In very loving, moving and profound words, TAO describes the challenges and triumphs of living with a bipolar wife and "the beasts that almost ended her life." TAO is the owner of the blog Corrupting Conservatives and I welcome his contribution to our series on manic depression.
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Its been a little over 5 years ago since my wife, of 25 years, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and let me tell you….its been hell!
The hardest thing is how people react to the diagnosis. If I had told people that my wife was diagnosed with cancer then there would have been an outpouring of compassion and all sorts of ribbons I could display but IF one were to announce a diagnosis of manic depression well, that just isn’t something discussed in polite company and I haven’t found a ribbon that one can wear in support of this disability.
That is why I admire TnLib for opening a conversation on the topic. It is very hard to get your hands around the subject matter and I think TnLib did an outstanding job and now I want to assist from the perspective of someone on the outside looking in….
To ask me now when I was first aware of this disease isn’t fair because I now have the benefit of hindsight and many, way too many nights to search for the answer but the reality is it was the disease that attracted me to her in the first place!
I have yet to meet a manic depressive person who was not highly intelligent, creative, energetic, outgoing, and an absolute joy to be with. These people have no enemies and they are, for the most part, the people who when they walk into a room they attract all the attention. These are the people with a gift: If there is any sign whatsoever it will be a temper tantrum or a mood swing from time to time but it is real easy to overlook these moments. They are also, if you look real close, insecure, but it is hard to catch a glimpse of this weakness in the overwhelming glow that they radiate.
Over the years the temper seemed to explode a little more often and the mood swings became what I then assumed was seasonal affective disorder….or I would tell her that she just had a little too much to drink.
It’s funny how we can be so damn logical that we end up being stupid. I was real good at seeking out justifications and or explanations for my wife’s behavior but now I realize she was slowly but surely losing her way: What she was so good at controlling and using to enliven her life and all those that came into contact with her was gaining control over her and almost took her life in September 2005 when she attempted suicide.
I realize that for 20 years I was always on the outside looking in and now I have come face to face with the beast that almost killed my wife and I can proudly state that it is beatable.
Its not easy, during the course of our battles, I have had all sorts of things thrown at me, I have been cut up, scratched, and bruised. I am 6’10” and weigh 275 lbs and my wife is all of 5’ 4” and weighs 120 lbs and I will say that there were more than a few times I feared for my life.
But, one thing I realized very early on: It was not my wife but rather the beast of bipolar/manic depression that I was battling. This beast will change your life forever, it will haunt you, it will sneak up on you when you least expect it but you cannot lose sight of the fact that your loved one is not the one you are battling but rather that you are a tag team and you find yourself in the ring with the beast only when your loved one has battled the beast to exhaustion. I know this because never once did I come face to face with the beast during the day, it was always later in the evening.
THAT is the only explanation that I can come up with for sticking this hell out. Of course some people comment about the fact that my wife has to learn to control this beast or that I should have left her because no one has the right to put another person through this. I am no saint, but I did come to realize that it wasn’t my wife doing these things, it was the beast. Obviously, my wife HAS been controlling the beast but by the end of an all day wrestling match she becomes overwhelmed and then I have to face the beast.
With the right medications and a respect for the medications along with a restructuring of the environment one can coexist with the beast. I know that anxiety and uncertainty are to be avoided at all cost and they have to be replaced with stability and security.
Now, instead of leaving the house in fear of my life and an absolute nervous wreck and not returning for days, when the beast shows its ugly head I get in my car and pull out of the garage and sit in the driveway and in less than 20 minutes my wife is on the phone pleading with me to come home…
Where once I searched for a cure so I could have my wife back now I realize there is no cure, the damage is permanent and irreversible; nothing will ever be the same. But, just today two old dear friends stopped by and before I knew it I caught a glimpse of my wife from the good old days…..
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I have battled the beast and won…..now what I face in the future is a weaker wounded beast at best.