I’m an RCMP Wife and I have a mental illness.
No one tells you that RCMP life is going to be as tough as it is, but it is kind of expected. I mean, yes, everyone warns you about moving frequently and having to start over etc etc. But it’s more troublesome than that. It’s distressing for the average person. And it’s ROUGH for spouses with mental illness. I can’t speak for those spouses without mental illness, but I know those with it struggle every day. About 6ish months ago I started a Facebook group for RCMP spouses with mental illness. Every day I am impressed by these ladies. They struggle, as do I, but they are resilient. Powerful. Warriors.
Personally, leaving my “rocks” has been the most severe part. My best friends, my psychiatrist, my family doctor, my therapist, my resources, my family, kick boxing, my dream job. Leaving all that behind to start a new life. And to two provinces away. I’ve personally now witnessed the differences in health care between a city and a town. I am not able to access what I need here and that has been completely and utterly frustrating for me. I’m being 100% honest. My health went downhill for about a year after we moved here. Both physically and mentally. I’ve had lengthy episodes of depression and psychotic episodes. That’s the truth. But I was able to pick myself up and force my way FIGHTING for my life. That’s one thing I will never do. Give up. And I’m lucky enough to have a spouse who fights for me too.
Making friends is also complicated. I am not only an introvert, I also have social anxiety. I enjoy my alone time. I LOVE my alone time. But I also get lonely. And as any human does, I need person to person contact that doesn’t involve farting every 15 minutes and trying to cop a feel. Yep. Trying to make friends is like dating. It’s scary and you get that throat in your stomach feeling every time you ask someone if they want to hang out. Joining groups is the same. I’ve joined a few. And they are great. It’s making that first step to go to the meetings that is vomit inducing. All you extroverts out there are shaking your heads and all you introverts/social anxiety-erts are nodding your heads.
So there’s that. And then there’s the people I’ve met who don’t want to be my friend because my spouse is a police officer and the people that don’t want to be my friend because we will be moving to a new spot in a few years. Yep, both of those have happened. And because I’m human, it hurts a little. But that’s okay, you move on.
The few friends I have made are fantastic. As an introvert I crave deep conversation and it’s been great to be able to do that over the past few months. You probably wouldn’t know I’m an introvert the first time you meet me because I’m maybe a little loud and talkative, but perhaps that is part of my nervousness/my throat is in my stomach-ness.
Then there’s trying to get into a routine. It’s a proven fact that those with a mental illness should keep up a daily routine. Which is stupidly difficult when you live with someone who works shift work, on call, and even gets called out when not technically on call. I have not been able to find work here yet and we don’t have children so that makes it even more difficult for me to have any motivation to get out of bed. After making friends, joining groups, finding new hobbies, going to the gym, and going back to school, I have definitely formed as much of a routine as I possibly can. It only took me a year and a half to get there.
So then there’s this. And this is a struggle for all police spouses. I watch my spouse walk out the door every morning or evening, not knowing if he’ll make it back. I watch the media tear police apart for shooting and killing someone for coming at them with a knife instead of shooting the suspect in the leg. I watch friends and family members and total strangers making comments about all police being “disgusting pigs” and how they “deserve to die.” I watch and read the judgments of the actions of the police, when most of their actions are protocol, not made up on the spot on their own. I watch people blame one dirty cop’s mistake on all police. I watch my spouse come home covered in urine and spit. I watch my spouse come home covered in blood that someone threw on him that may be HIV or Hep C positive. I watch my spouse walk out the door being called to a standoff, not knowing when I’ll see him next. I watch other RCMP families go places in the north that no one would wish on their pervert uncle. I watch spouses and children living apart from their RCMP spouse because of illness or jobs or money problems. I could go on forever. It’s horrifying and disgusting and terrifying for family members. Some things you learn to deal with, others are more difficult to let go. For all spouses, mental illness or not.
It’s a struggle, but there sure are positives to this life. Adventure and the opportunity to try new things. Both of these are a catalyst to being mentally healthy. There is no easy way to be mentally healthy. You can’t just eat healthy or just meditate or just take your meds. It’s a combination. And it’s so different for each person.
I have not written this for anyone to feel sorry for me or for you to think my life is bad. It’s not. I’m happy. I struggled. Hard. And I still struggle. But these struggles have allowed me to work even more forcefully and branch out and find other resources I didn’t know about. I’ve written this so even one person can feel a little less alone. I’ve written this so maybe others will say, “yeah, I identify with that.” And I’ve written this because being completely honest is the only way to live life, right?
Ps. I am in no way speaking for anyone else, spouses with mental illness or not. Each person has their own journey.