October 29, 2013

I'm not the man she married, but she loves me anyway

b on wedding dayA 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.

 

 

56 comments:

  1. I'm one of the 90% unfortunately. You're a lucky man, Jack. I too am bipolar.

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  2. I'm sorry for any pain you have had to endure. God is good and he can make all the difference! Will be thinking of you and praying for peace. Take good care, Jack

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  3. This post brought tears to my eyes...again. Your wife is a blessing to you and such a strong woman...I've never seen her waiver.

    Your story hits so close to home. My mom has been with my Dad from the beginning and I've always questioned her loyalty. We've all endured my father's raging explosions and then in the next hour become the funniest comedian as if he literally went into the closet and changed identities. My mom has always remained and I now look up to her for it...I used to feel pity for her. I hated him most of my life but for some reason I also have a soft spot in my heart for him...even though 2-3 days is the limit that we can be together. He's a little nicer and still just as funny...he's on meds but I'm still convinced they aren't working. He was diagnosed a few years ago with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because of Vietnam. I truly believe he was born bipolar, but like you have said, no one likes to talk about it and the people in his life enabled him. As a child I was angry at everyone for enabling him...I seemed to be the one who received most of his lashing out. I'll never know why I was his target but now as an adult I don't blame myself anymore. I know it's him and not me.

    Thank you for helping others understand this disease and the different ways it can affect everyone in its path.
    Jennifer

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  4. Thanks, Jennifer. You are very kind. I'm sorry your family has been touched by this awful stuff. Be kind and forgiving to yourself...if you are like me, it's easier to do that for others!

    Take care and thanks again.

    Jack

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  5. Jack,

    Thank you for being an inspiration to all of us. It takes courage to seek help. It takes even greater courage to openly express your thoughts and feelings in order to help others. Thank you

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  6. I didn't know you didn't have your name on this blog until recently. Several people I know have told me they are reading it regularly to help them get through their own issues with depression. I had issues with depression and an eating disorder when I interned for you - at least one of the summers - maybe both (is it terrible that I can't remember?). I always felt like I was keeping so many secrets - and the only one, too. Anyway, just wanted to say again, I think it's so inspiring what you're doing here!

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  7. Hey Lindsay. I was so immature then that I didn't realize what you were dealing with. I only know we loved having you around. Thank you for reaching out and reconnecting. Take good care,
    Jack

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