What to expect when reading bi-polar wife

Thoughts and feelings of living with bi-polar as a wife, mother, and person in the world.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

wifedom continued

There are lots of power struggles in any relationship and balance is a finely tuned thing. When you take your vows you mean them but it's not until they are tested that you really begin to understand the impact of "In sickness and in health". You don't plan for a major illness and probably naively think it'll happen when you are both really old or happen to someone else.

When it happens it tests your resolve and the depth in which you made your commitment. I think when I first got ill we both assumed I would take a few tablets and I would be back to my normal bouncing self but we were horribly mistaken. 7 years of treatment later we are still living with the impact of my illness and I am still ill at times and not completely cured.

Decisions that we used to make together had to be made by my partner as I was demotivated and unable to think straight. He would do more of the housework as I was so tired I would need to sleep lots. He had to play with the kids more as I couldn't keep up or have the emotional space to deal with tantrums or hissy fits. And this would happen in patches of a few months at a time and it's exhausting for everyone really. I would get better and things would return to normal but the fear of relapse and more months of stress would be lurking around all the time and noone could relax properly.

Being ill for me makes me feel very disempowered. I get confused really easily, my memory is atrocious and everything takes more effort. My self esteem, or lack there of, compounds my lack of confidence, so normal tasks become very difficult. So then I give in and let my husband do more. It's ok to ask for help. But then I get resentful that he is being all controlling and doing everything and I am no longer the independent female I once was. It's almost like forgeting what you've learnt and feeling that you might never get your skills set back.

The feelings improve as the depression improves, but then what can happen is the behaviours that stepped in to deal with the crisis remain in place between husband and wife. The balance is still tipped in favour of the carer. And the patient for want of a better word feels that they are being treated like an invalid when they aren't. It's infuriating and a fight to get back to the balance that once was in place. More talking and negotiating has to happen, again. I often wonder if "normal people" have to work this hard at doing marriage.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013


When you first get married you think that nothing much will change except your name, but in reality everything changes. The first year feels particularly odd as you get used to being a Mrs, signing your name differently and getting attached to your new family permanantly. I remember my now mother-in-law giving me the "Do you know what marriage is about" chat, leading up to the wedding and telling me she thought I wasn't the marrying type. She still denies ever having the conversation, but I remember it all too clearly. So yes, you get yourself legally attached to someone and I did the whole fluffy dress, church, cake etc affair. It was lovely but rained like a monsoon all day. We went on honeymoon to Italy and had a lovely time and didn't want to come home.

My depression up until this point had not affected our relationship at all. I'd been well for a long time and it had never really come up in conversation. However I took a job in London and things took a nose dive. The travelling was a nightmare and the people I worked for didn't like me. I'd come from working in the voluntary sector and had a totally different outlook on how to treat customers, how to go about work in general. I lasted a year but not without going to counselling as I felt bullied and taking prozac for 3 months. I left and went back to the job I had come from but as a temp just to get myself in to a happier place. And things improved, I was feeling well again. We then decided to move from where we were living and travel up to the east midlands for my husbands work, and as the final decisions were being made I discovered I was pregnant. We were thrilled and it only took a month of trying. We were also incredibly shocked.

So we moved and 6 weeks later I lost the baby. We'd gone for the 12 week scan only to find out the foetus had stopped developing at about 7 weeks. It was awful sitting in the waiting area with all of the happy pregnant people. We were devasted and so were our families as we had already told them the news. Noone really new what to say, but what I didn't want to hear were plattitudes. I didn't want to be consolled. I wanted to be left alone. But we recovered. It took some time though and eventually we ended up moving to Leicester and trying again. This time it took 2 months to get pregnant and 6 months of paranoia to be a happy pregnant person. The rest is history ... well on the blog it is, you can read it for yourself.

But thinking about this information in the context of my mental health, I'd been under a lot of pressure and stressful situations leading up to the birth, and so had my husband.  Relocating, bullying at work, miscarrige, relocation. Yes 2 relocations. It's not suprising that my head went really. But mental ill health changes you. You have to relearn how to be, how to act, how to cope. And this means how you interact with your interpersonal relationships, my husband being the primary relationship.

My partner in the last 11 years has been through a lot seeing me losing the baby, struggling at work, becoming the depression shell (It's called the retarded state when you just sit and exist and don't speak etc). He's feared for my safety and made me promise not to kill myself. He himself has had stress related condition but has also had lots of support not only from his family but from a lovely organisation called rethink. He has a carer who sees him regularly so he can off load and get a different perspective. They sent him on a mental health education course for 12 weeks and it really helped him to meet other people who are carers for the mentally ill.

And on top of this we still try to be a normal couple. Try to keep parenting , try to keep communicataing, trying to be supportive of one another. It's very tricky at the best of times to navigate a relationship let alone with all of the baggage we've got. But he feels I am not the woman he married and wants me to be that person again. But that time has passed and I am now moulded differently to how I was before. I am still me but my condition curbs my optimism and means I have to watch for stress and tiredness the whole time. My weight is an issue as I am chubby now instead of svelt, I need to chill out more regularly and go to bed early. Its called sleep hygiene. I have to take care of my spiritual and emotional well being too. It's a lot to do every day just to stay on top of things but it takes practice. Lots of practice. And keeping talking, talking, talking. Not arguing but processing and working things through. If you want to keep a marriage in any fit state you have to work hard at it. And I guess we do. Most of the time anyway.