bipolar marriageI married my husband after a very short 4 months of dating.  The first 6 years were very tough.  I left him half a dozen times and hated him as much as I loved him.  It was a challenge from the first week!  Marriage in itself is tough, but when you throw in undiagnosed bipolar, whoa, it becomes impossible!

Any mental illness out there can really wreak havoc on a relationship.  Most of the time it seems as though the partner just doesn’t have a good understanding of “why” their better half is the way they are.  To a normal mind, self control is all that is needed.  At least that’s how it was with us.

Our marriage suffered incredibly at the hands of my moods along with the fact that neither of were armed with the proper knowledge to tackle the problems as a team.  We spent a lot of time at odds, fighting, and losing the battle.

When I was diagnosed it was as if someone opened a window in our stale marriage and let in some fresh air.  My husband lacked the understanding needed to provide me with enough support to help me through the first couple of months and that was pretty hard.  He did his research, and learned that the best thing he could do for me was to support me regardless of my moods.

He has been a really fantastic man, handling the kids, house, chores, and me all at once, while also working full time to support us all.  He deserves a medal, well, to me anyway.  He took that whole “for better or worse” vow to heart.

As of lately it’s been more on the “worse” side, and I admire his strength to keep our home going when I have nothing left to give.  I couldn’t survive without his support.  I think the most important part of the success of our marriage is the fact that he was so willing to research and understand the illness, and find better ways to support me through the bad, and look forward to the good.  He is very open to my needs and allows me to talk about my current “mood” and how it is affecting my ability to be a good wife and mother.  He very quickly reached his personal goal of making sure he can make up for my shortcomings when it is needed most.

The road here has been extremely tough, to be honest, I don’t know how we made it.  All I know is at this point in our marriage, to make it through thick and thin, all I need to do is make sure he is armed with information and has a full understanding of my current “cycle.”  After a 7 1/2 year struggle to find happiness, we are finally there with a strong, loving, adoring marriage. I couldn’t be any happier.

The best advice I can give to anyone who is in a relationship and struggling with any mental illness, is to encourage their partner to seek some individual help to reach a better understanding.  I never really understood the saying “knowledge is power” but now, it makes perfect sense.

Photo by Adam Jon Fuller, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.