A lot of things have been hard in my up and down battle with mental illness the past two decades.
I've been misunderstood and misdiagnosed. I've stayed in hospitals for what I hoped and prayed would be the last time. For years, I've taken meds that had no chance of helping.
I've been so down I forgot what I feels like to be up. I've been on top and even over the top only to come crashing down in a heaping mess.
I've had my faith tested, and I've tested my faith.
My mood has seldom been stable for years, but something far more important has: My marriage.
I've heard stories you wouldn't believe and seen statistics that are sad and sobering about mental illness and how it can wreck families.
The most troubling one? Ninety percent of marriages in which one person suffers from bipolar disorder end in divorce. That's a staggering, heart-breaking number.
Most marriages just don't survive mania or the depression that is the disorder's evil twin. I do not judge any who haven't made it.
My heart aches for all of them, like the lady who recently sent me a direct message after reading this blog. She couldn't keep her vows because the man she had married became someone she no longer knew and could no longer love.
I met another woman in treatment who never made it to the altar with the love of her life. She had debilitating depression and seizures that required brain surgery. When she woke up, everything she learned in pre-med and her feelings for her fiancee were gone.
It's not my place to cast judgment, but it is my obligation to thank God for blessing our marriage. We've tried to live out our vows...and we've been tested on all of them. Richer. Poorer. Sickness. Health. We've been far from perfect and we have work to do yet, but we've endured, loved, prayed and hoped. It takes all of that—and more.
My wife is pretty awesome all the way around, and I'm not just talking about her hotness.
She is supportive but not enabling. She is patient but not a pushover. She has endured my antics and addictions, my foibles and fallacies.
Never once has she threatened to leave me. Well, other than that one time—but that's another blog.
Barclay, I'm writing this post because you need to know how much I love you. You need to know much I appreciate your love and devotion, your endurance and your understanding. I regret that you, too have had to suffer in your own way, ways I probably don't even know about or understand.
You don't always give me what I want or tell me what I need to hear. That's a good thing. If you did, we'd be broke and I might be dead.
It's not easy being married to a bipolar man who isn't what you really signed up for at all. It's even harder, I can imagine, to love them like you did the day you said "I do."
You do both, and that has made mine a life worth living.