blog,  lifestyle,  mental health,  personal development,  romance,  short story,  trauma

I’m not sure if this place can help me

“I need you to know I’m not fragile,” my husband said as I pulled out of the parking lot.

I knew exactly what he was referring to. My husband had been very sick lately. He had to go to a facility over 500 miles away for a month.

I looked at him out of the corner of my eye and took a deep breath.

Not fragile. Not… fragile…

Strange. Life seemed quite fragile lately. When you love someone with a mental illness, it’s hard not to walk on eggshells.

I remember when my husband was first diagnosed. All I could do was nod.

Finally, a name to the third entity in our marriage. This thing I could never explain, but knew it wasn’t my fault or his. This thing that was ever present but never named.

Four years. Four years of trying seemingly every medication under the sun, each new medication coming with another long adjustment period to see if it would even work.

Four years of shifting through the travesty that is the American healthcare system.

Four years of reading article after article on what the hell OCPD even is. What’s the difference between OCD and OCPD anyway?

And what? People can have multiple mental illnesses? What’s the difference between depression and major depressive disorder?

Four years of trying to find help as a caregiver to someone with a mental illness. Four years of sifting through Facebook groups of people complaining, mostly, about their exes.

Exes. Exes. Exes.

Because the divorce rate for those with mental illnesses is incredibly high.

So I read every book on marriage and family, I read about how I can’t make it about me, I read about how to know the difference between people who are suffering from suicidal ideation and for those who have a plan in place.

Then BOOM. Category 5 hurricane.

PTSD for everybody!

You try to find help. You try to tell the professionals:

“Hey! Listen! My husband is on this train and I can see where it’s going to end up! Help me stop it before it gets worse!”

“I’m sorry. But until he has a plan in place, there’s little we can do.”

You call facilities, trying to find anything insurance will cover.

“Okay, Ms. Lard. That will be $33,000 each month.”

The phone drops to the ground and helplessness starts to set in.

You can’t scream, your babies are sleeping.

You look over to your husband. And he’s looking back at you.

Nothing. Nothing either of you can do.

What more could I ask of him? He takes his meds, he goes to therapy, he sees the psychiatrist, but he needs more help than that!

Every door shut. Every window closed.

And I watch.

And I wait.

Until the worst does happen.

It never feels the way you think it will feel, when the worst happens. When everything you were afraid of finally comes to a head.

You sit there on your bed and no tears come.

Nothing.

The simple truth is, you put one foot in front of the other. You do what you have to do. Survival mode kicks in and you just lean into it.

“Maybe you should take some time off.”

I smile at the thought, knowing that’s not how it works.

Because it’s just me now.

“Yeah, maybe.”

I know my husband is safe, but not sure if or when I’ll see him.

“I’m not sure if this place can help me,” he says on the phone.

And it’s not his voice. It’s the voice of the other. The other entity in our marriage.

But I know that voice, too. I’ve lived with that voice for just as long as I’ve lived with my husband.

“Listen to me.” I say.

And the voice pauses.

“Everything that you are now, you are because you had to survive. You are strong. You are resilient. You did what you had to do to keep going and I’m proud of you. I’m so damn proud of you.”

Silence.

“But now, this is a turning point. This is your shot. I wish you had more chances, but that isn’t the world we live in. Everything is riding on this.”

“It’s so much pressure,” the voice says.

“Yeah.” And I smile. “But you were bred under pressure. You thrive under pressure. You take this as seriously as your Physics degree, how you overcame everything and more.”

“Okay.”

It’s his voice. And it’s resolve.

“I need you to know I’m not fragile,” my husband said as I pulled out of the parking lot.

I look at him out of the corner of my eye and take a deep breath.

“No the hell you’re not.”

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