Been married 22 years today. Started dating 25 years ago. Some of us living with mental illness can and do have stable relationships. Some of us need someone else in our lives. My husband and I support each other, help each other, complement each other. Plus, we made a kid, now a young adult.
Not easy. Not by any means. Stressful to love someone with mental illness or another chronic illness. Caretaking is not easy. But, it’s worth it. At least for us it has been.
Important that you express gratitude. I’m thankful for all my husband does for me and our son. Thank you, sweetheart.
March 2015 I posted this poem as we mourned the loss of my husband’s oldest brother to lung cancer. My father recently died of undiagnosed lung cancer in spite of having quit smoking decades before he died.
I share it again to remind myself that grief is a blessing. We feel it because we love.
There is something both beautiful and sorrowful when someone or something dies. Something spiritual lives on. Love persists and is a blessing. I do not deny the pain of grief, but believe that death is a part of life, and that grief is a part of loving. There is no way to love without experiencing grief at one time or another.
Nick, I adore you and am beyond grateful for all you do as father to our son.
Recently I pulled out photographs to remember my father on Father’s Day. Brought back fond memories and tears. Good tears. Tears of love, tears of gratitude that he had been my father and grandfather to my son. My dad was a loving and involved father and grandfather. He loved us deeply. He loved us well.
Those photos reminded me of how lucky I am to have my husband by my side. He’s a loving father and devoted husband. Since my pregnancy, he’s been a hands-on father — affectionate and involved. He adores his son. He even flexed his working hours so that I could go back to work when our son was an infant.
Thank you, Dad. I love and miss you.
Thank you, Nick. I love you.
I love you both to the moon and back, to infinity and beyond.
People judge those of us with invisible disabilities. We even judge ourselves.
Someone once asked me if I questioned the ethics of receiving disability. I explained that my disability wasn’t visible. I ran down my history of hypomanic workaholism and subsequent crashing into depression, rapid cycling and mixed states which lead to my hospitalization.
Although I appear fine, traditional work and I do not mix well. My bipolar type II is well-controlled with medication and my careful avoidance of triggers to mood cycling.
Because my brain disorder is invisible and because my husband provides for our family, someone believe that I take advantage of a government program I do not need.
You see, I receive SSDI, which is based on my payment into Social Security taxes from past income combined with my current inability to work. I do not receive SSI, which is based on need (lack of resources).
Still, with this understanding, even I have felt guilty about being on disability (SSDI), about not being “productive.”
One of my psychologists (I’ve been in therapy since I was 18, so I’ve seen many psychotherapists over the decades) suggested I reframe being on disability (SSDI) as a long-term sabbatical. Reframing enabled me to accept my changed life circumstances.
Since then, I’ve further reframed my experience as God making me stay home to care for my high needs son (a migraineur who has struggled with co-occurring anxiety, depression, and health issues).
Of course, I don’t receive disability to be a stay-at-home mom. But, I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home mom. So, I’ve chosen to reframe my experience this way. I had to be broken to leave my ambitions behind, to accept a new lifestyle, to reprioritize my life.
Now, I do other work — I volunteer my writing, my time, and my knowledge and experience — while on my extended sabbatical from my former work.
What I can do, I do, and I do it well. No longer expect myself to work as I once did. It wasn’t good for me or for my family.