Chapter 53 - Mental Health & Marriage
It’s just what I do, not write for a while and then come up with something really heavy. This one’s a tough one to put into words but here we go trying...
So I’ve now legally been married for a year. Alhamdulilah for that. And no, I’m not here to tell you how marriage is meant to be in terms of whether its hard work or whether it’s rainbows and butterflies because honestly, to each their own. But also - it can be both. However, I am here to burst your bubble and tell you that despite what our desi parents may think, our mental state still needs attention after marriage. Our problems don't go away by getting married. Depression doesn't disappear into thin air and anxiety doesn't sing channa mereya for you.
So what does one normally do when they deal with mental health issues and end up married? Obviously build up walls, close your darkness away, bottles things up until you can’t handle it anymore and then breakdown in front of your partner over something completely irrelevant making them feel like they’re not doing enough. Right?
I very quickly realized that wasn’t healthy and tried to change my communication technique. However, we’re only human and can tend to get overwhelmed easily. If we’re on the brink of a breakdown and something overwhelms us, we will come crashing down and that’s not a situation in which you’re willing to sit and talk to someone because you’ll be too busy picking up your own pieces. But you know what’s sorta great? I think it's really great to know that you got help this time around. You have someone to help pick up those broken pieces and put you back together. But that only works if you communicate how you feel with your other half.
Instead of having multiple breakdowns in the same day or even same week, I’m proud to say my breakdowns have become more monthly or even quarterly. The breakdowns are inevitable. They could be small and frequent or large and rare. They could turn up anytime because there really isn’t a “I’m not in the mood to deal with my mental health, let’s turn this off for the day” button. You gotta deal with yourself all the time - even if you’re married. And being married is not easy, it really does require a lot of mental effort to ensure you are meeting certain societal guidelines that are meant for you and to ensure you are meeting expectations of those around you. But also, you’re now putting in all this energy towards something you never had to before.. you’re putting all this energy into building a family for yourself. And that my loves, gets exhausting, both physically and mentally because being married means no days off.. You gotta be on it 100%. Can’t take annual leave and go into hibernation. You have to be there for the family you left behind and for the family you have joined. No days off. It sounds lovely, to build relationships, have two families that share love amongst each other. But on days when you're fighting your inner demons, it takes a lot to just reply to a text and that can act as a trigger into sending you to become overwhelmed and burst the happy bubble shield you've created around you.
gotten a little too much on the negative side, let's flip this
So what can you do when you struggle with mental health issues and are married? Communicate. As basic as it sounds, communication really is the key we all need for the demons we've locked away behind heavy doors. But also have patience, understand each other, see where we're coming from. Letting your partner know exactly how you feel becomes vital at times because if they know - they won't end up surprised if you're having a panic attack. But also, making them aware of anything that has triggered you is also a form of looking after yourself because as your partner, they may do whatever they can to help you out. Even if it's something as small as getting you water.
Life is always going to be tough. And we’ve come to learn through our journey that mental health is not linear. And will never be linear. It’s not meant to be healed and never looked back at. And it’s not meant to be under control just because you know what triggers you. Anything can trigger you. Anything can go back to being broken if it chooses to. That’s what happens when you struggle with these issues and honestly, it’s alright. Just let your partner know that you’re not feeling too well. Be honest with your level of anxiety or depression. Confide in your partner because hey, you are promised for better or for worse.
Being married means you don’t really have to go through it alone anymore. But it also means you don’t have to share every bit of crippling anxiety with your partner. It’s always going to be your choice whether you choose to fight your fight by yourself or with the help of a loved one. Either way, you will have someone in your corner labeled as your spouse whom you can always turn to if need be.
Partners, please refer to what to say and what not to say from my chapter on Anxiety and Depression - thank you.
I’ve been blessed beyond words to have a partner that I can confide in during my dark days. Can’t thank Allah enough. However, it doesn’t mean my dark days get brighter, it just means that the dark days end eventually and I can talk about them with someone who cares for me in a safe space. It means that we can brainstorm and work on how to heal together. It means that I'm not alone.
My amateur advice is going to be - don’t put any pressure on yourself. Whether that comes in the form of keeping your walls up high and dealing with your struggles by yourself. Or whether it comes in the form of confiding in your partner and facing them together. Whatever makes you feel comfortable, do that. However - I would suggest not holding a negative connotation with your mental state. If you're struggling, it's really okay, we all are - some are just better at masking them than others. If what you were doing pre-wedding works for you, keep doing that. But just understand that you have someone in your corner now, your personal cheerleader, your loved one, and they would never want to see you struggle on your own.
So accept help if required. Cry it out if needed. Sleep on it if you wish.
Honestly at the end of the day - do whatever makes you happy and comfortable. Because you matter. Always have and always will
Mrs. Sara Haseeb