It was a normal first year of marriage for the newly-wed much-in-love couple, Sarah and Jeremy. They had their fair share of arguments and fights but made up to each other in the end with a promise to move on.
One day, Jeremy locked himself up in the bedroom for an hour and gave no sign of opening the door with a frantic Sarah turning pale with fear of the worst. She thought he had fainted and suffered injury but it turned out he had done so willfully.
The next day , he seemed quite normal, talkative and lively while conversing with their child but something similar again occurred within a week.
Jeremy started withdrawing, seemed depressed and lashed out at Sarah for a very minor issue.
This seemed to go on for three months when Sarah decided she had seen enough. This was not her lovable and affectionate Jeremy who she had met two years ago.
She consulted a psychologist cum marriage counsellor who suggested a counselling session to find the reason for this erratic behaviour which was slowly destroying their marriage.
He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder(bipolar II disorder specifically), which explained his pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes over the years.
Further interactive counseling revealed that he had been suffering from this disorder since his teenage years, alcohol usage and social isolation being the prime reasons.
The tricky problem in their marriage was that they had been unable to detect that this problem was creating tension between them over the years. They were leading their lives as separate strands of their family tree, quite unsuspected of the root problem.
The unprecedented problems
· There is a wide range of manic episodes to be aware of according to the disorder type , especially when dealing with the extreme type of bipolar disorder.
· Dealing with utter confusion of the forever changing moods in an unpredictable pattern is quite stressful to the other partner. It is a feeling of trying to seek some light of their lost love in the darkness…
· The first feeling of sympathy slowly starts growing into anger, resentment, frustration and hate if patience is not practiced.
· Taking care of your partner may become a full-time job in itself which is emotionally draining and mentally exhausting.
· Carrying on with the daily chores, working , taking care of the kids along with caring of the ill partner takes a toll on their spouse.
· If the disorder was prevalent since childhood and your partner was aware of it, then it leads to imbibing of poor coping skills with their situation. Feeling disconnected, detached, inflicting self-harm and depression are some manifest forms of such cases.
· Overwhelming feelings can lead to falling into drugs and alcohol to deal with the reality ,leading to more mood disorders if they do not receive these stress-busters according to their will.
· Unleashing anger on unsuspecting people, most often their spouse and kids is one disturbing aspect. Continual irritability triggers maniac episodes in some people.
· There is a desire to feel in control since they feel emotionally safe this way. Manipulative suggestions and arguments can become points of conflict for their spouse.
· Possessing a grand image of their personalities who are chosen to deal with real-world issues is one more point to be observed.
· Splurging uncontrollably when experiencing manic episodes can be rationalized as the control measure by the affected partner.
Dealing and healing
· A cooperative and patient partner can easily turn the tables in this fight with bipolar disorder of even the worst form.
· Accepting and hoping that one day everything will be normal is the key to keep going strong and lending support to the affected partner.
· When any form of abuse comes to the forth-emotional, verbal, financial, physical; dealing smartly and seeking professional help is essential.
· Sharing responsibility in the relationship is a way of enhancing self-worth, confidence and the love you have for each other.
· Preparing in advance about any precursors to an oncoming episode is a practical way to deal with the harsh truth of this disorder. Financial abuse may become very damaging to everyday living if the ill partner empties the account as a control mechanism. It is better to transfer a considerable amount to a different account beforehand as a preventative measure.
· Learning to draw boundaries on how much to lose one’s identity when dealing with the suffering partner is essential to keep your head up.
· Mutual wellness and taking personal care of each other is a healthy way to care for the illness and the general health of the couple.
· If things go out of control to the point of walking out of the relationship, it is better to take a break and concentrate on personal goals for the supporting partner’s soundness of health and mind.
· Leaning on a supportive friend who understand, supports and pushes you in the positive direction without being judgemental is a great stress-buster. Have them over during weekends or when the work piles up with some daily chores and for speaking out what is on your mind.
· Attending therapy sessions during the treatment process and joining support groups who lend help to aggrieved couples facing similar issues helps to come out of the black hole.
· Staying away from triggers, attending recovery meetings with a psychiatrist is a way to gain emotional control and overcome any trauma.
· Practice meditation and mind control techniques to suppress surging anger or a drastic situation before or during an episode.
· Getting away from home and planning a solo trip to a nearby location is a way to care for your health and preserve your sanity.