After months of driving back and forth to Cardiff, the decision to move in together was easy.
We’d discussed the option of me moving up there but it made more sense for Nick to move back to Devon. This is where both our families and friends are and I had a much more stable job.
We timed it just right as Nick’s Dad’s house had become available to rent so it seemed logical that we moved there. This is the house where Nick had spent his teenage years and was within the town where I lived. In January, only a couple of weeks since Nick deciding to move, we had pretty much moved in.
I remember the excitement of the road trip to Cardiff and back with the removal van. The fact I had only moved a few months prior didn’t bother me as this much more exciting. We were ready to start a new life together.
I won’t pretend that everything was sunshine and roses in the beginning as we did struggle. With Nick relocating, obviously meant he had to leave his job. With the new financial commitments, he took agency work to bring in some money whilst looking for something more permanent but the hours quickly took their toll.
For six days a week Nick would leave the house before 03:00 and would finish at 07:30, only to do it all again from 15:00 until 19:30 the same day. By the time he came home he would be so exhausted that we had no time to spend together. When his day off rolled around he would spend this catching up on sleep.
The impact on Nick’s sleep patterns meant his mental health was massively affected and eventually triggered sleep paralysis on a near daily (nightly) basis. I knew Nick had suffered with his mental health before, but never really understood the extent of it. Living with someone who suffers was certainly not something I was prepared for.
Despite doing some research I didn’t know how to support Nick and often felt as though I had failed him, because I couldn’t fix this. I spent nights laid awake beside him, either in fear that he would have another episode and I wouldn’t be there to wake him out of it or worrying about how/when this would end. I wished that I could take all the pain away from him and put it all upon myself, as somehow that felt like the easier option. I was sure I could deal with it.
A month or so into the agency work, Nick took a job back in the motor trade selling cars. He had done this back in Cardiff and, whilst he had the potential to earn good money, we both knew this would not make him happy.
The 11-13 hours days, along with the stereotypical pressures of being a car salesman, continued to affect Nick’s mental health. I also struggled with him being out for such long days, eating dinner alone every night and then him being so distracted when he was home. All I could do was pray that he would find something he enjoyed and something that gave us time to spend together.
Nick was approached by a company that seemed to offer everything we had wished for and began working for them in May. A decent basic salary, a company car, normal workings hours, weekends off and still doing what he knows best – selling cars. It almost felt too good to be true, but for now it’s perfect and Nick is happy.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say how grateful I am for everything Nick does to provide for me. Even through the crappy jobs, he has worked so hard to give us this amazing life. There are still bad days and I’m sure there always will be, but we are now both dealing with these in a productive and positive way.
I’m lucky that Nick is very open about his mental health as this helps me understand what he needs from me and how I can help. I still don’t know if I’ll ever understand the monsters he faces within, but it really is just about learning through it as you go.
If you are struggling with mental health problems, or know someone who is, I would recommend checking out Mind.org.uk for support and guidance.