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  1. #1
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    The Impact of Unconditional Support

    The Impact of Unconditional Support
    by Allison Parker
    Nov 1/17

    The second time my husband Carl visited me in a psychiatric hospital, he was just a tad bit fed up. I could see it on his face. It was not disappointment or shame or any of the other emotions that our family members would project onto him. He was fed up. And he was not fed up with me—he was fed up with everyone telling him he’s a doormat.

    “Aren’t you tired of dealing with Alli?”
    “How do you put up with it?”
    “I can’t believe you’re still married to her!”

    He would just shake his head and say, “I’m her husband. She’s sick right now. I’m not going to give up on her.”

    When I first met Carl in 2008, I was a touch hypomanic. The nice thing about hypomania is…well, most people don’t mind it.]

    Who would? I was a bubbly, happy ball of energy. I only required a meal or two a day and about five hours of sleep. My husband and I played music together at different venues, went on trips, laughed and enjoyed life together.

    But then it happened. The doom set in. That state of mind when nothing is good.

    I started sleeping 15 hours a night. I ate enormous amounts of food. I experienced no pleasure. Everything irritated me. Carl and I played our gigs less and less. I was falling away from him, and he was missing me.

    This dark period lasted much longer than previous episodes and it manifested in psychosomatic illness as well. My stomach ached. I had three-day migraines. My husband never heard the end of my pain. The medication I was prescribed caused side effects, and the medication I was given for those side effects caused more side effects. When I wasn’t at work, I was lying in bed, moaning or asleep. I missed more and more work. When rumors began to circulate that I would be laid off, I attempted suicide and ended up in the ER.

    When I awoke, hooked up to an IV, my husband was sitting there with me. He had brought me a piece of cake. We ate it together. He told me I was going to get better. I was at the lowest point in my entire life, and he was sitting there, giving me a treat.

    “We are going to get through this,” he said. There was not a doubt in his mind.

    Learning To Listen
    In our society, we all-too-often abandon those who need help—even our family members. It’s difficult, I get it. I know how hard I was to deal with. But Carl stuck by me, as a living embodiment of our vows: “in sickness and in health.” I think he could teach the world a thing or two about unconditional support.

    Our loved ones cannot read our minds—though it certainly felt like my husband could. He knew exactly what to say and do to give me strength when I needed it the most. But he wasn’t reading my mind. He was actively listening to mental health professionals, to himself and to me. He listened. Being mindful and present isn’t just for people in recovery. It also helps the families of persons with mental illness, too.

    And yes. With medicine, therapy, mindfulness and positive support from my family, we got through it. I am well. And I know that the people around me experience harmony in our interactions because I am well. Even my cat cuddles with me more often now. My family, my coworkers, people I pass on the street—they all seem different now because I’m different. I’m healthier.

    My husband is well, too. His peace has returned. Together, we process our emotions and watch for triggers. And in the end, my mental health matters not just for me, but also for this remarkable partner of mine whose strength and hope helped see us through to a life of stability.

    Allison Parker is a writer and English instructor at Cape Fear Community College, NC. Her work has appeared in Poetry East, Cobalt, Fjords, the Wilmington-Star News, and the Oklahoma Review. She performs music with her husband Carl Kruger in the 910 Noise collective.

  2. #2
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    Re: The Impact of Unconditional Support

    So often those words have been said to me back off walk away People don't get it that the person they are belittling attacking is my heart family I do not see how they can suggest to walk away from someone when ill needs you the most. Unconditional support is what is needed to help that person find solid ground again because they know they are not alone in the battle. It is when that person is abandoned that is when all hope is taken from them
    Words always stay inside ones soul

  3. #3
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    Re: The Impact of Unconditional Support

    Yeah, sometimes there is a fine line.....like giving money to a drug addicted family member. Sometimes the best we can do is take the advice of professionals, our support groups like NAMI and follow our hearts while taking care of ourselves. But....no matter what....I have been there for my family and they for me....makes me weepy.

  4. #4
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    Re: The Impact of Unconditional Support

    That is what i mean just being there listening caring not providing what we know would be detrimental to them but providing emotional care and understanding like your husband has done for you.
    Providing them with support or advocating for them when they are not able to do so. Showing them and telling them they will be ok and that with help things can change for the better right.
    No one should be thrown aside or abandoned because of their illness.
    Words always stay inside ones soul

  5. #5
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    Re: The Impact of Unconditional Support

    Exactly, forgetmenot! I knew what you meant I was just thinking of some of the more difficult times too and how it can be hard to know how to help. The last thing people with this illness and their loved ones need is other family, coworkers or friends telling them to just stop caring about the person. This women was lucky to have a great husband who could have used more support himself from those folks telling him to give up on her.

    Sometimes though not all the love and care in the world can save the ones we love and we loose them to their illness.
    Last edited by making_art; November 21st, 2017 at 09:23 PM.

  6. #6
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    Re: The Impact of Unconditional Support

    "Sometimes though not all the love and care in the world can save the ones we love and we loose them to their illness."

    I feel we lose them because they were not given the support from the system, from family, they would not have been so lost if they had someone there for them uggg

    Unconditional Support I wish these words fell on so many more professionals ears i do.
    Words always stay inside ones soul

  7. #7
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    Re: The Impact of Unconditional Support

    Yes, I’ve certainly seen system failures....

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