Says So in the Manual
In yesterday’s piece, I mentioned that my primary goal, when we found out that Annie is ill, was to be her number-one, go-to guy. I figured this is my opportunity to repay her for all of the drama I have put her through this past winter, while we sorted out my own fragmented mood spectrum.
Nothing makes me want to reciprocate, more than the scales being already tipped in my favor. I feel as though I have much to pay back, and yet, the very nature of my illness, prevents me from doing so. Until now Annie has been my coach and mentor, while I sorted out the complexities of mood spectrum disorder. Making reasonable progress, we have begun each day with a careful assessment of the state of Mark, and recorded the data on my mood chart.
By doing so, I have been able to compare each day’s emotional barometer, with that of the previous day, and the day before that, and draw some sort of haphazard conclusions. Inherent in the whole process has been honesty. How many hours of sleep did I actually get, compared to how many hours I put on the chart? Prior to now, there was no reason to get creative with the answers.
Now, however, if the questions tend to make me admit things, that are not going to make it easier for Annie, then I might hold off. She doesn’t need to know what my level of depression is, because it is not going to help her feel better. She doesn’t need to know that the speed of the racing thoughts in my head, defies computation. She doesn’t need to know that the agitation going on up there, would make an old-time washing machine, seem like a tranquil pool of serenity. That’s the dilemma that I am encountering. If I am honest to a fault, someone is likely to get hurt.
But Annie’s newly diagnosed illness is too heavy for me to just absorb, with my manly sense of dignity intact. I want to say, "Aw, hell, I can handle it-just try me..." until it involves the fragile nature of life, and its connection to the most important person in my life. I’m not that manly and I don’t want to be. I just want to retain my Annie, not my sense of dignity.
Yesterday, I formed the conclusion that I am not in a position to be Annie’s number one go-to guy, for the same reason that she can no longer function as my coach and mentor. In order for me to be at top speed, I need my coach available to guide me; my coach has had to take time off to tend to personal problems, so I need to form a new plan. She has also opted to shut down her quilting business, for the time being, because it is too draining.
Temporarily, she will not be baking for market or making her tamales because it’s just too much. She can bake some gluten-free bread for those who rely on it, she can prepare some miso soup, or she can read on the couch. This is a very different existence for Annie, I can only guarantee you of that.
As for me, I am no longer in the early stages of my illness and have spent six months unraveling that ball of twine inside my head, so the need to have my coach present has diminished. I have not mastered my therapy, but have at least instilled an ongoing, successful program, which allows me to be able to give that much more support to Annie. Maybe not 100%, but much, none-the less.
Fortunately, this is where the news brightens enormously. I have mentioned additional support in the form of others who have stampeded to help. Annie has had her spirits buoyed tremendously by the presence of our three strong, devoted sons and respective partners. All three of these young men, were here in the kitchen yesterday, anxious to let Annie revel in their love, strength, generosity and confidence. They are a formidable force in this most recent-and very unexpected-development.
Because Annie and I have functioned as a team for thirty-one years, there is no reason to let up at this late stage in the game, especially with our sons and their partners by our side.
Tell you what, Annie. I’ll make your tea, and get your Kindle, if you will take a look at this mood chart, and see if everything is in order. I promise not to fudge on the data too much, if you promise to take your iron supplements, and let me carry that water for the chickens out to the coop. You don’t need to be doing that strenuous of a task. And together we’ll figure it out. Says so in the manual, page twelve, paragraph 4, under sub-section L, for Love.