Bipolar Disorder: The Third Person In My Marriage

Beka’s husband wrote an accompanying blog to this post for our Couples Series. We recommend reading the 2 posts together.  

I previously wrote an article about how I found happiness, or actually contentedness. It was during my search that I said the most hurtful thing I could possibly say to my husband: “I thought you would make me happy; you didn’t.” Those little words crushed my husband’s spirit and, more than 10 years later, he still remembers the pain it caused. Since that day, much has gotten better, but a lot got worse first. 

While battling with rapid cycling depressions and hypersexual manias, I would go from wanting to have sex with him every day to not wanting to have sex “ever again.” I would put him on a pedestal and worship him one day and want him to go to Hell the next. He was having some problems with anxiety and we stopped talking for a while, so in a hyper-sensualized state of mania, I started confiding in an older man at work about being unhappy in my marriage. Long story short, I almost cheated on my husband. I thank God everyday that I was able to stop it before it got too far, but just the fact that it could have happened means that it went too far. 

Sometimes I am in awe of how strong my husband is. He has put up with so much mood instability these past 13 years. I did warn him early on that I’m not easy and that this would be challenging. He decided to give it a shot and we keep trying – every day. E-V-E-R-Y-D-A-Y. Marriage is not a “here and there” kind of thing. Marriage is a “do your best and, if you fail, try again harder the next day” kind of thing. And you will fail – you both will. You will both fall. But you can help each other get back up. 

With bipolar disorder, you need to go into marriage with the mindset that each day is different; some days are harder than others, but no matter what, you need to give it your all. Both of you. Bipolar disorder is not an excuse. It is just something that makes things more complicated sometimes. 

My husband, a very wise man, always says that bipolar disorder is the third person in the marriage. When we first got together, I treated my bipolar the way I had since I was first diagnosed – on my own. It was MY problem. When I would be depressed, I would push everyone away. When I would swing way up, I would yell or be highly sensual without boundaries. But never did I ask for help from him or anyone else. When I almost cheated on him, we decided to get couples counseling. It was there that we learned to work as a team to deal with bipolar disorder. In order to make our marriage work, we stand back-to-back, lock arms and are ready to withstand whatever comes our way. 

The wise Jedi Yoda famously said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Honestly, sometimes try is all you can manage. Do that. Shoot for the do, but try if you need to. Then do the next day. 

My advice to the spouse or significant other of someone with bipolar disorder is, “Learn as much as you can about the illness, and figure out how it affects the one you love. It affects each person differently; pay attention to his/her cues and learn how to be the best support you can be.”  

To the spouse with bipolar disorder, my advice is, “Be honest. Listen. Don’t ignore signals from your loved one that tells you that you are in a place where you need help. Stay on track and get help when needed.”  

My husband is my best friend. He keeps me grounded. He loves me no matter how moody I am or what unfiltered things I say in the heat of the moment (or the depths of depression). He gives me the strength to be the best me, and the encouragement to take care of myself so that I am stable longer. I know I am a better mother because of him. I will forever be grateful for what he brings to our marriage. And I promise myself everyday to do my best (or at least try) to make our marriage work. And happiness, for me, is knowing that I have him in my life today. 

Read the rest of Beka’s posts for IBPF here.

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