I read this article yesterday, and I have to say, I was surprised by what seems to be the anger behind it. The title of the article is, “Your Anxiety isn’t an Excuse to be an Asshole.” The author seems more than a little bit hostile about what she reads on social media and what she has experienced in her own life. (I really recommend reading the article, and making note of what the author says about how depression and anxiety are widely accepted as mental illnesses, and how they are openly discussed. I think the author is right about that, but we have a long way to go to get schizophrenia discussions into the mainstream.)
Although, I don’t agree with how harsh the article is, it brings up a very interesting point; how much leeway do we get for being mentally ill?
Sunday was a difficult day for me. I couldn’t settle down or get comfortable. I would go from the couch to the computer, from the computer to the couch and back again. I did this for hours. I told my husband I was struggling to relax, and that I was having a hard time with my thoughts and anxiety. While I was battling my mental illness my husband spent the day doing laundry and cleaning our condo.
I was useless.
I felt terribly guilty about the situation. I felt like I should have ignored my symptoms to the degree that I am able and jumped in to help my husband.
I think everyone who has a mental illness and wants to be in relationships with other people, needs to ask, “Am I doing my part?” I know with most of my friends that I am doing my part – I meet them for brunch one to three times a month. I celebrate their birthdays and their accomplishments with them, and we meet spontaneously for happy hour even though I don’t drink alcohol any more. But when it comes to my husband, I think he gets a bad deal sometimes.
Because I think things are at times unequal in my relationship to my husband, I make an extra effort to do the things I am good at. I am good at being emotionally supportive of my husband. I genuinely like to listen to his stories, his work day, his problems, and offer him my ear and words of comfort and encouragement. I am also my husband’s biggest fan and I don’t ever let a day go by without letting him know how much he is loved, appreciated, wanted, cared for, and how proud I am of his achievements, and how thankful I am for his support. That man knows he is not taken for granted and he also knows that home is a safe place where he is deeply cherished. I am good at other things too, and on a hard day for him, I try to make it up to him in ways that I know he will appreciate.
I know that I have limits, but I never want my husband to resent me, or to think I am lazy or that I am taking advantage of him.
I think all of us with a mental illness need to think about the other people in our lives and make sure that we are giving and not just taking.
If we are honest with ourselves our mental illness touches more people than just us, and we need to make sure those people are taken care of too, if we are able.