It is late. Dark. The room is lit only with the closet light, small and hung high. I step out of the bathroom tub, soaking wet, long hair down my back, water spilling from it down the curve of my back, onto my ass, dripping on the floor. I am flushed and hot but my mouth is cold and wet with the tang of a beer I had been drinking in the bath. The children are asleep. This is the hour for adults. This is the time of secrets, of shame, of shameless joy, pleasure, sex, drunkenness, thoughts unbound and words said carelessly, without consideration. I stand naked and flex my toes. I look at the sleek good health of my body, it's curves and jutting breast, strong thighs, long and lean abdomen, and feel youth pulsing through my skin. I feel beautiful and sexy, in the way I always dreamed of as a young girl, and never believed I would know. In the darkness the light asks me to move away. Go toward the night. I turn my body away from the mirror and gaze at the room, my master bed, white sheets, pillows, blankets, soft and undulating in the sea of waved cotton. A deep sadness fills my heart. I want my husband, I think, I feel, like a child, like a woman, like a human being, I want my husband.
I can't write more than my heart will allow because I cannot break my own heart more than it breaks already. There are, first and foremost, the responsibilities and devotions and love of the children. Some so much older now than they can possibly be, some impossibly small, just a baby. All need everything they need and all will get every drop of blood and loyalty and sweat and effort and attention that I can give. Mr. Curry has been sick for so long now. As the months hung and dropped heavily, I stepped away from the words. Some things are meant to be lived and cannot be understood while you are living them. While I understand this disease- bipolar- to some extent, I cannot say I have done everything I could do to know it. My enemy. The one that steals my husband and claims him and leaves me standing alone in the bedroom, young and in love and in lust with my best friend, only feet away from me down the hall, but as far away as the moon in the night sky peeking through the slats of my blinds.
When someone has Bells Palsy, a neurological disorder, everyone sees the disfigured face and asks What is wrong? And rallies. Mental illness is a disease of the brain, bipolar particularly insidious and misunderstood, and there are no sympathetic cards that arrive for Mr. Curry- or the children, for that matter. There is the additional complication of pride. No one, particularly me, wants anyone to feel sorry for them. My life has never been easy or full of 'breaks', although I've had a few significant ones. The gulf between myself and others was seen through their pity, not hatred. When others pity you, you are instantly reduced. I don't want anyone reducing my husband. I don't want anyone pitying me or my family. So how do you write about what is real- my tagline- and avoid pity. I suppose you say it. I'm saying it. How do you receive help without feeling helpless? I'm not sure. I don't think I do it well. When I am offered help I desperately want it- especially for my children- but I also feel confused by how I am supposed to respond. It is so true what many say and I used to think was false pride- it is easier to help than be helped. The guidelines are much clearer, and you don't owe anyone anything.
Mr. Curry began to get sick around December and has been sick since. He was better for a small amount of time and then got worse again. The research I've done on medications, therapies, all of it, are as terrifying as they are illuminating. Bipolar is, like cancer, treated a variety of different ways with a variety of different drugs and their efficiency, or not, is argued. There are so many factors that come in to play when giving treatment or drugs, it is not just match this drug to this disease. Onset, family history, co-morbidity, compliance- these and many more can make a dramatic difference in what drugs are needed and what will work. And even then. They might not work. Therapy, especially a specific kind called Family Focused therapy- is proven to greatly increase stability and remission, but we just can't afford it. We just can't. We go, then we can't go again for months. There is no stability. That is a situation we partly contributed to- my choices about being with the kids when they are small mostly- and partly did no- , Mr. Curry losing his business, my medical debt and the complete distruction of our credit that followed.
The lack of complete understanding is the first thing I can remedy, and I am beginning. The worst thing about this disease is never knowing what is the person's choice and what choices the disease have taken from the person. I am lost in this regard. What knowledge I used to have, that was very helpful, and healthy, has evaporated in the long and exhausting desert of this disease's wake. I no longer can tell what he owns and what is owning him. I only know that I owe him and the love, the experiences, the promises and secret life that we have shared together over the years the regard of doing every single thing I can do to stay calm, open. To not leave unless I have to leave. It is the last option.
This experience has opened me to my deepest thoughts and beliefs about marriage, love and commitment. When we marry and say 'for better or for worse' few of us, including myself, truly mean it. I would not stay married and endure abuse, for instance. Or the abuse of my children. But what about a marriage that meets your wildest dreams of true love- as mine has- and then dashes them to the floor? Most bipolar patients end in divorce, and if you read the boards online regarding marriages, they are dismal. Depressing and soul searing. Many partners of bipolar sufferers end up with their own mental problems after struggling for so long- depression and anxiety. Because I already struggle with anxiety, I have had to be extremely careful and clear with myself about how to take care of myself and the children when Mr. Curry is sick.
to be continued.