How To Keep Your Relationship Rock Solid Despite Living With Epilepsy
Having a medical condition such as epilepsy, can have an effect on even the greatest of relationships. The one who is experiencing the symptoms day in and day out, may not feel the same way they once did before. And the other person may not know how to handle the sudden and drastic change. The strain could most certainly put the couples’ vow of “In sickness and in health” to the test.
My husband and I have been married for over a decade. We were beaming with joy, newlyweds. Daydreaming ideas of starting a family and a flower garden. Backyard barbecues, having family and friends over, and holidays. Epilepsy had not yet entered into our lives. We were preparing to celebrate our very first Christmas together as husband and wife. The morning of December 11, 2008 when my husband went off to work, I snuck out with the hopes to buy birthday and Christmas presents. I never made it to the store. A tonic-clonic seizure occurred as I was driving. Thankfully, I’d only struck a tree and suffered whiplash. I was diagnosed with epilepsy not long after.
Studies show marriages in which one spouse is chronically ill have a divorce rate of 75 percent. And spouses who are caregivers are 6 times more likely to be depressed than spouses who do not need to be caregivers.
We knew straight away when we heard the doctor say the words, “You have epilepsy.” that we had our work cut out for us but that we were going to get through this together. That no matter what, we were going to stay true to the vows that we spoke at our wedding:
“For better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.”
Even in the greatest marriages, you are going to come across rough patches and challenges. However, it is in those moments that you can choose to learn patience and commitment and strengthen your relationship. You and the one you love can learn to deal with the strain a medical condition like epilepsy can put on your relationship.
How To Keep Your Relationship Rock Solid:
- Talk To One Another –
Relationships can become strained when you don’t sit down and discuss what is on your heart and your mind in which there is no apparent or clear solution. If you lack communication, you’re setting yourself up for feelings of distance and a lack of closeness.
The best thing that you could do is speak openly regarding challenges you are up against. You’re taking a great step in the right direction to solving problems. You’re paving the way to excellent teamwork as well!
It’s important to have a great balance of communication. Don’t allow yourselves to be consumed in speaking about the medical condition, however, do leave the door open to talk about it. Essentially, have a middle ground.
- Let The Hot Air Out Of Heated Emotions –
it’s completely normal if you feel down or sad and if you were to have anxiety because of epilepsy. Epilepsy is completely unpredictable! It doesn’t ever announce itself when it arrives like a tornado warning, which only adds to the anxiety.
The best way to handle anxiety is to pin down the root of the worry and find good strategies and resources to deal with it.
Four helpful methods you and the one you love can use to help each other achieve relief from stress:
- Learn as much as you can about the condition and reach out to helpful/available resources to feel more in control.
- Find A Good Counselor. You could consider going together or separately for counseling with a therapist, pastor, or other trained professional.
- Be on the lookout for signs of depression. Sadness is a normal response to a medical condition or epilepsy. But clinical depression doesn’t have to be.
- Recognize if you are feeling that your relationship has changed. The both of you are experiencing some form of change. I have epilepsy and have lived 13 years with the condition. Still, every now and again I speak of wanting to drive to the store to pick up groceries or run errands so my husband doesn’t have to. Though he does not have epilepsy, though he cannot physically feel what I feel, he does his best to see what I see, feel what I feel and understand my longing for independence and sense of normality.
- Make Your Needs Known
If you’re the one with epilepsy, be clear and direct about what it is that you want because your loved one is not a mind reader. Don’t expect him or her to be. Don’t give him or her a hard time.
It’s important to talk to each other about sharing tasks and responsibilities so that there isn’t a sense of feeling like a patient rather than a partner.
- Take Care Of Your Loved One
If you are the one taking care of your loved one with epilepsy, you need to pay attention to your own physical and emotional health. If you don’t, you won’t be able to help the one you love.
To cut down on the stress, my husband goes to the gym and plays his guitar. Physical activity provides an excellent outlet for stress.
Four other things that can cut down on stress:
- Confiding in family and friends
- Asking for help
- Knowing your limits and…
- Setting realistic goals
Can Loved Ones Get Burnt Out? Definitely!
Be On The Lookout For:
- Withdrawal from family, friends and other loved ones
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Emotional and physical exhaustion
- Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person you are caring for
- Feeling blue, irritable, hopeless, and helpless
- Changes in appetite, weight, or both
- Changes in sleep patterns
If you are the person caring for a loved one with epilepsy and are experiencing symptoms like these, it’s important that you seek help both for your own well-being and to get support in caring for your loved one.
Show Love For One Another
Being diagnosed with epilepsy has without a doubt made our marriage rock solid. My husband and I are by no means perfect but we are united, and we vow to go through this storm together, no matter what we are faced with.
It’s important to always remember your love for each other. Recognize the real enemy. Not one another, but epilepsy.
Refuse to be owned by epilepsy. Refuse to feel helpless. Do all that you can to turn those lemons into the greatest lemonade ever!
What relationship advice might you have for couples struggling through challenging times?