Hubby is a patient man. Strong, loving, considerate too, but mostly patient (in the extreme). He has a tough job sometimes – he has me. Granted, I have my good points (too many to list, obviously) but then there’s also that nasty cloud/dog/bubble aspect just waiting in the wings, ready to pounce as soon as I let my guard down. And when it pounces on me, it pounces on him too.

                                        Image from I HAD A BLACK DOG copyright Matthew Johnstone 2006


But there are varying degrees of pounce. This last few weeks, as you may have noticed if you’ve been keeping up with my writing, things have slipped a little. I’m getting by, I’m going to work, I’m interacting with people, I’m doing my share at home. I’m functioning fine. But underneath it? Underneath it things are a little grey, and I’m having to push that much harder than I’m happy with.

So how does this relate to Hubby? In the answering of the age old question – ‘How are you doing?’ My standard response this last while – ‘I’m fine’. And we all know what that stands for, right? Fucked up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. He knows that too, and somewhere in my mind, I know that. But always, always, it takes time to see it. We had a chat about this yesterday, after I finally conceded that I’m not in great form. Needless to say, he already knew, and has known for a while. But in neglecting to tell him, I set a chain of events in motion, a pattern that we both recognise and dread. The potted version goes something like this:

  • Hubby: ‘How are you doing?’
  • Me: ‘I’m fine, why?’ Usually said in a terse, defensive tone
  • Hubby: ‘Just checking’
  • Now my internal monologue starts – why does he keep asking me that? He’s the one in bad form, not me. But it always has to be my fault, doesn’t it, it’s always me that’s the problem. Well feck him anyway, I’m just going to keep out of his way till he cops on to himself.
  • What he sees – me getting angry for no apparent reason and withdrawing, being snappy and short, claiming to be fine when clearly I’m not.
  • What he does – goes into self defense mode. It’s too hard to be on the receiving end of this angry version of me, and so he has to protect himself. He withdraws.
  • I withdraw further………….and so on and so on.
I’m sure you can see how quickly this could spiral out of control. Thankfully, after many years of living with this, we’re both starting to recognise more quickly when this is what’s going on. We even managed to laugh about it yesterday. And that’s when it starts to get easier again. Once I admit that I’m not doing so well, the hard shell around me seems to soften a little. I’m still not great, but at least he knows, and instead of pushing him away, we can hug. This helps him too, because then he knows it’s not personal. I don’t expect him to make it better for me, that’s not up to him, but he can support me, and in turn, I can reassure him that he isn’t actually the problem. More importantly, I can see that he’s not the problem.
We’re learning, all the time. Every time I slip, every time we talk and see what we can do to make it better, we’re gaining another level of defence against depression. So while these blips are unpleasant, we can take something from them. That’s what counts. 
So how am I today? I’m not fine. But I am ok. 

This article has 4 Comments

  1. I SO identify with everything you say. I'm not fine yet either and had a rather patronising session with a new SHO yesterday, not helpful. Said i must avoid stress and do more duh! Hopes i will hav started knitting and be wearing trainers at my nxt visit in 2 wks. Ur blogs are really reassuring

    1. I should probably know, but what's SHO stand for? Wouldn't it be great if we could all just avoid stress and do more? If only it was that simple!!
      I'm really glad you're finding the blog helpful, for every person who says that it also helps me realise I'm not the only one. Works both ways!

  2. You remind me of a few continuums that were part of life with my late parents:

    Dad: 1. Rotten ~ 2.Good ~ 3.Never Better
    Mother: 1. Exisitng ~ 2. Surviving~ 3. Living ~ 4. Flyin'

    One word said it all and thankfully, they didn't do 'fine.' It's such an unhelpful situation when 'fine' is a veneer to block out loved ones. It seems to be the best bet with strangers or relative strangers, not sure if you agree with that?

    1. That seems reasonable. The state of our general health, never mind mental health, isn't usually a topic for strangers, so fine works there. But like you say, when it's blocking out those closest to you, not helpful. I think your folks used good words!

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