You know who bears the brunt of mental illness?
The person who lives with and loves the person who has it.
I have bipolar. I hate living with bipolar. It’s terrible to live with it. I will never be rid of this horrid thing.
And I think it’s worse to watch someone with it and know you’re helpless against it. I think it’s worse to love someone who has it and be confused when the illness makes your loved one do something stupid. I think it’s worse to live with someone who has it and Not get sucked into the mania or depression cycle when those erupt.
I think it’s worse because you don’t understand what it’s like living inside the mind and body and brain of the person with the illness. You can’t know, which is frustrating for both parties, and no amount of describing or analogies will allow a spouse or other loved one inside the life of someone with bipolar to understand that there were good intentions behind that action that totally blew up. I know it’s more than tough to give the person the benefit of the doubt or of good intentions when a relationship turns inside out. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be in a relationship with someone with bipolar and have the whole relationship be about the person with bipolar.
All that said, I think my husband should win any and all possible gold medals for sticking with me for YEARS of untreated (because undiagnosed!) bipolar, and for the years of trying to find stability now that I am treated. I’m sure that I’m impossible to live with, now that I look back with more clarity and see who I was for all those years. I missed out on those years too, but he bore the brunt of my actions and moods when we just thought it was me. And he still sticks by me. I don’t know why, but I’m Very Glad!
I found some resources that could help him and any others who are living with someone with bipolar. Once again Natasha Tracy was my source (Yay Natasha!).
- Living with Bipolar and Living with Someone Who Is Bipolar
- Supporting Someone Who Is Bipolar: For Family and Friends (Note especially the links to articles “Family Consideration: Effects of Bipolar on the Family” and “The Effects of Bipolar on Family and Friends.” Scroll down for the special section on being a spouse of someone with bipolar.)
- How to Care for and Cope with a Bipolar Spouse