Monday, February 18, 2008

and we'll add this to the "Yeah, Right" ... section ...

Naw, it's there. Which makes living without it that much harder ...

Therese Borchard writes in Beyond Blue:

The Best Valentine’s Day Ever: A Husband Who Gets His Wife

Yesterday was a day in which I better understood why, according to a November 2003 article in “Psychology Today,” 90 percent of marriages involving a person who has bipolar disorder end in divorce; that, according to “The Sidney Morning Herald,” people with bipolar disorder have three times the rate of divorce and broken relationships as the general community.

My irritability and moodiness the last two weeks is precisely why J. Raymond DePaulo, Jr. M.D. writes in “Understanding Depression,” that “depression . . . has a much greater impact on marital life than rheumatoid arthritis or cardiac illness” and that “one study found that only severe forms of cancer affected a family as adversely as depression or bipolar disorder.

Here’s the weak link in my chain of recovery: Katherine has poor vision, and it’s not improving. This means she wants to be held constantly. She’s scared to cross streets, to walk in garages. So I hold all of her 55 pounds. Which has caused some hip misalignment. My left hip hurts. Which means I can’t run—an essential piece to my recovery. I can’t really walk (for exercise) without aggravating the pain. Which means I’m not getting my outside fix.

After three callous snaps yesterday morning, the normal husband would throw out a few himself, in defense. And the argument would grow into a tree that would occupy so much of the living room that man and wife could no longer fit in there together. Instead, Eric responded with compassion knowing that my moodiness is seldom about him, and almost always about a broken part of my recovery program.

“Uh oh,” he said, wearing a concerned expression. “What’s going on?”

“I’m sorry for snapping,” I explained. “I was close to losing it a month ago. And now, not being able to run … it’s affecting my chemistry.”

“Can’t you swim?” he asked.

“Yeah. But only twice a week, because I have Katherine on the other days. I guess twice a week isn’t enough, because I feel extremely fragile. Yesterday I almost started to cry at Whole Foods when some uppity woman glared at me with that “Super-Nanny wouldn’t survive at your house” expression when she saw Katherine shove handfuls of blueberries in her mouth back at the fruit display. I’m annoyed at everything and everyone. Even people with whom I haven’t talked to in weeks. I’m annoyed at them.”

“Do you want me to come home for lunch so you can swim?” Eric asked me.

“Are you sure you have time to do that?” I asked him.

And here’s where I knew that I made the best decision of my life to marry him:

“Therese,” he said. “It’s cheaper for me to take an hour at lunch unpaid than to send you to Johns Hopkins. I know your brain needs exercise. It’s mandatory, not optional. And the last thing you need for your mental health is to be laid up on bed rest with painkillers after a hip replacement.”

That was the best Valentine’s Day present I could have ever asked for: a husband who would come home for his lunch hour so his bipolar wife with the bad hip could swim so that her neurotransmitters would again send messages of well-being back and forth to her neurons and that the amygada and hippocampus regions of her brain could go into the body shop for some nerve regeneration. Which means that she would care less about what some witchy woman at Whole Foods thinks of Katherine’s appetite and manners.

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