On April 15, 1997, I had my first date with the love of my life. I knew after a few short weeks that I would spend the rest of my life with him. He was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder about a year after we got together. He shared a pamphlet with me to explain what it was, and honestly it sounded like being a normal person to me. I was so very wrong. And now, 20+ years later, understanding it hasn’t gotten any easier.
We both spent the first 12 years with our heads in the sand. He battled prescription and alcohol abuse, and I thought he was a selfish bastard for not loving me enough to make better decisions. Together we were in a nightmare that never seemed right to leave. Together we made many things worse than they had to be.
For years he didn’t get much help with the disorder because of me. Mental health is still begging for true appreciation, and therefore the price tag for help is incredibly high. I didn’t respect the fact that not getting help held a higher price tag. Anyway, I said for years that we couldn’t afford for him to see a psychiatrist, and guess what… a regular MD treating you is as good as no help at all. As a result he went through his cycles of distance and self-medicating, and it created cycles of my own — A fact I didn’t appreciate until years later.
When my husband cycles through depression and mania it creates a very lonely life for me. He isn’t there for me on any kind of emotional level, and I found myself seeking companionship from other men. I needed someone to talk to, and share music with, and I found people along the way who would give that to me. Men are not interested in being just friends with women — A fact my husband tried many times to make me understand. But I kept trying anyway and insisting he was wrong. They always wanted more than company from me, and therefore the company never lasted very long.
I didn’t recognize my husband’s cycles coincided with my “relationships” with other men until 6 or more years ago. I started talking to a guy next door, kind of. All we did was text each other, but it was difficult to talk about much of anything. He was in his early 20s, smoking pot, living with mom and dad, while living a life of no responsibility or meaning. I was in my 30s, 4 kids, married and buried in bills to pay. One day, while talking to him I thought “Why in the hell am I even talking to this guy?” And that’s when he hit me. My husband had been steadily getting more distant, and I started looking for some kind of company. My cycle of seeking male friendships ended that day, but the cycle of loneliness is never ending.
Now let me get this straight — and probably a little late — I am married to an incredible man. When he isn’t battling his demons — I couldn’t ask for anyone better. I know he loves me, and would do anything he possibly could for me. He makes me laugh like no one ever has. When we have the chance — making love to him is always incredible. And he suffers through the things I love just to spend time with me. He is the best when his battles are at bay.
But every fall the depression comes, and my husband becomes emotionally unavailable. Then the spring comes, and his mania is cruel and destructive. He sees his doctor regularly, but I don’t think they talk about much reality. As a result the bills are high, and the relief is low. Each year gets harder on me because I am still healing from the time before. And then I am emotionally unavailable. And every year I am alone to deal with it all.
I started writing and drawing several years ago. Pen and paper have become my company. Writing has saved me really — as well as the lives of my husband and children. I couldn’t have made it this far without it. But… I am a little extra tired this year. I have a job taking a lot out of me daily, and my home life has just become a mess. Each year we fall a little further behind, and each year I struggle more to keep fighting. And I just don’t have the energy to fight, or to try, or how to start. I don’t want to be a lonely adult. I don’t want to be a quitter. And yet here I am… becoming a little of both.
I hate you, fall. I really, really do.