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A Letter to My Husband, From a Woman With Bipolar Disorder

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To my selfless, patient, empathetic soul mate,

I have so much I want to say to you, and then I have nothing at all to say to you. What I mean is, I want tell you every single thought that processes through my mind, but sometimes I can’t put them into words you’ll understand.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

But you try. Don’t you ever for one second think I don’t know you try, because I do. I see it, I hear and I feel it. Every single time you pick me back up when I’m shattered into pieces on the floor. Every single time you bring me back down when I’m fighting through a trembling and breathless panic attack that makes absolutely no sense to you. Every single time you embrace my stable days when I’m the peachiest version of me you ever get to experience. And especially, every single time you pick up my slack with house work and parenting when I haven’t the energy to pull myself out of bed, much less to function as a “normal” wife and mother should.

I honestly don’t know how you do it. Let me be clear… as horrific as this stigmatized and exhausting disorder is to have, being the one who loves someone with that disorder is hard, too. I realize, even though I don’t tell you, you go through so much with my illness. You can’t vent to me most days because I start to hate myself for not being better for you. You can’t vent to other people because they will probably say things like “she’s crazy” or “she’s a bitch” just because this whole illness is stigmatized to no end.

I know I treat you unfairly sometimes. Usually it’s because I need an outlet to be my real self. Hardly anyone knows the real me. And only you know the realist version of me there is. It’s exhausting to wake up every day and pretend to be just like everyone else. To walk around with this huge secret on my shoulders I want to scream from a roof top.

I know there are times my diagnosis creeps its way into our conversations, and I’m sorry for that. I know you don’t want to always talk about it like it controls my life. But here’s the thing — it does. And when I talk about it more than usual it’s because I need to talk about it and can’t with anyone else. In fact, anytime I have to tell someone else, it feels like I’m coming out of the closet. How will they react? Will they be scared of me? Will they treat me differently? All of these, and more, are thoughts that race through my mind while I hesitate, sweating and trembling, to spew this news to someone new. Sounds dramatic, right? That’s because it is.

I often wish you could experience my moods swings just once so you can truly get it. But then I realize I wouldn’t wish this disorder on my worst enemy, much less my spouse. There are times I can’t tell the difference between normal moods swings and bipolar mood swings. Is how I’m feeling about blah blah blah a true and justifiable feeling, or is this the unreal reaction to an unreal situation? Is how I perceived or am perceiving this scenario real, or is my brain trying to tell me it is? There’s a blurred fine line, and it’s difficult to distinguish between false perception and reality. That’s where you come in like a knight in shining armor to tell me that nothing is different and to let it pass.

Also, there are times when I’m being so paranoid I think every exchanged whisper within ear shot of me must be pertaining to me. I overanalyze every look or reaction from people around me. I worry and stress about every thing I say, wondering if I gave anything away of my illness. I walk on eggshells all day long, every single day, and it’s exhausting.

But with each time you rescue me, I worry you’ll wake up one day and think “I can’t live this way anymore” and you’ll pack your bags and go. Then like always, you remind me you’re my rock and stability. You’re with me “in sickness and in health,” no matter how many times I alternate between the two.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for everything little and massive thing you do for me, and us as a family. Thank you for being the strongest link.

Originally published: May 11, 2016
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