Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sometimes I feel so alone

You know, sometimes, even though I share with all of you all the ups and downs of being married to this bipolar person, I just feel like nobody truly understands at all. Today someone criticized me for working two jobs. Someone else told me that I should just leave DH and start over. Sometimes I'm tempted to do that, for sure, but as long as I know he truly loves me, and even when times are bad, I have no doubt of that, I don't think I could ever break his heart. And the money thing.

I really feel like some people that I interact with (not my friends here, but others in my life) have no idea what it is really like and every time I try to explain, I either feel like I'm making a bunch of excuses for making poor choices, or I feel guilty.

I got married, with the exact same hopes that every woman has. I married a man who had worked at the same full time job for three years. One who was kind to me and whom I trusted. We bought a house in the country, adopted a child, DH had an excellent job in law enforcement, and I had a pretty good job, too. We had enough money for "extras". DD could take karate lessons. We could go on vacation. We had no debt, not even a car payment. I was a lot less frugal in those times, and I've learned a lot since then. DH fixed up the house, made tons of repairs on things. When I'd come home from work, there'd often be something new--new flooring, new paint, new tile--he loved to surprise me and work hard, too.

And I didn't just wake up one day and "bam!" my husband was mentally ill. There were days where he wouldn't get out of bed. But I figured, heck, I have lazy days too....but when the lazy days got to be 4 or 5 in a row, I started to get worried. And I noticed little things, that you just notice but in a good relationship, you tend to accept. I noticed that suddenly, instead of having an unflappable work ethic, he was calling in sick when he wasn't. And if one of his coworkers said something to him that made him feel bad, he'd call in sick the next day. I noticed it, because in the years when we were dating, and the first years when we got married, he would have had to be on his deathbed to call in sick, and even then, he'd probably still try to go in. But then it wasn't like that. And I thought to myself, "well, people change....and he's got a stressful job, too." It wasn't until he started talking about suicide that I really understood the magnitude of the situation. He was hospitalized, and they treated him for depression. They didn't recognize the bipolar. But once he was on the antidepressants, he started to spend, spend, spend. You know all about that, I know you do. And things got worse.

And there are so many judgmental people. They say things like, "what do you do with all that money from working two jobs? You must be rich." Or "My husband and I, we built our house ourselves, and he does all the repairs, so we never had to have any debt." "Why don't you pare down your lifestyle, if you need two jobs to get by and you're married?"

I don't like to share my husband's illness with people who know me. Someday, I hope he is well enough again, and I don't want people to think that he is less of a man because of a mental illness. But I really want to say, to all of those judgmental people who have the perfect life and perfect husband, etc., "I had that too. What would you do if you woke up and suddenly your husband couldn't get out of bed?" "What would you do if you found out that there were a bunch of loans in your name that you weren't aware of?" "What would you do if your husband got a letter in the mail that said, "If you don't pay this amount within x number of days, you will be placed under arrest for writing worthless checks.?" "Would you use your credit card? Would you just give up? Or would you work two jobs and hope things get better?

I hate that people think that DH is lazy. But hey, sometimes I think he's lazy too. It's very hard for me to discern what is laziness and what is mental illness. And it is very hard for me, despite knowing intellectually that he can't, to not just want to say, "just get up and do something!" "Try to control your spending" or "cheer up--the way you are thinking doesn't make any sense!" I don't, but I really want to sometimes....so I understand how other people can think certain things, but sometimes it really gets to me that other people are so self-righteous and don't even know the whole situation....jeez...I wish this was easier....

Some days I'm just at a loss as to how to keep this up. DH is not having a good day. And he didn't bother to go to his therapy appointment today, either. I don't know how to help without him getting angry. So at this moment, after giving due consideration to all the judgmental people, and recognizing that today is a bad day for DH, I'm kind of down, too. The Lithium has done so much....I do need to remember that it isn't going to fix everything, for sure.


Pann said...

Carol - it is so hard to live with depression. I hear what you are saying and I hope you can keep reminding yourself of your own strength. You're doing what you need to do; people who are being judgemental simply do not know all the facts. You don't have to justify to them. Maybe you could tell them something simple like: "You don't really know all the facts here, so maybe it's not your place to judge."

Good luck...

Mr Mans Wife said...

You're not alone.

I find it incredible that people think you would be dumb enough to put up with a "lazy" person. To me, it just proves how dumb they are that they haven't realised that there is more than meets the eye going on here. Don't they remember your husband being a hard working man? People have short memories don't they?

Mr Man was very hard working too. It can take a long time to get used to the fact that they can't do the things they used to - for them and for us. For Mr Man, dwelling on what he used to be able to do and what he can't do now obviously makes his depression worse - which in turn debilitates him even more. I find it helps to focus on what he can do, and how much that is compared to when his illness was at it's worst.

It must be a strain for you having to work two jobs though. I hope things start to get better for you soon.

Disability Blogger said...

Hi Carol, I actually came across your blog via something called Mybloglog. I'm going to put you on my blogroll and if you'd like to do the same, please do.

I have a stepson who is bipolar and I've thought of writing a blog about my observations of his condition and how it affects him(couldn't use real names, of course). It would be useful because individuals with bipolar sometimes lack insight into their condition whereas individuals who are connected to them (friends, family) have the benefit of being able to observe their behavior closeup and over long stretches of time. In the case of my stepson, I'm able to provide some help with direction (and redirection--he also has ADHD) and do this from the perspective of someone who is familiar with his condition how it affects him personally.

Actually, someone who should read your blog is his own wife.

perphila said...

I know with my husband I didn't see what was happening to him either. What people don't understand who don't live it is how easy it is to go along. You love the person you are with and you make excuses like, he's stressed out because of his job right now, he's tired from working nights, he had a rough day so he needs to have a day off and rest and do something fun. Then before you know it you are doing more and more until something happens so big you can't ignore it any more. My friend told me about how a frog or toad? will allow itself to be slowly boiled alive and not even realize it if you put it in cold water and slowly raise the temperature. We are like the frog. Unless something happens it can be really hard to see what's going on. If it's hard for us how must it be for the one we love? Others who don't live through this have no IDEA what's it's like and it hurts. I have people tell me all the time to get rid of my husband. How good it is we are divorcing. How is any of this good? You are not alone.

Anonymous said...

Carol--I came across your blog, cause I have been feeling sorry for myself this past week and needed to know I am not alone. The difference between you and I is that I had to separate from my husband due to the violent tendancies during an episode and the episodes were getting more frequent and frequent. Your story touched me because like your husband, my husband had a great job, wonderful salary and great morals, was the perfect husband and father. Now he collects Social Security, lost his parental rights and doesn't care about life enough to take his meds. I do think that you are making a mistake about not sharing your hurt and his illness with others. I am on year 6 with dealing with the illness and up until 3 months ago never told anyone what was going on and made lots of excuses for his behavior. I felt very alone dealing with everything myself. Now that I have shared with selective people, I now know how understanding people are. People have been much more supportive knowing the facts than wondering the unknown. Please think about that. I have never stopped loving my husband, I just know I have to love him from afar and feel guilty for this, but I also have 3 kids that are scared to death of their father. I think all of us know that he will never be the same person. I wish you lots of luck.