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It Goes Both Ways

Posted Apr 02 2010 8:55am

My wife is getting better, but for some reason, I am getting worse.

That doesn’t seem to make any sense at all, but it’s what I’m experiencing. I’m much more tired and sluggish, I am much more apathetic about work, I’m just not into things. This is a major change in attitude from when she was intensely suicidal, and we’d spend hours a day talking about the value of staying alive. For some reason, I was fine then. But now, with things getting better for her, they are getting worse for me.

Why?

I met with my therapist yesterday to talk about things. I’ve mentioned this before, but I cannot say enough how worthwhile it is for me to have a therapist. I had three options. First, I tried linking up with my local chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). They host weekly family support meetings which are free and open to any and all. I went a few times when my wife was in the hospital, but the timing of these meetings is pretty terrible–right during the dinner hour. And since the meeting is not exactly around the corner, it means I need to carve out about 2 hours every Tuesday evening, and would need to find a companion for my wife when I’m gone. And since I’m back at work, evening time is pretty valued Family Time, so that hasn’t been worth it. My insurance company was willing to put me in touch with a therapist to meet for 30 minutes every 3-4 weeks. Are. You. Kidding. Me. I’m experiencing one of the most intense existential crises a human can experience, and they were willing to let me talk about it 30 minutes a month. So instead I went with option 3: pay out-of-pocket for a professional that can help me out. This has turned out to be totally worth it. My therapist is awesome, and not only has given me good practical tips for how to help support my wife, but also tons of help for my processing of this whole thing.

So we talked yesterday about my apathy and declining mood, especially since things were getting better for my wife. After a lot of talking, I have a much better understanding of what’s going on. My wife is getting better, which means I am not on “high alert” as much. When she was really bad, all I could do was take care of her. I felt this incredible sense of responsibility and a charge to help her, and so, empowered by a meaningful mission, I rolled up my sleeves and ignored myself. I was able to compartmentalize my feelings to express them only when I was alone, or sweat them out through exercise, but when I was with her (80% of the waking day), I was strong and ready.

Now, she’s not so bad. I don’t worry as much. I used to find myself at work having vivid waking daydreams of my wife in the act of committing suicide. I didn’t want to think about it, but I’d be in the middle of my day and then see the image of her driving to the bridge she has designated, walking along it, climbing over the rail, looking down, and then jumping. The worst of all daymares. However, I don’t experience them any more. Those thoughts are gone, because I’m not as worried about her killing herself. Her suicidal thoughts are fading.

However, with the pressure off, my mind and body are finally tending to their own needs. What we have gone through has been horrific, and I kept my spirits up and my optimism strong as a means of survival. However, I’m not just surviving anymore, and now I have the luxury and the misery of looking around and realizing just how scary, sad, painful, and fucked up this whole thing has been. My wife tried to kill herself. My wife thought she was the devil. My wife wanted to die for a very long time. My world was fucked up, and I would process it, but not really. Not like I am now. And I’m doing it now, because I finally can. Strange, but it actually makes a lot of sense.

So here’s the plan forward. I will continue therapy, there’s no question about that, because I need to keep responding to this. I will try to get more sleep. However, I will also write about the past a bit more. Blogs tend to be journals of what is currently happening, but it’s clear that I still have serious pent-up feelings about what already happened. I won’t be writing for the sensationalist appeal, but I guarantee you that these stories are pretty scary, and sensational. I’ll be writing so that I can get some of these images out of my head. And also, I’m publishing this blog in the hope that other family members might find it and find some comfort if they have a loved one who is psychotic and/or suicidal, and so while these stories may be in my past (at least for now), they may be in someone else’s present.


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