In this bonus episode Carla's husband Terry joins her to talk about their marriage - how he approaches living with her mental illness, how they communicate and more.
- Carla opens by introducing Terry and the process of deciding what to talk about in this episode! She talks about how her community prompted them to share on two topics: On living with someone with mental illness and communication.
- Carla shares how she lived a very long time untreated and/or misdiagnosed and how it was difficult dealing with rage attacks, depressions, etc.
- Terry shares that, even in the challenge, how having a healthy dose of perspective and sympathy for the person (Carla) living with mental illness is key. He shares how the uncertainty in the process of misdiagnosis was a struggle, as he didn’t know how to help Carla.
- Carla remembers Terry saying that that time period made him feel howhe “constantly had to walk on eggshells'' and Terry elaborates that he learned that being more mindful of how he presented himself both verbally & physically was helpful in helping avoid Carla’s triggers.
- Carla talks about how people with BPD have a heightened sense around the subtle body language in others, and how she noticed event the slightest change in his body language and internalized his changes as her fault, causing her emotions to spiral out of control.
- Carla takes time to affirm Terry’s role as a husband in her life as she struggled with mental illness, pointing out some of the things he has done “right”:
- Even though he has admitted he doesn’t fully understand mental illness, he accepted Carla and her illness. He never questioned or shamed her use of medication or therapy. Carla asks him how he was able to avoid stigmatizing Carla and accept her. Terry shares that he had to make a decision - either ignore it or accept it, even if you don’t understand it. He decided to accept Carla’s illness was the best way to support her, advocate for her, and make her feel safe.
- Terry decided to get educated! He read books that Carla gave him, and didn’t stay in the dark about her illness. This was key, as Carla’s BPD can cause her to act vicious - and it helped Terry to not take it personally and helped him to separate the illness from his wife. Terry talks about how it was so helpful that Carla not only provided resources for him to learn from, but also communicated ways that BPD manifested itself in her life and behavior.
Communication in their marriage
- Carla shares that she and Terry have had huge struggles in their marriage outside of her struggle with mental illness, ranging from stuggles with in-laws, betrayal, and more. She shares what keeps them together is acting as a unit - Carla and Terry vs. The Problem, rather than acting as opposing teams - Carla vs Terry.
- Terry shares how communication does not come naturally, and how he would not share his feelings, and how Carla (being very attuned to his body language) struggled to trust him as he was not forthcoming.
- Carla talks about how their different communication styles were nurtured - Terry was raised to keep the peace, and Carla was raised to take part in conflict & confrontation, no matter the cost. In marriage, Carla has learned to become more empathetic in sharing her feelings, and Terry has learned to become more assertive as well as appreciating sharing the small things.
- Carla shares how learning love languages was a game changer for their marriage! They learned how to lean into each other’s language to communicate their love to each other and partner together.
- Carla’s one piece of advice to married couples is “Be on each other’s team” no matter what it takes. Terry's advice, geared to those supporting spouses with mental illness is “You need to find outlets and your own space where you can feel supported and comforted” - whether it’s a hobby, small group, etc, as you need support for yourself in order to support your spouse!
- Carla asks Terry “Where have you seen God move in our marriage?” Terry shares that God has eliminated mental illness as a burden, and wrapped it into their marriage as a way to support and encourage each other, rather than it being an overshadowing “problem”. Carla shares how God has given them a deep compassion for one another.
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