This blog post has been written by wife, and edited (ever so slightly for grammar!) by myself:
Dealing with somebody who has anxiety and depression, can be just as tough on you, as it is for the person who has the illness. I know this first hand. The past year has been a series of highs and lows that have been tough to bare. The highs arrive when we’re thinking things have come to an end, only to have the low the next day, when we realise we aren’t quite there yet.
I have been with Steven for nine and a half years and for over eight of those years, he was my version of perfect. I have loved him since the day I met him and to me there is nobody better. Nobody better for me, nobody I would rather be the father to my children… No man compares. Steven was always super calm, super rational and some might say relatively emotionless, but now he’s very different. Since getting poorly he is a very different man, but through his battle of a lifetime, he is doing his best to come out the other side a better, more rounded and more emotional person. But it’s been tough, really tough.
Some days I just want to run. But then I see a glimpse of my hero and I know that I can’t.
Over the past year I have learnt some things about myself and I feel that I have changed a lot because of them. I have learnt; to get less stressed… to be patient… to be more understanding… to be less reliant on others… who my friends really are… who actually cares… who doesn’t… how to handle crisis situations (better than I ever imagined I could)… to let Steven be free, because sometimes he just has to do things for him.
I love Steven. In sickness and in health. And I have to believe (and I take encouragement from his progress) that I will get him back, and more than that, I will get an even better version of him, new and improved. I will also be a better version of me.
I know that everybody’s situation is different, but I have found the following things really useful for me and Steven. Maybe they could be useful for others?
1) When someone with anxiety is struggling and starts stammering or getting worked up, prompt them to pause and to breathe in through their nose. This helps them reset.
2) Encourage exercise, on the days that Steven has worked out, he is a much more positive person.
3) Sometimes people with this illness become irrational, very irrational, so be prepared for that. Remember that not everything they say is truly what they think, it’s just how they feel at that moment when their chemicals are all out of sync. Be understanding, say you get it, try to rationalise it without upsetting. Always remain calm. If you stay calm, it’s easier for them to become calm. Trying to deal with two worked up people is harder than one, so at the moment forget about yourself and think only of them.
4) Never, ever, ever say “calm down” “pull yourself together” “it’s all in your head”. Never get aggressive, stuff like “go f*ck yourself” will do the most damage. They can’t help what’s happening. Remembering that it is an illness like any other, allows you to be more sympathetic.
5) Find something that they love to do and encourage it. Steven loves to write, it’s his outlet, his therapy, and he’s BRILLIANT! This is what he wants to do as a career, so it has given him a goal. For Steven, writing – more than anything else – has helped him express how he is feeling.
Remember, you are not alone. There are so many people who want to help you, as well as the people who want to help the person whose poorly. Accept this help, you need it. Don’t expect it from the person suffering, they have enough on their plate. Make the most of good friends and good family. They love you and they will do anything for you. When it comes to those people who don’t help out, or make you feel worse, restrict your time with them. Avoid the negativity.
Finally, do something for you; work out, get your nails done, go for walks, have tea and cake, go on a girls holiday (I’m off to Italy with my best friend and I cannot wait!)… Whatever makes you happy. Because you need to be okay, if you want to be able to help.
Life brings ups and downs, but everything will work out for the best.
Love to all.