If watching Hallmark movies tends to leave you sweaty, dizzy, or nauseous; if cute commercials with puppies or kittens or babies often require intervention with copious qualities of booze (medicinal of course) to overcome the flood of saccharin sentiments crashing upon you – well, grab your favorite bottle and lay down, ‘cuz off we go…
I’m not going to claim to be “old hat” at this whole mental illness thing. While I’ve clearly suffered through it all my life, I barely put a name to it in my own thoughts, let alone put it out there in the world for most of those 40 years. It’s only been in the past 8-9 months that I’ve really come to terms with what’s going on in my own brain. That said, I think that even more important than therapy and meds (NOT that you should stop doing those things!!!) is strong support at home. I saw so many people talking about what awaited them when they left treatment to return to the “real world” and it was heart-breaking. How anyone with depression or other issues were supposed to succeed at rising above it when either no one cared, or worse, the people in their lives were outright adversarial, was beyond me. And for many, it was beyond them too – which is why so many of them had been inpatients or in the all-day program for weeks… even months… with no end in sight; or were returning for their umpteenth time. It was their only safe place.
So while he’s going to be like “OMG why did you write all this!” I think it’s about time that I give very public, very sincere credit, where credit it due for my doing as well as I am….
Why My Husband Dave is Awesome.
By Tiffani Panek
Dave and I have been together for 21 years, married for 18 years in just a few weeks. He has always been affectionate, kind, silly, reliable, loyal, and (bewilderingly) head over heels in love with me. But he’s not always been the most “focused” person. We’d argue about something (‘cuz all couples do), he’d say he needed to do <blank> differently in the future… and then go back to doing whatever it was he always did. Not out of malice or lack of intent, but simply out of habit (& maybe a tiny bit of laziness).
And when everything went to hell in a hand basket in April, he didn’t handle it well. He was utterly terrified and unprepared and had no idea what to do. But once the dust settled:
My husband has saved me every day since.
To say that he has stepped up and changed so much about himself and how he lives his life, and how he loves me, in order to take care of me is an understatement of the utmost proportions. He has listened to me, he has listen to my therapists, he has gone to his own therapists – all to make sure he understands this time and is in this WITH me. Nothing is half measures, no promises replaced by old habits. My life has been irrevocably changed, and by his own choice, he has changed, too.
He quietly pushes against his inherent nature to be not deeply communicative every single day so that I know what he’s thinking and feeling which calms many of my fears.
He quietly pushes against his inherent nature to walk away from things instead of dealing with them by now being the one to say, “Let’s talk,” and being the first to stop himself and apologize when he struggles with that.
He texts me every single day to see how I am and how my day is going.
There hasn’t been a time since April that there hasn’t been flowers in the house – he brings home small bunches of them regularly because he knows I love them.
He doesn’t judge me when I struggle – he quietly steps in and takes on the bulk of taking care of our son and the house and everything else so that I can focus on myself and getting through the hard times. He encourages me to be kind to myself and to be willing to forgive myself instead of guilt myself for be unwell.
He looks at me, dividing up so many meds into my weekly pill sorters, and without my needing to say anything he tells me that he knows I am thinking that I am broken, but I am not, and that he loves me and is proud of me and thinks I’m strong.
He may not be the reason I started writing the book, or this blog, but he’s the reason I keep doing it despite all my doubts. He tells me he believes in me, reminds me that in this case the journey is everything and the outcome is irrelevant.
He tells me every single day how much he loves me, how wonderful he thinks I am, and how he will always be here for me no matter what.
…what more could anyone ask for?