This topic is one that admittedly I am daily learning about, even as a mental health professional. I graduated with a master’s degree in counseling, but I have not mastered the intricacies of mental health. However, I do believe with every ounce of my being that the topic is worth talking about and not shoving under a rug.
Growing up I knew what depression and anxiety looked like. Let’s be honest, most of us know someone, if not ourselves, who experiences one or both at some point in their lives. But what about schizophrenia, multiple personality disorder (dissociative identity disorder as it is called today), or even bipolar? To talk about these mental health disorders would illicit looks, judgment, and perhaps even a gasp from people. What I want to know is what exempts you, me, or someone we love from any of these disorders and others not mentioned? Nothing, because we are all human. And having a diagnosis of such doesn’t mean we’re any less human either.
I became personally acquainted to one of these mental health disorders when my now husband was diagnosed with Bipolar II along with another more socially acceptable diagnosis, ADHD. I found out after we had recently gotten engaged. I remember thinking that love is unconditional. I am consciously making the decision to marry him because I love him, because I see in him this light that glows of love and passion for God, his work, and others.
Today we have been married for almost 2 years and have gone through one psychiatric hospitalization throughout this time. The day I drove him there was surreal. It was one of those things that felt like I was walking through the motions, yet I had to separate myself as a wife and do the right thing for his well-being. In fact, I pulled into the parking lot and asked him, “Are you sure you want to do this?” Hoping that he would say no and we could go back home. He spent a full week there. It felt like the longest week of our lives. I was also about 17 weeks pregnant. How did I maintain my sanity? How did I drop off my husband at a mental health clinic Sunday night then Monday morning go into my job where I was counseling individuals dealing with sexual assault or domestic violence? God. Prayers. Other people’s prayers.
Today our sweet little bundle of joy is three months old and my husband still struggles with the deep depressions of bipolar because as sweet, wonderful, and biggest blessing in our lives as our son is–the disease is still there. That’s what I wish people understood. This is a disease, a chemical imbalance something that he can’t just take cough medicine for and it will be gone in 10 days. It’s like being diagnosed with cancer and having to do treatment for the rest of your life. It’s real, it’s raw. But my husband isn’t his mental health diagnosis. He is a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, he is a son, husband, father, employee. He loves to read, listen to music, and workout. He’s the smartest person I know.
We’re all human, so let’s talk about it, what struggles in the throes of life are you going through?
For more info on mental health please visit: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/
Photo Credit: Tom Swinnen