I’m fighting myself hard right now.
My husband is in a stressful season of life. He has not been his bubbly, funny self these last couple of days. While my husband, just like everyone else, is allowed to have bad days, I can’t help but worry.
Some people have bad days. But for Jeremy, bad days can turn into suicidal thoughts. And those thoughts can turn into actions. Because they have before.
Jeremy is a five-time suicide attempt survivor. He has severe depression. In those years when we fought so hard to keep him alive, I was constantly on my toes. I didn’t sleep…ever. Because if I did sleep, I would wake up to find him missing from our bed. My heart would start pounding…even if he was just using the restroom.
But then there was the time I woke to find he had written me a suicide note and left it in our kitchen. Every part of me believed he was gone that night. Thank God I found him still alive. But I stopped sleeping after that. To me at that time of life, sleep meant weakness. Sleep meant less to me than my husband’s life. So I stayed awake…to keep watch. To be sure my husband stayed alive.
But life changed…
Jeremy learned to fight his depression. He learned to reach out for help, to tell the truth, and to no longer try to fight this battle alone. We both found healing in sharing our truth. And it has now been over 2 years since Jeremy had suicidal thoughts. He’s doing well.
And today, Jeremy’s just having a bad day. He’s allowed to have a bad day. He’s human. Yes he has depression. But his symptoms are well-managed. He takes his medications, meets with his counselor, talks to his pastor, and reaches out if he’s struggling. Today is a bad day. It’s just a bad day. Can you tell I’m trying to convince myself?
You see, as Jeremy’s wife and primary support person, it’s very hard to not go back to the person I felt I had to be at one point in my life…the reason he was still alive.
I put an awful lot on my shoulders for an awful long time. I tried to save Jeremy. I tried to be the reason he was alive. I refused to give up the control. And it nearly killed me.
So here I sit in my living room. I type this as my husband lies restless in the other room. He can’t shut off his brain because he’s worried. He knows I’m here, and I’ve asked him multiple times what his number is. It’s our system: 1 is he feels himself, 2 means he’s down, 3 is suicidal thoughts, 4 is he has a plan and it’s time to go to somewhere safe. We came up with numbers so we woudn’t have to constantly say the word, “suicidal.” It got really old. Our life revolved around that word.
It doesn’t now. We’ve learned how to live…not just stay alive. And we won’t go back to that. I won’t.
I can’t be the reason my husband is okay.
That’s too much pressure for any human to bear. Jeremy has to reach out for help. He has to fight his mental illness by accepting help from others and by using the tools he has learned through years of counseling. Yes, I’ll be here for him to offer encouragement and support because I know it’s so much harder for him. And when he asks me for help, you bet your boots I’ll be there for him in any way he needs. But I won’t do it for him. I can’t.
So tonight I can do the one thing I’ve learned to do so well…pray. I pray Jeremy gets through the hard days without his mental illness becoming a factor. I pray the suicidal thoughts stay away. I pray for the strength to not take my husband’s mental health on my shoulders. I pray for our family to stay healthy. I pray for Jeremy to continue accepting help and fighting. I pray…and fall asleep praying.
My husband is the strongest person I know because he’s a fighter…more importantly because he’s a believer. I imagine Jesus holding my husband as he lies in our bed tonight. I’m in the living room. Jesus has this. He has us.