It’s easy when you suffer low-level mental illness, as I do, to let the self-treatment slide. It’s too easy to put the mental well being of another above your own and neglect yourself.
And as I stated in this article, I am certainly guilty of that. It’s an expectation placed on men to be the emotional grounding in the relationship, it’s an expectation placed on men to be the strength, the rock, the pillar, the backbone and to do so with a smile and without complaint.
“That’s What Men Do”
I’ve pushed myself beyond mental boundaries to support Mirror Image during her adjustment period to the new job and I’ve neglected myself at a time when work has been quiet and I have had concerns of my own to deal with. I’ve not dealt with them, I tried to push them aside and the consequence was that I brought myself to the verge of mental collapse once more.
I said I would never do it again, but here I am stumbling for the first time in several years.
The situation was not helped by my quietest work period since the beginning of the financial year (April). Couple that with the mental drain of supporting a very emotional girlfriend when I too was having sleepless night, exhaustion, a short fuse and several mini anxiety attacks made for a lethal concoction for CUCH. I thought the tightness in my chest had been indigestion, but indigestion does not last three days.
Deep down, I knew it was anxiety. I knew something was wrong. We had a good long talk this week and reiterated that as much as I am happy to support her, that I also need to support myself, as somebody prone to mental illness, just how much I need her support sometimes as well as the space to support and help myself. Neither of us had realised how much my helping her through her tough time had put strain on me. For the first time in a long time, I failed to recognise my own precarious mental state.
Sometimes I struggle to ask for help, partly because of the social expectations of being born with a penis and partly because I have in the past been made to feel weak for my (undiagnosed) tendency towards depression. I was frank about it all and reiterated that I will never be “cured” of my own need for mental support, that I will need her to be aware of my mental state too.
Sorry ladies, we are not emotional statues. We need to look after ourselves too and sometimes, we have to put our own mental state first. We have thoughts and feelings. We have anxieties. We cannot push ourselves beyond physical and mental limits. It’s not romantic to expect your man to put his own mental well being second.
But there is good news. Things are changing.
She is now much more settled in her job and my work situation is heading into “Crazy October” (my term for what in both of my two years of trading has been my busiest month – looking to be the same again). After a difficult couple of months, I feel focused and energised again. I’m making myself do some mindful exercises to help me relax, I’m not neglecting my physical or mental health, I’m making myself wind down, ignoring work emails and spending time with people. I have a busy social few weeks throughout October, so all is looking better with the world… for now.