Category Archives: Marriage

We MADE it ONE year!!!

Yesterday was my ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!!!!! Yeah! So exciting!  Since August is a weird month for me, we weren’t planning a big celebration. I was overwhelmed with the idea of just getting a card—let alone coming up with something special.  We also didn’t want to throw me off of my routine by going out of town. So we just decided we’d wait till the end of September, which is when we met.

However, when Sunday came around I was feeling pretty good so we took off on a spontaneous road trip to all of our favorite places—it was a blast!  I got an awesome turquoise watch (that actually matches my “One Wave at a Time” bracelet—because matching is the most important thing to me!) and almost made it through dinner without spilling on myself. Almost. I got chocolate cake on my calves. Really?  Who knows how I do these things?!

But it was a good lesson for us—keeping the day open is a good way to do it. That way we can just base what we do on how I’m feeling that day. And I don’t have the pressure of pulling together the present and card and making it super special.  *sigh of relief*

So after a year of marriage—I’m an expert (I wish!). However, in typical Nicole fashion, our first year of marriage was a series of huge waves! Depending on the day (or hour!) it was either the best thing we’d ever experienced, or the hardest. I’m hoping this upcoming year we’ll take some time to relax on the sand, enjoy the sun, while Sidney reads the latest Harvard Business Review and I try to get him to talk to me.

There have been a lot of lessons learned, unfortunately none I could write a book about. Instead, they are all lessons we learned about how the other functions. For example:

  1. Don’t try to fall asleep in Sidney’s arms.  His body goes through a series of twitches that resemble his “seizure” dance. Please don’t ask him to ever show you that—he will. And you’ll be scared for life.
  2. Pour the bacon grease into the jar while it’s still hot. Don’t let it cool off in the pan. According to Sidney—is there any other way to do this?!
  3. Sidney does not get in the shower before me. First, he takes longer and I’ll be late for work for sure. Second, I am not functional before my shower (according to Sidney I’m actually very crabby!  But that’s nothing but a vicious rumor!!)
  4. Until you have shut Sidney’s computer, turned off his phone, and made eye contact for a solid minute, he’s not listening to you.
  5. To get Sidney to show up at something, you have to send him a calendar invite. I’m pretty sure he even puts his bathroom breaks on there.

Like I said, not overly useful advice for you—but let me say it was life changing for us!

There have been some pretty important lessons related to being a bipolar wife though. I’ve discussed my marriage and this topic in several other posts, but looking back on the year these are the three main lessons I’ve learned.

  1. Warn him of your incoming moods. One time I texted him while I was going home that “It’s not you. But I’m just plain pissed off today”. When I got home he had plugged in my heating pad, handed me my snuggie and says “You can have the TV—I’m just going to go over here…out of the way”. Haha At least he knew to stay away from Hurricane Nicole!
  2. Explain your feelings/thoughts as best as possible: You could even start your own blog, for six months my hubby was the only one who had the link to mine—and if you do make sure to follow me so I can find you!
  3. REMEMBER: As lucky as you are to have him, he is JUST as lucky to HAVE YOU! You are a person who struggles with a mental illness. It doesn’t define you—and living well with it makes you an amazing person. A person who he’s blessed to have.

These three tips are way more helpful. You’re welcome.

To be continued next year……when maybe I really will be the expert!

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How I like to spend my weekends: Part Four (aka: The END!)

I know I try to post Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday–but I had a bad two days so you’ll have to excuse me. I know everyone has been waiting to hear about the conclusion of the emotional meltdown I had a few weeks ago….

Well hold onto your paddles because here it is!

The events of last weekend reminded me that I often take my awesome support system for granted.  My sister is in medical school so she’s always there to remind me that my “neurotransmitters just don’t communicate the way other people’s do” (usually more technical than that) and my husband is so attractive that just looking at him can make me feel less depressed.  However, my mom is the one who knows how to handle me the best.  She knows how to handle me depressed, during a panic attack, anxious, manic, hormonal…you get the drift.  Her support seems so natural now that sometimes I forget how hard we had to work to get to that place.

At one point last weekend Sidney said “Nicole everything you’re saying is ridiculous!”.  Which my mind translated as “You are being an overly emotional female and I don’t care about your feelings” (few neurotransmitters remember?!).  So I yelled at him: “Don’t ever say that again…put that on your ‘no-no’ list.” Sidney mumbles: “…if only I had one of those”.

Now in the situation, I did not realize the genius of the “no-no list”, but the next morning I began thinking about it, bemoaning that he didn’t handle the situation as well as mom could have.  Poor poor me…and then in the middle of my pity party, I began to remember.  Mom did not come by that naturally.  In fact, it was a lot of hard work to get to a point where she can help me.  It involved a lot of trial and error, where she said something that made the situation worse, I yelled, we misunderstood, we argued, cried.  You know—tried to ride the waves together….

But one thing that we both strove to do was communicate on our feelings and what was going on in our heads.  To someone who never has had a mental illness it’s nearly impossible to understand the disjointed thinking that occurs during something like a panic attack.  That is where your openness with your support team comes in.

The next morning, when Sidney and I were both feeling better, we had what I like to call a “de-briefing” . I made him take me to IHOP for it as bacon makes everything better!  So over some yummy stuffed French Toast, I tried to explain as clearly and detailed as possible what I was feeling during that time and what was helpful/unhelpful.  I like using analogies and images that others will be able to relate to (I find animals quite useful — a woodpecker picking at your brain, a hamster spinning a wheel, a panther stalking a gazelle….).

My advice? Be patient. Lucky for your support team, they likely have never experienced what you’re going through…so hopefully during these “de-briefing” times you will be able to work with them to develop a “lessons learned” list. Keep in mind, our relationship with everyone is different and what works for one person will not always work for the others (for example: kissing me till I forget about it only applies to Sidney).  Keep your expectations realistic: they’re human too.  Remember, they do love you and they do want to help—so working with them will hopefully make it easier on everyone….

Lastly, remember a “de-brefing” is also a time for you partner to share with you what they were thinking/feeling/observing and for you to develop your own “no-no” list. Listen for that!

So funny quote to conclude–after that incident I related to this Text from last night (please tell me you know what that is!)
(406): Dude, so much s*** has happened to me, I had to make a list to take to therapy so I can remember it all

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How I like to spend my weekends….Part Three

The overly used phrase “It takes two to tango”, is very applicable in most situations, and this one is no exception (maybe that’s why it’s so overused…). But the goal of this post is not to detail Sidney’s role in the conflict. While I get his approval and blessing on every blog related to him, he is not the one who chooses to reveal his personal life on the internet.  He’s just the lucky one to be married to me (oh and he’s the Corporate Director of Brand Strategy—it says so on his business cards. Or it will, when I -aka “he” – designs them).

Anyway, what I want to explore in this post is how his actions in the conflict affect my relationship with him. I am having two key struggles: How do I trust him again? And, how do I control my actions regardless of his response?

Question One: How do I trust him again?

I believe I was hurt more than Sidney in this particular conflict (he’d agree). Each person has vulnerable areas that hurt more than others when poked; my illness is mine (along with my funny bone…that hurts like **** when it gets poked). Some of Sidney’s actions that evening hurt me deeply, and put a crack in the trust I have in him. As a result, I question my commitment to allow Sidney to see and be a part of my illness.

Part of me is tempted to let him go to bed next time and then break down in the guest room and hide my pain from him. Besides there’s less clothes in the guest room for me to throw around and that would make clean-up easier. I want to handle the situations myself so he does not have the opportunity to hurt me. But the other part of me knows my husband loves me dearly, wants to help, and it takes time to work through the best ways to handle these situations.

God says there is no limit on forgiveness; but is there a limit on the number of times I open myself to hurt? And how do I determine what that limit is? After hours of thinking, reading, and discussions with my therapist I developed these guidelines:

  • Is there an underlying theme that causes their poor reaction? For example, are they close-minded, stubborn, or insensitive?
  • If yes, is this characteristic evident in other areas of your relationship? Watching for this charateristic in other situations can help you determine if it will continue to affect their reaction to your illness.
  • Is it simply a lack of understanding? If so, are they willing to listen and learn? Do they express a desire to do better in the future?
  • Most importantly, do they understand they hurt you and regret their actions?

Exploring these questions is tough, not a lot of fun, but important (say like eating your veggies or exercising)! But it can be useful in your relationships with your spouse and also others in your life.

Question Two: In a meltdown, how do I remain in control of my actions regardless of his?

When my therapist first asked me this question it felt like I was inviting Sidney to be a part of my illness, but expecting him to fail. Not a good attitude for any situation in marriage and I have more faith in Sidney than that. But after more talking I was able to identify a healthier view of the question.

Here’s an analogy of that view—Suppose I’m going on a road trip alone. It’d be important for me to know how to change a tire in case I got a flat along a deserted highway (and let’s pretend I had lost my cell phone so there was no way to call AAA—which is not that hard to pretend knowing my history!). So as I’m driving merrily along singing “Baby Baby Baby, oh Baby baby baby” (Justin Beiber—don’t pretend you don’t know that song) at the top of my lungs, I hit a broken beer bottle (I’m on a deserted highway after all!) and my tire goes flat. I pull off to the side of the road annoyed, but prepared. I know how to handle this problem by myself. But then, I turn around and riding in on a white horse (deserted highways in my fantasy world are the best!) is a ruggedly handsome cowboy. He swings off his horse in one fluid motion, removes his beat up Stetson and says “It’d be my pleasure to help ma’am?”. Of course my plan of doing it alone is abandoned and I let the cowboy help me out.

While a long-winded analogy—the short version is this. I have plans and tools to handle my mental illness alone. Yet, God blessed me with supportive family and friends who, during some of my more difficult moments, will ride in to assist me.

Final thoughts:

I’m pretty comfortable with my answer to the second question. I’ve started working on adjusting my mindset to including the possibility (but not guarantee) that assistance might be available. And while Sidney doesn’t have a white horse, he looks damn sexy stepping out of his sports car.

The first question I’m still working through.  I know my husband loves me (he married me after all!) and sincerely wants to help me so I’m not giving up yet.  It might take a while, but fortunately marriage means we have “till death do us part”. I personally think him purchasing a white Stetson would be a great start.

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How I like to spend my weekends….Part Two

Disclaimer: I do not pretend to speak to anyone else’s mental illness or situation. Each individual is different and I know there are many whose disease and struggles are much more severe than mine. As I am not a mental health professional, I do not claim to draw lines in the sand regarding personal responsibility and control in mental illness.  Now—that sounds the laundry list of side effects read on drug commercials as the patient skips happily through the meadow picking flowers with her dog–but in plain English I mean this.  Supporters—I do not know the consumer in your life and I speak only for my own condition. Do not make any assumptions or create expectations for your family/friend based on my ramblings.

Now, please take a moment to silence all cell phones and enjoy the show.

As much as I’d like to deny it, I played a role in the marital conflict that resulted from my meltdown. Looking back as a completely objective third party, there are a few small tiny things I could have done differently (haha ok…big things I needed to change!).

Turn on loud, obnoxious neon signs or red alerts!

Have you ever seen the app for guys that sends warning messages when the lady in their life is beginning their cycle? It sends messages like “red alert” and “bring home flowers”. While humorous, I think there value in the app. How much easier is it to handle things when you are expecting them? For example, I know to expect Sidney to be in a bad mood when Virginia Tech football loses a game. Therefore, he more likely to be irritable if I ask him to say—admire some new lip gloss, than he normally would be.

Sidney is working with me to learn the signs and trace the symptoms of upcoming panic attacks and melt downs. But, it’s still my body, I still hide things from him, and much to my frustration-he can’t read my mind (as he continues to remind me)!  I saw the signs of a meltdown coming and I should have pointed them out to him to prepare him for a possible incident.

The answer all guys love, more communication!

When I was spiraling into the depression during the evening, I should have communicated to Sidney what was happening. On some level I tried to, but I did not use our agreed upon “code words” to really clue him into seeing this was my mental illness. During the early stages I still realized what was going on around me and had enough control to communicate to him what was wrong. Not as concisely as I would be able to during our “debrief” (more on that later!), but more clearly than I did.  Code words make us sound like mental illness geniuses, but are less than helpful if I don’t use them!  (Oh BTW: our “code words” are certain words we use to describe emotions or events to distinguish “normal” from “mental illness” )

Affirmation, Affirmation, Affirmation

God said, “It is not good for man to be alone, so he created woman”.  I love reminding Sidney of that verse when he wants alone time and I want attention…but it might be a bit out of context then!

In a marriage, we are meant to walk together. We are meant to ride the waves of challenges, success, struggles, joys, and even VT football losses together.  God made me so Sidney wouldn’t have to be alone (pretty awesome for him!), but I left him alone. I retreated into my own mind and left him outside of the situation. In his aloneness he assumed I was mad at him, or blaming the situation on him. This misunderstanding resulted in challenges later in the night; challenges that might have been avoided if I had simply reminded him that I loved him and was not blaming him. Guess God knew what he was talking about when he said “it’s not good for man to be alone”…go figure right?!

Practically: I could have held his hand, faced toward him not away, or asked him to pray with me. I did not need to focus all my attention on him (I did need to focus on using my tools), but I could have included him more in the beginning stages.

Hindsight is 20/20?

There are all good lessons to learn, but a key question is—with my mental illness did I have the capacity to do these actions? A really hard question I struggle with during these moments is: “Where is my personal level of responsibility?”  I have an illness, my brain wiring got put together by an intern—and sometimes under the right amount of pressure, instead of turning into a diamond, it combusts. Somewhere in all of that, I have to take responsibility for my actions, but at when do I pass the point of my “control”?

For me, in this conflict—I had the cognitive capacity (maybe not 100% but still enough) to make healthy choices up to the point of getting out of the car and walking into our house. Now granted, the expectations were lower than when I am healthy—for example, giving Sidney a basic explanation of the situation but not all the details I gave him in the “debrief”. Or holding his hand to prevent aloneness, but not initiating in a long intimate conversation. But at the point of entering our apartment, I needed an external influence (ex: medication, time, Sidney’s help) to re-ground me in reality and pull me out of my head. I never want to be the victim, but I do believe when I began destroying my room I had lost a significant amount of cognitive capacity and needed help.

Now with more severe diseases like schizophrenia and psychosis it might be clearer when the illness takes over. But for me and my support team, the lines are fuzzy. When am I at full capacity and therefore, full responsibility? When am I slightly in control, with lower levels of responsibilities? And at what point do I cut myself some slack and understand that the bipolar had taken over my brain? I have not been able to generalize answers to these questions; instead it seems to be very situational. But I do think they are important questions to consider and discuss with my team.

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How I like to spend my weekends….

One phrase I love to quote is, “Make sure you pass the test the first time, so God doesn’t have to give it to you again.”  Well, I will most definitely be taking that test again. Let’s rewind to last weekend.

The signs were all there: I was on a manic swing the beginning of the week and not sleeping, and then I crashed hard towards the weekend. Work was stressful, circumstances had led me to question my ability to EVER hold a job (clearly some dysfunctional thinking going on there!), and family life was a bit crazy. It was the Perfect Storm, and just like the movie, no one was coming out alive.

My husband is awesome and very supportive. We had recently gone to therapy together to develop a plan for handling this swing season (July and August). We’re both smart people (after all we have master’s degrees from the Mecca of the Midwest), so we totally had this.  My husband had excelled in his strategic management class so he was ready with a SWOT analysis to tackle these next few months. Bipolar had nothing on us.

Um…how quickly we were humbled.

So Saturday arrives, I had to drive two hours to a cousin’s bridal shower—sit through all my older aunts asking me when I was having kids!—and then drive two hours home. When I got home, I had some extra stress energy rolling around and thought Sidneywould be willing to help um “release” some of that (trying to keep it PG here!). He kindly and gently turned me down, which is a perfectly natural and acceptable part of marriage. However, to my imbalanced mind that “rejection” was the final tear in the rope of mental stability I had been desperately clinging too.

As I plummeted towards the raging rapids below, I realized I had to pull myself together to go to dinner with an old professor and then a movie with some friends. I didn’t have time to do any cognitive behavior therapy, work out, get a slushie, or use any of the other wonderful tools I have. I simply touched up my make-up and put on a nicer outfit. Now, a piece of wonderful advice my sister passed down to me was “when you’re having a bad or long day, looking cute always helps”. It’s great older sister advice, really. And normally it works. But my husband had just turned me down remember? So in my mind, I was clearly not attractive.

And so the evening went, constant thoughts were swirling around in my head of my worthlessness, the desire to hurt myself, feelings of anxiousness, panic, etc. I was a walking DSM diagnosis of a crazy person. Sidney was concerned and asked what was wrong several times. I briefly tried to explain to him that I was feeling worthless and disliking myself and anxious but did not use our code words or a detailed explanation.  Instead, I crawled into my own head to have a party with the dysfunctional thoughts. Lots of beer and vodka shots being passed around up there.

He realized I was not going to let him in and we rode home in silence. I walked in the front door, straight into my room, and proceeded to have a melt down. I wanted to hurt and destroy myself, but knew that wasn’t an option. So instead I began destroying my room (clearly the rational thing to do)—I have done it before, but very very rarely. I emptied all my dresser drawers on the floor (and not in neat piles either). Took off my clothes, threw them across the room and collapsed into a naked ball on the floor. All the while mumbling to myself.

Sparing you the details, the next two hours consisted of closet time on my part, ignoring me on Sidney’s, and yelling on both. It finally culminated when I had enough sense to take my medicine and crawl into bed (needed my mom bad then, she always seems to remember to give me medicine as soon as it starts. Do moms ever stop being right?!). I then proceeded to cry myself to sleep and not move for 12 hours.

At first glance, it can sound like a temper tantrum I likely threw when I was five. I was quite dramatic even at an early age. In fact, one time when I was two I cried and cried and cried when my dad put me to bed. Finally, I stopped and when he came to look in, I had taken off all my clothes (including my diaper!) and curled up to sleep on the floor….sound familiar?!

But here there were a few key differences. I was not mad—I didn’t try to break anything, I purposely avoided hurting Sidney or throwing anything in his direction. I cried, but never yelled anything hateful at Sidney. The feelings were directed at the “voices in my head”. I was not crying or tying to get my way, I was just channeling intense unexplainable feelings of depression and anxiety into action. As the case with many of these “episodes”, I do not even recall the actual events. Majority of what I remember are glimpses here and there but primarily the feelings leading up to and after it.

All in all, quite a fun night for us both….

Now that I’ve set the stage, the next three posts will look at this “episode” from a few different angles!

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Sidney’s a lucky guy….

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…..

Here’s why:

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”. 

Final thought:

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.
Robert Anderson

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The difficulties of Marriage….

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to explore the ways that marriage makes handling your mental illness more difficult….here are a few of the challenges I have experienced in my past six months of marriage (I’m an expert obviously!)

Number One: Lack of privacy

Once you get married a lot of the privacy you had when you were single disappears.  This can make dealing with a mental illness very difficult.  When I was younger I would come home from school completely overwhelmed from dealing with my anxiety and often take it out on my family.  My parents would send me to my room as punishment—which I secretly always appreciated!  When I was in college I would be able to go to my room and shut myself off from the rest of the world.  Once you get married, those options disappear.  I share a room and a bed with my husband.  Crying myself to sleep (which was a common occurrence before I got married) is now more difficult. I feel bad because I keep him up and I often feel the pressure to continue to “hold it together”.  Life outside of home can be so challenging and difficult that when you come home you often just want to let it all go and release the stress in private.  Being married removes that option. 

Number Two: Responsibilities to a marriage

My mood swings tend to happen in January/February and July/August.  During these times I’m much more sensitive, very irritable, negative, and just plain unpleasant.  Before I got married I would often withdrawal from relationships and unnecessary interactions with others.  This was not a problem because I maintained the relationships enough that when I felt better I could deepen them again. However, in a marriage this is not an option.  My relationship with my spouse is more intimate than any other relationship in my life.  Maintaining that relationship is essential and taking four months off from it a year would be very damaging and unfair to my spouse.  Often, as much as I love him, spending time with him during these months becomes just one more thing I have to “hold it together” for. 

Number Three: Sex

Oh sex—complicates things when you’re having and complicate things when you’re not.  About 40% of people on antidepressants experience sexual side effects from the medication.  For me, when I was unmarried and single this was not a problem.  But when you get married, it can become a huge issue between you and your spouse.  It is a horrible choice to make—do you stay on the medication that works or do you try different combinations in order to increase your sex drive?  I have tried about six or seven combinations and medications in order to handle the sexual side effects of my anti-depressants.  And unfortunately that journey is not yet over.

Like I said—I love being married.  And there’s lots of great things about it, and even things about it that make my mental illness better.  But there’s challenges too!  Hopefully, like anything else—Sidney and I will learn to ride these waves together.  And if nothing else I’ll keep it interesting for him.

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In sickness and in health…..

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……..

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