So Jade has trusted me to take over her blog and discuss my part of our journey with mental health, She has been extremely open in regards to her situation however this is our lives and some things are best kept private, but I do want to touch on some things and as it’s currently Mental Health Awareness Week this is the perfect time to talk..
I want to start off by saying – we have come a long way from the darkest point, and I just want to share how it effected me and most importantly us. Mental health is one of the hardest things you can go through and I respect anyone who is dealing with their own mental health or supporting someone with mental health issues. I’m nowhere near an expert but I have experienced a lot with Jade over the past few years and I hope that by me sharing my experience’s it could help someone else who is in my position. It’s a long and complex journey and I’m still learning and understanding it everyday! Right here we go!!
My mentality is that the man should always be able to protect and look after the lady in his life – and I take pride in being able to do that. But with mental health it is different – very different! At first I felt I couldn’t do enough or that I wasn’t good enough, I felt like just being around Jade wouldn’t help because I would become frustrated and angry when I couldn’t help make the wrong right. Before then I had always known how to pick Jade up when she was a little down, upset or was sick, but mental health felt some what of an impossible maze – I took several attempts to find the end but I was very much still stuck with no way out!
I couldn’t get my head around why Jade felt the way she felt I have always loved her unconditionally and I always thought we had a very strong and loving relationship – but I started to worry about things like; was it me? Was she unhappy in our relationship? Was it because we moved away from her family and she felt as though she had no one to turn to? I realised that I was being quite selfish about the whole situation, I was just thinking everything was because of me – why else would she be like this, the more I worried the harder it all became from both of us!
To my naivety I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t calm down when she was having an anxiety or panic attack – I have never experienced them, I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t leave the house or see our family and friends as these are all things that make me feel happy. It’s really difficult for someone who has never gone through something like this to be understanding, and I thought everything would just work out and riding it out would be best. So I never talked to anyone, not my parents, best friends, boss, but most importantly I didn’t speak to Jade! I just kept putting more and more pressure on myself and that didn’t help any of the situations I was in, in turn that added to Jade’s mental health concerns.
The tension and worry got so bad myself and Jade had a huge emotional breakdown and this pushed us to finally open up to each other about everything. I finally started to understand how Jade was feeling and she knew I still loved everything about her, Jade would explain how there was times she just needed me to be in the same room as her even if she was doing her own thing just to know I was there, then there would be other times where she would need a hug and to let it all out, and times where she would need to be left alone, again im not perfect and im still learning as we move forward.
Due to everything going on I wasn’t able to shut off in work which effected my day-to-day tasks in what was already a stressful job. I was really struggling in work, not because I didn’t have the capability but because my personal life was making everything extremely hard! I couldn’t perform to the best of my ability due to my sleep being all over the place, I was angry, frustrated, disorganized with zero concentration! My Job at the time was a manager where I had a team of people who needed 100% of Rhys to support them, but I was only able to give 50% on a good day!! I was always good at separating my home life and work life but due to all the pressure and stress I was feeling at the time I was making mistakes in my role and I felt like it was snowballing. This is when I realised it was time to speak to my boss, I broke down and spoke to him about the situation I was in outside of work and decided to step down from my role, the moment I did this I felt a weight lift off my shoulders, I took away the stress of work to focus on what was most important in my life which is and always will be Jade. It meant a pay cut but I couldn’t put a price on what was going on at the time in mine and Jades life! (The hardest part of taking a pay cut was cancelling sky sports! I think Jade was happy about that though!) This wasn’t a quick fix but I felt that I was in a better place to support Jade and not have the worry of work.
It’s not been easy, the last 2 years have been some of the hardest I have ever experienced but it does get better – the more you talk the more you learn, I still don’t know every sign Jade has when she’s having a “blue day” but I truly try my best to pick up on the little things, I’ve learnt to be there when she needs me, put my arms around her when she needs it, leave her alone when she needs it, try to get her out of the house as often as I can – even if it’s just taking Coco for a walk. But also let her have a PJ day with lots of TV if she needs it.
In my experience there isn’t enough support for anyone, Jade has struggled for 2 years to get little support from doctors or counselling and the wait lists for therapy are so long that she’s still waiting to hear back from them! There is a massive issue with funding and a lot of the support that’s available is all charity based – which is why the wait times can be long. It is infuriating and disappointing to know how many people suffer with this awful illness, especially the people who have no one to turn to for support. Some of the best support functions anyone can have is your family, friends, work colleagues and managers. One of my biggest regrets I have is not talking to someone sooner. I was too proud to talk until it was too late and I let it affect me too much, I would never talk about what was going on in my head – but since I broke down in front of my manager I finally feel able to talk about what I have experienced.
I attended a mindfulness course which was a big help especially for people who are supporting someone who suffers and you have little experience when it comes to mental health. It’s a 6 week program run every week for about 2 hours, it may work for some of you so check it out. Speak to your doctor, see if there is anything in your area that offers support!
I just want to finish by saying how proud I am of Jade for sharing her story through her blog – I know it’s not all about mental health but she just wants to help where she can to support others and in turn she supports herself. I think with this kind of illness the best thing to do is to talk. It’s an invisible illness but no one has to suffer alone we need to help each other! Jade is so strong and loving to others never thinking about herself, she is improving everyday she made a massive step earlier in the year when we attended a friend’s wedding where she only knew about 25% of the people there, the whole week building up to the wedding she was having panic attack after anxiety attack to the point where I thought we were never going to make it but she pushed herself to go, I agreed to stay sober so if she felt like she needed to leave then we could just do so but – Oh boy it was the complete opposite she was talking to people she had never met before dancing and just thoroughly enjoying herself, it was a really proud moment for me because I have seen this amazing person at her lowest of lows and now for those couple of hours she was at peace with herself. We didn’t get home till early hours of the morning – but I didn’t care I was just amazed at how well she handled the day, Jade doesn’t have these days all the time but they are becoming more frequent as we tackle the issue of mental health together so every time she smiles, laughs, comes out of her shell, makes me laugh, makes others laugh, sings while she’s cooking or gets excited about her blog I cherish ever moment I love every moment we have and enjoy together. It makes working through the difficult times worth every second to experience just one of the happy times.
Thank you for taking the time to read till the end – Rhys