By ARIANE BEESTON
There are three people in my marriage: me, my husband, and the woman my husband calls “Prudence.” Prudence looks a lot like me. She sounds like me. And she’s a mum. But the similarities end there.
For the past 18 months, I’ve been really unwell. After the birth of our first son Henry, I suffered from post partum psychosis, a severe mental illness which affects approximately 1-2 per 1000 women. I’ve been hospitalised twice, see a psychiatrist weekly and take both an antidepressant and an antipsychotic.
This experience is, of course, a story in itself but one I’m not yet ready to tell in detail. It’s still a little raw, a little too painful and I don’t have a happy postscript. I’m still working on that part. Which brings me back to Prudence.
You see, Prudence is the version of myself who is still recovering. She’s the version who struggles to get out of bed in the morning.The one who puts milk in the pantry and sunglasses in the fridge. The person who bundles her son off to daycare with his shoes on the wrong feet. She’s the hopelessness and the worthlessness. The tears, the anxiety and the bone deep fatigue. Prudence is bad days personified.
Currently, my husband says Prudence appears about three or four days a week. The rest of the time, he says, I’m pretty close to being my old self.
When I asked him recently to describe what it’s like being around Prudence, my husband tentatively explained that his usually, very low maintenance wife, is replaced by a woman who is extremely high maintenance.
And not in the way that, for example, someone like Kim Kardashian might be. Prudence struggles to make decisions, struggles to concentrate, struggles to parent. Prudence, bless her, simply struggles to function.
I know my husband feels cheated at times. Prudence is not the woman he married. In recent weeks, on more than one occasion, my husband has explicitly expressed that he wishes “Prudence would just fuck off.”
A strong statement, yes, but an honest one. And it’s honesty and team work that’s got us this far.