After 50 days as a psychiatric in-patient, my husband was discharged; sent home to continue to rebuild his broken mind, and put the pieces of his life - our life - back together.
For me, the day he was released was filled with an incredible mix of emotions that I honestly never anticipated.
The relief of knowing that both he and his psychiatrist firmly believed he was well enough to come home to continue his recovery was almost overwhelming. And I was just so excited at the thought of being able to snuggle up to him on the sofa, or cook dinner together, or make a cuppa for us both - the simplest things that I had taken for granted every day, I had missed so much.
At the same time, I was filled with an almost consuming anxiety plagued by ‘what ifs’ - What if he wasn’t actually ready? What if he slipped back to where he was and didn’t tell me? What if I leave him at home one day and he isn’t there when I get back? What if they were wrong?
But I had faith.
I had faith in my husband and I had faith in his psychiatrist. I had been to nearly every appointment they had had together. I had seen the amount of progress Gary had made. I had heard the feedback from his nurses and therapists.
And I trusted it all. I thought.
As ‘normal life’ resumed, and I was back at work full time, I found that whilst Gary was comfortable at home, doing his own thing, I constantly felt paranoid and anxious that a lack of response to my messages meant that something was amiss.
I feel awful admitting it, but I realised I didn’t trust him.
Something that has never been an issue for me before - he had never given me a single reason not to trust him. But the fear of what almost happened on 8th November made me think and behave irrationally, I guess. I needed that constant confirmation that he was ‘ok’.
But Gary needed space. After weeks of being checked on every 15 minutes, and constantly having to tell people where he was, he needed to feel free.
We were trying to find a balance that kept us both happy, and it became clear pretty quickly (with a little help from our respective therapists) that the only way we could do this was to talk about how we were feeling.
We’ve always had an incredibly open relationship - no secrets, no hidden annoyances, just openness about what we were both thinking. It was weird to think that this could have changed when we were feeling stronger than ever as a couple.
Facing up to my fears of telling him how I was feeling led to us having a very open conversation; it felt like therapy session.
It turned out that Gary was worried about upsetting me or offending me by telling me when he wanted some space or some time alone, or when he just needed quiet. He was worried that I would overreact if he said he was feeling low, so instead, was keeping it to himself.
I was worried that if I told him I didn’t trust him, he would hate me for it.
Worse still, I was terrified that even so much as mentioning to him that I was worried he would self-harm or think about suicide again would plant the seed in his head, and make him obsess about it.
Newsflash folks: if someone is depressed or has severe anxiety, telling them you are struggling with the situation will NOT send them over the edge.
If you tell them you are worried they are going to hurt themselves, it will NOT make them do it! You cannot plant the thought in their head; it will either be there or it will not be.
After ‘that conversation’ it felt like a weight had been lifted for both of us; we could finally relax a bit more with a new understanding of how we were both feeling.
My worries of looking ‘weak’ in front of the man I was supposed to be staying strong for were completely unfounded. In fact, he even said that he would be worried if I WASN’T struggling at times!
But I had been so used to being ‘the strong one’, I almost forgot that our relationship works both ways. I am not his carer, I am his wife. And although this situation is much harder for him, I am allowed to admit that it is hard for me to.
Because it is!
And if you are going through a similar situation with your loved ones, you should not feel guilty if you find it tough some times. You should not be afraid to let them know if you are struggling too. You should never stop talking about something that is impacting both of your lives so greatly.
Ironically, doing so just makes you normal!