I received my divorce decree in the mail the other day. I thought I had comes to terms with it already, the separation and divorce, but it really hit me hard. This single piece of paper, making my divorce a legal fact, caused a rush of images to flood my mind.
I remembered the good and the bad, the images of my wife smiling, laughing, happy, then crying, concerned, confused, frustrated. Images of us running by Niagara Falls in the sun, a quick flash of us hugging inside our first home before we moved in, and the images just kept coming.
But they turned bad. I recalled the bank overdrafts, the gigantic credit card bills from all of the spending. I could see myself curled up in a ball, trying to sleep, depressed, avoiding everyone all day every day for weeks at a time.
I remembered everything, it seemed. I could see her face when she said the marriage was over. She couldn't take the ups and downs any longer, the erratic behavior, the unpredictability from one day to the next of what my mood might be. Would I embarrass her in front of her family again? These are some of the problems that those with Bipolar Disorder run into.
As my final effort, I looked my wife in the eye and said, "For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health..." I think I was trying to make her feel guilty so that she would stay with me.
But she said, "I never signed on for all this."
And that is true; she didn't. I may be the victim of a mental health illness but I am not a victim of my actions. I am the cause. My actions are my responsibility.
Getting that divorce decree did shake me up. But it also gave me a chance to see that I am in a better psychological place now. I stick to a decent sleep schedule, I take my medicines (and proactively talk to my doctor when they don't seem to be right), and I communicate my state of mind to my loved ones more effectively than I ever had before. These are the things that I learned to do following the wake up call of my divorce. Having Bipolar is certainly a reason for erratic behavior, but not an excuse.
I work hard every day to keep my bipolar in check. I am also on the most successful regimen of meds that my doctors and I have ever used before. I didn't wake up the day after my separation and put my life back together. It's been two years since that day, and I am just now finally to come to work along with my bipolar instead of letting it run me.
I wonder how many people out there have had similar issues themselves or with a loved one with bipolar. Right now I have mixed feelings concerning my bipolar disorder. Every day I try to accept it and work with it, as it is a part of who I am.
No, bipolar disorder was not the cause of my divorce. It may have complicated matters, but it is something that can be lived with successfully too. I have a responsibility to take care of myself the best I can. Could I have saved my marriage? It doesn't matter now. The past is over. What matters is growing as a person with bipolar disorder and learning along the way.