Those with any chronic illness knows that there are times when they need to lean on a loved one for care. This can be difficult and make the one with the illness feel like a burden. For example, I hate the idea that my husband, someone whom I see as my equal, my partner in life, has to be my caregiver at times. Though this is an idea I struggle with, I have learned to accept it.
Due to the unpredictability of my mood and the severity of my lows, my mental health professionals have directed my husband and I to keep our medication in a lock box, to which my husband has the only key. This is to keep me from attempting an overdose. Keeping meds in a lock box is a simple thing. Each weekend, we unlock it and fill our weekly medication containers. If we are running low on anything, we request a refill at the pharmacy. This means that at any given time I have access to a maximum of 7 days-worth of my medication. This practice has also helped us keep the table clearer since we do not have bottles everywhere. As simple as this may seem, it took us both a while to get used to. It put a responsibility on him that I was not comfortable with, and my discomfort led to his own.
I felt shame that this was necessary, and guilt that I was putting such a large responsibility on him. It wasn’t until we had been doing this secured medication regimen for a few months that we both got into the groove of it. I began to realize that by keeping the meds locked, it was not only keeping me safe, but it was also alleviating any fears my husband may have about my safety.
More recently, as I have been living in a hypo-manic state, I have been inconsistent at night with taking my Seroquel. I started taking only half of the dose with the theory that since I was going to bed later, if I took the entire dose I would be late for work due to the sedating effect of this drug. After admitting to my therapist, psychiatrist, and husband about my medication noncompliance, my husband took it upon himself to begin checking my weekly medication sorter to be sure I was taking the prescribed dose. This is another example of how he is taking on a caretaker role. A role that has historically made me feel uncomfortable.
It is important for me to remember that the short moments it take for him to check that I am taking my meds, allow him to feel more comfortable the rest of the time. It is also important for me to remember that as with all aspects of a healthy relationship, there is a give and take. He may be taking care of me by ensuring medication safety, but I also have opportunity to take care of him by reminding him to take his allergy meds and by ensuring he always has a healthy meal prepped and ready to eat.
At different points in everyone’s life, they need varying degrees of outside care. The faster a person comes to accept this, the faster they will be able to get back to their version of a normal life.