(First published on the ABC Open website as part of the Mental Note project / Australian Broadcasting Corporation Mental As initiative 2015
They tell us that the divorce rate is 90% if one spouse has bipolar disorder (Psychology Today).
Since my husband and I both live with bipolar, that would make our divorce rate 180% out of 100%! Let’s just say we were never one for statistics.
We were diagnosed with Bipolar five and seven years into our marriage. We married bipolar-less and ended up bipolar-ful.
Rarely do we publicly discuss our marriage – a marriage that is filled with Bipolar Disorder Type 1, Bipolar Disorder Type 2, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyagia and parenting one child with autism (and one without!).
It’s confronting to many people just how many conditions we have.
Some folks do assume we are normal and okay without seeing the furious peddling trying not only to keep afloat – but to live.
And some folks don’t want to know. We know! Neither do we! It bores us to no end, many, many times!
I don’t think though, we would want it any other way.
We spent far too much time over the years in speech therapy, occupational therapy, psychological support and other assistances so that we all can live the best lives we can.
We choose to be medicated because we are invested in our family and each other.
We also want to live independent, amazing, gutsy lives, our way and our brand of mixed nuts.
We don’t talk about our fights, our difficulties, our tears, our exhaustion, our fears, our pain, our suicidal ideas or our irritations with life.
It is somewhat invisible, these illnesses of ours and our battles with them and
Our focus is on giving our kids a childhood that they don’t need to recover from because of our illnesses.
We try to provide each other with a love that is unconditional when the conditions are highly stacked.
It’s hard work, but it’s a love that we continuously invest in because we want to.
We want ‘us’, and we have had ‘us’ for 11 years of marriage. Our illnesses are not going to control our lives.
We’ve been fortunate to have close family and friends who have stood beside us, helped us, championed us, sat in our corner cheering us on, picking us up when we fell. A strong and constant support throughout our marriage.
I guess if we had to ask for anything, it would be understanding. That’s it. ‘I understand’ is enough.
Not sympathy or pity and certainly not comparisons because essentially and for our privacy, folks only know what we tell them. We like to keep our hard battles very private. We’ve learned who uses our information to learn and to help, and others to roll it up and throw it back at us.
Advocating is a selective business.
An understanding too, I suppose, that although we are thriving, we do so, many times, during a depressive episode with suicidal tendencies.
There are many, many times where we keep an eye on each other, unable to attend important family events and upping the meds to switch the imbalance ‘off’ with the PDoc on speed dial.
We do it through a flare up and a pain, and the inability to walk, to move, to function. We do it to build, to create, to live, to thrive rather than just survive.
After all of the above, we refuse to be beaten. We refuse to give up and we will not lie down to our conditions.
Our focus is always on us, ourselves and the kids, on recovery, on living, wellbeing and life.
Life is there, beautiful, amazing, magnificent, wonderful – live it, as best and as brilliant you can.