Dear future husband,
At some point in our life together, you will have to play the role of the caregiver. When you find yourself in this role, my emotional well-being may overshadow your own. I am truly sorry for this.
Promise me when this happens, you will take time out for yourself. Do not feel guilty or ashamed to ask for help from our family and friends.
If you need help cooking meals, cleaning the house or watching the kids, they will be there. They support you. They support me.
Go to the movies. Get a massage. Go to a therapist, and say all the things you are bottling up inside.
Hell, take a mini-vacation, and go to the beach.
As exhausting as handling a mental illness is for me, I know it is equally as draining for you. Take care of your mind, body and soul.
I promise to always be truthful with you, and I will communicate my concerns, feelings and anxieties. We both know at this point, I sometimes struggle with paranoia and feel I cannot trust you.
I may even believe what you're telling me is a lie. Don't take it personally. The darkness is telling me that.
I know, deep down, it's not true. When you believe the person you love is deceiving you, it's a scary and difficult emotion to handle.
Reassure me I can trust you. Tell me you love me.
In the same regard, I promise to always listen to your concerns, feelings and anxieties without judgment. Your feelings are valid, and keeping our communication alive will create a safe space in our marriage for both our voices to be heard.
When you witness one of my downward spirals, your first inclination will be to fix it for me. I know this because you would do anything to protect the ones you love.
But honey, you can't fix it for me. It's a brain disorder, and it's completely out of our control. There is no handbook on how to handle this, but we are both dealing with it in the best way we know how.
During those times, I imagine you will also question if the emergence of the darkness is your fault. Maybe you will feel guilty, and you will wonder what you could have done differently to catch the signs earlier.
Don't blame yourself, and please, don’t feel guilty.
In all likelihood, I probably downplayed my feelings. Like you, I am a fierce protector, and my first instinct is to shield you from any hurt and pain I may cause you.
I promise you I will make every effort to stay well, and I will take responsibility to get help when I am sick. I will take my medication religiously. I will see my therapist and exercise regularly.
I will go to support groups. I will voluntarily go to the hospital if you or I feel like it is the best thing for me to do to get stable again.
I will not fight you. I will do all of this not just for you, but for our children, too. You are the most important people in my life.
I will take every chance I get to remind you that you are an incredible human being. I love your heart, your mind and your soul.
You accept me exactly as I am. Thank you for loving even the things that drive you crazy, like having to clean up after me because I'm so messy, or the fact I keep my enormous kayak in the living room.
If we ever reach the point where you find me slipping away, take comfort in knowing I will always come back to you. I am a fighter, and my love for you is far stronger than the darkness.
Your future wife