There are three of us in our relationship at times.
I say three because there are now two of me. Jess #1 and Jess #2.
Due to my mental health issues, the Jessica that embodies my depression and anxiety has a bigger presence – Jess #2. That presence has become so much so that on my dark days it dominates the normal ‘me’.
Luckily, there are fewer dark days now. This time last year they were very frequent and the only person who really bore the burden was Kristian.
We have grown up together, passed driving tests together, explored adulthood together, nurtured friendships, lived apart, lived together, navigated parenthood together, developed into who we are today whilst still maintaining a really strong bond. We do life together. I always thought we communicated really well but last Summer I stopped doing that. I felt that talking too much about how I was feeling would render me a burden. So I hid.
When I published my post detailing what happened last Summer, I got such an overwhelming response of love and support from people.
One message, however, really stood out.
It was from a woman who was supporting her husband through his depression. She explained that he did not really communicate with her but that by reading my post, it had put things into perspective and had allowed her some insight into what he must be going through.
The person who I looked to for support and love was probably feeling helpless because he could not help me. It made me realise that it is those who are caring for their loved ones suffering from mental health issues are the ones who are amazing.
Having mental health issues can be all consuming at times. You are so focused on feeling like you are the problem, that by not being here or doing certain things, the people around you would be better off. You constantly blame yourself or put yourself down. The people around you are forgotten. People who love you. Those watching and feeling helpless.
Jess #2 had become so consuming and dark that Jess #1 was shut out. That Jess would not have forgotten about him.
Jess #2 had put him through some bad times, yet he still stuck by me. He allowed us to work things through, allowed me to cry, made sure I was safe if I lashed out, was there to provide comfort and pick up the pieces when I could not get out of bed.
I can imagine that there were times when he mourned for the person he had fallen in love with all those years ago because I had retreated into myself. I was always the crazy one, the one that needed to be grounded, who did not engage brain before mouth, the happy go lucky one.
To an extent I was still there but that side of my personality was being consumed by something darker and heavier. That resulted in tiredness, snappiness, hatred, nastiness at times.
Yet there is light at the end of the tunnel. I have been receiving help for a while now and this is helping me come to terms with the fact that the old me is still there, but I may have to accept my new facets too.
Jess #1 is getting stronger day by day. Sure, I have my blips but I think everyone does! I just need to know my limitations and ensure I practise self care when life is getting too much.
As for Kristian, I am kinder. Jess #2 is mostly in her box these days, however there will always be three of us in the relationship now.
This is not a post meant to be gushy towards Kris either. I want to highlight that those who support others with mental health issues also need to be remembered. They have to carry on with life, their own daily stresses, whilst also taking on the responsibility of support for the other person. That can be draining.
If you need more information on mental health then please visit the Mental Health Foundation to get more information.