I was on a phone call with my best friend after my partner had a manic episode during one of Melbourne’s 250+ lockdown days and I said, “do you know what sucks. Doing the regular 9-5… pretending to smile and act normal because I’m in a leadership position, pretending I’m totally fine during client meetings..the appearance that everything is fine. And then finishing my job and immediately needing to mange a my partner who is at risk of taking his own life. I mean where do I even go to figure out how to do this. How is this normal?”
She replied almost laughing, “absolutely not hun, that is not normal.”
Enter, my life. As a carer to a partner who is bipolar, I’m always on, I’m on high alert. It’s like I’m triggered every second of the day because I’m trying to foresee what could go wrong. It’s crisis control. 24/7.
Can you imagine living in that heightened state and bedding down a high powered agency job that takes up 50 hours a week and managing a household (thankfully no children!!))
Jeez, I must be superwoman. The truth is, I am fully broken inside. Because I dont know what normal person could function like this.
I long for the days when I hear couples on the street speaking about small talk. Going out for a lockdown picnic with their takeaway cocktails, just enjoying the company of being with each other. Reality is, when you’re with a bipolar person that is like a distant dream. Social outings pretty much disappear.
I know what you’re thinking. Well why are you still in this relationship.
I ask myself that everyday. And the simple answer - love. I do it because I love.
He loves me. He challenges me to think bigger, do better… and I am all those things. You push yourself harder than you have, and you realise you love that version of yourself. Its this incredible sense of being and togetherness. This sense of security and intense vulnerability.
But of course it comes with a cost. And the cost is expensive. Its a cost that just isn’t sustainable. Because I’m in his realm. His mood defines mine - and thats if I let it.
As a carer - it is vital that I see a therapist. Someone who helps me set boundaries. Someone who cares about my mental health and helps me every step of the way. Realise what is, and what isn’t in my control.
Whilst some days I execute it flawlessly, other days, I dont. Otherdays, I can’t…. because when someone is at risk of harming themselves. You can’t set boundaries. You go into survival.
Anyone else can relate?