Dear Future Husband, From Your Lover With a Mental Illness
Dear Future Husband,
I will put this as bluntly as possible: as much as you love me, as blissful as you imagine our fast-approaching future together, nothing in the world, no pre-matrimonial preparation we endeavor together, will equip you with all the necessary tools to handle me. I’m not talking about my shampoos and conditioners and sprays and gels taking up more than their fair share of space on the bathroom counter, or the burnt popcorn that will inevitably be a part of our date nights in; you will learn things in this letter that will either turn you off for good, or make me want to kiss you for your optimistic yet utterly realistic attitude, your acceptance of everything that may go wrong and how firmly you hold the belief that love means forever, in sickness and in health, until one or both of us shall meet our end.
Love, I have bipolar disorder. And you may not know what that means now, but you will soon understand. You will find that the charming, bubbly disposition I get when I’m getting a touch less sleep than necessary can turn into a candy-colored, all-too-sunny nightmare if we let it get out of hand. You will see me sometimes in so much pain it hurts to breathe, and even if I lash out on you, I want you to know it is never your fault. You will learn when to hold me and when to let go and that you can’t always fix me up. Please save yourself some heartache and don’t try.
When I ask you to check the closet for ghosts like the child I no longer have a right to be, humor me. Tell me this isn’t real, that the voices in my head can’t leave the confines of my skull. Say whatever it takes to convince me the dark is nothing more than the absence of light, that it is not a breeding ground for monsters and ghouls. When we turn in for the night the following evening, remind me I survived last night.
Be prepared to rat me out to my doctor. I’ve never had a problem with honesty, but as we age, things change. I give you permission now to say if I’m not taking my meds or if I’m not coming clean about my psychoses and my moods. Even if it pains you to do it, my health comes before my feelings. So go ahead, tell him I’m lying, because I know, in my sane state now, it’s for my own good.
Like any soon-to-be-married man, you might want children. And I don’t know what to tell you about that. Bipolar disorder is genetic, and I would not wish this upon anyone if I could help it. But we will weigh out pros and cons together. By the time we have to cross this bridge, I might be fine. This can be manageable. And one day it may very well be so manageable, and I’ll be able to have as many kids as we can fit into our beat up minivan. I warn you, I may be a moodier pregnant chick than others — I may be so annoying you will want to move back in with your mother until the nine months are up. But such is a worthy price to pay for that family you may have been dreaming of since we got serious about this whole marriage thing. And if having a house full of tykes isn’t you’re thing, that’s OK, too. At the moment, I’d prefer a pack of furbabies to call our own.
When you see all of these things, don’t think me mad. Think of me as human, broken, but not without good days and a heart of gold. Before we merge into one unit, I will do my best to prepare myself for the day when we are permanently together, to make it so you don’t have to worry whether you will come home to me preparing to take my own life. I don’t know if that will ever be a possibility, but I promise you, I will try. If I slip up, it’s OK to get angry and frustrated. But please know it’s not my fault. I will do my part to keep myself as healthy as I can, but these things happen, and you must know that is my truth.
I don’t want you to be my caretaker and don’t expect you to be. The only thing I really want from you is love and devotion and the compassion to not treat me like a little kid or the picture of madness. Treat me like your wife, nothing less. And if you can’t stay, I understand. But I hope you’ll at least give it a shot.
After reading this, if you still love me, go ahead, spouse me — put a ring on it! I can’t promise you more good times than bad, but I can promise you a spouse who loves you more than you’ll ever know.
Your Future Wife
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