“Oh, you started a blog? Can I read it?”
I’m sitting here with a glass of wine (a rarity for me on a weekday) mulling over the above conversation and how odd it is that the person who should know the most about me/my anxiety is the person that I try the hardest to hide it from. My husband. With whom I do everything in my power NOT to talk about my mental health.
Admittedly, this is ridiculous. We live together, it’s pretty hard to hide when your mental health is not stellar from someone who is around you each night. He knows I experience anxiety, particularly social anxiety. It’s what keeps me from wanting to go hang out with our friends on the weekends, what causes me to decline attending his work events (for the first year his work teased him about not believing I was a real person – so now he keeps a picture of our wedding on his desk), what causes me to recoil every time he suggests traveling to see an old friend of his, and occasionally (not proud of this one) what, in the past, caused me to drink too much when I was around his friends to help me make it through an evening with people I barely knew. He’s pretty darn familiar with my anxiety. No doubt he’s been making excuses for years to explain my behavior.
Nevertheless, I prefer to pretend it doesn’t exist. I can talk about it in the abstract – that I have it, it’s often a problem, and these are the situations when it typically increases. But, for whatever reason, I can’t bring myself to point out my anxiety in the moment. It’s too hard for me to say “I feel really anxious today and I don’t know why” or “my anxiety made it really hard to do ___ today and I did/did not do what I needed to.” Instead I use code words (I know they’re code words, I haven’t figured out if my husband does) like “I’m really tired,” “I don’t feel well,” or “It was just a tough day.”
I’m aware that this is poor communication on my part. If I had a client doing this I would urge them to work on their communication skills ASAP. I’ve made great strides since moving back to my hometown in talking to my parents and siblings openly about my anxiety (wish I could have done that as a teenager). I can talk to friends about it until I’m blue in the face. But, I hit this roadblock when I think about being brutally honest with my husband. Maybe it’s part of my own denial – if I can make him think that I’m ok then it’s easier to lie to myself when I’m struggling. Maybe I just don’t want to appear weak or needy to him. Whatever it is, it’s dysfunctional and I need to work on it. End of musings.
I’m including a picture of my puppy because he is too cute for words and it’s a happy way to end this post about my dysfunctional communication habits. Tell me he doesn’t have the sweetest face! He’s chilling in my big reading chair in my office, where he usually hangs out while I do my classwork each night.