It all started two years ago. We met climbing and were complacently okay with the other person’s existence. I moved to his town for a job and we embarked on a friendship marked with anti-small-talk agreements, music-only zones, suck-it-up injunctions, and just-let-me-vent compromises.
After two years, we fell for each other. Hard. Friendship turned into dating. Dating turned into engagement. Then all Hell broke loose.
Hi, my name is Alice and I’m in love with Will: he has bipolar disorder.
Will told me about his disorder a year ago when I had a beer and he didn’t. Kinda struck me as odd, since Will is easy-going and alcohol-savvy. When I asked why he doesn’t drink, he told me he avoids caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol because he has Type I Bipolar Disorder.
Honestly, it made sense. There were times when Will was outgoing and gregarious and other times when he was introverted and quiet. I felt better knowing he wasn’t avoiding me every few weeks because I’d become annoying or something.
Will told me he had a record of five years without a manic episode. The secret? Managing medication, fitness, diet, and stress.
As I listened, I heard his struggle to reconcile being “crazy” enough to be relegated to a psych ward several times and the “normal” Will I knew. I heard the desire not to be defined by his disorder but by his passion, creativity, intelligence, and personality.
Will is a good man. I haven’t met one person who doesn’t respect, love, and admire Will. He is involved in his community, makes a huge difference in his work place, mentors kids and young adults, and is a prominent member in his church.
My mother has a background of chronic depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I’ve spent a decent percent of my childhood in psychiatrists’ and psychologists’ offices, just in case. So when Will told me about the Bipolar, I shrugged and blithely continued our friendship.
It did occur to me, however, that it would be really hard for some woman to date or marry him. Bipolar scares a lot of people. So I began to pray for strength, insight, grace, and peace for whoever this mystery woman would be.
Little did I know I was praying for myself and that I would need every prayer I could get.
I wish I could say “And then God showed up and POOF! His Bipolar disappeared and we lived happily ever after.” But I can’t. I’m not at the end of our story. Not even close. I’m not even sure what that ending will be, how close it is, or how far. I don’t know if we’ll live happily ever after. I don’t even know if I’ll ever see him again.
What I do know is I’m not alone. And neither are you.