In Defense of Spouses of Those With Bipolar Disorder

I have been feeling very remorseful for my recent depiction of my marriage as “abusive.” My husband and I have a very complicated relationship, and I can see more fully than ever before that the real root cause of our dysfunction is, of course, my Bipolar I Disorder with Psychotic Features. Let me explain…

Yes, my husband has thrown me into counters, shook me, jabbed his fingers into me, all leaving physical, emotional and psychological marks. Yes, some of these events happened in our daughter’s presence. Yes, he has been known to exhibit yelling fits towards me in front of Chloe. He really was identified in 7th grade as having anger issues. He is currently looking for a therapist.

But it takes, as they say, two to tango. I have a particularly difficult and severe form of Bipolar I. I am also going through early menopause, something I’ve just researched and identified in myself as exacerbating my episodes since my periods have been coming every two weeks for a few months now with spotting in between–this has increasingly become a really large problem. I finally decided to get back on the pill just yesterday.

I was premenstrual when I wrote, “Abusing Someone With a Mental Illness is Especially Heinous” last week while not realizing I was premenstrual–I was agitated, hypomanic, rightfully angry about the water throwing/counter slamming incident–but it is unlike me to air my dirty laundry in public like that and with the “Zen Wisdom…” article which followed, my then still-off kilter attempt at explaining the previous post.

The point of all of that is to say that the spouses of those with a mental illness are forced to deal with so much stress and strain on their heads and hearts–especially when, like me, their Bipolar wives are ultra rapid-cyclers (ultrarians) who can go through every part of the emotional spectrum several times in one day, in addition to the strong connection a lot of Bipolar women like me have between menstrual and mood cycles.

I am not saying it is ok to lash out at someone who is struggling to gain traction with a severe mental illness. But, I am saying this is somewhat understandable and shouldn’t necessarily be shamed (especially in public). I forgive and adore my husband for the 99% of the time that he is understanding, comforting, loving and helpful to me when I am at my worst. He completely accepts me and his role in pointing out to me that I am off kilter.

I can accept that, although still choices he has made to hurt me and my daughter, he is working on improving and we are mostly able to look happily forward to our 10th wedding anniversary coming up in October 2019. I know I am definitely no picnic. The fact that we have made it this far in basically one piece is actually really beating the odds of most marriages (but especially Bipolar ones) and I am grateful for our continued love despite all the stress we have given each other.

Chris is a mainly even-keel, Zen-like husband who cradles and helps me everyday with basic life skills and events. We are all works in progress. We are all (hopefully) becoming more aware of who we are and how we affect and respond to the ones we love the most. Anyone who’s married knows what I am talking about.

Thank you for forgiving my airing of the chaotic and still beautiful marriage of mine last week.

I wish you happiness and peace,

Marie K Johnston/Kristen M McCurry

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P.S. “Mental (2018)” is still on sale at Amazon.com/author/mariekjohnston where you can also read my official biography and the back cover of this, my second published novel. Thank you!

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