When Your Mental Illness Interferes With Your Family Life

My family, I mean my daughter and husband, have witnessed me say and do a lot of “sick” things for the last three years since I first started having a nervous breakdown that was the longest and hardest to get over.

This a picture of me with Chloe Marie circa 2015, her kindergarten year and also the beginning of this three year nightmare.

This is picture of me and Chris when we were dating in 2008 in the backyard of my mom’s old house.

I painted this sign on a piece of discarded wood (2017) on one of my good days, each flower representing our family of three.

The thing I hate most about living with Bipolar I isn’t what it does to me (which is a lot of serious s***), but what it does to them. Chloe is a gifted 8 year old with an amazing vocabulary, but she can’t find the words she wants to say so that I know how to help her get through her experiences with me as a Bipolar mother. Chris told me recently that my two suicide attempts during our marriage were “psychologically abusive.”

I am going to call around today and find her a child psychologist who also handles family therapy at the urging of my own individual therapist. I am scared to death about what the therapist might conclude about all three of us, but that’s a small concern since the past week has been chock full of daily examples of how much she is actually suffering.

I have been sick enough for three years that I became a self-absorbed, selfish wife and mother. I have repeatedly asked for a divorce because I knew I wasn’t up to the challenge of doing my part in creating a healthy environment for us, a loving one.

Now that’s I’ve been “within the normal range” for about four months, I am starting to become aware of just how much damage a rapid-cycling, suicide-attempting, screaming Mimi like me is capable of starting.

If you’ve been following my recent posts (and thank you for doing so), you may remember the article (“Abusing a Mentally Ill Person is Especially Heinous”). Every word of it was true to my perspective of my marriage, although my husband generally ignores the obvious things he’s done to me (and by proxy to Chloe who’s witnessed most of the abuse).

I followed up that article with the idea I had that perhaps me, by virtue of being Bipolar, meant the abuse was my fault and so (once again) I threw myself on the sword to save my marriage by telling Chris that I understood now that I actually deserved all of the bruises he has left and on my body and my mind (and again, by proxy, Chloe’s too, at least her mind).

I know that that feeling of being responsible for your abuser’s abuse is one of the most common aspects of Battered Women’s Syndrome, a phenomenal voodoo trick I’m very used to doing since I grew up with an abusive father. When it came down to suffering in silence under my childhood roof, I managed because I knew I’d be leaving him behind shortly to go to UT. The difference now is there’s no light at the end of this tunnel.

My episodes (especially the manic ones), drive my husband crazy and he lashes out at me for what I imagine are tons of reasons I will never be privy to.

Now that these episodes are (hopefully) behind us, there is a ton of masonry work to be accomplished in order to rebuild our life and move forward. Chloe is so far unwilling to try this out, probably because I stupidly told her we would leave Chris and start over with a new start in Austin before I realized that I would not be able to consistently take care of her all by myself because of my condition.

Divorce is really just a dangerous decision to make. He says he’s in love with me and doesn’t want one anyway. I am having a really hard time with this idea that I caused my own abuse, but that is the narrative he wants to go with and I’m done fighting.

Twelve years together building our life counts for something. Chris’ idea that if I hadn’t been so sick, then none of this abuse would have happened at all is a tempting solution and one, like Winston who in “1984,” realizes at last that there is no logic to survival but acceptance of the “party line.” I feel ready to do this because we’re a family for good or ill, literally.

Pleas read my author’s biography at http://Amazon.com/author/mariekjohnston, and look at the homemade cover art for “Mental (2018).”

Thank you for reading this and all other posts from this non-fiction site, my fiction and folk art site (http://www.MarieKJohnston.com) and my book promotional site (http://www.MentalbyMarieKJohnston.com)!

Here’s to hoping everything you and I go through will turn out to be a well-deserved victory.

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