I have been mostly manic for an entire calendar year (Spring 2018-Spring 2019 and still going strong). As you know, I am married and have an elementary school daughter. Bipolar I is really causing our foundations to smolder.
I almost exclusively rave like a completely unhinged lunatic when I am forced to interact with my husband and my child because obviously we all inhabit the same home. Although it is a large one, it isn’t large enough for me to successfully avoid them 24/7 to avoid the two things which are the most maddening to me in this state of mind: my husband shunning me and my daughter telling me I’m scaring her.
I have tried a thousand times to convince my husband that we should divorce, he should take full custody of Chloe and that I should be allowed to live alone with my art supplies and iMac in perpetuity since this entire bipolar episode is going on four years of complete sickness (3 years of straight depression, 1 year of pure mania). He always says in response to my real desire to at least save my beloved family from my madness if I can’t save all three of us with a repetitious “This is just your illness talking, you don’t mean this, please go lay down and rest, this will pass–trust me. We love you. We are here to support you.” But then when I wake up from resting, he leaves rooms I enter, addictively plays video games, ignores me, shuns me, completely maddening me over and over again.
My husband suffers from 19th century notions when it comes to dealing with my condition. He tells me to “practice self-control” when my response is “no one would choose to be like this–if I could practice self-control, I wouldn’t be manic.” He thinks I’m driving the car of my mind when I am well aware that I am in the fetal position in the backseat–an actual frequent nightmare of mine.
I can’t even go back to the mental hospital for what would be the 31st time in 25 years because my husband and mother-in-law are like the blind leading the blind when it comes to the responsibility of full-time childcare–my daughter told me last night that they forget to feed her and give her a bath on a regular basis while I am away (4 times and counting this year) busy being an inpatient. So, last night she and I decided that the hospital is no longer an option.
I am laying down in my darkened bedroom alone while I write this message to you from the very real and deep and frightening trenches of mental illness. Believe me, I don’t mean to brag, but I am “severe”ly Bipolar I with psychotic features (no less): I have been on disability for almost ten years after having to walk away from my career as a high school English teacher due to my illness, my childhood sweetheart of ten years left me while we were engaged because he said he ” didn’t know how to live with someone who didn’t want to live,” and as far as working at all goes the only things I can be somewhat successful at are writing novels nobody reads and making visual art that no one sees. I spend the weekdays alone and that is a blessing for me and my family. My husband makes a good living as an Assistant Principal and provides me with few expectations that I would typically be too sick to meet, somehow our daughter has a genius IQ and is beautiful, strong-willed and brave (I don’t know if I actually had anything to do with all of that).
I know for a fact that my condition worsens with age and I am a living testament to this–oh how I wish I could go back to the relatively mild form of my illness when I was 28 and “resigned” from teaching because I am so unable to successfully manage the lovely, privileged, fortunate, beautiful life I have been living since I met my husband in 2008 and we began creating this somewhat Shangra-la existence together as a team. I’ve told you we created an art room/writing office for me from a spare room. You might not know though that I am Ivy League educated (not like that has helped me much), I got into MENSA (but couldn’t afford the dues), I was offered a modeling contract in high school, and that the two loves of my life have absolutely seen me at my very worst and still tell me I’m beautiful, loving, smart, successful and worthy of their love and support. I just wish I could just be sane enough for it to be appropriate for me to leave my house and mingle with random people I would encounter in society at-large.
So, no one (not doctors, therapists, family members, friends–or even me) can seem to actually stop my heavy, forever-seeming drop into the sewer of a completely rotten mind where sanity is a thick rancid milk that long ago seeped back into the earth where supposedly we are were made from.
My new psychiatrist, a Columbia University-degreed doctor, is maybe also incapable of finding the right cocktail to end this four-year long throw up ride into the very definition of an unquiet mind either. I am beginning to believe after taking every possible mathematical permutation of available psychiatric medication, that it is quite likely that the medicine that could free me from my invisible cage just hasn’t been invented yet and I am unwillingly forced to damage those I wish to cradle and dote on simply because I was born in the wrong century.
I have no wisdom to offer those suffering the way I suffer, except to say that peace and quiet, the arts, a pet, healthy things to eat and drink, a solid 7 day a week schedule, and love (however flawed it may be) have successfully shrunk one million mental suicide attempts down to just 8 real ones–and that madness really does come in waves, and we really have no choice but to swim past the breakers and make it to the swells.
Here’s hoping you are doing better than this…
Marie K Johnston/
Kristen M McCurry