The Other Half of Mental Illness

When you have a mental illness it doesn’t just affect you. It affects everyone around you; your husband or significant other, your children, your parents, in-laws, friends, and your co-workers.

Even if they don’t know.

Right from the beginning, when the illness begins to pull its victim into the depth of its looming sadness and feelings of inadequacy, those closest begin to feel its influence.

The sharp answers to simple questions.

The emotional rollercoaster.

The removal from family time and conversations.

The person they used to know becomes a memory and they are left confused and begging for answers. They want the irrational thoughts, anger, and flood of emotions to stop.

They want the person they love to come back into the shell that is before them.

I am a shell.

Brian has been patiently waiting for me to return to my “old self,” and for the magic of medication to bring me back to life.

I worry that I won’t ever return to the way that I was and if I do my characteristics will be different. Dulled down.

I realized in thinking about mental illness and mental health advocacy that rarely is the family members’ perspective given when someone is fighting.

So in an attempt to educate as well as learn myself, I give you an interview with Brian.

What is the hardest part for you about my fighting this mental illness?

Having to worry if you are going to be okay every time I leave the house or we go to work. I worry if you are going to be okay if you are alone, or driving. It’s difficult having that on my mind.

I often feel attacked and blamed for things I didn’t do and confused.

Do you have advice for anyone who’s supporting someone with a mental illness?

Know that it isn’t you, there is always a positive side to a negative situation and even though it looks like it’s getting worse or it might be getting worse it will get better!

Anything else you would like to add?

Be there for the person that is fighting. Also, take time for yourself to relax and rejuvenate, it is hard on the person supporting as well.

————————————–

Thank you my love.

Thank you for loving me despite my flaws.

Thank you for building me up when I feel like the world is tearing me down.
I encourage you all to have this conversation with your loved ones. You might be surprised how they answer!

iPhone Photo Phun

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104 Responses to The Other Half of Mental Illness
  1. Jenny
    January 25, 2012 | 8:02 am

    Thank you for this. I want to have this conversation with my husband.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:43 pm

      I hope that you do.. his answers really surprised me, in a good way

  2. sandy
    January 25, 2012 | 8:23 am

    Thank you for sharing this.I’ve had similar talks with my husband and have been trying to write it down. An interview like this is so straight and to the point. I hope he knows he’s not alone either. Xx

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:42 pm

      We’re so so lucky to have a great family that provides us both with support.
      I’m glad that you have this kind of communication with your husband.

  3. Jenn@Fox in the City
    January 25, 2012 | 8:27 am

    This is such an amazing piece of writing. I am sitting here trying not to cry. I am so grateful that you have Brian. I am so grateful that I have Brad. Both are brave, strong men who have supported us through dark times.

    Hugs to both of you as you wait for your shell to be filled again. 🙂

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:41 pm

      We are pretty freakin’ lucky.
      And the fact that you are trying not to cry? Makes me so grateful that you are my friend.

  4. Alison@Mama Wants This
    January 25, 2012 | 9:17 am

    Your Brian – he truly is amazing, isn’t he?

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:40 pm

      YES!!
      He’s the cats ass!
      AND your Avi is GORGEOUS!

  5. imperfectmomma
    January 25, 2012 | 9:30 am

    Thats great. Wish I could have this conversation with my husband, he doesnt think there is anything wrong with me that praying cant fix. Sigh.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:40 pm

      I’m a firm believer in praying, however, I like to mix my prayers with therapy and meds.

  6. liz
    January 25, 2012 | 9:35 am

    Brian is an amazing, special guy. Hugs to you all, Leighann!

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:39 pm

      thank you Liz! He is pretty awesome.

  7. Maggie S.
    January 25, 2012 | 9:46 am

    I love this post that is so honoring to him and I’ll bet it frees and opens the eyes of many.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:37 pm

      I really hope that it does help others see the side of the support person.

  8. Aubrey Anne
    January 25, 2012 | 9:48 am

    I love this. Thanks for being so honest and willing to let your husband be so honest about you. I wonder if I’m brave enough to have this conversation with Husband?

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:36 pm

      I think you should.. let me know how it goes. You might be surprised, in a good way.

  9. Libby
    January 25, 2012 | 9:55 am

    How wonderful to have someone that supportive. And how great that you are willing to share it with us.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:34 pm

      Thank you.
      it really is wonderful to have someone who is trying to understand and is being supportive.

  10. Jamee @ A New Kind of Normal
    January 25, 2012 | 9:58 am

    Excellent post. Thank you for sharing! I deal with multiple chronic illness and while I may be the one dealing with the physical pain, I know it impacts my husband, daughter, and family as well. I had my husband write a post once on what it was like to be married to someone with chronic illness as I know their suffering and perspective is often lost.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:33 pm

      I can’t imagine dealing with the chronic pain. Dealing with the emotional is enough and through occassional back pain on there and I’m a mess. BUT Chronic pain? I am so sorry you are dealing with that.

  11. Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos
    January 25, 2012 | 10:00 am

    Leighann – I feel for you, and your husband.

    Thanks to last October and November, I also know a lot of what is like to be in Brian’s shoes.

    It is so hard to see someone you love suffer. It is impossible not to feel responsible. And it is frustrating when you can’t seem to communicate how you would do anything for them, because the alternative is unthinkable.

    I finally wrote about it recently: http://danceswithchaos.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/depression-one-emotion-can-taint-them-all/

    Much love and hugs to you. Know you have many, near and far, who are there to listen and lean on.

  12. Mad Woman behind the Blog
    January 25, 2012 | 10:01 am

    Wow, what a great guy you’ve got there. Does he have a brother?

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:31 pm

      He does!!
      AND his brother is cute!

  13. Dana K
    January 25, 2012 | 10:01 am

    Thank you for sharing this. It took Chris a long time to realize it wasn’t him & it wasn’t something he could fix. Many blessings as you continue your road to healing…

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:30 pm

      I never realized how personally my family members took it, this really opened my eyes.

  14. Ali
    January 25, 2012 | 10:05 am

    Way to go Brian. You’re a good guy.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:28 pm

      Hip Hip Hooray!

  15. greta
    January 25, 2012 | 10:11 am

    What a good guy. You don’t think about the loved ones as much, but they are JUST as affected as the person suffering is.

  16. Ado
    January 25, 2012 | 10:17 am

    Good lord. First without being irreverant I need to mention how cute your husband is. (-:
    Second, once again my friend, I applaud, applaud, applaud your honesty in sharing on this taboo topic. It will help other moms “feel better” about being able to come out and talk about it. As you probably know I have serious manic depression and bi-polar all thru my close family so I’m watching it right now, at the front lines, with the next generation – two of whom i truly fear may do the unthinkable. So when i read your posts, they just help me to understand more. And thank you for that.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:27 pm

      Awww you are so sweet. He is kinda cute isn’t he.
      Rawr.
      I wish I could look at that pic and not see a guy who farts before he wakes up every morning.

  17. Jackie
    January 25, 2012 | 11:12 am

    You are so lucky to have such a wonderful, loving, and understanding man in your life.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:23 pm

      I really am.
      But sometimes I need a little reminder.
      This was a good help.

  18. By Word of Mouth Musings
    January 25, 2012 | 11:17 am

    Good to see that the universe collided and gave you the ying to your yang …
    Hugs and happy thoughts my dear … loving on you from afar!

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:22 pm

      I call him my lobster.
      Because they mate for life.

  19. Iris
    January 25, 2012 | 12:00 pm

    He’s a keeper. I love this concept of stepping outside of that shell and interviewing someone effected by your (our) mental health issues. I wish I had done this when I was in the midst of it. I know it was so hard on my family. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. XOXO – Iris

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:19 pm

      I didn’t realize how hard it was on my family until I caught him staring at me one night.
      That’s when I asked him what he was thinking.
      I didn’t expect the answers.
      I know there’s a light.. thanks for helping to it.

  20. Andrea @ The Penny-Roach's
    January 25, 2012 | 1:10 pm

    It’s so good that you have someone so awesome and supportive of you. You’ll come out of it, hopefully soon 🙂

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:17 pm

      He’s pretty special.
      I just forget that sometimes.
      This was a good reminder.

  21. Erica M
    January 25, 2012 | 1:50 pm

    What courage this took, and what an innovative idea. Doesn’t it feel like you’re on the right path with the right person? You are amazing, Leighann.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:16 pm

      Thank you! That means so much. SO. MUCH.
      I really did meet the right person, that’s for sure.
      And I’m getting this depression thing sorted out, it’s just taking a little while.

  22. Jay- The Dude of the House
    January 25, 2012 | 2:17 pm

    I commend you for your honesty about such a difficult subject. Also, your son seems like quite a young man, mature beyond his years. Best wishes for continued strength.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:14 pm

      He’s actually my husband.

      • Jay- The Dude of the House
        January 26, 2012 | 12:45 am

        I apologize. I guess I misread something. It was right before my caffeine infusion. Great piece nonetheless.

        • multitaskingmumma
          January 26, 2012 | 10:29 pm

          I’m useless before coffee!

  23. Galit Breen
    January 25, 2012 | 2:47 pm

    I have to words, Leighann.

    This love, and this transparency, is perfect. Thank you.

    {I guess I had a few words. 🙂 }

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:14 pm

      I love your words.
      Thank you times a million trillion Galit.

  24. Rach (DonutsMama)
    January 25, 2012 | 3:20 pm

    It really takes a strong person to deal with someone suffering like this and it looks like you’ve definitely found that in Brian. You’re a lucky woman.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:13 pm

      Thank you Rach.
      And thank you for being part of my support group. xo

  25. Kristin @ What She Said
    January 25, 2012 | 3:33 pm

    My heart just breaks for you and your husband. I’ve been on both sides of the fence, so I can empathize with you and him. I struggle with depression myself, so I know exactly the feelings you describe.

    At the same time, while I’ve been emotionally stable and healthy now – relatively speaking – for several years, my husband also suffers from depression. And I think it’s more clinical than the low-grade mood disorder I struggle with (dysthymia). Therefore, I can relate to your husband when he says, “I feel attacked and blamed for things I didn’t do. I feel confused.” Because when the depression really takes hold of husband, he often suddenly becomes someone I don’t know, emotionally-speaking, and that scares me.

    Adding to that is the guilt I feel – I should be able to empathize more with him, I think. After all, I’ve been there. Yet I find myself feeling frustrated and angry with him and wondering why he can’t just “feel better,” when I know firsthand that it’s not nearly that simple.

    We’re working through these issues and I have faith that he will beat this thing, just as I did. But it’s hard. Depression is emotional cancer and it really does affect everyone it touches.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:12 pm

      I was diagnosed with dysthymia. I’m still learning about it and trying to accept it. I have a lot of dr.’s appointments and groups they want me to attend. they have books they want me to read and pills to take.
      I’m overwhelmed.
      You are right when you say it’s emotional.
      Huge.

  26. katery
    January 25, 2012 | 4:38 pm

    i am so very glad you have such a supportive husband, we are lucky girls.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:10 pm

      Yes we are!

  27. Trish
    January 25, 2012 | 4:42 pm

    Very powerful piece of writing. We forget, I think, that for every person we know who is ill, in pain or in trouble, there is a group of people who suffer because of that.

    Bless you in your struggle, and bless your sweet man for struggling with you instead of against you.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:09 pm

      Yes!
      For every person struggling there is a group of people who are around them suffering too!
      Excellent.

  28. Mommy2¢
    January 25, 2012 | 5:09 pm

    Fantastic post, Leighann. Men are wired differently than women; so I think it’s fair to say that in many cases it can something they find especially hard to empathize with. Either because their sensitive chip has a short in it or it’s completely missing. Sounds like you have one of the good ones! It’s awesome that your husband understands and supports you like he does.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:09 pm

      Men certainly do have a different view on this sort of thing, even if they’ve experienced depression.

  29. Kimberly
    January 25, 2012 | 5:43 pm

    You have an amazing man!

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:08 pm

      Agreed!

  30. Amber
    January 25, 2012 | 5:55 pm

    This is nice great that you two did this post together like this. *hugs*

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:04 pm

      thank you Amber! I’m thinking of you!!! xo

  31. Jessica
    January 25, 2012 | 7:14 pm

    I think this was a good idea to interview your husband so you can get more insight into how he feels. You will both get through this and you will come out stronger than before. Love to you.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 11:02 pm

      Thanks Jessica. I found out things that I didn’t know and he answered in ways I didn’t expect.

  32. Laura@Catharsis
    January 25, 2012 | 7:36 pm

    Rarely do we get the partner’s perspective. Mental illness is tough. I am so happy he is supportive.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 10:51 pm

      Thank you.
      It’s easy to forget about the circles of support. And they’re such an important part.

  33. Charity
    January 25, 2012 | 8:08 pm

    we did find time for my hubby to read this. He agreed it is a great post and with your hubby’s thoughts on the worries, thoughts and emotions as the support person.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 10:50 pm

      so glad!
      I’m also glad that he agreed.

  34. Kimberly
    January 25, 2012 | 8:30 pm

    This is wonderful.
    Sometimes it’s hard for us to see how our illness impacts the people around us.
    xoox

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 10:50 pm

      I can be pretty selfish and forget that he’s the one I lash out at the most.
      I got lucky with that one.
      He puts up with it all.

  35. Sue @ Mommy's Pen
    January 25, 2012 | 8:52 pm

    It’s a beautiful idea to interview your husband about your illness. It’s an excellent sign that you know you’re not alone in this. Sounds like you have a great support system! Hang in there and I hope it gets better for all of you soon.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 10:41 pm

      Thank you. I’m confident that it will get better, I just don’t know how long it will take. I’m very lucky to have a guy who tries to understand and supports me through all of it.

  36. Kimberly
    January 25, 2012 | 9:22 pm

    Great perspective. And how lovely that he’s supportive, caring and willing to share 🙂

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 10:40 pm

      He’s very supporting and pretty awesome. I tend to lose sight of that sometimes.

  37. Jayme (The Random Blogette)
    January 25, 2012 | 9:33 pm

    Wow! That was such a great idea to interview your husband. It is interesting to hear his take on it. You have such an amazing partner and that is so important. I have been there and have battled off and on with depression for over 20 years. It makes such a big difference when you have someone standing beside you and holding your hand through it all. I just want to give you both a big hug.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 10:39 pm

      Thank you!
      You’re right it does make a difference when you have a supportive person in your life.

  38. Lenore
    January 25, 2012 | 10:35 pm

    Nicely done, Leighann. I appreciate your honesty and transparency. I battled PPD, too. I have first hand knowledge of how mental illness affects the entire family. I appreciate your husband letting you share his take. Thank you.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 25, 2012 | 10:39 pm

      thank you.
      I didn’t realize the effect this post would have on those who have been through this.

  39. Robin @ Farewell, Stranger
    January 25, 2012 | 10:58 pm

    Such a good point. I didn’t know all that until well into my own battle, and things were very rough as a result. I’m glad you are so open about this and that he is so understanding – and willing to share that understanding. Love to you both.

  40. Kimberly S.
    January 25, 2012 | 11:01 pm

    It was so kind of your husband to agree to the interview. I especially liked your intro. Mental illness is invasive to everything and everyone involved, aware or unaware.
    You are courageous and I appreciate you sharing this post.

  41. Leigh Ann
    January 26, 2012 | 12:32 am

    I want to give Brian a huge Texas hug for being such a stand up guy and taking such good care of my friend. I know you’ll pull through this together.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 26, 2012 | 10:30 pm

      Love you noodle!!

  42. Karin @Mommy's Paradise
    January 26, 2012 | 1:38 am

    You have a wonderful husband at your side. You can win the battle together, you’ll see.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 26, 2012 | 10:27 pm

      Thank you karin!
      I think you may be right!

  43. Kate F. (@katefineske)
    January 26, 2012 | 6:56 am

    You’re very fortunate to have the support of your husband and also his honesty. As an outsider looking in, that was great information and wonderful insight to have on mental illnesses. Thanks…

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 26, 2012 | 10:27 pm

      Thank you for that!
      That is the hope I had when I wrote it.

  44. Miss Marina Star
    January 26, 2012 | 9:49 am

    As always, your willingness to be vulnerable in your space is inspiring. I so hope that you are on your way to “coming home” to your family soon.

    *HUGS*

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 26, 2012 | 10:26 pm

      Your comment made me teary!
      thank you so much for your sweet words.

  45. Mrs. Jen B
    January 26, 2012 | 10:50 am

    Big hug. Great, big hug. To both of you.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 26, 2012 | 10:24 pm

      Thank you Jen!!

  46. Shannon from 'mynewfavoriteday'
    January 26, 2012 | 3:07 pm

    So inspiring of you to share not only your own thoughts but Brian’s as well. It’s a big overture to your relationship that you are both willing to do that…beautiful. I hope that the magic of medication will have you feeling more like your normal self soon as I know that it can take time and that Brian’s worry can hibernate a bit for a while. Thank you for sharing….

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 26, 2012 | 10:23 pm

      It’s been a long road and feels like it keeps getting longer some days BUT with him here to support me I’m staying positive.

  47. Sandy@Sinsationally Me
    January 26, 2012 | 3:47 pm

    It’s so hard for spouses and other family members to understand let alone sit and watch what we go through. You are blessed to have a wonderful, caring husband. Wishing you peace and happiness in your future.

  48. Jill @ Mommy Inconsistent
    January 26, 2012 | 4:44 pm

    A powerful post … thank you for sharing it. I’m happy that you have such a supportive man with you and hope you feel better very soon.

    I know it’s not much, but I just awarded you The Liebster Blog Award because I’ve enjoyed yours so much. You can pick it up over on mine.

    Take care!

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 26, 2012 | 10:21 pm

      Thank you so much for the award!
      So sweet of you xoxoxoxoxox

  49. Mayor Gia
    January 26, 2012 | 6:15 pm

    I think he gave great advice — it was a good idea to include his perspective

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 26, 2012 | 10:18 pm

      I had never thought to ask him before how he was affected.
      I’m so glad I did.

  50. Sarcasm Goddess
    January 26, 2012 | 6:18 pm

    Thank you for sharing his side of your illness. I am often overwhelmed with guilt at the effects my anxiety and depression have on my husband. He tells me all the time he just wants me to be happy, and when I am not, I feel like I have let him down.

    I am so sorry for what you are dealing with right now. I hope things get better soon. For both of you.

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 26, 2012 | 10:18 pm

      I hear that a lot from people too; that they want me to be happy.
      And when I’m not I feel so exhausted putting on a front so that I don’t let them down.
      I get how you feel.
      thank you for your comment!

  51. Nic
    January 26, 2012 | 9:43 pm

    I just have to say that I’m so proud of both of you for being so honest and for fighting!!! Ahhh I love you guys! Xoxo

    • multitaskingmumma
      January 26, 2012 | 10:16 pm

      Thank you Nic.
      Love you times a million!
      Don’t know what I would do without you. xo

  52. Sweaty
    January 27, 2012 | 7:05 am

    Dear Leighann, how much I wanted to reach out, give you a big warm hug, and just be there for you. I’m sorry that you’re going through a hard time right now. I’ve been there, and I know all too well how painful it could be for you and your loved ones.

    I’m glad you have Brian, who’s in it with you for the long run. It’s so important to have someone who at least has a good awareness of what you’re going through. I didn’t receive that from my (ex) husband, ever. When things were at its worst and he could no longer ignore that I was having problems, what he did was sent me to a shrink and make sure I was properly medicated. But never with understanding and compassion. Always with judgment, and with expectation that I SHOULD be able to recover soon and be that person he married once again.

    Please know that you’re in my thoughts and prayers, dear friend. Both you and Brian.

    Luv ya, gf!

  53. Alexandra
    January 29, 2012 | 1:23 am

    Wow.

    You hit the jackpot, LeighAnn.

    He sounds like he treats you like a queen.

    This honesty with each other IS the most important thing, I do know women who live in secret, their torments, their anxieties, their states of barely hanging on.

    I can’t imagine doing this in secret.

    Just Thursday I had to call my husband at work in the morning b/c I was so overcome with SAD that I couldn’t even get it together to leave the house…just his voice of understanding and saying, “I’m sorry..” lifted me soul.

    Instantly.

    xo

    • multitaskingmumma
      February 1, 2012 | 8:01 pm

      I’m so glad that you speak out about SAD.
      That you have support and that your husband understands.
      Support is so important.
      Family is so important.
      Thank you for being here.

  54. Christina
    January 29, 2012 | 5:15 pm

    What courage you both have! I have struggled with this and am very thankful for a compassionate spouse. There were times though…
    Hang in there.

    • multitaskingmumma
      February 1, 2012 | 8:00 pm

      Thank you so much!
      I’m so grateful to have him.. he gets it and I’m lucky.

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