I first saw Allison at an AA meeting that I had been attending for several years. She was (is) a beautiful, lively and animated woman who I decided I wanted to get to know better. Little did I know that after she accepted, and we went on our first date, that we would fall in love and become a lifelong couple.
As our relationship blossomed and we became closer she made me aware that she suffers from bipolar disorder. I was not unfamiliar with bipolar as I had a past relationship with another woman who suffered the same illness that had ended tragically with her passing away.
We have been together for almost 14 years now and I still love Allison with all my heart. I have seen her at her depressive lowest and her mania induced highest and most perfect level in between best. And believe me, it does get tough at times for me to balance my own feelings and emotions during and after either type of episode occurs. After all, I ended up in AA due to using alcohol & drugs trying to balance my own feelings and emotions for 25 years. I have my own issues. I believe we all do, bipolar or not.
The main thing I’ve learned so far is that I cannot “fix” her or make her better when she is having episodes, as we call them. Trying to push her into a “do this or do that and you will feel better” does not work. What needs to get done gets done and what doesn’t need to get done just doesn’t get done. I strap in and ride it out with her. We are a team!
Mike, trying not to overwhelm me with the whole big ‘date’ thing took the first small step when he asked me out for birthday cake. Just days earlier I’d finally ended a disastrous relationship. Completely gun-shy, at first, I turned him down.
He was crestfallen. I’d no idea he was sensitive. When he’d shared at the AA meetings he’d seemed so rough and tough! I never dreamed he’d be interested in me.
Looking at the disappointment in his face, I switched midstream; saying I’d go out with him but needed a couple of days. After all, I’d only been single again for a week.
On our first date we attended an AA birthday party and then went out for dinner. Café Europa on Las Olas Boulevard in Ft Lauderdale. We chattered like magpies. How could he keep up with my rapid fire, sometimes tangential thought process?
I was overwhelmed at the possibility he might be ‘the one.’ I tried to break it off but he wouldn’t let me. We were sitting across from each other at a nearby Italian restaurant arguing the point. He was like a lawyer on television; tenaciously making his case why we were right for each other. I have never seen someone so determined in all my life. Except myself.
Now we’ve been together for fourteen years. He’s seen me struggle with disfiguring and torturous side effects, disruptive manic episodes and long term depression relapses with nonstop verbal suicidality. He threatens to call 911, which usually quiets me down.
With his love and understanding and good, long term work with the same psychiatrist I haven’t had to go inpatient for psychiatric care since I met him (knock on wood).
No one, ever, in my life has been so good to me. His family accepts me as their own, flaws and all.
It’s not like we never have conflicts. My symptoms are a tinderbox for heated disagreements.
It’s usually over stupid stuff; making us wonder why we argued to begin with. It always blows over.
We share many of the same values and help each other through life’s transitions.
I was so fortunate to find him, I can’t believe it. Was it luck? Was it fate? It makes this cryptic cynic believe in a God. As for Michael, I can’t imagine a life without him.
Allison Strong is a former Alternative Rock Disc Jockey from LA and Phoenix. She has written for “The Arizona Republic,” “Hits Magazine,” bphope.com and NewLifeOutlook Bipolar. She’s working on a book, (along with everyone else). Her personal blog is: bipolarbrainiac.wordpress.com. Twitter handle: @bipolarbrainic. For more of her IBPF posts, click here.