Every weekend, the same thing happens in my home. My husband is super-amazing and incredibly wonderful. He lets me sleep in nearly every Saturday and Sunday. I always intend to let him sleep in, but by the time I surface from sleep enough to register that the kids are awake, he's already out the door of our bedroom with Leo in his arms. So I sink back into sleep and fall deeper than I'm able to sleep during the night. It's not easy sleeping in a bed with a snoring husband and a squirming toddler. So I sleep and take advantage of the incredible gift that my husband gives me. Seriously, sleep is the absolute most precious commodity in my home! A few extra hours is just an amazing thing, isn't it? But there's a problem with this amazing gift my husband gives me....by the time I wake up for the day, he's anxious and crabby and desperate to get out of the house. You see, his anxiety is telling him that he needs to do something productive. He's tired of sitting around and "doing nothing", even if he's actually spending quality time with the kids and bonding with them in meaningful ways. He doesn't see that. He sees the tasks he wants to do, the things he wants to get done, the trip to the gym and the household chores that can't be done with kids in tow. And so when I come out of the nearly comatose state of the perpetually sleep-deprived and I surface enough to emerge from the bedroom, my husband is crabby and irritable. And I always end up feeling guilty. That incredibly precious gift my husband gave me is like a beautiful, perfect seashell. But before you can pick it up and fully appreciate how perfect and amazing it is, a wave of guilt rushes in and sweeps it away. It's not really gone, just buried underneath the waves. My husband wonders why I don't show more appreciation for that incredible gift. It's frustrating for us both. I want to show appreciation for it, but I'm too busy apologizing for sleeping so long, for holding up the whole family's weekend.
Here's the problem, as I see it....when I get up and my husband is irritable and his behavior towards the kids and me is irritable, he's letting his anxiety drive his behavior. He's not in the driver's seat, the anxiety is. I have this problem too. I'm constantly struggling to force my depression out of the driver's seat so I can take the wheel. And I've been guilty in the past of letting diabetes have the wheel too. I didn't exercise because I didn't want to deal with the subsequent lows. I let diabetes dictate my activity level, in a very bad way. I've met a few other diabetics who've had this problem too. We let a fear of lows stop us from truly living, from being in control. We fear losing control of our blood sugars. Isn't it funny how the fear of losing control results in us not being in control?
I've been trying to get this point across to my husband and to myself as well. This idea that we both need to be in constant awareness of our behaviors, our moods, and our degree of control over our behaviors and moods. It's so easy to give in to the urge to let depression or anxiety or diabetes be in control, to let our conditions drive our behaviors and moods. But it's such a destructive thing to do. Depression and anxiety....they're negative in their very natures. I know my husband sometimes sees his anxiety as a good thing, a motivator and a driving force. But when it comes down to it, if we don't keep those things strongly in check and we let them take the lead, they destroy what we love. It's a constant struggle to keep them in check, keep them from overwhelming us and from damaging what we value most. We need to come up with a gentle, but effective way of reminding each other to keep things in check. Some way to make the other person stop, take a breath, and resume control of the wheel. So....who's driving?