Changes for the Better?

So hubby seems to be improving. I am liking how he’s been very calm and reasonable and even motivated to do stuff around the house. He’s been helping me out with the housework and even done some of the things that I hate to do.

He’s doing good and I am very proud of him.

He’s not as anxious as before, which makes him such a pleasant person to be around with. He’s also engaging more with life and seems to be interested in a lot more things. He’s not sleeping as much as before, too. Since I was on vacation, too, for the summer holidays, hubby has been the one who’s asked me to go for long drives.

It seems like there’s nothing much to say when things are good between us. Right now, I am just enjoying the ride. It feels really nice just to sit at home and eat dinner. We’ll have a nice conversation and talk about his sports teams. It’s been a very exciting time for hubby as his interest in sports has again peaked. He’s following the local soccer team and the baseball team closely. He’s quite happy to watch highlights on TV and online. It makes me feel happy for him. This is the kind of person I wish he could be all the time.

I realize that this might change, too. It’s only temporary as most things in life are. I will hold on to these happy days when the bad ones come, as eventually they will. Again, the key is to figure out how to deal with the bad days. Honestly, I don’t even want to think about those days, but life is all about the ups and downs so I need to be prepared for that eventuality.

I think part of it is also that I am motivated, too. Things are rolling on my end and I have found a passion that I want to accomplish. I am doing as much as I can to make sure that both of us will be content with the life that we live. I want to be able to appreciate the time that we have together and also the times when we are separated by our own interests.

To do that, I am working on improving myself, particularly in finding a new career that will give us the freedom to do the things we both love to do. In trying to further my career, I will also realize one of my dreams. This is fueling my desire to work harder at my job and also to protect the time that I am not at my job. The balance between life and career is still something I struggle with, but at least things are good right now. I’ve got the back up plans ready in case something goes wrong, too.

But I am welcoming all the changes in my life. I hope that whether this continues or if the tide turns for the worse, both hubby and I will be able to weather everything together.

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Long Break

For hubby, anyway.

Hubby has been off work for the last four months. This is usually the solution that his workplace recommends for any type of mental illness.

For me, this is my second round dealing with hubby and his long break. A few years ago, when he was first diagnosed with his OCD, his anxiety really got the best of him and he kept breaking down at work. He just couldn’t function. His superior officers told him to take time off. At first it was three months. Then he took another three months off after that. Eventually, he kept extending it so much that he ended up with a total of two years off from work.

In that sense, his job has always been very accommodating.

The thing is, I wonder if this is really the best solution for a person with OCD.

Hubby is home most of the time. He tends to do nothing when he is at home. These past few weeks since his return from Chiba, he’s been sleeping most of the time. Either that, or he’s been watching TV.

Since the weather has been nice and warm, I’ve been trying to get us out of the house as much as possible to go out for drives. I personally enjoying driving around because our part of Japan is beautiful. I love seeing all of nature and just be surrounded by the beautiful mountains and the trees. Hubby seems to appreciate it and always says that he wants to join me every time I suggest we go for a drive.

Other times, when I need to work, I usually invite him to go to the local Starbucks. While I’m working on my own stuff, hubby will sit right next to me and read. I prefer that he spends his time this way instead of being at home doing nothin.

I feel like when he’s home he spends more time brooding than anything. Sometimes, too, his OCD gets triggered by the slightest thing. Yesterday, it was the garbage. The other day, it was the front bumper of the car.  A few days before that, it was his wallet and his phone.

I’ve noticed, though, that his checking routine seems to be shorter.

I want to say that because he’s not working, he’s more relaxed and not as anxious as before. The pressure of work is off and nobody’s really pushing him to do this or do that. I am just letting him do his own thing at this point. Partly because I am so busy at work, and partly because everything is out of my hands now. He is responsible for his own recovery at this point.

The first time this happened, I was always anxious about our future and what would happen to both of us. Now that I’ve lived through that, I am more confident during this second time of him not working. Even if this becomes permanent, I am also not as fearful. I still believe that we will be okay, no matter what.

Mental Health in Japan

Last week, a comedian from the very popular group, Neptune, announced that he was taking a break from showbiz to rest. The reason he cited was depression.

Last year, another public person, retired from his performing duties because of anxiety issues. He was young, in his twenties, and was part of the very popular 6-member boy band King and Prince.

Personally, I am glad to see these courageous people putting a spotlight on their mental health. It is usually the elephant in the room and is never addressed in Japan. For the most part, mental health is just not talked about even in families. The stigma of mental illness is still very strong here in Japan, compared to the rest of the world. I feel that people in the US and other nations are more accepting about it–or at least are able to speak about it more openly.

That’s not to say that everything is perfect in the US. I just feel that people accept it more as a fact of life and are able to move on from it. Here, it is hidden and denied as much as possible, as long as it’s not obvious. Unfortunately, people who are suicidal often take their lives without even bothering to reach out first.

I think part of the problem is that mental health practitioners are overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people with issues. Just like in regular medicine, there is a shortage in medical staff here in Japan. As the population ages, hospitals and other facilities are having problems finding good workers to care for ailing patients, both in the physical and mental space.

Unfortunately, the work is tough and often very demanding. Nobody wants to be burdened by a job that will stress you out even more.

I completely understand that, which is why I really believe that it is our responsibility to do what we can ourselves to be healthy both physically and mentally–in order to reduce the burden we place on medical practitioners.

In order to do that, I usually blog to let out my frustrations and the daily stress of life. I also reach out to family and friends whenever I can. I am lucky to have the social support I have now. I also learn to appreciate how good my life is right now. Studies have shown that being grateful prevents many people from falling into depression. People who practice gratitude daily are also more likely to bounce back from tragedy.

Life is hard enough without the added problems of mental illness. I really hope that people who are struggling reach out more–to others, especially loved ones. If not, there are many places to get help. Unfortunately, many Japanese don’t want to bother others with their problems–at least in my experience. Some of them feel that being a burden to others is not a good thing and so try to solve a lot of their own problems by taking their own lives.

This is one part of the culture that I wish would change, which makes me really appreciate that there are people out in the public eye who are willing to say they have a mental illness. It opens up the conversation for the rest of the nation. This will also show people that there are people out there who will support you and will want you to be healthy again.

No Shame

We went out the other day for dinner at a sushi restaurant. As always, the food was amazing. When we got done, however, I stood up and immediately wanted to go pay for our meal.

Hubby, however, took a few minutes.

First, he stood up and checked under the table. He then checked the chairs underneath. He did this three times. After that he stared at the table, his pointer finger in the air drawing circles as he counted in his head. He was mumbling something under his breath. After that, he put his hands over both his pants pockets and rubbed them several times. He was checking to make sure that his wallet and his cell phone were really there.

All told, his routine took about five minutes.

I waited for him.

Meanwhile, different restaurant staff asked him if he was okay. He said he was fine and they left him alone after that. Clearly, they wanted to clean up after us, but they couldn’t because hubby wouldn’t budge from the spot.

I also saw other people watching him do his routine. They were furtive glances so they didn’t really stare that long.

I’m used to all this so I am not as embarrassed about the whole thing anymore. This is just something that I’ve learned to accept it. I wish it was better, but you know what, he did it faster than he normally did, which is something to be grateful for.

I guess from here on out, I have to accept that hubby will be doing a lot of non-normal things in public–right in front of people. I know this and it’s just a fact of our life. Hubby is ill and he will do a lot of things that “normal” people just wouldn’t do. I guess if he’s okay with it and being seen by other people doing it, then I really shouldn’t be complaining about it.

The thing is, I’m not really sure if this is the right attitude or thing to do. I wonder if I shouldn’t let him do it. Maybe i shouldn’t wait for him and just leave him to his routine. I think if it had been more crowded, then I really would have pushed him to not do his checking that long. However, since there were not so many people waiting for tables, I thought it would be okay if he took his time to do whatever he needed to do.

As long as it’s not harming other people, then it’s okay. However, he is harming himself by checking too much. It means he’s not really doing the hard thing of living with the fear. By completing the routine, he won’t be able to get past the fear because it became his coping mechanism.

Again, I’m not really embarrassed anymore. The only thing that I worry about is his recovery.

Eggshells

So we are tip-toeing around many issues at home.

It’s been two weeks since hubby has been back from his hospital visit. He’s been okay, very relaxed and not as anxious as before. Again, he’s not been going to work so he has nothing really stressful going on in his life. He’s spending his time in the comfort of home, surrounded by everything that is familiar to him.

I am home most of the time when I’m not working. I have adjusted to life as it was before he left for Chiba. This time, though, he’s not as needy or as desperate as before. If I tell him I have to go to work, he’ll say okay and leave it at that. He’ll say he’ll be lonely because I wasn’t home. Maybe once or twice and not say anything any more.

I think that’s a good thing. Before, he would just be constantly repeating “I’ll be lonely.”

Yes, I understand that, but that’s something that we can’t do anything about at this point. I have to work if we want to eat. I also don’t want to stay home all day and do nothing. I feel better when I’m doing something at work. It keeps me engaged and my mind will be thinking of things other than my life at home surrounded with OCD. I will also be moving about and physically active. This will keep the stress levels down when I go home.

The thing that we’re tiptoeing around so much, though, is his work situation. I’ve been clear about it to him. I’ve told him that I’m prepared to support us financially if he decides to quit his stressful job. I am completely okay if he will be jobless for an uncertain amount of time.

In fact, I would prefer to know clearly what to do. If he quits, that means I have to double down and work to find a full-time job so that we don’t have to depend on his paycheck. However, he still doesn’t know what to do. He says he wants to go back to work, which I admire and respect. But I know that going back into that environment will be very stressful. His job has told him to take it easy and he can come back any time. I’ve met the bosses and they were very kind. They told him to not push himself too much.

Honestly, I don’t know if it’s all just empty promises of if they really mean it. I think the sincerity is there. I just don’t know if it will continue for longer. This is the second time in the last five years that they will be going through this.

Again, it all depends on what hubby wants to do. I wish I can get a clear answer from him, but I don’t think he clearly knows what he wants to do with his own life. I’m just hoping that he’ll use this time wisely and think about his life from here on out.

In the meantime, I am just going to wait and just continue to gingerly talk about the topic of his job and future.

Business as Usual

So we’re back.

Hubby is finally home after spending three months at the Chiba University Hospital mental ward. In short, he is worse than when he left home.

Unfortunately, the treatment was a non-issue. In the end, they were not able to do anything for hubby aside from adding one more medication to his drug cocktail.

Before he came home, I had thought that I was ready to face reality again, to get back to the life we had before those three months of bliss. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as prepared as I had thought. Since it’s been a while since hubby was back, I’d forgotten how tough it is to deal with the OCD rituals and routines associated with hubby’s checking. I over-reacted and became angry and resentful again. Hubby got caught up in the grip of his OCD urges and just couldn’t resist.

Like I said, he’s worse off than before.

And so we’re back to square one, which means we have to start off again from a negative footing. All the progress we’ve made before Chiba was blown to bits. We have to start getting him ready to go back to work and dealing with other people other than those he met at the hospital.

At the very least, he’s met many different people with different types of mental issues at the ward. Hubby says that compared to them, his disease is worse.

At this point, I really have nothing else to write. I am irritable because now I am again forced to do many things that I don’t want to do because of hubby’s disease. I am resentful and hubby is suffering.

I’m back to trying to stay calm despite all the troubles in our home. I am dealing with it the best way I know how, which is disengaging and trying not to get caught up in his victimhood, but it’s still a struggle and will continue to be very difficult in the future.

Shock

  1. A sudden or violent mental or emotional disturbance
  2. Something that causes such disturbance
  3. A state of being so disturbed

Definitions taken from Webster Dictionary.

I was talking to hubby the other day about a dream I have–basically continuing to get schooling and earning a higher degree. Granted, this is just something I’ve been thinking about for now. It’s not a definite thing that I will for sure do. I’m just marinating on the idea of getting further in my education.

However, for some reason, he said that this was all “shocking” for him.

The way that Japanese people use the word shock is to indicate that they are not only extremely surprised, but also deeply disturbed by something.

In turn, the fact that he said that he was shocked by my news was also shocking and upsetting to me.

It made me feel a little bit sad. Here I was sharing something so inspiring and something that I’ve dreamed of for so long, but all I hear from hubby was that he was shocked to hear all this coming from me. After being married for ten years, he should have known my personality by now. I love the idea of learning and schooling. He’s always known this about me, so I thought he shouldn’t have been surprised. It was only natural, I thought.

I also mentioned this in passing a few days before, but I guess he forgot our conversation. Was he not listening then? It just seemed like it.

In any case, he said the timing of this news was a little bit surprising and he just kept saying he was shocked and the timing was bad.

So that sank my spirits and immediately put me on defensive mode. I did my best to tramp down my anger, but unfortunately, I said some things that I shouldn’t have said–as usual.

So then we just kind of decided to let the conversation just die out until he wanted to hang up the phone and go to sleep. It was fine by me. I didn’t want to talk to somebody who would kill my dreams, after all.

Since then, we haven’t had a conversation about it again. I’m just afraid that I will probably get upset again. I’m hoping that we can have a proper conversation about the whole thing when he gets back.

It just goes to show how I just don’t really know what’s going on in hubby’s mind any more. I was thinking that the degree really had nothing to do with him, but I guess he took it personally? I asked him what was shocking and he couldn’t really explain it to me. All he said was that I wasn’t going to be home then.

Sigh.

I guess he just wants me to stay home and just babysit him all the time. Is that my role in this marriage? I’m meant to just dedicate my life to his care and I don’t get to have any say in my own life? This is what he expects from his wife?

This makes me so upset because I don’t want to do that. I get that as a married couple, we need to spend time together, but I don’t believe that just because we’re married means we have to be together all the time. I don’t think I can function like that.

Even when I type all of this out, I just feel like crying. How did it come to be like this?