I recently read a blog post from a man who talks about his mental health, and what it means to have OCD. Like many people, I have made flippant remarks in the past about my OCD tendencies. I try not to nowadays, because I recognise just how serious and debilitating this illness can be.
OCD almost destroyed my marriage. My husband has not received an official diagnosis because he will not visit the doctor. He worries that they will try to sign him off work, which means he can’t support his family, which means we will lose our home, go bankrupt, etc. These destructive thoughts are a constant monster inside my husband’s mind, and this is only the bit that he has shared with me. I don’t know the half of what he suffers at the hands of his demons.
What exactly is it that makes me believe my husband has a mental illness? Lots of things. We have been together since we were teenagers. In the early days, he concealed his emotions and we sailed through our early twenties with only the occasional flare-up here and there. He was never what my friends considered a “good boyfriend.” He doesn’t believe in old-fashioned romance. We don’t have shared interests (other than our children). We rarely speak to each other on the phone.
These days he won’t even take his paid annual leave from work. That is how bad his illness is. He has become obsessed with work, and even when he is at home, he is constantly checking his phone for emails and messages, he will speak to his colleagues before and after his shifts, and on his Sundays off. There are other tell-tale signs that I have learned when his OCD is especially bad. He becomes irritable, ridiculously tired, he can’t sleep, he is jittery, he won’t talk to me. I must step in and try to shield our children, explaining that Daddy just had a rough day at work, or that he needs a break. He doesn’t see what he is doing until I tell him, and even then, sometimes he can manipulate me into believing that I am in the wrong, that I’m being unreasonable.
I know that some people who read this may believe what I used to, that my husband doesn’t care about us, that I should wise up, separate from him, and start afresh. Believe me, I have seriously considered it. But I know how much he loves me, and how much he dotes on his children. And truthfully, I am afraid that if we were not here, at home, he would have a complete breakdown. He needs us, and we need him. Our love remains strong and unwavering, even when daily aggravations interfere. I will not back down.
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