for months (very intermittently, never during a dental procedure). I had been able to do my work as a dentist. But the way my hands were that day, I knew I couldn’t work. I immediately cancelled the rest of my appointments for the day and went home. This terrified me.
My sleep had been getting worse for years. I started trying to learn to connect with my emotions better. Turns out I was feeling some level of anxiety almost constantly for as long as I could remember. I never knew any different. I always just thought it was normal.
For years, every few weeks I would go into a depression. Until this point, I didn’t call it depression. I just thought something was wrong with my attitude and me as a person. I was ashamed to have “mental problems.” I didn’t want anybody to know about any of it.
Learning to accept my mental illness, own it, and share it with others has been incredibly healing and rewarding. It helped to realize that my brain is a physical organ in my body that needs maintenance just like the rest of my body.
Her: Understanding Mental Illness
As I was reeling from betrayal, I got another punch. Danny suddenly stopped working due to the medication that he was on and the side effects. Shut up. For real? What the he** was happening to my life?!?
Danny started taking medication and it was a big fat waiting game. Wait three weeks and adjust dosage. Wait another 3, adjust. Another three, adjust. Another three, then decide to switch anti-depressants.
I was amazed at the cocktail that the psychiatrist continued to tweak and alter for all of danny’s symptoms, but man. It felt like a lifetime before Danny seemed to feel just ok.
This life that I had envisioned, perceived we had (and I felt entitled to due to all of our hard work), seemed to have disappeared within a week. All I wanted to do was get back to normal but I was slowly realizing that this was never going to happen—which freaked.me.out.
Our: What Worked & What Didn’t
Trying to keep Danny’s mental illness a secret did not work. It just added shame to the situation. Owning it and sharing with trusted people worked. This allowed us to draw strength from others and strengthen them back. Finding and sharing resources through these connections was very helpful.
Asking for help from others when we needed it worked. We developed some life long relationships by allowing others to step in and serve when we needed it.
Finding the right medication worked and helped Danny be in a position to learn to start managing his mind.
Lindsay started researching and learning about something so prevalent yet so foreign to her: mental illness. She learned a lot & began to understand Danny with a new lense, which enabled her to feel more compassion towards him.
At this point, she didn’t see therapy as something necessary for herself. She thought it made more sense to pool all assets and put them towards Danny’s healthcare and recovery. Although her intentions were pure, assuming that Danny’s recovery was the only priority was disempowering for her—and also put unbalanced responsibility on Danny to get better (so we could all get back to our old normal).
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