Technically we are well into the second week of the holidays but nevermind. We survived the first week of the Easter ‘holidays’. The boys coped well with the flight to Northern Ireland, the strange world of a holiday cottage, the lovely world of Auntie Katy’s house, the new world of dogs to follow around and the daily departures of their beloved Daddy to the world of bed and rest. It was a holiday in the true form of a change being as good as a rest, which the world of preschool holidays seem to be. It was lovely to be around family, it was amazing to enjoy panoramic views of the Mourne Mountains from our flat and it was good to get home and appreciate our house again. (which as I told son1 this morning is probably the point of going away).
Easter felt a little disjointed this year but it was wonderful to head to the beach on Easter Sunday with others from our church and celebrate Jesus risen. It was good to be reminded of hope in a world that frankly looks fairly bleak right now. It was good to be reminded that wherever we end up, whatever life throws at us we are promised the presence of the One who loves us most and who crashes through the bushes to find us in our pain.
I am glad of this reality right now.
I am glad because the road ahead still looks covered in fog.
The land of husbandface’s mental health is still a dark long valley.
The light punches in but the long road twists on in the gloom.
Mostly I live in the day to day survival and that is ok. Every now and again I look up scared and terrified at not knowing the future. Every other now and again I can see glimmers of light.
These past couple of weeks the light has been harder to see. Darkness is insatiable in it’s appetites and I am unsure as to when this tunnel will end.
I wrote something this morning that expresses what life with the amazingly brave husbandface is like at the moment. I share with his full permission. I share because this is a glimpse of life with complex PTSD, anxiety and depression. I share because this goes on behind the smiling pictures on facebook, because this is reality and we all need to be honest about reality. I share not for sympathy points but to help in your understanding and so that you may understand better when someone talks of anxiety and depression and what that might look like. Obviously please pray on if you do that kind of thing.
“I lie next to him in bed. He moans and twitches and shakes in his sleep. I lie still, desperate to reach out and touch and hold and comfort. I lie still, knowing that to reach out would only cause more tremors through his exhausted body.
We sit in a room. Everyone smiles and laughs. He joins in but I can see the hand clenching the wrist stopping it shaking. I can see his face getting paler and paler and the response time slowing down.
We sit and chat with others. Out of the corner of my eye I can see him shrink into himself, the tremors start and as I reach out a hand in comfort I sense the flinching away as his body refuses to accept my love.
We watch TV together with no-one else around. I forget for a moment and stroke his face without warning. His body jumps as if being touched with a hot poker. We push through and I hold his hand briefly. Wanting to show somehow that I am here in this dark.
The boys are confused again. Is Daddy not feeling well Mummy? Will chocolate make him better? Is Daddy coming out today? I wake Daddy up, yeah? Remember when Daddy used to go to work? Their small brains try and process the changes in their beloved Daddy. He reaches out, tickles them, hugs them tight, winds them up and then has to withdraw to cope with the loud.
Friends ask him if he’s alright? What other answer is there beyond the ‘fine’, ‘ok’? How can he explain this weird shadowy terrifying land he finds himself in now? How can he know truth when his own subconscious is stamping on him, telling him lies, rejecting love and affirmation?”
Behind the smiling wonderful face I love so much lies this reality. It’s complex and hard.
I wonder if you are wondering what helps? I think that’s what I would wonder if I were you. I think it’s being normal, acknowledging that there is more going on that the surface you are presented with. I think it’s saying you care, are praying, not asking too many questions but sending texts, emails and messages of love.
So there we are. Tomorrow we head off in a Motorhome for a few days hoping for some more change and in search of some fun with the small ones. Lets see how that goes…