That I have felt loved by my family of origin as well as my family by marriage including my in-laws who put up with a lot of crazy behavior from me in the postpartum period has made a huge difference in my ability to move forward in my prognosis. Although it felt at times I was going it alone, in reality I have had and continue to have huge support from my family – as much as they were capable of providing given knowledge of the illness at the time.
Throughout my twenties and thirties, I seemed to pivot back and forth between the two models of successful marriages that I knew. At times I would fall for a guy who had no delight in earthly things (more like my Dad). At other times I would fall for a guy who was very established in his career and financially secure (more like my stepfather). This back and forth continued through the time that I met my first fiancé and ended when I met my current husband. My husband James was a perfect blend for the most part of the values of my Dad’s remarriage and the values of my Mom’s remarriage.
When I met James, he was very informed for a lay person about bipolar illness. He was successful in his own recovery from addiction and had heard many stories of bipolar illness in that context before hearing mine. Most of my prior boy friends had little if any experience with bipolar illness. In addition to his familiarity with my illness struggles, another aspect of our relationship was that we tended to fight well. Regardless of the topic, our fights were usually brief and seldom fell into the same old rut that marriage disagreements often follow. We continue to fight well today although we do have our marriage ruts to get through. The third aspect of our relationship which seems to help a great deal is that we share a faith journey. This faith journey has shifted in the past year due to a situation at our church which caused a massive leadership change. James and I still stay vested in helping to develop a faith journey for our daughter even though we as a family are not in a church right now.
James’ and my shared goal right now is for me to be volunteering or working a stable but not particularly demanding job preferably part-time. We are in agreement about what this goal is and what the desired future looks like. We continue to fight about money from time to time but in general our goals are on the same page.