Bipolar Depression - Saving Your Relationship When the Chemicals Are Against You
Bipolar Disorder can be a very confusing ailment to understand for someone who has never suffered from it; unfortunately, it is equally as difficult to accept for someone who DOES suffer from symptoms. Bipolar Depression is a very serious disorder of the brain, with noted abnormalities in brain chemistry that can trigger severe mood swings, sudden changes in energy, and impaired functioning. A person with this disorder will have alternating periods of mania (excitability) and depression.
As troubling and disabling as this disorder can be to the person suffering from it, it can be just as detrimental to a relationship.
When I first met my husband, things were superb. He treated me like a princess. But, we weren't living together. We didn't see each other every second of every day at that point. Once we moved in together, things began to change. He would become irrational and irate over the smallest thing, like me folding his work pants the wrong way. I couldn't understand what I was doing to make him so upset with me so often. Until I had a very long conversation with his mother.
I learned many things during that conversation, and the many conversations to follow. For starters, the fact that my husband is a story teller. I don't want to say liar, because I feel as though that is an incredibly harsh word, and unfair generalization - he does not lie about everything, so I feel uncomfortable saying that he is a liar. But he had lied about very big parts of his military career, education, and family situation growing up, just to name a few things. Also, he is incredibly terrible with money. I had just chalked all of this up to immaturity and selfishness. But what I came to learn was that bipolar depression does not just affect a persons mood - it completely overshadows every aspect of a person's life.
I found myself constantly questioning myself and our relationship. "Yes, he's sick," I would think to myself, "but how much can I really take of this?" Being in any sort of relationship with someone with untreated bipolar depression basically means that you will be taken advantage of, walked over, and heartbroken many, many times. And it is unpredictable when this will occur.
My husband didn't realize how damaging his depression was to ME. He felt as though he was the only one suffering, and he refused to admit his problem or get help, but he was comfortable with self destructing at that point. He did not realize that he was taking everyone who cared for him down with him.
Everything changed when I learned I was pregnant. I left him for a short period of time, because I did not want my child to suffer from the same heartbreak I had been enduring for so long. I realize now that that was a terrible decision. I abandoned him, when what he truly needed was professional help, and support from me. He dove into a self-destructive whirlwind that I thank God every day he was able to climb out of. I convinced him to seek professional help, and begin therapy and medication.
The first few medicines he tried made things worse. I didn't understand this at the time, and neither did he. The concept of different medicines working in different ways for different people was a new one. I mean, if you have an infection, you take an antibiotic. If you have menstrual cramps, you take Pamprin. If you have depression, you take an anti-depressant. It was then explained to us that depression is caused by any number of things, and certain medicines only target certain forms. Depression can be from chemical deficiencies, or from chemical overloads, or from personal experiences. So our process was not an easy one--and this is common.
But, eventually he DID find the right combination of the right drugs and the right therapist. The doctor then suggested that I too see a therapist. I kept thinking to myself "Why? I'm not sick. I'm not depressed." But it helped me sort through alot of the confusion and animosity that I had harbored towards him due to his actions towards me. He was more hurtful than I had realized, and I really don't believe our marriage would have survived if I hadn't had someone to talk to.
Our daughter is now just shy of her 7 month birthday, and I no longer harbor any of the fears I had during my pregnancy. The point is, our journey was an arduous one at best. It is never easy. It is never a quick fix. And, most importantly, it is never "cured." It is work, dedication, and most importantly, support. If your spouse is bipolar, you will need to support them. But you will also need support. This is your battle as well. And whether your army is a therapist, a friend, or a family member, make sure you don't go to the battlefield alone.
For more information on Bipolar Depression and easy access to support groups, visit http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=home