Last weekend I had the opportunity to celebrate, along with a bunch of family and friends of the family, the 50th anniversary of my parents wedding. 50 years of marriage! These days that is hard to come by. I hear about divorce all the time, but 50 years, that is a pretty big deal. Good job Mom and Dad!
This coming weekend I will be officiating a wedding. Getting to be a part of day one in this kind of journey is an honor. And it is always fun to watch a couple as they are kicking off their life together. They are always so full of hope and dreams for the future.
As a result of these things of course, marriage has been on my mind. Back in the middle of July I celebrated 19 years of marriage. And I am happy to say that we still like each other! But, this journey has not been an easy one. Not because of a lot of the things that many couples really struggle with such as money, kids, in-laws or any of the millions of things that couples fight about though. Sure we have had to deal with all of that stuff, but the largest part of the struggles we have faced, have revolved around my mental health.
When a person has a mental health struggle it is not just their struggle. Mental health impacts the lives of those who are closest to them as well. When I hurt, my wife hurts. We are in this together.
During the Celebrate Recovery Summit of 2017 I had the opportunity during one of the mental health workshops to bring my wife on stage with me and have her share some of what it is like to live with someone like me. I love serving with her so it was an awesome experience but at the same time it is really hard for me to talk about some of the things that she had to deal with on account of me.
One of the things that was the hardest for me to come to terms with happened about 12-13 years ago. My depression had hit an all-time low. I worked in sales and because of what I did for work; all of my people pleasing was used up by the time I got home each night. I would come home, crack a beer, and stare at the TV. My wife said I had basically turned into a zombie. I didn’t realize what I was doing and since I was still bringing in a paycheck and I was in the house instead of running around with my buddies I thought she had it pretty good. What I didn’t realize is that she would lock herself in the bathroom and cry while begging God to give her back her husband. I was not the man that she had married.
Thankfully our story has continued well. I have medications I take. I don’t drink or use drugs to numb myself. I talk about what is going on inside my head instead of holding it all in and hoping it would go away. I work my recovery. Make no mistake about it though; this has been a long and difficult road to get where we are. And we certainly didn’t get here on our own.
If you are reading this and either you or someone you love is struggling like I was, please know that there is hope. You can get through this. I am not going to kid you and say it will be easy. If anything I think it is probably a pretty safe bet that it won’t be. But there is hope.
If you are struggling yourself, seek help. Talk to your Pastor. Talk to your Doctor. Talk to your spouse. There are so many options that are available to you for help.
If you love someone who is struggling, seek help. Just because you are not “the one with the problem” you need a support system around you as well. I am so thankful for the support and friendship that was shown to my wife during those days (and the days since for that matter). You are not betraying them by getting help for you. You can’t fix your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, relative, etc. So do what you can do. Get some support for you. Find someone who is willing to pour into you. Someone from a Celebrate Recovery group or a Bible study or a therapist or Pastor, just find someone you trust and take care of you. This journey is hard enough you don’t have to do this alone.
Because we have done this, because we got help, our love is deeper. We are far more connected than we ever where 19 years ago. There is hope. As hard as the struggle is, as impossible as things may seem, there is a reason to hope. God will carry you through this.
Sherawn…I love you!
National Director of Mental Health for Celebrate Recovery