I wanted to write briefly about how I came to recognize and call my wife’s bipolar disorder The Companion. This is something I think is important for anyone who deals with or has a loved one who has a mental illness.
Bonnie took about a year to 18 months to get back to feeling like her “normal” self, if that’s even possible. During that time, I carried a bigger role, as I talked about.
In Bonnie’s first therapy appointment, after being diagnosed, the therapist pulled me into her office and told me I can’t be Superman. I need to focus on my job and the kids but allow others to help Bonnie, as I wouldn’t be able to handle the demands coming my way. We walked out of the appointment and I immediately told Bonnie that I was Superman, like any arrogant loving husband would. I said I was quite capable of handing everything, as I have a keen ability for compassion and taking care of people.
Well, that damn therapist was right but it would be years before I realized it.
I talked earlier in the blog about how miserable I became. I focused on my faith crisis being the reason for my pain. Truth be told, that was only one major factor. The other was my inevitable emotional and mental collapse after the 18 months of Bonnie’s recovery period. I was drained and had nothing left to give.
Even when Bonnie was stable, I would have days where I wondered if she would finally give into her dark thoughts and I would lose my wife. This thought and fear haunted me for years and even now, from time to time. I trust Bonnie and believe she’ll continue to be strong and reach out to me or her therapists, when those thoughts overtake her; however, shaking that experience or fear is something else entirely. I was in this dark place for about 2 years.
I could keep going but I’ll dig into that period of my life and mental state in a later post. I just needed provide the background and context, prior to talking about this experience.
This past December, I finally agreed to see a therapist. Bonnie had been begging me to see one for years. I went to the same psychologist that Bonnie sees, Lucy, since she already knew our situation. Although, she was not the same therapist Bonnie saw when she was diagnosed. I would never go to that woman.
Lucy and I were discussing my work and other peripheral issues, at first. The safe topics. Then she brought up Bonnie and I was immediately overwhelmed with emotion. She said:
“It’s OK to be angry that your wife has Bipolar.”
I completely lost it. I had never allowed myself to be truly angry and yield to the emotions. I cried for about 15 minutes. When you are paying $180 per hour, that’s one expensive cry… but well worth it. She tried to help me understand it’s OK to be upset. I didn’t ask for this and neither did Bonnie.
On my way home, I thought about being angry but I couldn’t direct that negative energy towards Bonnie. I never blamed Bonnie, so this didn’t make sense to me. I started to view the Bipolar as a separate entity. We would later discuss this with our therapist, as this was what she wanted us to see. A good therapist is a literal lifesaver.
I also realized I had a fallacy in the way I spoke about my wife’s disorder. I would say, “My wife is Bipolar.” No! Wrong! My wife is many things, namely gorgeous, smart, strong and spectacular. One thing she is not, is Bipolar. She HAS Bipolar disorder. That’s a big difference and a change I made immediately. Thus “The Companion” was born.
I direct all my anger and sadness at The Companion, even in the hardest moments. This allows me to love my wife for who she is and always will be. My Love and Partner.