Friday, July 25, 2014

Dealing with Anxiety

In most cases, when someone has a mental illness they suffer from more than one disorder. It is not uncommon for someone to have other psychological conditions. The term co-morbidity is used to describe the presence of having two or more conditions at the same time. Bipolar disorder is co-morbid with anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and panic disorders. I have always felt that my wife had some of these conditions, even before she received her diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Though the years, it was not uncommon for me to receive calls from her while I was at work. Sometimes all she would say was, "I need you to come home now", and hang up. I would never know if she was anxiety ridden, in a deep depression, or just needed to talk. Whenever she would call me at work, it would always worry me. It usually meant that something was wrong. I felt helpless being far away, not knowing what to do.

More times than I could count, my wife would wake me up in the in the wee hours of the morning. She would have a hard time catching her breath and would feel as if her heart was pounding. As her anxiety would escalate she would feel like she was going to pass out. She would be disoriented. She would say that she felt as if she were dying. Sometimes, I would be able to calm her down and hold her as she cried herself to sleep.
At least three times, she was taken to the emergency room by an ambulance. Every time we went to the hospital, the doctors would say that she was suffering from a panic attack. On these mornings, I would have to call in sick to work because I would be tired from staying up most of the night taking care of her or spending hours at the emergency room. I have used many hours of sick leave when it came to taking care of my wife.

For many years, I have played the role of a caregiver. I was never sure of what to do, but I would try my best. Each episode would be different and would show up unexpectedly. Even though I was scared, I had to try my best not to show it. I felt as if I had to be her rock. If I showed fear, I was afraid that she would breakdown even more. It is easier to forget your own worries when you are taking care of someone else.

I did not have an ideal childhood. I had to grow up fast. I believe that my experiences have toughened me up so that I could handle the situations that having a spouse with a mental illness has brought into my life. Without my dysfunctional childhood, I do not think that I would have had the strength to cope with all the difficulties that Jane and I have had to endure. It can be very draining and frustrating to see your loved one go through difficult times. When it comes to my wife, I would do anything.
Post a Comment