Still shell-shocked.

Recently I wrote about how hard it is for me to answer an unexpected phone call. Throughout my adult life there have been way too many calls that a) brought horrifying news and/or b) had a hysterical, mental/emotional illness-induced rant from a loved one on the other end. Lately, there’s been the addition of c) the drunken, abusive phone calls from a family member who I can’t honestly classify as a loved one. Oh, and don’t forget the recent addition of d) drunken, abusive emails from that same (c) family member, which make the simple act of opening Gmail a cringe-worthy event.

And so I tiptoe through the minefield of life, holding my breath for the next blow-up. Sometimes the bombs really do drop; sometimes I create them in my own, shell-shocked mind.

Case in point:

Last night The Husband was more than half an hour late returning home from work. Usually he lets me know if he’s running late. This time, nothing. It’s a long commute, on rural highways. In the dark, with ice patches in the winter weather. Compounding those everyday-type concerns is, of course, the fact that The Husband is my nearest cause of shell-shock. Twenty-five years of depression and other difficult diagnoses lead to a lot of nail biting for me. And in the last few days he’s had a cold coming on. For most of us, a cold is an inconvenience. For my husband, with his anxiety, panic, depression, and other issues, a cold is a full-on assault on his ability to cope – even though, for the most part, he’s in a fairly good place in terms of living with his diagnoses.

When it finally occurred to me, at about 6:20 yesterday evening, that he was late and hadn’t called, internal panic set in. I called his phone, and it went to voice mail. Immediately I relived the many times (years ago, but these wounds open up in such moments) when his illnesses caused him to regularly check out of life and disappear. Usually he returned within a few hours, puzzled by the depth of my worry. Once, he ended up hospitalized.

Yeah, that’s where my brain goes in those moments. Even more so when I’m also dealing with additional stress from other ill family members, as with the recent phone calls  and emails.

Last night there was a (relatively) happy ending. The Husband came in the door around 6:30. He’d forgotten to call, and had bad cell service on the way home when he did think of calling. It was a difficult evening, though. I was still off-balance from the momentary worry. And that cold I mentioned made him morose, unable to think clearly, and argumentative. Not much fun.

Sooooo….the big question in times like these, as a person trying to survive the mental illnesses of loved ones, is this: What am I doing to take care of myself?

Not enough, apparently. It’s time to take a closer look at that.

-Amy

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12 Responses

  1. Yes, look after yourself first and foremost! Hope you’re ok. I too struggle to answer a phone call if ‘unknown’ pops up. Please take a look at my blog https://anxwe.wordpress.com/

  2. Sounds like a good question to answer…for most of us!

  3. This helps me to hear from the other side. It makes me want to work harder with my support team to manage my life in spite of the illness.

    • I seriously doubt you cause the kind of trauma I’m talking about here, April. Even when things are hard for you, it’s my guess you internalize rather than attacking those around you. Hugs.

      • I’ve had my moments, but mostly when I was untreated. I could disappear and be an angry little snot out to hurt anybody I could. Since I got married, and tried to work at ‘getting better’, my husband has received the brunt of my behaviors.

      • Honestly, it’s so hard being married even in the best of times it’s no surprise that when things get rough we take it out on each other. I know I do it.

  4. Gmail has a filter where you can send email from a person directly to trash. This may ease your email anxiety… My cell phone also has a filter to send unwanted calls directly to voicemail. Of course you will have voicemail anxiety, but you will be able to answer most calls! Good luck, and I’m glad hubby made it home safe.

  5. Just sending warm thoughts.

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