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    In Sickness and in Health

    By Kristen Houghton     

    One of the most testing aspects of any relationship is dealing with the mental illness of a spouse. The vow we so blithely take, “in sickness and in health,” takes on serious consequences when we are faced with an actual sickness. Like almost everything else in marriage, we take health, especially mental health, for granted. But mental illnesses, as well as alcohol and substance abuse are harsh realities and can have profound effects on a marriage.

    Depression causes serious problems in a marriage. As supportive as a husband or wife may try to be, life with someone suffering from depression is difficult to deal with on a daily basis. Medication for the depressed partner must be monitored and various prescriptions may have to be tried before the correct one is found to alleviate symptoms. Counseling sessions can be draining. The illness can create emotional despair for the “healthy” spouse.

    The strain of having to deal with any form of mental illness can be devastating. Alcoholism and drug abuse can be categorized as both a mental and physical illness Physical health is impacted by prolonged substance and alcohol abuse.

    The emotional and physical toll of having a spouse who is ill is monumental. There is the worry, the day to day care, having to deal with doctors, medications, and insurance companies and helping children cope.

    There is also the financial aspect of having a husband or wife convalesce for a lengthy period of time. If their paycheck is crucial to the welfare of the family, the additional burden of worry is added to an already stressed situation.

    How can you deal?

    One of the best things you can do for your spouse is to take care of yourself first. While this may seem to be a selfish act, it is not. It is similar to the rule stated in all emergency literature on airlines. If oxygen is being lost in the cabin, adult passengers are told to put their own oxygen masks on first and then attend to others who need their help. If you don’t take care of yourself, how can you expect to help anyone else?

    Ask for help from those close to you. A one hour break will do wonders for your own state of mind.

    Talk to creditors and know your rights. Harassment by bill collectors is illegal.

    Seek counseling for yourself to work through your own feelings.

    Don’t give up hope. Medical science has made tremendous strides in this area. There is help.

    Written by Kristen HoughtonRate this article:

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