My wife and I share a vast majority of our time together.
We cook and eat together. We spend our evenings and weekends doing largely the same thing. Our vacations are no different.
But we live very separate lives.
My Bipolar causes us to live on opposite sides of a fence that, at this point, cannot be torn down.
She lives on the side of worry. At some points during our marriage she had to worry about coming home to a drunk husband every day, what kind of state I would be in, if I had taken any pills that might be dangerous to me, if I was going to cry myself to sleep or be confrontational. She had no idea what she was coming home to.
Today that is much different. The alcohol is locked up, my pills are hidden, and most importantly I am working and have a creative venture that might keep my head mostly right.
But today she still has to worry if I will have been in bed all day, if I will have called into work again, if I will have eaten anything or done nothing at all. She has to worry if I will be agitated or in a bad mood, want to be left alone or need to be held. Will she have one or two babies to take care of tonight?
There is the near constant threat of suicide. Suicidal thoughts are as much a part of my life as almost anything. Even when I am not depressed I am thinking about suicide. This has been the case since I was a very little child. Some thoughts are more dangerous than others, obviously, and when I’ve been drinking they are much more serious. But I am open with my wife about my thoughts and intentions and suicide is nearly ever-present. She has to deal with that near daily and I’m not quite sure how she does it.
My therapist is in constant amazement when I tell her how open I am with my wife and how easily she seems to take everything. My wife has an “everything in stride” mentality and only twice with me have I seen it get to her.
The life I live is much easier.
In a lot of ways I think living with Bipolar is a lot easier than living with someone who is living with Bipolar.
For me, I just try to ride out my mood swings and don’t do anything too stupid. An easy enough task I generally fail at. But what my wife does is incredible.
I can’t imagine being that person. I couldn’t have been with someone who needed so much from me all the time. But my wife seems to be barely affected by my disease, the state I am in when she gets home from work, or once she realizes what she is going to have to deal with for the rest of the night.
Long before she fell in love with me I told her I was Bipolar. And I told her to do some research to realize what it would mean to be with someone who had the disease. I have no idea how much looking into the disease she did, but she had no idea she would be with someone who would have a breakdown, who would be hospitalized and removed from work for nine months. She had no idea what she was getting into.
And at this point, when she should’ve ran for the hills long ago, she is even more calm and collected about everything. She sees my progress, agrees with (at least some) of my choices, and hopes for gentler seas ahead.
I guess that is good enough for her, I guess I’m good enough for her. I have no idea why, but I guess I don’t have to know to appreciate it.