I recently received some pretty sad news. A young woman that had been particularly helpful in overcoming my resistance to medication was getting divorced, at age 25. A pit of dread and compassion filled me as my mom shared the news but then she said (or maybe scolded) “Before you go jumping to any conclusions, he didn’t want it—she did”. My mom forcefully shared this part because she knew one of my biggest fears was finding a man who would love me and be understanding of my illness. (And I have—more on that in other posts). She continued, “I know of five couples in the last few years who’ve gotten a divorce, and not once has it been the husband, it’s been the wife with the mental illness.” Interesting………
Because of that conversation, and a particularly rough few days of my own as a wife, I started to wonder “how does my role as a wife affect (either good or bad!) my struggle with a mental illness”? I started doing a bit of minor investigating (aka: Google) to articles online (even came across one on the cover of psychology today that had actual citations!) about marriages with one bipolar spouse. Each of the articles dealt primarily with the “healthy” spouse. How important their love and support is, how they can help, how difficult it is, etc. They often label the spouse with bipolar as the IP (identified patient) and gave advice to the other spouse; creating plans that focus on keeping the other spouse well.
But I did not run across any that dealt with the difficulty for the spouse with mental illness.
This issue is something I’ve wrestled with for quite some time (and spent hours in therapy talking about!). I often do not acknowledge the difficulty of living with bipolar because I am too busy feeling guilty about my husband/family/friends. It must be so horrible for them, there’s so much to deal with, it’s not their fault I’m like this—why should they suffer?!
Um…hello? Nicole? Nicole?! Are you there?! Yes? Well news flash—ITS NOT YOUR FAULT EITHER. Do you remember asking for this?! Oh that’s right….I didn’t ask for this either.
Life with bipolar is tough—and yes, sometimes, marriage makes it tougher.
As a disclaimer to this post—I have an amazing husband. Being married is great (and 97.4 days out of a 100 I like who I’m married to as well!) And one day—I might let my husband write about his side (not sure I’m ready for that just yet!). But for this post and the next—let me admit and explore the unique challenges being a wife has added to my journey with a mental illness….
To be continued……..