“Standing in the middle of the road is dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.”– Margaret Thatcher
I was doing well with my treatment for six months or so before I met her. Whoever this person was, love came with her, hard and fast. And there was nothing I could do to stop whatever was happening. At the same time, I didn’t have to do anything but let it happen.
This was a different type of “falling” than I was used to. It’s stereotypical, yes, but when someone with bipolar disorder “falls” for someone, it can be for out-of-step reasons, infatuation becomes the center of all, and the other person becomes God. We bipolars can’t just half-ass anything.
As I said, though, this was different and new, and not entirely understood. In no way understood. I must’ve never known what this feeling was, what this type of love was (if that’s what it was). We met through our social circles and everything that happened between us happened organically and without discomfort on either side. So, I’d like to think I might have been representative of another, special type of “love” for her, as well.
We quickly immersed ourselves in each other. What began as just hanging out as friends turned into random “getaways”, mainly just to get away from our friends. I would’ve done anything to spend time with this girl. Her company alone was worth more than another night at the bar by far, and it was amazing to just “know” she felt the same.
We became inseparable, and so I had to step in and check on the situation just a little bit. I knew everything that was happening (for me, at least) was different than from any time before. But was there in any way a reckless abandonment of impulse control on my part? I concluded that the answer was no and continued to fall in love with this person.
At this point (and it didn’t take long), it was no secret that we weren’t a secret. There was no one day where labels were created and titles were distributed; this girl and I just were what we were, and it was just simply known. It was a good feeling and an even better place to be with someone. To understand someone without needing to let in all that can cloud and create misery. Now, I’m not saying we were the first two people in the world to have ever fallen in love, but this was a first for me: loving from the heart and not from my broken brain.
I wasted very little time in sharing my diagnosis because I felt safe within myself to do so. Safe that I was stable enough to share without “oversharing” (another common practice performed by us bipolars). For some, it’s a gut-punch deal-breaker. For others, it can be truly a trial by fire. And for the experienced, I think we all know it’s out of love. Out of blood, sweat, tears, and love. And by the grace of God.
There is no right or wrong response (she would be going in blind no matter what), just a more acceptable one. And I thankfully (or selfishly) got the one I was hoping for. That my illness would never be used against me, and I would never be judged or be belittled. There are sides to this very complex illness that are out of our line of sight and cannot be planned for. Planned for adequately, that is. It is a very unpredictable disorder that can be debilitating for both the patient and the partner. So, I wanted it known that, although in treatment and medicated, it didn’t mean there would never be any bouts of mania or depression.
This seemed understood (as well as possible, that is) and we made the next step in our developing relationship…
…Seven years later this woman is my wife, still my best friend, and will always be my rock.