When I first met my wife she was invisible. Sometime after her bipolar diagnosis she was led to believe that her illness was not something to be discussed, it was something to be ashamed of. Most people that knew her diagnosis tried to be supportive of her “moodiness” offering her advice like: “If you find a good man, you won’t be unhappy anymore” or “If you went to church more and prayed more, you wouldn’t be depressed.” There were others who couldn’t see past the word bipolar disorder and disappeared from her life.
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I read somewhere recently that the divorce rate when one marriage partner has bipolar disorder is 90%. While it seems kind of high to me, I suppose I understand it. In the 12 years I have been married to my wife, there have been many times when one or both of us was ready to quit.
The New Year is a great time to take a look at how you would like the next year to go, to plan, to see what you can do differently to make it a better year. I used to spend previous New Years (and most days in between) looking for changes that would bring me happiness. This is how I found it.
Did you know that two of the first human diseases described by the classical Greek physicians are “mania” (mixture of anger, rage, and euphoria) and “melancholia” (sadness)? Jules Angst and Andreas Marneros wrote a paper that scoured ancient writings for observations about bipolar disorder. They found that review of pre-Hippocratic era manuscripts revealed descriptions of “morbid states of depression and exaltation.” In other words, super highs and super lows. Sound familiar?
I was standing at the kitchen sink crying. I had just screamed at my 7 year old again. Albeit he was being really annoying, and he talked back to me for the umpteenth time, but it was no reason to scream at him. I just couldn’t control my anger. I was in that agitated, almost-manic state. As soon as I yelled, he got very quiet – and I started crying. So he came over to me, patted my leg and hugged me. “It’s ok, Mommy. I’ll be better for you.”
When I was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder with episodes of ultra-rapid cycling in 2001, I found an answer for a lot of questions about why I was the way I was – and even more questions about what to do with that information. I hope my blog posts ignite hope and inspiration for readers – and writing them seems to be good therapy for me, too!