Hope, another member who has been in a rather long marriage to someone with bipolar disorder, shared her story:
I feel so much for you and your wife. It was like reading my feelings of pain and anger when things get so overwhelming. My husband has bipolar disorder and I have been with him for eighteen years. Yes, it has gotten so stressful that I have contemplated leaving him more often than not. But, I am still here and I still love him everyday. If I may, I truly understand your wifes anger, frustration, stress and the feelings of hopelessness in all the situations you have described.
The past four years have been very hard on both of us. My husband has been in and out of treatment for years compliant and noncompliant, working and not working, depressed and manic, as well as self-medicated and dealing with addictions. You name it; we have been through it. Right before he gets manic, he gets very upbeat, talkative, overly confident and actually pretty funny and great to be around. However, the last time it spun way out of control to the point where he was unbearable to be around. I had called his doctor and got him in again. His meds were changed, which we all know only works if you do not self-medicate at the same time. Nothing worked for a while. He threatened to leave me and we almost split up.
At this point, I was in total overload. He worked but the money was not getting to where it was suppose to go. For two years, I robbed Peter to pay Paul for all our bills. I worked two jobs. I borrowed from the world just to keep our things. Yes, the important things -our house, my car, the utilities, etc.
When he came down (way down), he lost another job then went back to an old job that was very physical. He started to not be able to sleep again, but he was not self-medicating and he was seeing his therapist. He was trying very hard. I put in a call to his doc.
On this one day in particular, I went to work frustrated as all get out because he was home again. All I could think about was here we go again. No money to pay our mortgage. My car had already been repossessed. I did not say anything to him. I just went to work. I called home a few times to see how he was, but there was no answer. I thought he went to work late. My daughter came home from college early that day and called me screaming that she and my five year-old granddaughter found him in the cellar unconscious. He had taken all of his medication. He wound up in the hospital for a few weeks.
Let me tell you the ride from work to home (five miles) was long and I realized I could not live without him. All things were just that - things. The phrase mercy and grace is sufficient kept going through my head all the way home and to the hospital. Yes, he lived and with no lasting physical side-effects. I thank God everyday for letting him live.
It was a big wakeup call to me. We sold the house, paid off most of the bills, and moved into an apartment that I can afford if he cannot work. My faith in God got me through and still gets me through everyday.
How do we survive together? We have to have forgiveness on both our parts. None of us are perfect. No one really knows our situation but us. Yes, a lot of people told me to leave. Only one, my Pastor, understood my devotion to my marriage. Yes, I still do the poor-me-act sometimes wishing for the loving husband to come back to me. Wishing that he could take care of me sometimes (emotionally), but right now he is doing the best he can. Even in marriages that do not have the obstacles we deal with, have problems. One thing sticks in my mind respect. I think of the things I can respect in my husband. They are still there; they did not go away. Or, I put myself in his shoes for 10 minutes. What are his takes on issues, his fears, his troubles and just think on what it is like to be him. I also remember that I am truly blessed to have him in my life.
For you and your wife, I hope the best. I do understand her feelings and yours too. Let her know you love her in many ways. This is most important. If you can't afford presents on holidays or any day for that matter, personal attention is good too. Even if she pushes back, keep trying. Her wall is up. She is afraid to get hurt again. She is stressed dealing with keeping things together for you. It is very overwhelming and time consuming. Sometimes it feels like we are the mother in the relationship and not the wife. It is hard to be married to someone with bipolar disorder. It is a very bumpy road.
And yet, you obviously care enough to search for insight. There is hope!