Wednesday, June 29, 2016

For better or worse

Photo Cred: Lauren Michelle, Chiaro Photography 
When we get married and say, "I do", we're saying a big fat yes to the unknown.  Yeah, we have our plans and our blueprints, but we don't have any idea of the future that lies ahead, the questions we'll have to answer, the problems we'll have to face.  And it's usually when we walk into an inconvenient part of the Grander Plan that we become frail in carrying out our vows.

There will be those who, with a speck of luck and a dose of grace, have their plans line up with God's, but there will also be those who face the blunt and often harsh reality of the unexpected.  And will have to learn how to cope, adapt, and move forward.

Never did I think that Tim and I would get a taste of the 'for worse' part of our vows in our first few years of marriage.   I'm not sure why, life doesn't stop for anything, I know that.  I guess when I thought of the 'just married' and newlywed years, I thought double incomes, convenience, travel, and date nights.  The struggles that followed our settling down in our first California apartment were the typical newlywed struggles, I suppose - hard budgeting for new baby, new furniture, finding ourselves as husband and wife, who deals with bills and all that.  It was difficult, but I'm grateful for when and where we started our family and the struggles that came with it.  Those times threw us together and formed a resilient team and prepared us, I'm sure, for the harder times.

No, neither Tim nor I received some catastrophic physical diagnosis, but I was formally diagnosed with anxiety and depression.  And that mental health diagnosis has been no easy pill to swallow for either of us.  For nearly the entirety of our marriage, we've gone back and forth on how we can best cope, adapt, and move forward in the wake of that very unwanted, very unwelcome case of mental illness.  And we've struggled, individually and as a team.  Tim's had to learn to understand something that doesn't make sense, I've admittedly and unfortunately, at times, taken my shame and anger at my illness out on him.  But more than we've struggled, we've fought for our unity as a couple and our family's well-being. Tim's rearranged work schedules to take me to therapy sessions, he's packed up 6-month-old Ella and taken me to the ER at 3:30AM for what we found out was only a panic attack, he's - on some days - had to play Mr. Mom when I've been overcome with anxiety-induced depression.  He's reminded me to do my breathing exercises and has made exercising achievable by watching the kids.  He's said, "it's going to be okay" and "you're okay" more than either of us probably thought he would in our first few years as husband and wife.  As for me?  I've checked (tried to) my shame at the door morning after morning, reassured myself my dignity doesn't lie in my ability to do the grocery shopping on my own or not, sacrificed my mental well being for a healthy pregnancy, and have fought my mind each day in attempts to wholly show up for my husband and kids.

I'm aware of the toll mental battles can have on relationships, on marriages.  It's one of the top driving forces behind my not wanting to rest until I found healing.  And, just recently, less than a month ago, I started to feel some healing.  Many ER visits, 2 doctors, a couple medicines, and 3 therapists later, I've begun to feel collected, at peace.  And it's because of Tim's unwavering support and unconditional love that I've made it through to this other side.  After beginning to feel this way, I thanked him for sticking by me, that I didn't know I was depressed until I wasn't and therefore didn't know how it was affecting those around me, and expressed gratitude for taking mental illness seriously.

By now, we've learned agreeing to spend life together means agreeing to our collected and individual highs and lows.  And there will certainly be more lows ahead.  But, on this day of remembering our first "I do", I can't help but to fall to my knees and thank God for placing a guy next to me who's encouraged me to keep fighting and has never failed in picking me up.

Happy Anniversary to my guy, my partner, to the man who keeps saying, "I do" over and over.

Here's to this 'high' of our lives.  Here's to us.  Here's to you.

Our first anniversary post, our second.

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