Stephanie’s husband, Don, wrote an accompanying blog to his post for our Couples Series. We recommend reading them together.
Relationships are hard. Add to them the element of a mental illness and they become almost impossible. But Ive learned a lot from my husband, most importantly, that you need to love yourself in order to really be able to love anyone else and for that person to love you back the way you deserve to be loved.
I struggled with my bipolar disorder for a few years before meeting my husband. My relationship before him had done a number on me and tore me down pretty good. But I got diagnosed as having bipolar disorder, started therapy and medications and started the healing process. I dont think I wouldve ever found the one if I hadnt learned to love myself. People seem to think they need a significant other to make their lives complete. I firmly believe that you have to be complete as a person before you can wholly love someone else. Not only that but self-confidence is attractive. If you are happy with who you are, people notice and are happy to be around you.
My husband and I met at work and hit it off right away. We had only been dating for four months when we decided to move in together. Weve been together for almost ten years now and have never been happier. Hes kind and supportive and does everything he can to help me with my bipolar disorder. It hasnt all been smooth sailing. We definitely have our ups and downs. But we seem to balance each other out. We dont complete each other but we compliment each other in ways that I cant imagine ever happening with anyone else. When Im at my lowest point of desperation, and I feel like theres no point in trying, he listens and encourages me to not give up. When Im having a manic episode, hes there to remind me that no, I really dont need a Home Shopping Network credit card and then hes still there to help with the inevitable depression that comes after. And I do the same for him. He does not suffer from a mental illness but I support him in all of his creative endeavors. He mentioned that hed like to do something with photography one day, so I got him a camera and told him to do something with it. Relationships need to be built on mutual respect and support.
Before my marriage I couldnt have ever been a good partner to anyone because I didnt place any value on myself. I was undiagnosed and felt like I was going crazy. I was wildly swinging from manic highs and depressive lows with no understanding as to what was happening. I felt worthless, like I was a waste of space. I have since learned that I DO have value. We all do. We wouldnt be here if we didnt. Therapy and the right dose of meds has helped me see that Im not crazy and can actually live a very normal life. Having my husband in my life is the best thing that ever happened to me and really helps put the daily struggle into perspective. I feel that a love like ours exists for everyone, you just have to love yourself in order to see it.
Stephanie and Don each wrote a post about how bipolar affects their relationship. Read Don’s perspective in his post here.