Honest reflections about marriage and mission work when dealing with the anxiety and depression

  • Charlie Clayton

A Year On......

About a year ago, things began to fall apart. Abby had come to the end of being able to cope with the impact of my anger and anxiety; our marriage almost ended. We began months of serious life change, entered into a two-month marriage sabbatical, and stopped everything to focus on healing and rebuilding.

These are some of the things I have learnt this year.

  1. Things can change.

  2. There are always more layers to work through.

  3. I was filled with rage and fear but couldn't admit it.

  4. I thought I was doing very well at managing my anxieties. I wasn't.

  5. With my very best efforts I wasn't being a very good dad or husband.

  6. There is a choice of whether to pursue change and life, or hide away and harden to the external circumstances.

  7. I have a very resilient, gracious and understanding wife.

  8. God makes a huge difference if you engage Him in the process. But just assuming your marriage will work because you are a Christian is a huge mistake. It won't.

  9. Everyone else can think that your life is wonderful. Social media has exasperated this.

  10. We all need honest friends.

  11. Abby had to deal with defence mechanisms she had built up in order for our marriage to work. I had not only caused damage through my reactions, but also long term baggage she had to deal with. A double whammy for managing a loved one with anxiety and depression.

  12. Her experience of me had made her become somebody she wasn't - and I blamed her for it.

  13. My expectations of Abby's level of support was unfair and unsustainable.

  14. There is so much life after the cycle of anxiety has been broken.

  15. For the first time in memory I can live free of anxiety, control and fear.

  16. My children are different towards me. They seem relaxed. The impact on them crushed me the most.

  17. I can be the person who I am without the control mechanisms.

  18. Abby was never the enemy I made her out to be.

  19. Its worth the hard work of finding freedom and staying married.

  20. I'm now able to think about things I like doing rather than just thinking about how to cope.

  21. The person underneath is now able to be expressed externally.

  22. There are loads of people in the circumstance that I was.

  23. I relate to seeing husbands and partners who are obviously aware they are struggling, have been challenged about it, but continue to blame their issues on their wives. They need to grow some balls and take responsibility. It took me 8 years of damaging my wife to find mine.

We all live and learn - especially from experience. We are often too slow to learn from others experiences. This is an opportunity for those who relate to all this to not have to go down the path we did.

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