The first time I sought out a professional respite, a brief moment flashed by where I let out a genuine sigh of relief. After months of insomnia, I was fighting off sleep during work hours, often dosing off where I stood. There was no longer a struggle for a balance between keeping myself together, and falling into rapid cycles of mania and depression. At that point, I was holding on by a thread for my life. The morning that thread snapped, I walked into work at 4a. I realized I could no longer keep my composure and fight the rising madness I tightly kept contained inside. At 6a, I walked out of my job, called a friend, and asked for a ride to the ER. I was finally ok with giving in and seeking what I thought was going to be a period of rest and relief from my difficult and unmanageable life.
For some, choosing to not ask for help might be a matter of pride. It can be embarrassing to admit that you’re on the down side of things. Still, if you’ve been open and honest with your friends and family, the willingness to ask for assistance might come a little easier. Trust that they understand that you’re in need. Be accountable for communicating those needs. That’s a better use of your pride than being embarrassed.
Reality is far more joyful and content than any moment living the thrill of mania or a good high. Being sane and clean beats insanity or illegal drug use any day –factoring ups, downs or anything in between. While this may sound like easy logic to some, it presents a life worth living to me. There’s nothing boring about that.
I am choosing to focus on that strength I have discovered and the hope that it offers. I can hope for a life where things get better slowly and I have more good days than bad. I can hope for a life free from the tyranny of perfectionism— a life where instead of impatiently criticizing my own weaknesses, I allow my imperfections teach me empathy.
But there is one feeling that’s unnecessary: the loneliness, and in my time supporting my wife, I’ve never felt more lonely. In times of crisis we tend to wall ourselves away from each other because we’re too afraid to talk about what we’re experiencing. In all of my internet searching, it felt like I was the first husband who had to take his wife to the psych ward, because no one out there was talking or writing about it.