A letter to … my husband, who copes with my anxiety disorder

Written by on June 6, 2017

The letter you always wanted to write

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “A letter to … my husband, who copes with my anxiety disorder” was written by Anonymous, for The Guardian on Saturday 3rd June 2017 05.45 UTC

You have always known that I struggle with anxiety. At some stages of our life together, I have been paralysed by it, living it, breathing it but seeing little else, including you. My anxiety can stifle our time together. In my worst moments I constantly seek reassurance, I display symptoms of OCD and hyperventilate. I often wonder how you have managed to see the person beyond the anxiety, how you have tolerated me and stayed.

When things are on a more even keel we have wonderful times. I cling on to these in the dark moments, storing them like bright snapshots in my mind. How do you cope? There are times when we laugh, live and love but often we simply exist. We go through the motions, or rather you drag me through them. There have been times when I haven’t been able to work. There have been times when I have constantly harangued you – via text, email, phone – crying, convinced I was dying of yet another life-threatening illness. Again I wonder how you cope, why you stay?

Recently we had our first baby. My pregnancy was testing for me as my health anxiety made me absolutely terrified throughout. For you, at times, it was hellish. Everyday I would fixate on the worst-case scenarios and convince myself I would suffer them.

When we found out I was pregnant we were overjoyed, but then I had to come off my medication and the troubles began – palpitations, panic attacks, tears, depression. There were moments when you confessed you didn’t know if you could cope; I had no control or ability to stop the downward spiral. What should have been a joyful time was riddled with fear, yet you stayed and you supported me.

When our little boy was born, we had 24 hours where it seemed we had all survived unscathed. Despite an emergency C-section we were all alive and well. We were the little family we had always wanted to be. Then on the second day our baby was diagnosed with a serious heart defect. My world crumbled, all the fears I had had were coming true. You looked defeated, distraught and absolutely shattered. How could you convince me now that my fears were unrealistic?

At 12 weeks old our little boy had open-heart surgery. The weeks running up to that day are a blur of fear, sadness and joy. Joy that he was with us coupled with the abject fear of losing him. You supported us both. He survived. The weeks after the operation were terrifying. My anxiety was at an all-time high. You struggled and I couldn’t help you, I was too consumed by my own selfish mental illness and for that I will always feel guilty. Somehow we got through it. Our little boy fought hard and we stuck together.

We have more hard times ahead, our baby will need more operations, we will need to be strong for him. I will try to be strong for you, too. I know you will be there for me and I can never thank you enough for your love and tolerance.

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