Help! Living with mental illness

By an anonymous author.

My wife struggles with depression and health anxiety. Both I think are rooted in passing of her father unexpectedly almost 10 years ago.

We go through phases where everything is fine for a time, then something will trigger an anxiety attack and unless it’s nipped in the bud by a quick visit to the doctor, it becomes a day-to-day struggle, often for weeks at a time.

She may discover a small lump or mark somewhere and immediately convince herself that she has cancer and is going to die. It triggers frightening panic attacks, almost obsessive compulsive behaviour-constantly poking and prodding, which invariably leads to pain/soreness which only adds fuel to the fire of anxiety. And on it goes until her fears have been settled by a doctor or health professional (there have been some instances where even doctor’s haven’t been able to convince her that she’s fine).

The reason I’m writing this is I struggle with how to handle these situations and would love to get some help or advise from others in similar situations.

Having never suffered with these sorts of illnesses, I struggle to understand why she immediately convinces herself that death is on the cards. I don’t understand the compulsive need to keep poking and prodding. To me, if I prod myself and it hurts, I know stopping will also stop the pain. I also know this isn’t the right approach to the solution, especially in cases of compulsive behaviour…

I know the patterns. I see the signs, but as my efforts to assuage the thoughts and behaviour are fruitless, I often become disheartened in my ability to be a crutch lean on.

I love my wife and will remain as her crutch, no matter what. But, I’m aware that my own struggle in dealing with situations don’t do much to make our situation any better and I really want to get better at dealing with this so I can be a better support in her times of need.