This post was originally posted on International Bipolar Foundation’s website: http://www.ibpf.org/blog/thank-you-letter-very-special-husband
We made it through the first year of marriage (not that I had any doubts, don’t worry)! We’ve been through more than our fair share of difficult times, loss and trying times together. But, through thick and thin, we’ve stayed together and can’t live life without each other.
I never thought I would find someone who would accept me for who I am and who would accept my irrational fears of stomach flus, germs, change and sometimes other people. I once told you that I really believed “Hell Is Other People”, a line from the play No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre. I am pretty sure I told you this in one of my depressed states. I think I said it out of frustration because I was struggling and I felt like no one understood me, and in relation to how stigma can make a person feel.
When we met, unbeknownst to either of us, I was in a hypomanic state, and I was fun, spontaneous, hypersexual (compared to what I became in years to come), and I was thin and I was feeling great. I didn’t need to eat much and I didn’t need to sleep much. Of course you wanted to be with me, I was easy going and flirty and I was great to be around (minus the many late nights where you wanted to get more sleep of course). And then I “crashed” that summer and became depressed and I don’t know if I ever recovered. By the winter, I was severely anxious and required an antidepressant that ended up causing a tremendous amount of weight gain which to this day, I still struggle with and has shattered my self-esteem. But, you never stopped calling me beautiful and you never saw me in a different light.
A few years after we met, we found out why I was having these drastic “ups” and “downs” and severe anxiety. It seems my genetic predisposition to something called Bipolar Disorder came into play, and it was my turn to receive the dreaded diagnosis. I know my existential rants in the middle of the night were probably frightening and my questioning the purpose of my existence, or if I “was really here” probably made little sense to you, but you still held me and made me feel safe. You tried your best to make me feel like nothing had changed and that life was worth living and that my life was not over.
Because of you, I have managed to keep working, to keep friendships, to learn more about myself and to learn how to better interact with people. You are an extrovert and I have always been an introvert (except for when hypomanic and I overextend myself and think I can handle seeing EVERYONE- when I can’t). You tried to, and have succeeded in bringing me out of my self-inflicted protective shell for the most part, and you have helped me to blossom, even after a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. That’s not hard to do- especially when I wanted to stay in bed on the weekend and forget about the world. You would never let me do that.
I know you want to fight the stigma toward mental illness with me. You have been trying, and you showed me from very early on in our relationship that the fact that I had an anxiety disorder did not bother you. You understood I had limitations with socializing at times. Regardless of comments from other people, you stayed with me. Even when I had to miss events because of my depression or anxiety, you defended me. You pay little regard to ignorant comments about your desire to be in a relationship “with someone like me” and you are finally learning that as your wife, I am a priority in your life and my mental health is important and if you have to miss an event because I am having a bad day and not well, so be it. I know that was hard for you to accept because you are so sweet and you want to please everyone, especially your family, but I am proud of you for learning to stand up for me and for wanting to be here for me.
You will always remind me of who I am and why I am here. So, on our first wedding anniversary, I want to thank you for making me want to live life. I may not be able to live in the present moment most of the time, but you are teaching me not to dwell in the past. You are teaching me it’s okay to cry, to let go, to be myself and to feel emotions (because there are days when I describe myself as numb). Having a mental illness does not come with an instruction manual. Imagine how great it would be if it did? We could pick up the manuals for Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, Depression and learn together.
We do have our share of arguments like any married couple, which I think means we are doing okay. We have dealt with every struggle that has come our way. We have some things to work on, like any married couple does, but no marriage is perfect. What I do know is that we are perfect for each other and that’s all that matters.
Your very appreciative wife.