My biggest fear in going home was letting Todd down. Through everything he has been beyond supportive…not just during my hospital stay but also the MONTHS leading up to it. I was worried he would think I was cured, that our life would magically return to normal and I would be that same fun-loving girl he fell in love with. I was worried that seeing that I wasn’t that girl anymore would be his final straw. Yes, you should absolutely support your spouse, but at what point is enough enough? At what point do you have to make a decision regarding your own happiness? It was then that I looked back at everything and saw the beauty in all the madness.
About four days into my stay, my friend Jessie had stopped by to visit. We were sitting in the living room area. From that spot you have a bird’s eye view of the nurses station. Todd had just gotten there and didn’t realize I was watching. He probably figured I was in my room. I watched as he handed a bag of groceries over to the nurse. The bag was filled with my favorite snacks, along with Powerade.
I hate Powerade but when the cardiologist recommended it for dehydration reasons, I started drinking it like crazy. I was so desperate to feel better I did everything every doctor recommended to the point where it was almost unhealthy. When my anxiety was at its worst, Powerade became one of my many rituals to try to keep the dizziness at bay. Added to taking vitamins at the same time each day; drinking water to the point where my car floorboard, bedroom floor, and trash can were littered with empty plastic bottles; and getting enough sleep. At home I was going to bed at 7:30 every night–although I didn’t sleep, I would lie there hoping I would wake to a better day. A doctor would tell me something and I would take it to the extreme, thinking if I would do this one more thing then I would get better and if I missed one day then I would most certainly pay for it. It was irrational to say the least, but it had been my life for months.
Now, here my husband was making sure I had these things because he knew they helped calm me. He then handed over his cell phone and signed in. I watched him and how routine this had become for him. You know, just signing into the loony bin and dropping off a few of my wife’s favorite things before I sit with her as she shakes uncontrollably and cries about her day. I still remember what my husband was wearing at that moment…his stance and his smile as he signed in. I remember the nurses pointing to where I was and his smile as he turned my direction. I remember the look he gave me as we met eyes…it was a mixture of happiness to see me and worry that I wasn’t OK. In that moment, the love and admiration I felt for my husband grew so large my heart could barely contain them.
He didn’t miss a day! Hell, he didn’t miss an hour! Every single minute he could be with me, he was. This meant leaving work an hour early. Picking Crue up from the babysitters and dropping him off at his sister’s or parent’s. Driving an hour to be with me to do things like play UNO, watch the news in the cafeteria, meet my new crazy friends, and talk to me about my day. He would then drive an hour home to get up for work the next morning and do it all over again. He never complained. He never made me feel guilty. In fact, every time I apologized or commented on something like bills, missing work, or not being there for Crue, he would quickly remind me not to worry about anything besides getting better. I thought about our nights. My routine of a sleeping pill, a kiss goodbye, and the wave as he drove in front of the hospital on his way out. I’ve never been a needy person emotionally and here I was needing him for absolutely everything! My husband loves being needed. He really thrives when things get tough. He is kind, empathetic, giving, supportive, and thoughtful beyond measure. He truly is a gift to me and I find myself thanking God for him everyday.
To love a person with anxiety or depression is a full-time job. Yes, we all have things that are annoying that our spouses have to deal with, but anxiety and depression are not small things nor are they things that have an end in sight. This is an everyday struggle that may get better with time but highs and lows are to be expected. You are not just asking someone to love you and all your imperfections but also to love the roller coaster of sometimes debilitating fear, stress, and constant mood changes. You’re asking them to sit along side you when you are afraid of something that is not even a blip on the radar of rationality. You’re asking them to sit beside you as you try to rationalize your anxieties of things as small as going to a family party. You’re asking them to sit beside you as you sob uncontrollably for absolutely no reason at all. You’re asking them to sit beside you while you wake up in a full panic because you are scared of something but you have no idea what that something is. My husband has chose to sit beside me…..every time.
I think we all have good intentions when we say our wedding vows. At least I hope so. I’ve failed in so many ways as a wife. Yes, I’m loving, supportive, loyal…but I fall short in so many other ways. I’m riddled with fears and insecurities. Who knew when we said our vows the life that lay ahead of us? Who knew God would ask us to endure so much? I’ve seen my husband take everything life has thrown at us and make it magical. Our life these last few years has been like a roller coaster. I’ve seen my husband duck and weave with every new turn. I’ve seen him endure and press on during the long uphill climbs and throw his hands in the air as the coaster speeds downhill.
I had a friend tell me once that we all have our things. She said this when I felt bad for complaining when others are dealing with things like terminal cancer. She said we all have our things that in our life feel huge. This is so true. I’ve had family complain about their children being suspended from school or a divorce they are going through, and all have apologized for burdening me with problems that they felt were small in comparison to mine. I never and I mean never felt that way. I understand we all have issues in our lives and would never belittle anyone’s. We all have our things. I never want people to feel I can no longer relate to this stuff. If anything I feel more empathetic to others’ struggles.
As I walked the halls saying goodbye to Kennie, Steve, Derek, and Phil, I clung to Todd’s hand. I wanted to cry because I knew these people shared one of the darkest times in my life and I would most likely never see them again. I would never know what happened to them. I could see that same fear in their eyes. Each hugged and thanked me and I them. I walked away fighting back tears. What I’ve learned from this experience is that none of us are above the breakdown that brought me there. We are all dangling on that edge, just steps away from going over. If we are lucky we have someone to catch us when we fall…and if we are even luckier we have someone to hold our hand, smile, and throw their hands in the air as we take the leap off that cliff together. I’m blessed to have people there to catch me and a partner who won’t let me jump alone.