I recently discovered this site and after reading some of the posts, I was relieved to see that others are coping with the same problems I have. So I decided to join up.
about me: I'm a 43 year old man with four little kids, ages 9 months to seven years. My wife and I have been married for almost 14 years. My wife had been diagnosed with BP when she was 23 and she told me she had it while we were dating. I eventually decided to marry her anyway after a six-month courtship because aside from her BP, she is a good and honest person, always thinking about others and always trying to do the right thing. She's been on various meds since before I knew her and is currently taking Zyprexa and two others.
My wife's BP can make our lives very difficult because when she is in "down" cycle, she gets very angry and irritable, especially at me. I get blamed for every problem she encounters, from not being able to find her car keys to the kids not listening to her when she tries to put them to bed. Unfortunately, I am a defensive person and I don't like to get blamed for things I didn't do, and so we squabble often. She has said some ugly things to me over the years and I've said some back. She also can be highly critical of how I speak to the kids, how I act in public, and so on. Nitpicky stuff that gets annoying.
But I never, ever have contemplated leaving her, even before we had kids. And I never will. Its very very hard to do, but I think spouses of bipolar sufferers have to try to remember that their spouses are suffering from a mental disease that theyu didn't ask for or want, like cancer, and doesn't have obvious physical manifestations, like Down's or obsessive-compulsive disorder. They often don't mean what they say and inside their minds regret them as they are saying it. My wife is a good, loving person who is trapped by her disease. Her disease does not make her who she is, but it does affect who she is. I know that she struggles with it all the time, hates the "stigma" and hates taking her meds because she just wants to be "normal." I tell her that taking her meds is a responsibility she has to our kids (if not to me). I also try to comfort her by telling her that her BP is a chronic illness like diabetes or lupus (which her sister has) but an invisible one, and that many, many other people take all kinds of meds. I myself take asthma and thyroid medication daily.
I think we as BiPolar spouses have to try to judge our spouses by their actions and not by their words. We have to try to see the complete person, not just the diseased part. Its been very difficult to do but we have to try to have more compassion than spouses of people who don't have BP. And worse, our BP spouses, for various reasons, probably will never fully appreciate what we do and won't want to be reminded.
I guess I am very lucky in that my wife has only gone off her meds once (in 1998) and almost landed in an institution when she had a breakdown shortly thereafter. Other than that, she does take them and has been a productive member of society. On balance, she is a good wife, makes a good life for me and is a good role model for our kids. Is that worth the cost of being the victim of anger and criticism every so often? It is, for me, but it is far from easy. I know not everyone has had the same kind of experience as I have, but my hope is that each of us can find and keep up the strength we need to live our lives in at least a satisfactory, if not blissful, fashion.
Post Edited (paktype) : 1/1/2009 4:40:14 PM (GMT-7)