I have been thinking about this post for awhile.  But, I want to be careful and sensitive to those living with Bipolar; as I in no way want to paint anyone with a mental or emotional disorder in a bad light.  For me, though, it’s important to have a place to write about my experiences without censor.  So – I hope I am able to express this in a way that is honest without appearing to have any discriminatory feelings towards anyone with Bipolar.

I met my fiancé in December 2008.  I had just started going out, trying to meet new friends, a year and a half after I had separated from my abusive husband.  I went to a Christmas themed pub crawl, and I was very nervous.  I don’t make friends easily – and I was still in a very vulnerable place.  This man approached me during the night; full of vibrancy and life.  He was funny, over-the-top, and full of energy.   He accepted me into the group and made me feel like he had known me for my whole life.  He made me feel welcome, and made sure that I never felt alone in any of the group events I attended in the next few months.  Eventually, we started to spend one-on-one time with each other, and he won me over with his extraordinary kindness and generosity.  I felt safe with him.  Like he would never let any harm come to me. 

 He did tell me early on that he was depressed.  But, he tended to make light of it – joking about it and downplaying it.  He did mention that one Doctor had diagnosed him Bipolar, but he discounted this.   He also told me of the medications that he had been on in the past; and the medications he was on at the time.  Now, I understand that these were all typical bipolar medications; but I really knew nothing of the disease at the time.

My first experience with one of his true, intense lows was less than a year after we had met.  We had just decided to exclusively date a few months prior.

We had an argument earlier in the day, and were set to go to a party that night.  He was feeling insecure about the argument, and got upset with me for “flirting” with other people at the party.  He ended up leaving me at the party without telling me.  When I realized he was gone, I tried to call several times but he would not answer.  I was stranded at the party; I had left my car at his house.  I ended up getting a ride from someone else, back to his house.

He was passed out; completely overdosed on his medications.  He finally woke up and came down the stairs; screaming obscenities at me and telling me to leave.  However – the next day he remembered nothing of that night.  He contacted me and blamed me for never coming over.  He starting accusing me of staying the night with someone else; when I had really spent the night on HIS couch. 

He wouldn’t get out of bed for over a week.  He threatened suicide.  He screamed at me, ranted and raved and popped all sorts of pills.    Ambien, vicodin, xanax, seroquel… anything he could get his hands on.  I stayed at his house as much as I could, to try and make sure that he was ok.

 This was completely out of my realm of experience.  I had dealt with an abusive husband; but I had no idea how to handle what was happening with him.  Of course, he blamed the whole episode on me.  I still had enough of the victim’s guilt in me that I believed him and I wanted to “fix” it.

Eventually, he stopped overdosing on the pills (that time), and came out of it.  He didn’t remember any of what had transpired.  He apologized, and said that sometimes he went through “lows”.   He swore that he would keep his medications in check; and that he would stop taking his Ambien – which he blamed for the black-outs.   I cared enough that I stuck around, and hoped that I would be able to prevent it from happening again, by being a better partner.

We had good times and bad times.  Gradually, I began to detect a pattern.  Periods of extreme “hyper-ness”, of wanting to go out and be the life of the party, needing the social experiences and everyone laughing at him and feeling like he was the most popular person on the planet.  During these times, he was calling me numerous times a day, to tell me of the most mundane things – and would talk in this very fast, rambling way.  I was always afraid to tell him I had to get back to work; because I didn’t want to ruin this buoyancy and send him into another depression. 

These were the times he would go to Home Depot on a whim, and come back with a carload of things that he was going to use to improve the house.  He would have to finish it all without taking a break.  One time he tore out all the carpet in the downstairs and installed wood floors.  Another time, he completely redid the bathroom – new tile, new paint, everything.  He would get angry when I wasn’t as exuberant about getting this project done as he was; or if I got in his way… or if I didn’t anticipate his needs and help in the way he needed, at the moment he needed me to.

I came to know that these highs meant that the lows were about to come.  No matter how happy he was during his manic episodes; the lows ALWAYS came after.  Days in bed.  He was barely able to get out of bed to go to work.  Sometimes, he was not even able to do that – and would call in sick or come home early.  He would come home with stories about how his boss was such a “fucking asshole.”  He would tell me about how he had screamed at his boss, and how he didn’t know if he had a job anymore.  He never seemed to think this behavior was out of the ordinary. 

I went days where he wouldn’t call me during the day, and he wouldn’t answer his phone.  The only thing he seemed to want to talk about when he WAS able to communicate is to say how horrible his life was.  How much he wanted to die.  He had a love affair with the idea of dying.  He would talk of the ways it would happen.  About how he would make it look like an accident so that I wouldn’t have to live with the fact that he had committed suicide.  Every time this came up, I told him to stop.  I couldn’t handle all of his talk of suicide, and it scared me.  I would try and make him promise he wouldn’t do anything rash.  His favorite phrase was “Well, I won’t actually commit suicide, but I wouldn’t care if I got hit by a bus.”

 Later, he talked about how he hated me and my children; because we were keeping him from dying – when that is really all he wanted to do.  He would tell me that we were the only things standing between him and blissful death.

When things got bad enough; I would take his gun and hide it.  He would tell me that he would never use a gun to kill himself; that he would find another way.  Every single time he had one of these lows… I had such anxiety.  I had anxiety when he wouldn’t return my texts.  I had anxiety when he seemed down when he DID answer his phone.  I would have anxiety when I was pulling into the complex; wondering if his car would be parked there when he was supposed to be at work.  If I did see his car – I would look up at the windows and start panicking if the lights were out; because that would mean he was in bed; having a depressive episode.  I would open the front door on these days, shaking so badly that  I could not get my key to fit into the lock.  I didn’t know what I would find when I opened the door.  I always wondered – would this be the day I would find him overdosed on his medications?  I would walk up the stairs with dread at the silence, and open the bedroom door to find him completely covered in blankets; and I would come to him to see if he was still breathing.

Then… he would finally come out of his depression, and another manic stage would begin.  He would be loving and kind and funny…. and I would try and tell myself that it was all ok now.  He took more of an interest in the kids than their father ever did.  He cared for them, and he cared for me, deeply.  I knew this.  But, I also knew that a lot of the times he loved the idea of death more; and I was in a constant battle to try and convince him to love me, and life, more than death.

When 2011 started; it signified a very drastic turn in my partner.  I noticed his depressions lasting longer.  His paranoia was increasing to a point where we could not go out together, as he was convinced I would just wander off with another man, or I would so something to hurt him (none of which was substantiated).  He didn’t like my clothes, as he thought they were too sexy.  He didn’t want me to wear makeup, because he saw it as an indication that I was trying to get attention from other men.  He didn’t want me to wear high heels.  We were essentially confined to the house, of which I began to thought of as a prison.  No matter how gently I tried to coax him to get out the house; even just for a small walk; it always ended in a fight.  He became convinced that I hated him.  That I was going to hurt him.  No matter what I did, or how hard I tried – these convictions became more and more real to him every day.

He started counseling.  His counselor again diagnosed him with bipolar.  She said he was going thru a quite common occurrence in people with bipolar, in which their symptoms get very bad during the spring time.  He saw a psychologist who tried to change up his meds.  Nothing became better, and he began to drift farther and farther from me.

One day in early May – he overdosed on Xanax and took his motorcycle for a drive.  He told me later that he was hoping to die that night.  He wanted to wreck the bike and make it look like an accident.  He came home more depressed than ever – because he was “too chicken” to go through with it.

I wish that I could say this story had a happy ending.  But, two weeks after the motorcycle incident – he kicked me out of the house, and after 3 long days of overdosing on his medications – he shot himself in his bed (he broke into my safe and took his gun which I had taken from him during his last suicide threat).  Despite my attempts to get him help – no one would respond.  I finally went over to the house and found him, sometime within a day of the time he had committed suicide.

I know that I will never truly understand what he felt inside, and that I cannot compare my experiences with his.  However, although I was not the one diagnosed Bipolar; in a way – I lived that life with him.  I was a passenger on the roller coaster that he went through on a daily basis.   I experienced it in the 3rd person, and I know how helpless and afraid I felt.  Now, I am here and he is not.  I read somewhere that suicide does not end pain; it just disburses it.  I am living proof of that.  This is now my legacy.

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