I’M BACK! Sorry it took so long to write this post, but the subject matter of mental illness and marriage is so close to my heart that I really wanted to wait till I could share these feelings properly.
Anyways, the media representation I’m discussing today is a vlog series called The Redo on La Guardia Cross’s YouTube channel. If you’ve never watched any videos by La Guardia Cross or indulged in his New Father Chronicles series I highly suggest taking a moment to do so. (Here’s a few of my faves: This and this) Essentially, it’s a guy vlogging about becoming a father and spending time with his daughter.
Watching family vlogs has been a slightly guilty pleasure for me as we tread slowly towards building a family of our own someday. It’s fascinating to watch regular people capture the struggles and joys of having a family and New Father Chronicles is especially great at turning all of that into pure entertainment.
While the videos primarily feature La Guardia and his daughter, Amallah, his wife, Leah, does occasionally make appearances on the vlog. Their interactions in the videos are so enjoyable to watch that I naturally wondered how their relationship was off screen.
When La Guardia started hinting at The Redo series I was mildly excited, thinking the videos would mostly center around the couple getting the chance to redo their rushed wedding ceremony and reception from a decade ago. I was pleasantly surprised when the series started not with a wedding, but a recap of the difficulties their relationship had faced before and after they got married.
The serious talk about mental illness and how it affected every part of their marriage starts in the second video. Seriously, it blew my mind how open and honest both of them were about Leah’s depression, her need for medication, and her struggles with suicidal thoughts. It was moving to hear how it wasn’t just a battle for her, but for him as well. In his own way he was a victim of her mental illness and it broke my heart.
Since getting engaged two years ago I’ve made it a habit to notice strong marriages and relationships. I want to learn how other couples thrive and make things work so that my own marriage can be as successful. Reading about relationship trials and tribulations has become a hobby. Researching the best ways to grow together and how to breed contentment instead of animosity is almost an impulse.
Honestly, I think I’m just trying to prepare myself for the struggle that is mental illness within a marriage because the reality of it terrifies me.
It’s hard living with this monster on my back, but it’s harder still knowing that being married means this monster doesn’t just bring me down, but my husband as well. Sometimes the guilt of it is almost too much and I wonder if the burden of my struggle outweighs the gift of my love. It’s not easy to have these fears as a newlywed, knowing that they’re life long and being completely cured of this monster is unlikely.
I don’t expect things to always be as hard as they are these days, but knowing that my life, our life, will be plagued by seasons of crisis is exhausting to consider.
That’s why this series moved me so damn much. Because through all of my research I hardly found any first hand accounts of how couples deal with a partner living with mental illness. Movie and tv shows focused on married couples tend to stick to the mundane issues, who is or isn’t doing housework, financial struggles, or the complications of child rearing. No where do we see the husband dealing with regular panic attacks or the wife with crippling depression. Where were the representations of people dealing with issues similar to my own? I couldn’t find them.
Thats why watching a couple thriving after the trials the Cross family has been through is more encouraging than anything else. It gives me hope that my issues won’t prevent me from being a good wife, and one day a loving mother. It helped erase my fears that I was doing my husband a disservice by strapping him down with a defective partner. And ultimately, it made me recognize the blessing of having a supportive and caring partner by my side while I walk this difficult path.
The Redo helped me truly believe that having a mental illness does not, in any way, make someone unloveable or unworthy of a healthy relationship. I won’t summarize any more of the series because I seriously think it’s valuable to hear their story in their own words. Be sure to have some tissues handy because you’re likely to tear up a bit.
If you watch the series let me know what you think! And if you have your own story about marriage and mental illness feel free to share.