April 6, 2021

Depression In Marriage: Tips for Supporting Your Spouse AND Yourself!

Relationships

Hey I’m Lisa and welcome back to my channel! And in today’s video I want to provide you some very practical strategies for supporting a loved one with mental illness. So this coming Wednesday January 30th is Bell Let’s Talk. This is an amazing initiative to raise awareness around mental health in Canada and for the last two years my husband I participated in some of the media segments that go to support this very important campaign.

So if you want to get caught up on our story and how we realized that mental illness was very much prevalent in our marriage, I’ll put some of those videos in the cards. But very quickly, we encountered depression and anxiety in a very serious way about year five of our marriage, and what I would say is for the last five six years now is that we have been working hard to design our life so that we can not (just) “survive” mental illness, but thrive with mental illness. I want to begin this video and share that everyone’s mental illness journey is different, but what I do think is universal are some of the ways that someone can practically support a loved one with mental illness. Step one is you need to bring in outside help.

And what do I mean by this? If you’re a momma listening to this- and I believe this goes for everybody, not just if your spouse has mental illness but EVERYBODY needs to bring in some help. Who is doing all the laundry?

Who is doing all the dishes? Who is giving you a little bit of a break because when you are the spouse of someone with mental illness?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsut47NlJAA Sometimes you are carrying the load, sometimes it’s heavy and you need rest, and you and your partner need rest.

That’s a really important element of this as well, and so to bring in somebody who can free you up a little bit, whether it be asking your mom to come over, you know, every single Saturday and help you with some laundry and some dishes so that you and your spouse can go and have a coffee. Or hiring a babysitter who can come over (even if it’s just once a week) and give you a couple of hours where you can just lie in a room and be quiet or watch Netflix for four hours. Whatever you want. I think, again, take mental illness out of the equation completely- I think it’s really difficult when a husband and a wife only rely on each other to take breaks. I just think it’s unrealistic, and I think that’s where resentment builds up a lot.

When we’re sort of relying on our partner but we haven’t really communicated our needs or we haven’t really communicated like what we’re expecting of them, we’re just expecting them to get it. Add mental illness to the picture and it’s like a whole other, like, can of worms that it’s not really… it’s yet another thing, it’s not really fair to expect of your spouse. If I can be so bold to say that I just think, hands down, it’s so important that you bring in help and also just give you and your spouse a little bit of time and space to be together, I think is so important. So my first practical strategy is to bring in help for the house and for childcare. The second very practical thing I would say to support a spouse or a loved one with mental illness is to help them remember who they are.

This is just my experience but I think it’s also the experience of other people who love a person that has mental illness: when they are in the depths of depression, for example, because that’s the mental illness that I know, when they’re in depression and in anxiety they are not seeing themselves clearly. So they might be seeing themselves as worthless, they might be seeing themselves as a burden to the home… I believe it’s our role, it’s our job as the people who love them to remind them of who they really are.

To sort of take off this distorted view the way they’re seeing themselves and to bring that person back to the way that you see, them the way that their friends see them, the way that the rest of the world sees them I think this is like the magic key. But this is also really difficult because as I mentioned in practical point number one, sometimes you’re doing this alone, and so I think resentment can be high sometimes and it’s a hard thing when you’re feeling like you’re resenting this person to also love them and bring them out of themselves. But I would just encourage you as a person who loves them to let love win. I have a friend who literally got a piece of art commissioned and she hung it above her bed and it’s a phrase that really connects her in her spouse. I’m actually gonna try to find… hang on really quick Oh here, oh my gosh, this is so beautiful.

Ohhh this is so beautiful. So I just found the phrase that my friend put above her bed and it’s so beautiful. And this is what’s so important. Whether you use these words or other words, but this is what especially a spouse… this is what a spouse needs to hear when they are in the depths of mental illness. “I choose you, and I’ll choose you over and over, without pause, without a doubt, in a heartbeat. I’ll keep choosing you and I choose you in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of life, I’d find you and I choose you.” When someone is in the depths of mental illness they feel like crap.

They feel like they’re a burden, they feel like, and this is what my husband tells me, it could be different for everybody but this is what I’ve come to understand about mental illness. It kicks you where you hurt and makes you feel horrible about yourself. And so I think as people who love these people, if we can just do our best to remind them that we choose them, like, those are really powerful words. So I’d encourage you to find words that help your spouse just remember how much you love them.

The third practical thing that I think we can do as people who support the one with mental illness is to not compare them. I remember I used to put immense amounts of pressure on my husband to do many things (laughter) just like, full stop. I am a choleric in temperament, which means that I really like control. I really like things my way. And so, you name it, I had preferences about how my husband would do things, how he put a napkin on his lap, the way that we would go out in public at parties, the way… what we would do on like a Sunday afternoon.

I had all kinds of preferences, and so again, take mental illness out of it- I constantly had expectations of my husband. One of the things that I have found and that I know other people find with mental illness is that sometimes social engagements look very different than the way that you had intended. So there have been many a party, many a gathering, many a dinner event where my husband and I have either chosen not to go because of a… you know, challenging bout of anxiety, or we’re at the very last minute he has cancelled and I have gone alone. This used to really frustrate me, and this used to make me just constantly compare to other people. “Oh, look, So-and-so get to go and relax together.

Look at how much fun they’re having.” And what I wish I could have known then is what I know now: is that forcing my husband to live up to an expectation that I have is not fair. I like to liken this to you know any other physical disability because mental health is health! So for example if my husband was in a wheelchair, let’s just say and we had to make accommodations like a ramp in my house or an elevator or what-have-you. We would make those kinds of accommodations and I wouldn’t be mad about it.

I wouldn’t be mad at him about it because he cannot help that he’s in a wheelchair. It would not be fair or kind or compassionate of me if I were to be mad at him for being in a wheelchair. I think mental illness is similar. There are things that are just natural limitations when a person has mental illness, and it’s not really fair if we get frustrated or mad at them for it. Can you be frustrated?

Absolutely, of course. If you are a person like me who is very social and likes to engage, you know, in group activities, and you want your spouse there with you, of course I understand that that can be frustrating. Could you also just give up your preference in that manner? Can you still go have fun on your own?

Hey I’m Lisa and welcome back to my channel! And in today’s video I want to provide you some very practical strategies for supporting a loved one with mental illness. So this coming Wednesday January 30th is Bell Let’s Talk. This is an amazing initiative to raise awareness around mental health in Canada and for the last two years my husband I participated in some of the media segments that go to support this very important campaign.

So if you want to get caught up on our story and how we realized that mental illness was very much prevalent in our marriage, I’ll put some of those videos in the cards. But very quickly, we encountered depression and anxiety in a very serious way about year five of our marriage, and what I would say is for the last five six years now is that we have been working hard to design our life so that we can not (just) “survive” mental illness, but thrive with mental illness. I want to begin this video and share that everyone’s mental illness journey is different, but what I do think is universal are some of the ways that someone can practically support a loved one with mental illness. Step one is you need to bring in outside help.

And what do I mean by this? If you’re a momma listening to this- and I believe this goes for everybody, not just if your spouse has mental illness but EVERYBODY needs to bring in some help. Who is doing all the laundry?

Who is doing all the dishes? Who is giving you a little bit of a break because when you are the spouse of someone with mental illness? Sometimes you are carrying the load, sometimes it’s heavy and you need rest, and you and your partner need rest.

Relationships

That’s a really important element of this as well, and so to bring in somebody who can free you up a little bit, whether it be asking your mom to come over, you know, every single Saturday and help you with some laundry and some dishes so that you and your spouse can go and have a coffee. Or hiring a babysitter who can come over (even if it’s just once a week) and give you a couple of hours where you can just lie in a room and be quiet or watch Netflix for four hours. Whatever you want. I think, again, take mental illness out of the equation completely- I think it’s really difficult when a husband and a wife only rely on each other to take breaks. I just think it’s unrealistic, and I think that’s where resentment builds up a lot.

When we’re sort of relying on our partner but we haven’t really communicated our needs or we haven’t really communicated like what we’re expecting of them, we’re just expecting them to get it. Add mental illness to the picture and it’s like a whole other, like, can of worms that it’s not really… it’s yet another thing, it’s not really fair to expect of your spouse. If I can be so bold to say that I just think, hands down, it’s so important that you bring in help and also just give you and your spouse a little bit of time and space to be together, I think is so important. So my first practical strategy is to bring in help for the house and for childcare. The second very practical thing I would say to support a spouse or a loved one with mental illness is to help them remember who they are.

This is just my experience but I think it’s also the experience of other people who love a person that has mental illness: when they are in the depths of depression, for example, because that’s the mental illness that I know, when they’re in depression and in anxiety they are not seeing themselves clearly. So they might be seeing themselves as worthless, they might be seeing themselves as a burden to the home… I believe it’s our role, it’s our job as the people who love them to remind them of who they really are.

To sort of take off this distorted view the way they’re seeing themselves and to bring that person back to the way that you see, them the way that their friends see them, the way that the rest of the world sees them I think this is like the magic key. But this is also really difficult because as I mentioned in practical point number one, sometimes you’re doing this alone, and so I think resentment can be high sometimes and it’s a hard thing when you’re feeling like you’re resenting this person to also love them and bring them out of themselves. But I would just encourage you as a person who loves them to let love win. I have a friend who literally got a piece of art commissioned and she hung it above her bed and it’s a phrase that really connects her in her spouse. I’m actually gonna try to find… hang on really quick Oh here, oh my gosh, this is so beautiful.

Ohhh this is so beautiful. So I just found the phrase that my friend put above her bed and it’s so beautiful. And this is what’s so important. Whether you use these words or other words, but this is what especially a spouse… this is what a spouse needs to hear when they are in the depths of mental illness. “I choose you, and I’ll choose you over and over, without pause, without a doubt, in a heartbeat. I’ll keep choosing you and I choose you in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of life, I’d find you and I choose you.” When someone is in the depths of mental illness they feel like crap.

They feel like they’re a burden, they feel like, and this is what my husband tells me, it could be different for everybody but this is what I’ve come to understand about mental illness. It kicks you where you hurt and makes you feel horrible about yourself. And so I think as people who love these people, if we can just do our best to remind them that we choose them, like, those are really powerful words. So I’d encourage you to find words that help your spouse just remember how much you love them.

The third practical thing that I think we can do as people who support the one with mental illness is to not compare them. I remember I used to put immense amounts of pressure on my husband to do many things (laughter) just like, full stop. I am a choleric in temperament, which means that I really like control. I really like things my way. And so, you name it, I had preferences about how my husband would do things, how he put a napkin on his lap, the way that we would go out in public at parties, the way… what we would do on like a Sunday afternoon.

I had all kinds of preferences, and so again, take mental illness out of it- I constantly had expectations of my husband. One of the things that I have found and that I know other people find with mental illness is that sometimes social engagements look very different than the way that you had intended. So there have been many a party, many a gathering, many a dinner event where my husband and I have either chosen not to go because of a… you know, challenging bout of anxiety, or we’re at the very last minute he has cancelled and I have gone alone. This used to really frustrate me, and this used to make me just constantly compare to other people. “Oh, look, So-and-so get to go and relax together.

Look at how much fun they’re having.” And what I wish I could have known then is what I know now: is that forcing my husband to live up to an expectation that I have is not fair. I like to liken this to you know any other physical disability because mental health is health! So for example if my husband was in a wheelchair, let’s just say and we had to make accommodations like a ramp in my house or an elevator or what-have-you. We would make those kinds of accommodations and I wouldn’t be mad about it.

I wouldn’t be mad at him about it because he cannot help that he’s in a wheelchair. It would not be fair or kind or compassionate of me if I were to be mad at him for being in a wheelchair. I think mental illness is similar. There are things that are just natural limitations when a person has mental illness, and it’s not really fair if we get frustrated or mad at them for it. Can you be frustrated?

Absolutely, of course. If you are a person like me who is very social and likes to engage, you know, in group activities, and you want your spouse there with you, of course I understand that that can be frustrating. Could you also just give up your preference in that manner? Can you still go have fun on your own?

If you’re an extrovert and a sanguine (I’m a sanguine choleric) you’re gonna have fun anyways even if you go alone because you love people, you know what I mean? And rather than put the pressure and compare your spouse to either other people or to a previous version of themselves, I just don’t think that is fair. And it’s definitely not going to set your relationship up for success. It requires sacrifice and it definitely requires relenting of your preferences in a lot of ways.

But if you can think that you’re putting your spouse’s preference, you’re putting his health ahead of your preferences, I think that can be really helpful. The fourth way I think that someone can practically support a spouse or a loved one with mental illness is: to resist the urge to be resentful. This one is really hard because mental illness can sometimes suck life out of marriage, can suck life out of a person. Sometimes mental illness puts the brakes on a lot of things and so resentment, I think, from what I’ve experienced both in myself as well as in other people that I’ve talked to, that resentment can just fester. So number one, this is a normal and natural feeling.

Resentment happens in all marriages, it’s not like, you know this is… this is just a normal part of human beings being in relationship resentment can happen. But I think where mental illness is concerned, I think it’s really important that resentment is, like, addressed. Because if it festers for too long I think it’s just kind of a recipe for disaster.

So how do we actually not let resentment win? Again, we let love win and this might… this might sound like cliche, and just like rhetoric, but it’s truth: I think when we can see that some of our relenting of preferences, that some of our you know, sacrifices that we do need to make, some of the modifications or changes that we need to make in life, if we can see that sacrifice, as love, I believe that resentment can go away. And if you have a Christian understanding of life I also think if you invite God into this and ask him for the strength to get through all of this, that can curb resentment 100 percent as well. Maybe there are ways if you can’t work it out together, are there other things that you can do? Like for example ,what I said in point 1, bringing in outside help so that perhaps resentment isn’t happening around things like laundry and dishes and picking up, you know, around the house that can be like, I would love for you to just consider right now is that the point that’s like the sticking point?

That’s causing conflict? That’s actually kind of an easy fix if you have someone that you can call on for support! And again I’m not saying this is easy, but I’m saying that I think in this case that we let love win as opposed to resentment. And then the fifth practical thing I think that someone who is supporting a loved one who mental illness can do is: to ensure they’re getting rest and help themselves. We provide a lot of care, we provide a lot of support, and so we can’t give from an empty well.

So what could support for you look like? Support for you could look like insuring you’re getting okay sleep, ensuring that you’re eating well, ensuring that the things that you and control, like eating, like exercise, are happening in regular ways. And I’ve got all kinds of other videos on this topic, you know, because I understand how hard it is. I’ve got seven kids, I get it. I’ve been on a whole fitness and food journey and I’ll link those videos for you in the cards, but I totally get that it’s hard.

But the things that you can control, I would encourage you to ensure that you are taking care of yourself and getting the encouragement and support that you need. And then one thing that I find is really helpful in Canada- there are support lines that you can call. They are, you know, anonymous, you don’t need anything to qualify to spend some time with these people on the phone, but literally you can call a support line where someone will just listen, and you can just talk. I have found this so helpful when I haven’t been in regular counselling or therapy myself, if I just sort of on a one-off, or I’m feeling very burnt out and really need someone to listen, you can call these lines and someone will just be a supportive ear, a non-judgmental, a non problem-solving just a supportive ear.

And sometimes that’s all we need as the people who are supporting a loved one with mental illness. You definitely don’t want to suffer alone and if this is you or someone you love I just want you to know that you are not alone. There is always hope! If you liked this video I would love for you to give it a big thumbs up and to hit that SUBSCRIBE button.

And Cheers to designing your beautiful life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *