Thursday, April 11

love and marriage series: challenges...

This week's theme for the Love and Marriage Series hosted by Lindsey at A Dollop of Life and a bunch of other cool bloggers is CHALLENGES.  I thought I knew exactly what this post would be about, but it took a completely different turn than I expected.  This post is very personal, and was extremely difficult to write.  I considered not publishing it because it reveals so many of my flaws, and I don't know if I'm comfortable being this real online!  What I do feel confident about is that reading the other bloggers' posts in this Love and Marriage Series continues to be a blessing to me, and I hope that someone out there can read my stories and find something meaningful, too.


For me, the biggest challenge in my relationship with Mr. Q has been my depression.  I haven't talked about my mental health very much on this blog because it didn't seem appropriate, but here we go.  I experienced an episode of major depression during my third year of college, right around the time that my dad's kidneys failed and he had to start dialysis treatments - the stress of being away from my family and childhood friends, living farther from Grounds, and taking the max number of credits the dean would allow in order to get my dual degree was getting to me.

Basically, I couldn't get out of bed.  I knew I had classes to go to, meetings to attend, and that it's a good idea to shower regularly, but staying in bed always won.  I think I missed a whole month of one of my English classes - thank goodness for large lecture classes where the professors don't take attendance and the evening seminar meetings with the teaching assistant!  One thing I was making it to was small group Bible study meetings, and one of the girls in my SG offered to go to Student Health with me.  That was what it took for me to overcome the anxiety I'd built up around seeking medical help.  I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and when it became clear that counseling alone was not getting me through the day because I was having regular panic attacks and not sleeping at night, a psychiatrist prescribed an SSRI (Zoloft, in my case) and sleeping pills (Ambien).  Both of these medications really helped me get my life back on track, but over time I started to feel like Zoloft was making me feel kind of dull - as if I was playing a role  and displaying the emotions I thought people expected me to feel rather than actually experiencing feelings.  I wasn't sinking into the depths of depression anymore, but I wasn't feeling real happiness either.  I also started to have trouble with my memory and thought that the medicine might have been part of the problem.  I was having to keep an insane day planner that included basics like "eat breakfast" because if I didn't write down a reminder to do those things, they wouldn't happen.  I tapered off the medication with a doctor's help.  Since I was at college when I tapered off, I don't think Mr. Q can ever really understand how difficult that was for me, and it seems like it took him a while to understand that depression is a chemical condition in the brain, not just me being overemotional.

Even though I learned to handle my depression a lot better, I still go through some major depressive episodes every now and then.  My system is apparently very sensitive to changes in medication, hormones, and even diet, and sometimes I am really not myself- I'll throw things, write horrible things in my journal, and basically shut down.  The worst thing about dealing with depression is that ideas come into my head that have no validity, but seem so real and sometimes I hate myself or turn away from Mr. Q in those moments.  He is so wonderful, though - I think any other man would have thrown up his hands and said it's too hard to deal with.  Mr. Q helps me come back to the truth and lets me know that I am worthy of love even when I don't feel that way.

I wanted to share this music video for "I Won't Let You Go," by James Morrison, because when I saw it for the first time I immediately thought of Mr. Q taking care of me through my depressive episodes.


Money has been much less of a challenge than anticipated!  Even though we knew it could potentially be tricky, we started a joint bank account when we got married and got rid of our separate accounts.  Both of our families had joint bank accounts growing up, so it just seemed like a natural thing to do, and I worried that otherwise we might end up with resentment over who was paying which bill.  It's our money.  We did have one little bump that ended with me basically demanding that all major purchases be discussed as a couple in advance.  The real question is, why didn't we have that policy to begin with?


Time for a confession I am not proud of:  I experienced some not-so-cool feelings about my husband's weight loss journey.  Since last July, Mr. Q has lost 90 pounds and become a serious road bicyclist.  I should be the super-supportive rah-rah wife, but instead my brain says things like... "this hobby is expensive!" and "it's not fair that you can lose weight and I can't!" and even "how is this newly skinny man going to be attracted to this chunky woman?"  Rationally I understand that he is a man with a relatively fast metabolism and tons of drive, and I am a woman with PCOS who doesn't automatically think "physical activity" when I'm trying to decide what to do with my free time.  I'm also feeling a little bit like the kid not picked for the team because where we used to both be homebodies and spend almost all of our not-at-work time together, now Mr. Q is a member of a bicycle club and has friends with similar interests who live close by and is out doing athletic stuff with them a lot (all of my friends live thirty minutes to an hour away in my hometown so hanging out with them during the work week is not realistic).  I am resentful of my husband's success, and I know how awful that is.  I can't help feeling left behind because this started out as something we were going to do together and I didn't have access to the same resources and support system.

Then there's the issue of this guy who looks like a stranger to me sitting across from me at the dinner table and lying next to me at night.  When I had a nightmare that Mr. Q was actually an alien from outer space, I realized just how messed up my subconscious was, and I've been trying to get a grip and be thankful that Mr. Q has been so successful in finding a new passion and achieving his health goals!  Part of marriage is growing together and knowing that we're not going to be the exact same people we were in our 20's for the rest of our lives!  We've been walking 2-5K a few times each week and I'm sure it's not fun to walk with a lady who complains whenever there's an uphill climb or the sun gets too hot (in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, might I remind you).  My husband is awesome.

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