Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.—PROVERBS 12:25 (NIV
“How’s Herb?” people would ask me when we’d meet on the street.
I was evasive. “Oh, I can’t really say. It changes from day to day.” My husband’s mental illness was not something I wanted to talk about.
“How are you doing?” my friend, Bertha, asked. “Fine,” I told her. “And you?” She looked me in the eye and said, “No. Really. I want to know how YOU are.” She didn’t accept the standard “fine.” I burst into tears. The floodgate was opened! Keeping my emotions pushed deep down inside was doing me real emotional and physical harm. As a caregiver for Herb for years, I was worn down from the pressure and stress of dealing with his illness.
Friends and family urged me to join a counseling group at a local hospital. After some resistance, I decided to give it a try, and immediately found I was met with kindness, understanding, support and love in the group. I saw that I was not the only brokenhearted person.
Over eight weeks of learning how to accept my situation, I became more confident. I opened up to people about Herb when they asked about him. I even elaborated on our situation without fear of being judged. I was finally free to talk about mental illness and the effect it had on our family, and it felt like such a blessed relief.