Mental Illness vs Mental Illness

This morning, my husband is enjoying his usual Sunday morning quota of the Outdoor Channel, which consists of a lot of whispering and awful celebrating over a kill. I bury my head in the computer, or knitting. After hearing a shot, I swear, the hunters must pee their pants a bit.

I was distracted by a commercial with a man proudly waving a pair of underwear for the audience to enjoy—his underwear. He admitted to wearing the pair for five days, followed by a huge whiff. OMGarsh! Why? Apparently, one must not stink, or smell like a human in order to ambush a deer.

Eye roll – eye roll – eye roll

The differences between my husband and I are many. He is calm and methodical, I am anxiously methodical and expect perfection. He enjoys getting out to explore, while I could stay home–never leaving–for months. He is a hunter, I always believed I would never marry a hunter because I detest it. When I finally found love, I have simply recognized that this is his “hobby”, and he does eat what he kills, and waits for the big one in order to convince me to hang a dead deer head on our walls.

I could go on and on about our differences. We could be the poster children for how opposites attract, and are successful. Our base values and goals are the same. We hold mutual respect for each other. We find compromise in all situations.

He has never suffered from depression, and experiences the normal amount of anxiety most regular people experience. I’m over-the-top anxious to the point of thinking I’m dying, and going far out of my way to avoid anxiety. I obsess over situations, he deals with the issue.

I can’t claim that my depression has never caused any conflict between us, because it has. He simply doesn’t understand. Even though he never says things like, “snap out of it”, I wonder how many times he thinks it.

A situation I’m obsessing over, is whether two mentally ill people can co-exist.

I have always believed that the person we choose to commit, will bring the best side of us to the surface.

My husband has all the personality traits where I’m weak, he brings those to the surface for me, I often wonder how I bring out the best in him. He obviously sees something in me I don’t, but I’m continuing to learn–will never stop holding the belief that I will learn–I’m worthy of the love of another.

If this were the truth, how do two people suffering from some form of mental illness, bring out the best in each other? Aren’t they feeding off each other and amplifying their illnesses? Are they doomed to never attain recovery?

I have a life partner who is reasonable and can recognize behaviors I may not see, or refuse to see. He leads me to bring these changes to the attention of my therapist and psychologist. Doing so, may lead to other forms of therapy.

What if both suffer? Who recognizes the subtle changes?

What can I do about it?


And that is what I obsess over. When the main personality traits two people have in common, is mental illness, what happens?

Both of them could be wearing five-day underwear, and the other wouldn’t notice.




About April

I'll come back to this when I find out who I really am. I've been through some extremely rough patches but they have made me a better person. I blog if my brain is functioning first thing in the morning.
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25 Responses to Mental Illness vs Mental Illness

  1. I can answer this. Because there is never “black and white” to mental illness. When two people get together with mental illnesses , albeit different types, each of them still bring unique strengths and weaknesses to the relationship. They fill each other in. One person is never completely mentally ill and the other is never completely always okay. Two people with mental challenges dig deep for the other one. Because they have to.

    • April says:

      What if it looks like only the worst of their personality types seem to be obvious? Neither moves forward, both are dependent on others for food and shelter. Neither has goals. Sleep schedules are always screwed up. Poor eating habits. I guess what I’m saying…two people who are crippled by particular forms of mental illness not living any semblance of a life. How can this work?

      • Opposites absolutely have to attract, to some degree. I don’t believe that mirror types work out well. I see it this way: if misery loves company then people this similar probably make great friends but not relationship partners. I mean think of magnets. If you put them together they repel. But side by side on a fridge (as friends) they can coexist. But people with different mental illnesses such as one with past traumas (severe PTSD) paired with a person who has severe lets say… Depression might be able to be strong for each other with good days and bad. If people are too similarly disabled they may indeed be in an apathetic hell checkmate but I’ve seen couples with mixed mental challenges support each other

        • April says:

          Okay, I see what you’re saying. I wasn’t necessarily thinking of two people without things in common that bring them together. They obviously have something other than any sort of mental disorder diagnosis, but I am only seeing the “depression” as the only thing in common. I need to take a little closer look.

  2. meANXIETYme says:

    Hmm, I kind of talked about this in a post I wrote last night, too. I’ve been spending time in therapy working on myself, but my husband refuses to do go for himself. I know he could benefit, but he’s not interested in doing the work. BUT, he does not have the same kind of issues I do. I still feel like we fall into the “complement each other” range, even though we both have some mental health issues.
    I do think you are correct that someones he and I miss the subtle changes that might help each other if we picked them up…but I don’t think that has anything to do with mental health. I think lots of couples have that kind of issue. It might just be more important if both parties have mental health issues.
    (Also, five-day underwear…ZOMG, pew!)

    • April says:

      Through my own recovery, I have found that if a person doesn’t recognize they have an illness which needs professional assistance, or if they don’t want the help, no amount of prodding from someone else will make them seek it. It takes a lot of work to overcome. Actually, I mean manage symptoms to achieve some level of degree of a life.

      I was just curious to know the opinions of others. I witness two young adults on a daily business. I don’t know what they have been diagnosed with because they haven’t shared, and I respect their privacy. All I can see is what they show on the outside, which still isn’t much. They are both in therapy, which is a plus.

      There are many similar struggles in all couples. All have their same difficulties to work through. My problem is that I want to snoop and meddle with their lives. I won’t, so writing and finding others who may experience the same situations, help me to better understand how to keep my mouth shut.

      As for the 5day underwear….it’s supposed to control odor. ? I don’t think I want to test the theory. 🙂

  3. revgerry says:

    I think you’re both very lucky.

  4. April I wouldn’t think it is much different than those “without” mental illness. Two individuals without mental illness don’t always have the skills/mentality/love/devotion/perception/etc to enhance a relationship. But I’m not an expert. I’ve seen mentally ill individuals have wonderful relationships (together) and the “not” mentally ill individuals who couldn’t make any commitment last.

    • April says:

      I see what you are saying. If both individuals don’t want to fight for a managed sort of life, I was looking at is as — say for instance and alcoholic living with an alcoholic who won’t stop drinking. If my husband had episodes of depression, I’m pretty sure he would drag me down. If we both were diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder, how would we every accomplish anything. I’m sure it must work–and I have two people I’m trying to be patient until they figure it out.

      • I see your point. I use the similar comparison to 2 smokers. One trying to quit but constantly exposed to a smoking spouse and smoke filled home. How difficult it must be. I guess if the one who kept smoking was still encouraging the other to quit….and agreed to smoke only out doors…..and helped scrub the home of smoke filled walls…..that’s doing what they can for the one trying to quit.

        I hope your people have success.

  5. suzjones says:

    April, you know I suffer depression but I don’t often write about my darling other half who has not worked for over a year because he had a breakdown and suffers anxiety. We manage to support each other. Luckily each of us has highs and lows at different times and we are able to support each other. I think also that because both of us suffer, we understand what the other is going through.

  6. I think it would depend on the individual people, On one hand, they could irritate the heck out of each other and grate on each other’s nerves all the time. Or they could take care of each other and support each other, as both would be able to be especially empathetic with each other and know what the other needs in his or her most fragile moments. It would be good if they also had an outside support system of friends, family members, therapists, etc, who could help them notice and get help if they were both spiraling at the same time.

    • April says:

      Thanks! I could see how two could support each other because they understand the disease. I am speaking about two individuals I live with. That makes three of us in one household with varying diagnoses. I’m positive the two I’m speaking of don’t socialize with anybody. If they do, it is rare. They are consumed with online video games. We are all adults. I’m just the older one with more experience dealing with mental illness-depression/anxiety. Not sure what they suffer from. I can speculate, but I don’t want to because I’m not the professional. Both are seeking therapy, which is a plus. I suppose all I can do is wait.

  7. Really enjoyed reading this blog post, though I am sorry for your anxious obsession over the issue of dual mental illness couples. Probably why I could relate is it sounds as though you are me, and your husband is my husband…..deer heads, hunting shows, anxiety and all (except for no 5 day underwear thankfully)!

    • April says:

      Thank you for reading. After 25 years, I broke down and let my husband hang one in our office. Next thing I knew there was another. I try not to look at them, and they are hanging behind my desk. The two people I’m worried about, I have decided I’m going to have to let go of the worry. Their lives aren’t mine to live–they need to go forth and live lives as the adults they are.

      Ah yes, I forgot about the hunting shows. Thankfully, my husband has buddies to accompany him to those fun-filled events. If I ever go, I’m going to make him go to a yarn/knitting expo. Fair is fair. 🙂

  8. Glynis Jolly says:

    This is food for thought. I took psychology classes in college for my degree in Social Work. I’m going to get out some of my text books and see if there some illness that can possibly be helpful to other illnesses as far as relationships go.

    Question for you: Are you really obsessing or do you just have a keen curiosity that people with no curiosity don’t understand?

    • April says:

      I want to understand. I have a son who suffers from depression, and has been with the same girlfriend for over three years who suffers from some sort of severe anxiety/traumatic type of depression. The vampires I speak of. I wake up every day hoping that they will fight a little harder for a life, but they don’t get out except for therapy appointments. They both enjoy reading or playing online video games for hours on end. I can only “nudge” so much before I will be met with resistance. At least they are seeking professional help. Whether they are doing what their therapist suggest they do, is another mystery.

  9. reocochran says:

    Love will endure all differences if it is a real love. I am a worrier, I have also been known to irritate exes by talking too much on car rides! I guess the differences don’t always have to be serious. I made a big mistake marrying my college sweetheart, he was an alcoholic. How did I know the difference between drinking at frat parties and drinking as a responsible adult with 2 beautiful children? We tried AA and Al Anon, then marriage counseling, but he was adamant that I should accept his as he was. It is not Biblical to divorce due to being married to a mean drunk. But I felt his temper would harm myself or my children, too. My second husband cheated before I had his baby, while I was pregnant. I got the judge to agree that I would not have to take a 6 month old back and forth to another city. He is out of state now… I believe you and your husband will work out and work together on your challenges of mental illness. I am not sure I would think two with similar difficulties would not have problems, but they may resolve them faster… Not an expert on this subject! Smiles!
    So sorry I had to go back 15 days to find the last post I had read of yours! I am so embarrassed, April. But I will tell you that I feel confident that I am caught up for now ~ Robin

    • April says:

      🙂 My posts are lengthy sometimes. I am so appreciative of my husband. I try to show him every day, even when I don’t feel much emotion at all. He is the most patient person I know.

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