I’ve finally had it. I’ve worked as hard as I can. I tried my best. I’ve given everything I can give. And it’s just not enough.
This is absolutely breaking my heart. But I have come to the decision that the marriage I have so believed in is over. I just can’t take any more of the lies, the moodiness, and the anger. My finances are in a total disaster; it’s going to take years to recover. And if I stay, I’ll never recover. My health has deteriorated, and I’m questioning my own sanity.
There are times I fear for my life.
What’s so hard about this is how good it was in the beginning. She had really swept me off my feet from the moment we met. She was a beautiful woman, with a gorgeous face and incredibly sexy body. Her beauty wasn’t just physical either; her personality was completely compelling. Her compassion and patience with others was almost saint like. I first saw her when I was at a friend’s party; she was off by herself, drink in hand, contemplating the other party goers with an amused look. I couldn’t help but approach her, and within minutes we were talking and laughing like we’d known each other for years. There was an immediate sense of shared adventure and connection. We went out together two days later, and within a month were together every single night.
I moved in with her six months later.
There was just something special. Just being around her made me feel so much better about myself. She didn’t just bring out the goodness in me; she helped me find goodness I didn’t even know I had. We were inseparable. And it was so easy to be together. We enjoyed all the same things; going to the beach, classic rock music, Film Noir, and dancing. Oh, how we danced!
How can you not fall in love?
Even though the relationship burst into flames so quickly, I was hesitant to commit to marriage. I’d just gotten out of a failed marriage, and did not want to take that chance again until I was completely sure. So even though we were living together, there was no talk of marriage.
That didn’t happen for three years. But by then, I was convinced, and tied the knot.
It didn’t take long before the cracks started showing. It was just simple things at first… angry outbursts for no apparent reasons; overly ambitious plans for vacations; unbridled enthusiasm over the strangest projects. But it was hard not to get caught up in it all, she was just so engaging and full of life. We were having a ball!
Then she lost her job. It wasn’t her fault of course; she had been targeted by a manager who was intimidated by her intelligence. That was certainly believable; she was one of the smartest people I’d ever met. Money was tight, but we muddled along. I would leave for work every morning while she poured over the job postings and sent out resumes. She would still be looking when I got home too. But no offers came. The longer she was home alone during the day, the more noticeable the change in her mood. She would obsess over the simplest thing. She once spent a week (And who knows how much gas) driving around from store to store, looking for a snowman dish towel that she remembered from her youth. She was convinced that she could still buy one, and covered all the nearby towns in her search.
It was really kind of bizarre.
There were other signs of problems now. Suddenly there was a whole tray of medications that she was taking. I didn’t even know that there had been Doctor Appointments, but she kept coming home with new prescriptions until she was taking 15 or 20 pills a day! Some of them were obviously psychiatric like antidepressants and tranquilizers. And that’s understandable; being unemployed can certainly be depressing. But there were other meds that just didn’t seem to make sense. She had never said anything about being epileptic, but now she was on three different antiepileptics treatments.
Then it got really strange.
Leaving for work one morning there was a horrible smell in the car. There was no old food or any obvious source for the stench, but it was just unbearable. Finally checking the trunk, there were 8 or 9 dead animal carcasses that appeared to be road kill. When I confronted her she admitted that she had driven around and picked them up. The poor things deserved a proper burial; she just hadn’t had time to take care of it yet.
The bills started to pile up. My credit card went from almost paid off to maxed out in a week. I had no idea until I went to use the card to purchase gas, and it was denied. Checking the statement I couldn’t believe that she had bought a Tag Hauer watch! And where was she planning to wear $6,000 of new clothes!?! Then I started getting calls from credit cards that I didn’t even know we had.
Then she crashed.
It literally happened overnight. She was her ‘normal’ bubbly self when we went to bed, and the next morning she couldn’t stop crying. The tears continued on for a couple of weeks with her getting lower and lower, until she was completely immobilized. All she would do is sit in a dark room and stare at nothing. Any attempts to talk to her ended up in her exploding in anger, screaming at me how I couldn’t possibly understand. I began dreading coming home at night, afraid that I would find her dead.
I finally convinced her to let me take her to the hospital. What an eye opener that was! It turns out that this wasn’t her first admission. Going through her history with the Doctor I found out that she had been in mental hospitals 6 or 7 times before, and been diagnosed as Bipolar since her early 20’s. I had no idea!
And that was just the first year.
I managed to hold it together for the next 10 years. There were some good times for sure. There were months at a time where she was completely symptom free and she was the woman I fell in love with. But mostly we dealt with the cycles. And as time went on, they continued to get more and more extreme. There were several suicide attempts, one putting her in ICU for over a week. She went through 5 jobs in as many years, and we finally gave up even trying to keep her working. The manias were really bad. There were wrecked cars, holes in the wall, half finished projects everywhere and an unbelievable amount of debt. It didn’t matter what I did, she would find ways to spend money we didn’t have. She would scream at me hysterically and throw whatever she could reach that would break.
There were times I’d wake up in the middle of the night with her just standing over me. Watching…waiting. It scared the hell out of me.
The final straw was when she attacked a boy at the Mall. Some random 8 year old that she perceived as being disrespectful to his Mom. She had picked him up off the ground and was shaking him back and forth, spittle flying in his face as she screamed. She grabbed the front of his shirt so hard that the fabric actually tore. The law was called and she was arrested for assault.
And that was it.
There is no question that I love her. I know that underneath the illness there is still a beautiful, incredible woman. There are still glimpses of that woman, but only through the ugliness of her behaviors. I have tried so hard to help her. We have joined support groups together, had joint counseling, and I’ve even had my own therapist to help me learn how to deal with her. For the longest time she denied that there was anything wrong with her, but even after she admitted that she was sick she just couldn’t get things under control. That’s one of the hardest things… she knows that she is killing us, but just can’t manage to stop.
I do not wish her any ill will. I can no longer live with her, but I will always love her. My only hope is that she somehow finds a way to get the help she needs and finally be able to have a peaceful life. I can’t do it for her, and I just can’t be responsible anymore.
I am gone.
No, this is not my life. The bipolar behaviors are drawn from many experiences I have had or seen. And the struggles of the bipolar spouse based on anecdotes as well. I have of course written about what it’s like on the other side of a bipolar relationship, sharing my perspective and feelings. And that perspective has changed a great deal over the last number of years. When my last marriage ended I was very bitter and hurt. I had just found out what was really wrong, and hadn’t had a chance to try to get better. How could she leave me now? Time, healing and acceptance has changed those feelings however, and I can at least try to see the other side. Not all bipolar relationships are the same. I know couples who have not only survived but have actually flourished with a bipolar partner. This story is worse than some people experience, and others have lived through so much more. Everybody has a story, and no two stories end the same.
I started this exercise because of all the comments and emails I continue to get on earlier posts about bipolar relationships. While I admit there’s no way I can truly understand, I wanted to at least try to put myself in the other position. I don’t think it appropriate for me to publicly respond to all the different comments I receive so I thought I’d try and tell the story from a different point of view. There is no right or wrong. There’s really no blame to be given. It’s about life, and how we deal with what we’ve been given. And you know what?
Sometimes you just have to go.