I Love Him Because...

My mental health is important to him.

Too many people ignore or brush off the importance of mental health in our society. If you say you see a therapist or let on that you struggle with depression, anxiety, stress, etc. it's like you get a black mark put on you, and that does not facilitate open discussion or healing and health. Everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon and speak out when a public tragedy like the one with Chester Bennington occurs, but what about all the other days? What about the millions of people who take their lives and people just go on like "oh, that's sad." or with no comment or care at all?

I struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts through my teen and young adult years, but with counseling and a lot of hard work, I built up my toolbox to help me get through, and out of those places. No one knew this, I didn't mope around or broadcast my feelings. If you ask anyone who knew me back then, they'd probably tell you I seemed happy most of the time, driven, ambitious, competitive. But in my head there was this constant battle going on between living and dying. At the age of sixteen, I sat in a living room chair, ready to give it all up, when a friend called me out of the blue. That person will never know it, because we lost touch a long time ago, but they saved my life that day.

My husband is sensitive to the things I've worked hard on, the things that can take me down if I let them, and while he makes me take responsibilty for my well-being, he's there when and if I need him. I joke and talk about how I can be a whiny-baby, and sometimes I'll get in a mood that he'll break me out of, but in all seriousness, he knows me well enough to know when there's a problem, and yes, he'll do everything he can to help me get back to a good place, including making an appointment for me with our therapist.

When I have nightmares (which hasn't happened in more than a year, thankfully), he'll keep a close eye on me for a couple of days. When I was writing One More Last Chance, and it took a dark turn, he made me stop, take a break, get out of my head for a few days, then kept an eye on me when I got back to writing. He doesn't hover, and he doesn't coddle, but my husband knows me better than anyone. He feels me, and he'll step in on my behalf if it's necessary.

There's nothing "wrong" with people who struggle with their mental health. It's just like someone who struggles with their physical health - it takes hard work, sometimes medication, to get to a healthy place and stay there. Your body rests, you can force your body to rest - your mind is a whole other world. The brain doesn't rest, and training it, training your thoughts, training your response to thoughts, is HARD work. I totally and completely understand the devastating place someone gets to when they just can't do it anymore.

But the mental health thing is such a stigmatized issue that people are afraid, ashamed, embarrassed, to speak up, to ask for help, to let someone know they're struggling, they're exhausted, to tell someone, "I'm just so tired. I can't do it anymore."

It is really, really sad that that's the state of our society, but I am so blessed to have a man in my life who truly cares about my health in every area, and he never, ever, tells me I should "get over it." He never makes me feel less, never makes me feel anything but loved, adored, and supported.

I love my husband because he's strong enough to care for my weaknesses with compassion, understanding, and unconditional love.