As many of you have, my husband and I have gone through many ups and downs. We are finally on a positive streak with his medication well adjusted, he has a great team of doctors, he had a positive career change, and he's becoming himself again. There's just one problem. The past 5 years have been so focused on getting him well that one important piece was missed...me.
You see, I'm a natural caregiver. I mean I'm a pediatric occupational therapist in a school for children with autism and severe behaviors. I teach them how to successfully live life and self regulate their emotions. Seems like a perfect wife for someone with ADHD right?! And you are right! I mean, through my training I was able to help my husband during times that I felt like I was going to lose him to the darkness forever. But by constantly helping others, I have noticed myself slowly dwindling.
I'm not just his caregiver, he's also mine. To add to the complication I have a connective tissue disorder that causes severe pain and exhaustion. I need help and I feel that recently I've been needing more. But recently, he's been giving less and less.
We've been so focused on his health, I've ignored my own. I feel as though I've been holding him up above the water from drowning but in the process I have been holding my breath. And now I'm running out of air.
He used to help my muscles calm down by giving me massages. But recently he's been making me feel so guilty by even bringing up the question of him doing it, I feel horrible asking. I asked him the other day what was going on. I said I noticed that when I ask him to help he gets triggered with anxiety. He usually rolls his eyes, tried to procrastinate doing it, and usually defends himself by spinning the problem to me. That last one it's the one that hurts the most. I feel like complete shit after I finally get the courage to actually ask someone else for help and then I get completely shut down. I react by saying nevermind and it turns into, "Stop doing that, that makes me feel really bad like I never help you". But how do I say, "Well, that's exactly how I feel". When I brought this up to him he said that massaging me hurts his hands and it's uncomfortable. I felt so hopeless in that moment all I said is, "ok, then I won't ask any more". He just told someone with chronic pain that makes it hard to sit up some days, that it's uncomfortable to massage you. I knew in that moment that there wasn't any getting through to him without him getting defensive. He's not doing it maliciously, hes not being a dick. He's literally just in his own world and I just wish I didn't need him as much as I do. Because with him in his world and not OUR world, I feel alone.
You see, I can't say any of this to him. At least it doesn't feel like I can. Because it will trigger him into a depressive episode and everything will be a million times worse. So I just live with it. I'm in so much pain that it hurts to lay down, hurts to sit, hurts to breathe. But when HIS joint hurts I massage it to reduce the pain for him. And it's not just the massages, it's anything that I want to do but he's not interested in. He can't get himself to do anything I want to despite many empty promises...
I feel defeated, I feel alone, and I don't know what to do. I don't think he even knows he's doing this, but every time it gets brought up he some how spins it into me overreacting, or it's because I'm hurting I'm misinterpreting things. He's the kindest, most caring person, but these little moments are really draining me. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to approach this with him?