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There are times when the darkness is so thick you can’t find the hand of the one you love.

Up until a few months ago, my husband and I lived in a very private bubble. We kept my diagnosis protected from friends, family, and coworkers. It was the two of us in our little sheltered environment fending off the world.

Then I became psychotic and I closed all the doors to my husband. I severed the ties. I no longer communicated with him. He was alone, in a new city, with a new job, and in order to protect me, and our secret, he couldn’t talk to his friends or his family.

We lived together in the same house, but voices had overtaken my mind and my attention. I sat for hours listening to the things they had to say. They were too loud to ignore. My husband had lost me to my illness, his friend, his confidant, the woman he had created a private world with, was unreachable.

I think back on that time that my husband was isolated and alone. One of the reasons I recently came out publicly about my illness is that I never want my husband to be that cut off from the rest of the world again.

I can only imagine how lonely and frightening that period in his life was. He must have wondered if the woman who laughed hard and loud and danced in the most ridiculous fashion in order to lift his mood, would ever come back to him.

He must have mourned.  There must have been grief. There must have been fear.  He must have suffered to know the love of his life was a few inches away, but not at home.

I write this because mental illness doesn’t just happen to the person who is diagnosed. It happens to spouses. It happens to parents. It happens to families.  The people who care for us suffer too in the most profound ways.

We all need to be better friends, better brothers, better sisters, better aunts, better uncles, and better parents to the ones who are often overlooked in the battle of mental illness.  The people that care day in and day out for their loved ones need understanding, need support, need a shoulder, need an ear.

We need to shine the light on the true impact of mental illness. We need to openly offer a hand, one that can be taken, and held.