When Your Support System Isn’t Supportive

About three weeks ago, my husband, Chris, threw a 64 oz glass of water into my face and then shoved me hard into the kitchen counter (leaving five bruises spread over my body), all he says because I was manic and he “didn’t know what else to do.”

This was after I became full-blown manic in the middle of the night because Chris (who also used to be in charge of my medication box) refused outright to give me extra Geodon (an antipsychotic that makes me very sleepy) in order for me to get unmanic enough to go back to sleep.

This marks the third time in the last three years since my relapse into illness began that he has put his hands on me. Needless to say, I have finally reached a point where I no longer feel sympathetic for him since I’m “such a handful” to be married to.

We have an 8 year old daughter, Chloe Marie, but that’s not the only reason I’ve continued on in this marriage. I also did not have the emotional and financial support of my very wealthy mother and stepfather to help us get away from my husband. For a long time until quite recently when I described this latest attack, she also (like me) kept explaining away his behavior by relating how trying my episodes can be (even for her).

I spoke with my psychiatrist at length today in his office and, old and wise, he told me many things to consider before making my next move (as well as giving me the business card of his favorite shark of a divorce lawyer): it would be surprising if I ever saw alimony in the state of Texas, there would be an expensive and lengthy custody battle (in which my medical condition, medications and 30 hospital stays would be fodder for his attorney), that one option would be getting a court order that Chris go to therapy, anger management courses and a video game addiction twelve step program…

…We also discussed the obvious predicament I have found myself in: I can’t easily divorce, could easily (and not acceptably) lose custody of my Chloe, would also forfeit my mansion, art room, maids, and time to write my third novel were I to follow through with my mother’s plan that in a month when school is out we spend the summer with her in Austin while I serve him divorce papers and my parents help me buy another house.

But still, without alimony, I would be unable to support the two of us without returning to my teaching career, the one I resigned from after ten years because it was too stressful.

So, what is a Bipolar I artist-mother supposed to do with all these facts and figures?…

I am going to attempt one last time to sitting down with my husband tonight and telling him straight (as if my removal of my wedding ring doesn’t make it obvious enough) that I am weighing my options, one option is divorce (and that I have ample grounds) but another is that he commit to individual therapy, anger management classes and to stop playing incessant video games when Chloe and I are awake and instead interact with us (namely sharing with me what he is learning about himself in therapy).

I’ve decided to leave it up to him. This is my last attempt to hold my family together because, believe me, the fact that my daughter witnessed 2 out of 3 of these attacks on me with her own eyes (once screaming out to him, “Don’t kill my mommy!”) is more than enough for a decent judge to wrangle into my favor.

I feel I’m stuck here in this life, but at least I’m no longer manic (a trigger for him) and think I understand how to avoid riling him up (although quite honestly I’m not willing to bet my life on it).

But suffice it to say, when your support person is actually causing you physical, mental and emotional damage instead of helping you heal in your hour of need, the best solution is really to move forward without him/her.

I don’t expect the members of my support system to be perfect. But I do expect them not to hold my medical condition against me. And I also expect them not to resort to physically, verbally or emotionally abusing me when I’m symptomatic.

Thank you for reading,

Marie K Johnston/Kristen M McCurry

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