I have been pondering how to answer this since you posted it. I decided to answer honestly. If anybody is new to a diagnosis, as long as your loved one is willing to get stable (with the meds and lifestyle changes and mood tracking), the rest will follow.
Some of them are easy to tell:
No alcohol in the house. No consuming alcohol when my husband is around.
Lots of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in our diet.
Some is more difficult, and I could sum it all up with this: I have given up on any notion of a "normal" or "white picket fence" marriage and life.
Now, I am not sure "normal" exists. Or what it is. Or even if I want it. I read about how often married people our age (my husband's and mine) normally have sex or I read about how many couples grow apart as they age or I read about how many husbands are still Stone Age cavemen and can't really change a diaper or wash the dishes without being given a trophy. If that is normal, I don't want it!
But some things that other people think are "normal" in a marriage are not normal in mine. I very rarely take my husband to work functions (he likes coming if I am getting honored or sometimes if there is some speaker present he wants to hear at the event). I am not the only one who goes stag to these events. People who have small kids, people with aging parents in town, people who have two busy careers...and there must be a thousand other reasons, but if you actually LOOK at these events, you will see that others don't bring their spouses all the time. My husband is constitutionally unable to do small talk for very long. He will either get triggered (by trying to hold in some comment) or he will say what he thinks. He (and I) have strong political opinions (I love that about him) and it is just not realistic for me to expect him to listen to someone at a cocktail party say something like (Yall are wondering if I am gonna get into controversy here and I AM NOT!!! Please!! Have some faith!!!) "Poor people shouldn't vote." (Yes. This was at a wedding reception of a student of mine!!)
Also, if someone asks him how he has been doing, he is almost unable to say "Fine." He is compulsively honest. He overshares. I have seen on the BP boards here that that is a common trait of BP folks.
I don't watch TV while my husband is awake. We do watch movies together at night when we don't play games or talk. But he can't stand commercials (on the radio too). I wait till he goes to bed to watch any TV. I am not sure this is a sacrifice but when I tell people "When does that come on? I don't watch TV while my husband is up because he cannot stand the commercials so I would have to record it" I get reactions like I was being tortured! It is true that when I travel on business, I keep a TV on all the time. But I don't feel like accommodating this is a hardship.
I adjusted my holiday expectations and rituals to fit his ability to handle the stress of the holidays. We have great times! But I scale back, notch down the excitement, scale down the size, and take care to follow up a party or event with a lot of quiet time for him.
Now, I get, in exchange, Valentine's week, clean dishes and laundry (he is on disability and I work fulltime), foot rubs every night, love, intellectual exchange, friendship, and laughter aplenty.
Keeping the environment stable and restful and free of a lot of extraneous noise and busyness...has helped ME be more calm too.
Post edited by: marriedtoit, at: 02/13/2012 10:50 PM
Post edited by: marriedtoit, at: 02/13/2012 10:52 PM
I think the notion of giving up a "normal" life is true in our marriage, too. But it isn't that bad of a thing NOW that he is on a good med combo and going to desperately needed therapy, and being a great husband and father. Yes, he takes meds a couple times a day. Yes, he has to see a psychiatrist once a month. To a lot of people, that is definitely NOT normal. But actually, by doing these things, he can function normally. Oh, and he has to take a little white pill if he gets "anxious".
I'm sure most "normal" couples haven't experienced jail time, gang members knocking at the door, police being called, broken glass, holes in walls. But plenty of people have experienced illness of a spouse. That's what this is. Luckily, my husband made the choice to get treated. He can have a wife and child and wonderful home life if he does this. If he chose not to get treated, I'm afraid he'd be on his own or dead right now. That WAS the path he was on. When I told him that wasn't in line with my path, he reconsidered his choices. I think he's pretty glad he did.
I don't drink around him. I don't drink much at all, but he doesn't want to deny me a glass of wine with dinner if we go out. He is ok with that, but I often don't indulge because I know he misses having a beer.
When I compare him to my first husband, he is SO much more stable now than my supposed stable first husband. He's a much more attentive and considerate husband and father than my ex ever thought of being. If that was a "normal" marriage and it didn't work out, I'd so much rather have an "abnormal" marriage like what I have now!
02/14/2012 10:17 AM
Posts: 513 Member
I am bipolar, and I HAD to quit drinking because it brought the devil out in me, now I despise alcohol. It also helps that I hate alcohol, my mom was a severe alcoholic and my step dad and her used to get plasterd while I was visiting her growing up. Then I would have to watch him beat her ass every other weekend. It still hurts to this day, she died in '07 from melanoma. RIP momma
02/14/2012 10:46 AM
Posts: 409 Member
I am sorry Hooba. That is a tragic story.
02/14/2012 11:24 AM
Posts: 3684 Group Leader
Beautiful thoughts married and wife! I was thinking about this today and remembering some of the events of the past 25 years. At one point I wondered if I should even try to work things out with him (when he was undiagnosed/unmedicated, couldn't keep a job, raged a lot, and we had a houseful of children). It was certainly not easy, but I never felt that that was the path I should take. Now all these years later I can't imagine life without him, even though it looks a little different from "normal."
Someone once asked me why I would want to be with someone who couldn't always be there for me or who isn't "normal." I was mildly offended, but I told her that he is my best friend and that because he works so hard at staying stable and I enjoy being with him I'm willing to accept what he can and does do. That's more than enough for me, and the "sacrifices" don't feel like sacrifices anymore.
I spend the majority of my time with him, and enjoy it (MOST of the time).
I have also simplified holiday celebrations, vacations to help him with anxiety issues. The result has been much more pleasant experiences for us.
When he feels uncomfortable about going to an event, I don't force him to go and I frequently go by myself. That alone has saved a lot of frustration for both of us.
In return he helps with housework and does small acts of service that let me know how much he loves me. He told me recently that his favorite time of the day is when I come home from work.
Some things I need to do to help relieve his anxiety:
1. Be more transparent with our budget and how much money we have. He worries unnecessarily about it.
2. Exercise more frequently.
hooba: I'm so sorry for your pain! But good for you for realizing what you need to do to be happy and healthy.
Post edited by: sallyo, at: 02/14/2012 11:28 AM
02/14/2012 11:25 AM
Posts: 513 Member
Thank you just hurt, I have many memories that haunt me from my childhood. I am not ashamed to admit I was sexually molested as a child by my first step dad. I also lived with a family who I was led to believe was my dad, only to find out when I was 22 that I was his best friends bastard child due to an affair with my mom. I can lie and say that I don't have any resentment for her not wanting me with her, but that's just not true. I thought moms would do anything for their kids. Guess not. Thank you for letting me vent, I know its off topic but I opened a flood gate bringing up my mom. Hopefully these thoughts and memories will fade with time, no luck yet. Thank you again for letting me vent.
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