I mentioned in my last post that I was going to explore the ways that marriage makes handling your mental illness more difficult….here are a few of the challenges I have experienced in my past six months of marriage (I’m an expert obviously!)
Number One: Lack of privacy
Once you get married a lot of the privacy you had when you were single disappears. This can make dealing with a mental illness very difficult. When I was younger I would come home from school completely overwhelmed from dealing with my anxiety and often take it out on my family. My parents would send me to my room as punishment—which I secretly always appreciated! When I was in college I would be able to go to my room and shut myself off from the rest of the world. Once you get married, those options disappear. I share a room and a bed with my husband. Crying myself to sleep (which was a common occurrence before I got married) is now more difficult. I feel bad because I keep him up and I often feel the pressure to continue to “hold it together”. Life outside of home can be so challenging and difficult that when you come home you often just want to let it all go and release the stress in private. Being married removes that option.
Number Two: Responsibilities to a marriage
My mood swings tend to happen in January/February and July/August. During these times I’m much more sensitive, very irritable, negative, and just plain unpleasant. Before I got married I would often withdrawal from relationships and unnecessary interactions with others. This was not a problem because I maintained the relationships enough that when I felt better I could deepen them again. However, in a marriage this is not an option. My relationship with my spouse is more intimate than any other relationship in my life. Maintaining that relationship is essential and taking four months off from it a year would be very damaging and unfair to my spouse. Often, as much as I love him, spending time with him during these months becomes just one more thing I have to “hold it together” for.
Number Three: Sex
Oh sex—complicates things when you’re having and complicate things when you’re not. About 40% of people on antidepressants experience sexual side effects from the medication. For me, when I was unmarried and single this was not a problem. But when you get married, it can become a huge issue between you and your spouse. It is a horrible choice to make—do you stay on the medication that works or do you try different combinations in order to increase your sex drive? I have tried about six or seven combinations and medications in order to handle the sexual side effects of my anti-depressants. And unfortunately that journey is not yet over.
Like I said—I love being married. And there’s lots of great things about it, and even things about it that make my mental illness better. But there’s challenges too! Hopefully, like anything else—Sidney and I will learn to ride these waves together. And if nothing else I’ll keep it interesting for him.