I am blessed beyond measure to be married to the greatest wife in the world. Okay, I’m obviously bias, but it is the love of a woman that has kept my grip on reality, stayed with me through thick and thin, virtually been a single mom during my darkest hours, and has shown patience and steadfastness when many would have left. She is a gift beyond price and a treasure I do not deserve.
As I look at my illness and ongoing recovery, this is one piece of the puzzle I have not blogged about. I don’t know. It’s almost too private even for an anonymous blog. But I believe a little introspection might be in order.
People who suffer from depression or other mental illnesses are what in our day we would call “high maintenence.” That may not even be strong enough. When you can’t move, can’t get out of bed or bother to eat, it requires help from others. Serious help. That help may come from lots of sources (doctors, counselors, pastors, friends, etc.), but the rubber really hits the road with the ones you live with every day.
For many (though not all) that will mean a spouse. I’m going to speak as a husband and a father, because that’s what I know best. Most households are a hodgepodge of shared responsibilities, bearing one another’s burdens, centered in Christ and in the family that He has created. This is good, right and salutary. In the “normal” phases of our marriage, that has been the case.
But when I have been on the dark road, she has often been alone. Family and friends don’t understand, and she has been left holding the bag on everything from breakfast to bills to mowing the lawn or whatever else there may be. I truly don’t know how single moms do it. Then on top of all of the household matters, there is our children and me.
I don’t write this to hold her up as the model wife or to demonstrate how God has blessed me. My point is that the pressure put on the family during a mental illness is staggering. Many families don’t survive. I can understand that, as tragic as it is.
But time and time again, I hear stories of the strength and faith that wives have shown to their husbands who are sick, even sick in the head. I am always in amazement and wonder that God gives such strength, and that we are taken care of day in and day out.
I don’t know how to thank her other than work on getting better. I don’t know how to recognize her. I want to throw her a parade, give her a gold medal or something spectacular. But right now all I can do is keep moving along, a day at a time, praying that God will grant me healing so that I can always be there for her as she has been there for me.
For those of you who suffer as I do, don’t forget those whom God has placed in your path. They are your lifeline and will give you strength when it seems impossible. For those of you whose husband is a pastor (or some other vocation) who suffers from depression and anxiety, I salute you. You are all my heroes.
Finally, to the love of my life (you know who you are), you are God’s greatest gift to me outside of His dear Son. Even if I don’t show it as I ought, it is always true. Te amo.