Syndicated from the Bipolar Blog with a couple minor changes

Jill Ravitz recently posted her bipolar story, which caused me to think about my own situation with my wife and our family. Back in 1999 my wife was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. Within about two years, we were discussing divorce.

Bipolar disorder was tearing us and our family apart. We argued all the time, even in front of our children, which all parents know is a big no-no. Our two teenage children were a wreck and were probably hoping we would get divorced so they could get a break from us. Well, maybe they weren’t so secret about it… I can’t recall.

We stayed together. I don’t know whether we were just too lazy to take on the burden of a divorce, too cheap to hire an attorney, too stubborn to let our 20 years + marriage go down the tubes, too afraid to break the news to our families, or too afraid of what divorce would do to our children. I have no idea why we stayed together, but I’m happy we did.

I always admired my wife. She enjoys life more than I do. She lights up a room and engages people. She is sincerely interested in other people. She is intelligent, sensitive, and funny. Her joy is contagious. I married her because of all that and more. Perhaps her energy and joy for life flows from that manic side of bipolar disorder. She is rarely depressed. It’s the mania that causes the most problems for us.

Jill’s story made me think about why Cecie and I got married in the first place. It made me realize what attracted me to her. It made me happy that we decided to stay together and try to keep the bipolar disorder from driving us and our family apart.

I don’t fault anyone for leaving someone who has bipolar disorder. I was very near that point myself. Who knows, maybe if things were worse, I would no longer be able to take it. I don’t know, but I wonder how many people split up prematurely, before they even have a chance to understand what is going on and help their loved one through it.

People with bipolar disorder are still people. They are still just as wonderful as they were before the bipolar diagnosis. What’s so tragic is that the illness can mislead us into thinking that our loved ones are no longer worth loving.