Mental health is not a topic that is easy to address. Those who have dealt closely with the subject know all too well the negative stigma that surrounds mental health disorders.
According to Mental Health America, over 44 million American adults suffered from a mental health condition as of 2015.
That’s a much bigger number than we might expect, and the truth is that this number is so shocking because many are more than likely afraid to speak up about the issues they face.
Therapy and medication don’t really make good dinner conversation, but maybe they should. Maybe we need to alter our perspectives on the subject of mental health.
One husband is speaking out about his wife’s bipolar depression. Dina and Brent Gardner have been through some tough times in their marriage and even came close to getting a divorce.
Dina Gardner shared some thoughts her husband wrote on her Facebook page. His words are both moving and awakening at the same time.
“I married an amazing woman who happens to have a mental illness,” the post reads. “We have shared our experiences with others in hopes of helping them understand and make it as we have.
“It is a hard and difficult trial but we have proven that it is doable and we are better because of our ability to work together. I hope my thoughts may help.”
The post goes into detail about what Brent Gardner has learned during his marriage. As his wife has bipolar depression, Gardner admits it hasn’t always been easy.
He talks about wanting to fix things, sharing his feelings of helplessness when he couldn’t do anything to change his wife’s mood.
After finally coming to realize it wasn’t his fault, this husband learned there were a few things he could do to help his wife and his marriage.
“Do not take it personal,” he said. He urged others to hug their spouses, to learn and avoid triggers and ultimately to “love unconditionally.”
In the end, it was this idea of unconditional love and his faith that kept Brent going.
“Many nights were spent on my knees seeking help,” he explained. “I cried so hard that I literally felt pain. A painful cry is not enjoyable. I felt that pain a lot during this time.
“One night while praying, a thought entered my mind. That thought was this, ‘You cannot change her, but you can change yourself.’
“I opened my eyes and repeated those words in my head…’You cannot change her, but you can change yourself.’ That was it! In essence, God spoke to me and told me to change.”
While Gardner says his change was not immediate, and that their marriage suffered, he calls his wife “one of the strongest and bravest persons I have ever known.”
Wow! This is a man who truly understands love and commitment, for better or for worse.
Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Gardner. Your story serves as a powerful reminder that rather than live our lives expecting others to change, it is up to us to be the change that others need.
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