Swallowing My Pride

Warning: This post talks frankly about suicidal ideation.

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If you had asked me the question, “Are you feeling safe?” 2 years ago, I probably would have laughed at you and said, “Of course I feel safe!” But safety takes on a whole new meaning when you’re dealing with mental illness. Since I started dealing with depression, there have been some days where I couldn’t answer that question in the affirmative. There have been days when I haven’t trusted myself to drive, so Stephen and I would carpool. One time my friend wanted to hang out but I was scared to leave the house, so she came and got me and took me to a movie. It is humbling having to admit that I can’t be trusted with myself, with my own thoughts. But it is also wise. If I were to foolishly insist on not having my privacy invaded in these ways, if I were to insist that I could take care of everything myself–like a “normal” person would–then I honestly might be dead. That is why psychiatric hospitals exist–to keep people safe when they cannot do so on their own. 

The other night my husband sat at the kitchen table and we began our weekly ritual: he watched me while I painstakingly refilled my pill box. Until I became depressed, I didn’t give much thought to the medications I took; swallowing pills was a routine I got accustomed to after I got diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. But once depression struck, the pills became more than medication meant to help me function in a healthy way; they became a way for me to end my life. I spent hours fantasizing about swallowing whole bottles of pills. I thought of ways to sneak out of the house with all of my pills and go somewhere else to silence the storm raging in my mind. I would look at the pills in my hand and calculate how many I could take to make a lethal dose. I couldn’t be sure, so I figured the more, the better. 

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Fortunately, I have been in therapy for over a year now, and when the subject of all of those pills came up in a session last September, my therapist insisted that safety measures be put into place at home. The first thing I had to do was tell my husband what I was thinking, which was a very hard conversation to have. The second thing I needed to do was find a way to prevent myself from having access to my medication. Such an idea was repulsive and embarrassing. What kind of person can’t even handle her own medications? My pride bristled greatly at the idea that I couldn’t control myself or trust myself enough to be responsible with my pills, but deep down I knew that the last thing I needed to do at this point in time was trust myself. So Stephen and I researched lock boxes and safes and found one that would work for our purposes. I bought a pill box with detachable containers for each day, so only one day can be out at a time. Now, each morning Stephen puts out that day’s meds and locks the rest of them up in the box, using the code only he knows. 

I say all of this not to garner sympathy or be overly dramatic, but to help you see what mental illness does to a person. Rational thoughts quickly are replaced with irrational ones, and thus it becomes easy to think that my loved ones are better off without me. I have always considered myself a responsible, trustworthy person. I never thought I would think about hiding pills from my husband and make secret plans to leave him and my family, but I have been that person. I wish I weren’t, and hopefully one day this will all be a thing of the past. Until then, I swallow my pride along with my pills and do what I can to keep myself safe so I can be present for years to come. I am grateful that God has stayed my hand and saved me from myself dozens of times. I am grateful He has given me a husband who does the hard things because he loves me. Thanks to both of them, I can lie down and sleep in safety.

Because He Loves Me

Nine years ago today, Stephen and I said, “I do.” We had little idea of what we were really getting into, but we were in love and ready to find out what marriage was all about. Nine years later, I’m not sure I know even now exactly what marriage is all about, but I’m so glad that I have Stephen with me while we figure it out.

Nine years ago, we committed to love each other forever, and for the most part, this has been an easy choice. But it has not been always been an easy road, and we have experienced firsthand loving one another “in sickness and in health.” My health issues over the past few years have tested us–tested our faith, tested our relationship, tested our endurance. I have seen Stephen function almost as a single parent at times when I was too sick to get out of bed. He has helped me use the bathroom, helped me get out of the shower, and lifted my legs up into the bed because I couldn’t do it myself–all things I wouldn’t have expected to need help with until much later in our married life. He has pushed me around stores in a wheelchair after my hip surgeries. I have seen him come home from work and immediately start playing with Charlotte, who loves her daddy more than anyone in the world (even me, as much as I hate to admit it). I have seen him make countless lunches for Charlotte, fix endless cups of coffee for me just the way I like it, save the last dessert for me, and put up with my indecisiveness about, well, almost everything. I have watched as he held our girl for the first time, eyes heavy with sleep but filled with love. I have watched as he paced the floor with our girl while she cried and cried and cried as a newborn. I have watched as he has prayed over our girl, read stories to her, and tickled her in all the right places until they are both collapsing with laughter.There were times when we looked at each other after a night of toddler tantrums, not knowing what in the world to do, but I remember being so thankful that in those moments, I could at least be clueless with him instead of clueless alone.

I knew when I married Stephen that I loved him, but that love has only grown deeper as we have walked the valleys of the past few years and as we have shared in the joys and struggles of parenting. He has done more for me in the past year than I ever thought he would have to do for me, and this humbles me and brings me to tears even now as I think about the many ways he sacrificed for me and our family. He would never want me to feel guilty about any of it, and I know he would do it all over again–each and every day if he had to–because he loves me. And not only does he love me, but he loves the Lord, and it’s because he loves the Lord that he is able to give of himself so fully and so selflessly. We only love because Christ loves us, and I have a daily reminder of God’s love for me in the form of Stephen. Because he loves me, I do not have to fear the future because I know I can face anything with him. Because he loves me, I am safe because I know he will take care of me. Because he loves me, each day is a gift. Because he loves me, I can see a glimpse of the immeasurable love that God has for me through his words and his actions towards me. Because he loves me, I love God more.

I love you, Stephen, and am happy to say “I do” to you every day for the rest of our lives.

Days 15 and 16

Once again, I am playing catch up on the weekend! I will try and do better next weekend!

Day 15: I am thankful for the date night that Stephen and I had on Friday night. Our church sponsors these every so often, and all the parents get to drop their kids off at church for a few hours of free babysitting and then go on a date! We went to Outback and had a yummy dinner and loved spending time together while having conversation that didn’t revolve around a toddler. 🙂

Day 16: I am thankful for the fun day we had as a family. We got several chores done in the morning and then had lunch at Chic-fil-A and let Charlotte play on the playground before going shopping at Target, where we got gifts to put in our Operation Christmas Child box. I love Saturdays when we can all just relax and spend time together as a family.

I hope you all had a great weekend!

Day 6: Let It Rain

It has been a rainy day, and while I sometimes think of rain as a huge nuisance, today I am thankful for it. I love the sound of rain hitting the windows or lightly drumming on the roof. I love the way it makes the streets glisten. I love the way the air smells right before it rains. Without rain, we wouldn’t appreciate the sunlight nearly as much. Without rain, there would be no rainbows.

I also have some fond memories attached to rainy days. I wrote about this at length in an earlier post, only a year after Stephen and I had been married. What struck me when I went back and reread that post is this sentence: “And while we’ve been dealt several times of physical rainfall, thus far we’ve been incredibly blessed not to experience that metaphorical rain of hardship, rain that seeps into your soul and causes you to take cover.” I almost laughed when I read that because we’ve definitely seen our share of hardship since then, most of which occurred in the last year. But I am grateful for the difficult times we have faced because they have strengthened our faith and also strengthened our marriage.

Tonight, as I listen to the rain fall outside, I praise God that He will always provide shelter during the storms we face.