Time for you
Trying to balance life while supporting your partner? It can be exhausting being pulled in different directions, physically and emotionally. You don't feel like you can have time for yourself, and you feel guilty when you do.
I know because this was me when my partner was signed off work with stress - I’d adjusted my life and my working patterns: working from home on occasion, long lunch breaks to meet up, time off to spend together and go along to appointments. When I was working I was worrying about my partner. When I took time away from work I felt I should be contributing more. We were seeing more of the psychiatrist than any of our friends and family.
When the message flashed up on my phone: “have the yellow leggings arrived?” a cold trickle went through me. No, they hadn’t. Because I hadn’t ordered them. My friend had asked me to order them about a week ago and I’d forgotten. Something else that I’d got wrong; someone else I’d let down. I felt that by trying to do everything I was actually doing nothing right, that no-one and nothing was getting my best.
I cried in frustration. Who could I find to help me? My partner had support, what about me?
There was nothing else for it - I was going to have to figure it out. What to do, who to talk to.
The next day I carried out internet searches for help and advice supporting partners, how to manage my time, how to “get it right”. Some of the advice and suggestions were more helpful to me as a guide of what not to do - the idea of “tough love” was never ever going to work for me, and the suggestion to “tell them their hair looks nice” actually made me laugh (still does when I think about it).
The most helpful advice I took was to look after me, in order to be able to give the support that was needed - like when cabin crew tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first. I found someone who had MY back, rather than “ours” and this gave me the space to talk (or rant at times) and to figure out a way to balance my time between all those different demands, including giving myself some time for me.
With time and experience, I realised that getting it right is all relative to an individual situation and the people involved, and that your best really is good enough.
I've used my experience as the supporting partner and a coach to create ways to benefit women who are in similar situations by helping them to develop their own strategies to regain control, increase their resilience and look after themselves, guilt free, starting with the document PIVOT pointers.
What about now?
I've collected everything I've learnt from research, trial and error, tears and laughter to create ways to help other women who are supporting partners through mental health challenges.
One of the key things I learnt was that the better I look after myself, the better I can help my partner, so I make time to do the things I love: crafting, baking and cooking, reading, the occassional pamper session and planting wild flowers and watching them grow.