Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bipolar has benefited my marriage.

As surprising as that may seem, I've been giving it some thought, and, yes, although I think that there are many more negative things related to the bipolar than there are positive, I can say this about it: It has made our marriage more real.

When we first got married, we were still trying to put on a "good face" for each other, and I think that in that sense, even years later, we both were still hesitant about letting the other see our faults. And we sometimes weren't completely straightforward with each other, because we didn't want the other person's feelings to be hurt, or for the other person to think less of us. I was a rather submissive wife, and let DH make many of the decisions related to our marriage, because I didn't want to "rock the boat." And while we had said those words, "in sickness and in health", I don't think either of us envisioned what that would mean, or that we would end up doing anything besides putting up with a crabby spouse who had a cold or something like that.

But when bipolar arrived, things changed dramatically. I was dragged, not without a struggle, into this whirlwind of drama, and depression, and weird stuff. Suddenly my DH's "good face" was gone, the bipolar was obvious to me, he couldn't make it "pretty". I learned what my vows really meant, and gained a new appreciation for spouses who are caregivers. I confided in DD's therapist, and found an ally in her, I don't feel like she "does therapy" with me, I feel as if I'm talking to a friend, or, perhaps, a mentor. If DH had not had a mental illness, I never would've had a reason to share my story with DD's therapist, she would've just remained in that role, "someone important to DD".

And on a related note, I've also met some unbelievably nice people through this blog. I never would've started to blog if I hadn't needed someplace to express myself and my frustrations regarding DH. I am amazed at the support I've found, from people who used to be strangers to me--I am so lucky!

I learned some things, too. Some things that, even if bipolar were to disappear as suddenly as it appeared in our lives, I would never let go of. For example, I learned how to be more assertive with my husband. Suddenly I had to make decisions or they wouldn't get made. I started planning for the future as if DH was not going to be able to help, and in this sense, I was able to become more independent. I learned that even on days when "That Guy" was really horrible, that taking the situation seriously was not the best strategy. Although the words and behaviors still hurt me, I am now able, with some degree of success, to say "I'll just wait until tomorrow, when he gets back to normal." (I'd like to say that's easy for me, but it really takes a lot of thought, for me to let anger or hurt feelings just go by the wayside like that, but I don't think I'd be doing it at all, if it weren't for bipolar.)

I learned how to live frugally. I learned how to manage my time AND my money much better. I learned how to take charge of the family.

And the fact that my DH, with his mental illness, has no choice but to let me see his struggles, I am more comfortable with him seeing mine, too. Sometimes I wonder if instead of destroying my marriage, the bipolar might truly have been a blessing in disguise. I have definitely grown up in these last two years, and said and done things I never thought I could. And so, although I would do anything in my power to get rid of the bipolar that my husband suffers with, if we hadn't had this experience, maybe our marriage would not be what it is today.


Lorna said...

What a lovely thought provoking post :-) You are totally right and I agree with you too. Before i had even read your post, but just seen the post title it occurred to me just how much better our marriage is too now since the diagnois and how much we have learned about each other. I hoping it will be a blessing in disguise for us too. I talked to Rob last night and he agrees it is much better too :-)
Take care x x

Lorna said...

Oh, and you are right again about meeting people. I never knew just how many people were affected in such similar horrible ways by this illness, and I have met so many lovely people on the wonderful internet who have been a huge support to me, and I hopefully to them aswell. :-)