Life in my house has been a bit challenging recently. I mentioned in a previous post that one of the most difficult times of the year for me is Jan/Feb, which means it’s been a difficult time of the year for my husband as well. I’ve been up, down, around, under, over, and through the rapids…. For Sidney, this means I’m more sensitive, irritable, tearful, angry, distant, and depressed. I can imagine from his side it can be a bit…or more than a bit…difficult.
I used to feel guilty that someone would have to marry me and deal with my disease…but after being married I realized he can be a pain in my butt too. : ) But, more than that—I now realize Sidney is lucky to be married to someone who is bipolar…..
Number One: I Never Give Up
My husband and I ran the Chicago Marathon last October. He convinced me to sign up and since I was training for a half at the time, I agreed. Then life happened and I dropped off the training routine. Sidney did not train much, but definitely more than I did. I would run the first half of his runs with him then head home to eat some ice cream, watch a movie, and lay on the couch. Since we had already bought the race enteries we decided to go run anyways. I said I would run about five miles with him then take one of the vans back and sun tan while I waited for him to finish. Well—since quit is not in my vocabulary—at five miles I just kept going, and going, and going to 26.2, and ended up beating him by fifteen minutes. Oh—and I was also a little hung over.
Life is tough—and there are a lot of times when you feel like giving up. But lucky for Sidney, he’s married to someone who has been fighting an illness her whole life. I know what it means to be mentally tough, to keep going when it doesn’t seem like life can get worse, and pick myself up by the bootstraps when I have too. And bring him up with me.
Number Two: I See the Silver Lining
One of the tools I work on in therapy is gratitude. Part of retraining your brain is learning to see the silver lining and positive parts of life. Even the small things—like warm showers, heating pads, soft blankets, putting cold feet on Sidney during the night (yes, never underestimate the power of keeping Nicole warm). It’s funny to say you can be depressed and optimistic at the same time, but you can. Sidney’s lucky to be married to someone who practices gratitude to stay healthy.
Number Three: I know love is not a feeling
In his book “Change Your Brain Change Your Life”, Dr. Daniel Amen discusses the link between an overacted limbic system and depression. A damaged limbic system is also linked to difficulty bonding and connecting with other people. So many times in my life I’ve felt a lack of connection with people close to me. While there was nothing “wrong” with the relationship, often they were better than ever, I didn’t feel connected to them. I didn’t have a desire to be around them or spend time with them. I used to think about bad things happening to them, and felt no sadness or negative emotion.
I’ve been told over and over the feeling of love will not always be there, and you have to make it a choice. Because of my depression, I know what it means to not “feel” like you love someone. When these times in our marriage come around (when he takes an hour longer than needed to do the dishes, comes to bed after I’m asleep because he got sucked into playing angry birds, or the cardnal sin–drinks some of my slushie) I’ll be prepared. I have practice knowing how to make the choice to love him, and continue to treat him like I have those “feelings”.
In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage.