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Marriage and Bipolar Disorder
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I’ve made a friend recently, who writes a fantastic blog called Jumbling Towers. I love her writing style and what she has to say. It’s one of the best blogs I’ve seen lately. And trust me, as a blogger I’m on the lookout for good blogs about bipolar disorder, anxiety, addiction, and eating disorders. I read through many blogs and few inspire me the way her blog does.

One thing she’s done that has really changed my perspective is writing about being the spouse of someone with bipolar disorder. In my relationship with Jason, I’m the spouse with bipolar disorder, and it hasn’t been easy for either of us. Yet we’ve been together for ten years, so we’re clearly doing something right.

If there were hidden cameras in our house, it would be embarrassing for other people to see how frequently I lose control of my moods. Some days are better than others, but I’m far from having it all together.

From the very beginning of our relationship I was upfront with the fact that I have bipolar disorder and was seriously addicted to crack (until 7 months before we dated). He read my first book and knew that story. I was upfront with everything I could think of, because I didn’t want us to be happy and going along great, only for him to find something out a few months later and break up with me.

There’s never been a time when I’ve been with Jason that I haven’t seen the psychiatrist regularly and taken medication. It’s been part of our lives together. I’d already been diagnosed for 7 years before we’d met, and on Social Security Disability due to bipolar disorder for 4 years.

Drugs certainly played a factor during our first summer together, because I stopped smoking weed every day when I moved in with him. After smoking weed daily for a very long time, it led to some moodiness and irritability for sure. Sober, and living with someone I had completely fallen in love with, made me really aware of my moods and my behaviors, and unfortunately, it wasn’t great.

I was clingy and dependent. I was easy to anger. I was also thrilled with life. My moods were all over the place, and we both sort of realized that reading could help me. So I read and read and read.

In short, so much has happened in the past ten years. Each year has been a learning experience in so many ways. I’ve spent quite a lot of time in therapy working on the issues that might sabotage my relationship. Some of the issues I’ve dealt with (and continue to deal with) are handling my anger, maintaining healthy communication, not reverting to old coping mechanisms (often tied in to anger), and understanding the need to stay attuned with Jason. To not take him for granted and to be sensitive to his needs as well as my own.

Marriage, like any long-term relationship, is difficult. It must be cultivated, tended, cared for – it takes work. Anyone who goes into a serious relationship thinking that everything is cool and there won’t any work involved is fooling themselves.

So imagine being in an ordinary relationship which takes work with two people without mental illness, and throw in a spouse with a severe mental illness. It changes things quite a bit.

Jason and I have had times when we’ve struggled, and there were a couple points about five years ago when I wondered if we’d make it. I just had to believe we would get through it, and we did.

Then I had Jack, and our worlds completely changed. It was a different playing field now, and for the first time since we’d been together, I nearly ended up hospitalized due to postpartum depression. I’d never been so transparently mentally ill in front of Jason, and it was very hard because I could see my behaviors and hear what I was saying, but I couldn’t seem to be calm or relax. The agitation was painful.

Something about going through postpartum depression allowed me to open up my emotional state with Jason. I’m okay with him seeing me in an episode, and I can talk to him about how I’m feeling.

As far as I can tell, we’re great at this point. There’s nothing but honesty about what’s going on. I feel so fortunate to have ended up with a man who really “gets” me. I’ll never take it for granted. And I want other people to know what this is like. Which is why I want to speak about this issue and share my experiences. Success is within our reach, I truly believe that. I love Jason and Jack so much, I can’t imagine my life without them.