Wednesday, 18 May 2016

MHAW: Experiences of Mental Illness within a Relationship

Saira writes about how mental health problems can be within a relationships and how it is more common than you think to raise awareness for Mental Health Awareness Week.

- Saira Wood
"Dear Wife,
I speak, but I worry that you don't hear my words, or the secrets hidden between them. I cry, but I keep it hidden inside in case you think less of me. I worry, but I stand tall and act strong in hope I'll believe I am. I feel, less of a man, less of a husband, less of a person, but I won't tell anyone because they'll see me as weak.
I wish I were louder, happier, confident, stronger, and proud of myself, but I struggle every day to find myself again. I struggle to understand why you don't leave. How you can love someone like this. Why you still tell me you love me."


"Dear Husband,
You had nightmares again last night. I didn't wake you, but I held you. I kissed your cheek, I gently rocked you and I whispered in your ear that I was here. And just as normal, you fell into a deep sleep. I don't tell you each morning because I know you'll feel embarrassed. I don't want you to have to remember again, talk about it again, relive it again. I washed your favourite shirt for the morning. I made your coffee extra sweet. I used my lunch hour to go get your favourite meal for us to have for dinner. I can't do much about the past, my love, but I can make life now easier. I wish I could stop the nightmares for good, but I can hold you through them. I know deep down you worry about looking weak, needy, fragile and vulnerable...but my love, you have only ever been strong, brave, courageous and incredible."

People understand more than you think. Let's talk about mental health.

Mental health is serious. It's real, and it has no boundaries. From post natal depression, to PTSD, personality disorder to OCD, in fact 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. Yet we still shy away from talking about our problems. Stigma and stereotypes have led to mental illness having a negative connotation when we should be celebrating the positives.
The more people that are diagnosed and treated, the better our understanding, the less taboo the subject, and most importantly....the larger the support system.

It's easy to bottle things up and pretend we can cope, but why should we have to? Relationships in mental health are so important - and when you start to open up about your problems you realise there are so many people dealing with the same disease, and that's just what it is. A disease.
We are not defined by our problems, and we are not controlled them.

People understand more than you think. Let's talk about mental health.

- the stories above were taken from parts of my dissertation where I spoke to a Navy Veteran and his wife 

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