You Still Choose Me When I'm Fighting Bipolar Disorder
It’s true. I have a mental illness. To be exact, bipolar disorder. When we first met, I was euphoric. Invincible. Insatiable. We ate. We drank. Drank some more. The sex was amazing. In the park. In an elevator. In the backseat. My entire high school and college career I never exhibited this kind of behavior. Maybe I had finally found myself. Maybe I had never been in love. Maybe I never realized I was manic. Actually, I didn’t know it was even a symptom.
I remember our first “fight.” You threw my keys down the street in frustration. I was drunk. Very drunk and emotional. OK, distraught and out of control. You had to call the police, despite my tearful pleas. Only four months in, when we were still getting to know each other. I’m still shocked you visited me in the hospital. You must have chosen me at this point.
We found freedom and love when they let me out of the hospital nearly two weeks later. Music festivals. Sleeping in your van by the ocean. You had no money to spare. Lucky for us, I had a savings account. I gladly, so gladly, swiped my first ATM card. Lucky in love.
Time passed. My moods alternated from love to hate to pack your bags to move in. My red hair and freckles swayed you every time. Something about me made you choose me. I was loyal. Free spirited. Rather innocent. Quite adventurous.
We’re married now. Sometimes, I sink into the couch. Sometimes, I roar from the rooftops. Sometimes you bring me extra clothes in the hospital. You carry me more than I carry you. I do my absolute best when I can. You are a torch. I’m sure I don’t say that enough. You are a torch. My tether. When it’s dark, you are crawling to find me. Even when I don’t want to be found. You still choose me.
Truth be told, I always chose you. You understood me like no one else. Had patience for me like no one else. Reached into me and saw beyond the “issues.” Sat patiently as they checked me out of rehab or out of the hospital. There you were, in the hospital waiting room, choosing me.
Gosh, it’s only 18 years later. You didn’t waver as my anxiety over a new job prospect reared its ugly head. Panic attacks. Nightmares. Bursts of tears. Or my intermittent friend, insomnia. The loop of obsessions fueling my extreme self-doubt and fear. You sat patiently and listened, reminding me I’ll be OK. It will all be OK.
We chose this life together. When we met, I had no idea I would later be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, experience psychosis and have multiple hospitalizations. I didn’t know how much pain and fear I would cause you. I — we — didn’t know a lot things about a lot of things. But, somehow you knew you wanted to be with me. Through it all. You are still here. We are still here.
Some days I battle this illness alone. Withdrawn. Isolating. But always, you let me know you are still here. Willing to battle with me.
Thinkstock photo via Archv.