Archives for November, 2011


Caregiving without Controlling

He’s here today. My home today and tomorrow and the next day. He works Sunday and then again maybe next Tuesday, but he’s going to be seeing a lot more of home, and the tempting couch, for the next month as the factory has hit its annual slow spell. I’m a little scared.

As I see it, there are four major factors that go into my husband’s mood stability:

Faithfully taking his meds, and getting into the doctor quickly when he needs a medication or dosage change
Making healthy sleep habits a priority, not too little and not too much, and being sure to use his CPAP machine for his sleep apnea
Me taking care of my own mental health and not burdening him with my frustration, anxiety, and stress
Structure, big time.

As Paul Jones of
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Optimism vs. Reality

Ah, it feels good to breathe. My husband is in that wonderful space between mania and depression: euthymia, otherwise known as “normal mood.” It’s the break I’ve needed the past six months, and the break I need to recharge before his moods begin to cycle again.

I’m smarter than I was a year ago when his depression finally lifted in the fall. At that point, my first break from his roller coaster moods in years, I naively thought we had stumbled onto the magic mix of pills that would last forever – that was, until spring mania kicked in.

That was a hard knock to the head, but a wake-up call long overdue. It forced me to pick apart my attitude toward this whole bipolar thing, to realize that my husband and I are on the same side, us against bipolar, not me against bipolar and him.
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You’re Not Stupid, Just Different

“What happened?! Why is there only $50 in the checking account?” I asked my husband. We had just gone out to eat at a local restaurant, and although I keep close tabs on the family finances, I hadn’t objected to my husband carrying the checkbook around in his pocket and paying for the fuel and the items at the store, and later the meal. But I was certainly objecting now!

He looked at me. In true form, his selective mutism took full hold. He was being criticized and this is how he protects himself, or tries to. It only infuriates me. I’m a writer, a professional communicator, and I don’t appreciate being shut out of the conversation, especially when it involves our finances. My mind flashed back to six months ago when I learned that my husband had drained the checking account with purchases of junk food. Anger – and let’s be honest, really fear – gripped me.
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Why This Blog?

Marriage is hard. Obviously. Something easy wouldn’t result in more than half of all marriages ending in divorce. But it’s extra hard when severe mental illness is involved. Some statistics claim that 90% of marriages where there’s one partner suffering from chronic mental illness will dissolve. I can believe it.

In an average marriage, you have two people coming from different backgrounds with different perspectives on the world trying to work together on a common goal – partnership in life. Each has their own beliefs and opinions on everything from what goes on in the bedroom to what goes on in the kitchen. Add in a few kids, and its relationship soup.

This is “normal” stress on a marriage. Try throwing in a chronic mental illness. This is different than a physical illness that does not involve psychological functioning of the brain. While someone with lung cancer or lupus could develop a mental illness such as anxiety or depression, the cancer or lupus itself does not change the way the person thinks. But a mental illness – a disorder that may not kill the body in and of itself, but that can kill the person you know and love by altering the way that he sees the world and relates to you – that’s a totally different beast to deal with. But not impossible.
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