Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The new normal.

I guess it's time for me to start recognizing that who and how DH is, is likely how it'll be from now on.  His medications seem to have (for the most part) stabilized him, and there is good and bad with that realization. 

"That Guy" rarely makes an appearance any more.  The only time we see him now is if DH hasn't been responsible about getting his medications refilled and has gone without taking his Lithium and/or Depakote for a few days.  Otherwise, except for a brief "breakthrough" sighting (where "That Guy" isn't quite controlled completely), he's pretty much gone.  And that truly is a relief, because I believe that "That Guy" has posed the biggest risk to our marriage.

With "That Guy" gone, I realize that there have been tradeoffs.  When "That Guy" and the bipolar were in full swing, and even before that, when we got married, DH was very ambitious.  He kept the house spotless.  He was always fixing something, or cutting the grass.  There were days when he couldn't stop cleaning.  My friends were HUGELY jealous.  It's weird, when you recognize that there is something good in a mental illness, but that's the truth.  Now that DH is on the "right" medications, the angry, irrational "That Guy" is gone, but the ambition is gone, too.  DH no longer cares about how clean the house is.  At all.  It's hugely frustrating for me.  And nothing gets fixed, either.  I'm actually thinking about whether I can afford to pay someone to cut the grass this year, because last year it only got cut twice.  And this year, unless something changes (with me), isn't looking any better.....I know it feels much better to me to come home and see the yard looking nice.  So I'm trying to decide if there's money in the budget for that.  I'm pretty sure there's not, because I can't think of anywhere else to cut corners.  Oh well.

Now, the only time DH does something is if I bribe him with cigarettes ("I'll buy you cigarettes if you clean the kitchen.....") and then it might only be a half-a**ed job.  Or if I get really angry about the situation.  He has said several times to me: "I know the cleaning is up to me.  You already do so much.   And you don't have time to sleep, let alone clean.  And I have three days off most weeks.  I've got to be the one who does most of it..." but then he doesn't.  A lot of times he doesn't even bother to put garbage into the waste basket, he just leaves it on the kitchen counter.  And then I blow up.  And then I feel bad, because I'm being mean.  But I don't know how else to do this.  I guess this is a learning part of "controlled" bipolar--adjusting to DH's abilities and determining what is "forgetfulness" and what is "laziness".  I suspect that a lot of the time it's more of the latter.  But he does truly forget a lot of stuff.  And he seems to lack the ability to see the potential consequences of an action sometimes until I remind him.  And that is "new" with the bipolar, too.

Since DD has been gone, he's once again been on more of an "even keel".  It's very hard for me to know whether it is/was her issues that made things get worse, or if it is/was giving love and attention to a third person....or the responsibility of caring for her when she needed so much....?  I'll be giving that a lot more thought before I come to a firm conclusion on that, if I ever do.

The hardest thing, though, is, that things really haven't changed much in some time.  So I'm kind of losing my hope that someday he'll get "back to normal".  I'm starting to recognize that this IS "normal" now.  I love DH very much and don't want a divorce.  Some days, though, I envision what it would be like to live by myself, where all the garbage made it into the trash, where I didn't have the disappointment--like when he SAYS he'll cut the grass, and then he doesn't.  And sometimes I wish I could have a life mate who was able to work hard, have a job with more responsibility, more money, so that I could quit this second job.  Someone who could see that the grass needed cutting, would go out and cut it, and take pride in how good a job he did.

But I try to continue to remind myself to count my blessings as much as possible.  I have a life mate.  Lots of people never find that.  We speak the same "language"--he gets my jokes, I get his--we know what is important to each other, and we can talk to each other and know we will (usually) be understood and heard.  We respect each other when we disagree.  That's a big one.  There are a lot of things that could be worse.

There was a story in the Minneapolis paper today, about a man who had once had a cocaine addiction.  He met his wife in treatment, and cleaned up his act, had children, a job, a home....and then he secretly relapsed.  He went to a house where he thought he could get some cocaine, and instead was severely beaten by gang members.  Now he is in a nursing home.  He's unable to string more than a few words together.  He can't hold his head up, let alone cut the grass.  His medical bills are astronomical.  And while his wife still holds out hope, really all she has now are memories of how he (and her life) used to be.  I read that story today and realized that even though "what used to be" may be gone, I'm still pretty darned lucky, and so is DH.  It's that mindset I need to hang on to, and keep myself remembering all the things that I'm grateful for.


Elizabeth A. said...

This was good to read. To know I'm not the only one. I was in bed last night wondering, "Am I just lazy? I didn't used to be lazy. I used to get everything done." And now it will be a good day if I make dinner.

Thanks for the reminder to count my blessings. Even while knowing we all have a cross to bear.

Kathie said...

Carol, perhaps you can find a young boy in the neighborhood who would be willing to cut your grass a couple times per month for $5-10 per cutting (of course, not knowing how large your yard is, he may want more...but it doesn't hurt to ask). I think about you often, and pray your burdens will be lightened soon.

Anonymous said...

Would your DH be willing to cut the lawn in exchange for cigarettes? It might get him to do it a couple of times and it should be cheaper than hiring someone.