Marriage for me is a serious thing, so it was never an easy decision to make when I decided to marry someone with bipolar illness.
Problems pile up when a mental health condition tries to steal the scene. The idea that it is a lifelong condition and a life-threatening one at that is undoubtedly overwhelming and poses a severe threat to any relationship.
My ex-girlfriend, now my wife, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder during her teenage years. I was not aware of it at first, but when I proposed to her she declined and told me she had bipolar disorder. I suspected it long ago, but I never thought it was true. “Bipolar, if anything, can be confusing to detect, and people who have Bipolar, current research says that they get wrongly diagnosed 69% of the time, out of the gate,” says Lauren Goodall, PsyD. We broke up, but I came to realize that I cannot live without her, so I pursued her again, and eventually, we tied the knot.
I will be honest, her unpredictable symptoms and behaviors tested our relationship, and it often scared the two of us. John Preston, PsyD says, “You can meet someone, get involved, and then this inexplicable disorder appears. It’s scary.”
This Is Our Reality
I love her, and so I learned to adjust and accept additional responsibilities. It is exhausting to care for your wife when it has to be the other way around. It is a day to day challenge asking yourself what to do in order to help her get out of her depression and mania. There are even times when I also fear for my safety, but I know she will never hurt me. “Mental illness is still extremely stigmatized thanks in part to television shows that portray this population as dangerous, in need of supervision, and/or wild and irresponsible. That is the public perception, despite evidence that they are no more dangerous than anyone else,” says Patrick Corrigan, PsyD.
She often tries her best to reciprocate what I am doing for her, but I keep on reassuring her that she does not need to do anything for me. She just needs to strive hard to get better for herself and our baby. That is all I am asking for, so I can spend and enjoy more years with her and our child.
I try to enjoy the moment when she is hyper, and we laugh together and do silly things. I make the most of those times before she goes back to her off-mood.
Learning What Bipolar Illness Is Helped Me
I tried my best to explore and learn everything about the bipolar illness. Understanding her illness made a big difference because I learned then to appreciate her unique nature. It became easier for me to accept her rapid mood cycling and I did the best that I could to help her shift back to her normal state.
I never thought of her as stupid or anything like that. I believe that she is witty and has so many ideas in her mind. She’s not lazy either. In fact, she loves multi-tasking. I don’t expect her to finish everything she started, but I encourage her to at least pursue them up to the end to see the results of her work, and it makes her feel excited about the fact that I support her.
When she gets irritable, I hug her, ask her if she wants to go on a walk or date with me, or just stay by her side until she is well again, helping her to recover fast.
I Take The Responsibility To Heart
I never blame her for she has been honest with me from the start of her illness. I married her despite knowing that it will not be smooth sailing for us both. I have never known of any marriage that is constantly smooth sailing, so it is okay with me.
When the challenging time comes, I try my best not to blame anyone – not myself, not her, not God. It is hurtful and frustrating but I just think it is not her real nature, but a brain condition which is making her suffer.
When I spoke my vows for her, I took it to heart. I married her and so I married her illness too.