“But what does that mean?”
I had been convinced that I was losing my mind. I had been told for months that all the problems I was up against in my life simply weren’t as bad as I imagined them. Whether that was the problems at work or the problems with Megan it was all apparently in my head, or at least I was making everything worse by overreacting, again.
So far, it was the story of my life. It was easy to believe it when my hand throbbed from the pain after hitting the wardrobe door in my stupid temper. I was scared of losing it again, I think Megan was scared of me losing it again. I needed to regain some sort of control in my life, I needed a plan and I needed to face all my problems head on.
I planned on doing just that, with work I resolved to try a little harder and start jumping through the hoops. I was still in the mindset of go to work, get the job done, get home. At home I wanted to have a plan too, I wanted Megan and I to decide once and for all on some definite things we could do to break the destructive rut we had found ourselves in.
I hadn’t forgotten about Megan’s depression. She had said she needed help, although she hadn’t yet registered with a doctor in London, I encouraged her to do so. In the mean-time if she needed to talk to anyone my work offered a counselling service to employees and their families completely free of charge. I’d found out as much as I could about it from my boss at work and took our ‘Wellbeing’ business card home for Megan.
Megan wasn’t interested in talking to them. In fact she somehow convinced me that it wasn’t her that needed the therapy. That perhaps I should talk to someone about everything that was going on. I was literally willing to try anything to make things work, so I did. I still tried to encourage Megan to seek help, she wouldn’t help herself. She wouldn’t seek out professional help and would only flirt with her medication so that she seemed to always keep herself on the brink of ill-health, both physically and mentally.
I was a little disappointed. I had hoped that once Megan had owned up to her depression that we could start to get help and move past it. I researched depression and how to live with and support someone who has it. I talked to my mother who had suffered really badly with it herself earlier in her life about what it feels like and what I could do to make things better. I didn’t realise at the time I was fighting a losing battle.
I couldn’t help but notice how inconsistent Megan’s behaviour had become. I had to keep reminding myself that depression is a mental illness, that it isn’t always logical. Yet everyday it pained me to see the effort she made to look nice, smile and joke with her friends and colleagues and work out at the gym when she couldn’t manage to put even half that effort into a few hours with me.
I decided to try and do more special things for us, to get out of the house. Like take Megan out for dinner once in a while, go for a walk in the park or go to the cinema. Nothing seemed to break the cycle. I didn’t know what else to do. Megan assured me time and time again that she still loved me, that it was just her depression bringing her down. It soon became my mantra “It’s not Megan, it’s her depression” whenever I felt bad.
At work things were better and things were worse. I’d told my boss that I was having some difficulties with my personal life, that I was struggling to live with someone with depression and I just wanted to be supportive. Things let up at work for a while. A very short while, because I was still really unhappy and my emotions were very close to the surface I could never tell whether I was reacting to the right situation of whether I was carrying some baggage from something else.
I was trying so hard to be supportive with Megan that I bottled up my feelings every time something she did hurt me. The upshot of that was that I was more likely to combust at work. I’m ashamed to say that I even did several times. Eventually, and arduously I agreed to focus more on my development at work. I was stubborn enough to think that I was being unfairly treated, which wasn’t helped by one or more colleagues echoing that sentiment that I didn’t react well to this intended development.
I remember sitting in a group of people on a training day and doing some group exercises when it all got too much. It was the first time I felt sad instead of angry, I prefer anger. People will leave you along when you’re angry, they pity you when you’re sad. Yet the training environment at work was an oddly safe environment and although I was embarrassed as hell for losing it, I still felt the release for having finally spoken about how I was feeling. Even if I did put the blame in all the wrong places, I made it about work instead of about my personal issues.
I had struggles earlier in my career, the familiarity of the situation I found myself in was worrying me. In the past it had been my team leaders bad-form trying to make me a scapegoat when I was actually over performing for no reason at all than to assert her authority. I had triumphed in the end but the stress and the fall-out had hurt my reputation among my colleagues and it took years to put it all right again. I didn’t want the same thing to happen in my new role that I loved so much, I couldn’t see it going any other way. I should have had more faith in my new team leader.
I desperately wanted Megan to seek help for her own problems. For her own wellbeing and selfishly as she kept blaming everything that was wrong between us on her own demons. Yet, somehow I hadn’t noticed that she was carefully planting seeds of doubt in my own mind, making me question my own judgement and telling me that my feelings weren’t valid. If I felt sad, I had no right to. If I felt hurt, she hadn’t done anything wrong. She’d convinced me it was all in my head.
So I picked up the phone and I called the company Wellbeing team, I talked about everything I was struggling with. The problems I was facing at work, with Megan and not being able to get a handle on my own emotions long enough to really function properly anymore. We set up some weekly sessions over the phone to keep a dialogue going, I was skeptical but I’d try anything.
I still wanted a plan for us, a plan to beat all the craziness that was spiralling out of control around us. I was doing something about my problems. Only Megan could help herself, but I’d go more than half-way in my endeavours to fix us. I loved her, and all her crazy.