Never feel guilty for taking care of your mental health

Never let anyone make you feel guilty for doing what you feel like you need to do in order to take care of your mental health. I felt compelled to write a blog post about this particular topic after experiencing it during Labor Day weekend.

On Saturday, September 1, 2018, I was playing Diablo 3 when I could feel my mood changing. I could feel it switching from relatively okay to pure irritation within minutes. There wasn’t any specific trigger this time. All I knew was that I was itching to pick a fight.

While I continued to play my video game, I attempted to do so, but my husband knew what I was doing and didn’t respond or react to my attempts. He said, “It feels like you’re trying to pick a fight.” This was actually pretty unusual for him. He would normally react, I would respond out of anger, and an argument would ensue.

After he pointed out my behavior, I realized what was happening. I stopped talking and focused on my game to try and calm myself down. It didn’t help, though. I really wanted to try and avoid an argument, so I decided to turn off the game. I handed him the television and PS4 controllers and left the room so that I could get some alone time.

I went to our bedroom, turned off the lights, and sat on the bed while I browsed Twitter. It felt like a peaceful “time out” and I could tell that it was starting to help me calm down. I was starting to feel proud of myself, too, for making the decision to leave the room before my behavior escalated.

I thought that leaving the room was a much better choice instead of staying and starting an argument. It’s a reasonable assumption, right?

About ten or fifteen minutes after I went into our bedroom, my husband came into the room, laid down beside me, and asked “You weren’t going to say goodnight?” I told him that I didn’t say goodnight because I wasn’t going to bed, and that I only came to our room for some alone time for a little while.

He stood up and started to walk out of the room, but not before he made the comment,

“Let me know when the stick that is up your butt is gone. It’s pretty far up there.”

I was still trying to calm down from a little earlier, so it took a lot of self-restraint to hold back a response. I was successful, though… If you even want to refer to it as a success.

It was almost like he took some sort of offense to my leaving the room when, in reality, it had nothing to do with him. He knew that. He knew I was upset and irritable, but he still chose to say what he said.
 
 

Lack of education contributes to the stigma

A big contributor of the stigma around mental illnesses is the lack of education. There are still too many people who don’t know much about mental illnesses, and that is really unfortunate considering one in four people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.

My husband is one of those people.

His words ended up sending me into a depressive episode. Instead of a “time out,” I stayed in bed and cried all night because of how much his words hurt me.

I stayed in bed the next day, too, without eating or drinking anything. I only got up to use the bathroom and to take a forced shower. I even had thoughts of hurting myself and brief suicidal thoughts.

Over his thoughtless and meaningless comment? Absolutely.

The next day, he walked in the room and asked me if I was going to stay in bed all day. I said “Probably,” because I was still working through my depressive episode. He asked me why, and I said “I don’t know. I guess the stick is still up my butt.”

I tried to refrain from even bringing up his comment from the day before, but it just slipped.

He laughed and asked, “What are you so mad about? I feel like I can’t talk to you anymore.” He also made a comment about how I was being a “butt” before he left the room, but I can’t remember what his exact comment was.

I’m assuming he was trying to tell me that he feels like he always has to walk on eggshells around me, but for some reason, he always chooses to say things in the most hurtful way that he can.

Instead of being encouraged and supported by my spouse, he made me feel guilty for doing what I felt like I needed to do for my mental health. He thinks I start arguments on purpose. Like so many other people, he thinks that my behavior is just “me being me” and not a result of my mental illnesses.
 
 

Education is key

The only way to overcome a situation like this is to educate people.

If they know about your mental illness, it is partially their responsibility as your loved one to educate themselves. However, not everyone knows how to find the resources to do so. The best thing you can do is offer them your help in educating them about your mental illness.

If they are going to continue to be a part of your life, they should care enough about you to want to learn more about your reality. If they don’t make that effort, you may need to re-evaluate the relationship to see if there’s another way that it can be salvaged before irreparable damage has been done.
 
 

Try not to fall for the guilt trip

Never let anyone make you feel guilty for taking care of your mental health. This was extremely hard for me to do, but over time I started to feel better about my decision to leave the room instead of staying and potentially starting a meaningless argument.

If you feel like you need to isolate yourself and go into another room, do it. If you feel like you need to ask friends or family to leave your home, do it. If you feel like cancelling plans with someone, do it.

They may take it personally, like my husband did this weekend, but we can’t carry their burden on our shoulders. Our friends and loved ones should be understanding if we need to take care of our mental health.

I’m always an email or message away if you need to talk to someone.

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Nicole

My name is Nicole, and I’m very happy that you decided to stop by and visit my blog! I write about mental health, and I post the occasional product review. I’m most passionate about writing, mental health advocacy, and gaming. My husband and I live in the South with our five tabby cats and two parakeets. If you ever want to connect with me, please don’t hesitate to visit my Contact page.

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11 Comments

  1. September 3, 2018 / 3:05 PM

    I admire your restraint after your husband gave you that parting shot. And putting yourself in a time out! I do that sometimes too. My husband used to take it personally, until we went to a therapist who helped him see that taking myself out of the fight was the healthy way if making sure it didn’t escalate. We did make a pact that we would come back to the discussion when we had both calmed down, so that helped him feel like I wasn’t ignoring a problem. Good luck.

    • Nicole
      Author
      September 3, 2018 / 7:06 PM

      Thank you — it really took a lot to hold back a response but I knew it would only make things worse and make me feel worse even though it would only make me feel better in that moment. I just hope that he starts to understand over time. Preferably sooner rather than later. I’m trying to be understanding because he’s never had to deal with this before, but at the same time he needs to do his part too.

  2. September 4, 2018 / 3:28 AM

    Oh, I really get this 🙁

    Something that has helped me when my depression or anxiety is kicking my ass and seems to be affecting my relationship is having a sound knowledge of my husband’s true intentions & feelings.

    When I notice him becoming frustrated with me I try as hard as I can to remind myself that he does love me, he wants me to be okay, he’s on my side, he wants to understand. We’re a team – let him in. He’s just feeling his feelings – the same thing that I’m doing. This does take practice, but it’s worth it.

    I really don’t want this to feel like I’m excusing his comment because what he said was a cheap shot and was uncalled for. You were right to feel hurt by it because there was just no need.

    Maybe the next time you need to have that time away try saying to him that you’re having some alone time to stop your behaviour escalating – be completely honest about it. The next time he say’s something that hurts you then say when you make those comments you really deeply hurt me. I know this is difficult for you but I need you to stop using those words because you’re making things worse for me. Is that okay? Is that something that we can do?

    Hope you’re okay my lovely. Am always here x

    • Nicole
      Author
      September 4, 2018 / 11:00 PM

      Yeah, it’s definitely a learning process and something that is going to take a lot of practice. My symptoms have never been on this level before. I’ve always been able to manage it, but for the past couple of years it’s just been a huge challenge. I have life stressors to thank for that. But, I try to keep in mind that it’s really just new to both of us. I’m learning to manage it, and so is he.

      I also try to keep in mind that he’s dealing with his own stuff, so dealing with my stuff is a new thing to him, which is why he also occasionally lashes out, just with his words. I just hope that he realizes that the way he says certain things has a really big effect on me and that our communication can get better.

      • September 5, 2018 / 8:24 AM

        I know if anyone can navigate and manage this situation it’s you. You’re strength inspires me all the time <3 It will get better xx

        • Nicole
          Author
          September 5, 2018 / 1:53 PM

          Thank you <3

  3. September 6, 2018 / 11:33 AM

    You’ve articulated this all so well. I’m sorry his words had that impact on you, he really needs to take a little time to learn and I hope that makes things easier for you. It must be difficult for partners when they can’t understand our moods or reactions, but you’re in this together. 💜💜

    • Nicole
      Author
      September 6, 2018 / 11:55 AM

      Thank you <3 I don't think that his intent is always malicious. Most of the time, I think he just isn't sure how to respond. I try to keep in mind that he can't read my mind, and I can't read is. It's definitely a huge learning curve. I've gotten a lot of great input since I wrote this post. A few people recommended some things to help with our communication in this area, so I'm hoping to test them out and write a post about the things that helped us the most. I'm just not sure when that will be since I never know when my mood will change, haha.

      • September 6, 2018 / 12:01 PM

        No, it’s hard to know what your mood will be and it’s really difficult sometimes to know when you’re actually feeling depressed or otherwise, sometimes not until it’s too late! It’s a constant learning curve and I think your commitment to communicating things is really admirable. I’m sure it’ll turn out well in the end 👏👏

  4. thethoughtsthatbind
    September 15, 2018 / 5:32 PM

    I’ve been in this situation many times before, it seems so common. I think you’re right, more education is better. But it can be difficult to convince people to want to seek out such resources.
    For me, I feel like I navigate this situation a little better almost each time. Still, it proves a difficult challenge, particularly when you’re doing your best to keep things under control and you have to deal with the kickback of it. Any further revelations on this subject would be much appreciated! Always looking for ways to improve my own response.

    • Nicole
      Author
      September 15, 2018 / 10:40 PM

      Yeah, tbh I think there are people out there who don’t care, or want, to understand. There are still people out there who are still just so close-minded with certain topics, mental health being one of them.

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