I believe that my spouse has always been supportive yet it took many years to teach him how to show this. We’ve been married for nearly four years now and together for almost ten. I cannot imagine life without him but it took a long time for him to come to an understanding about how to show that’s he’s supportive of me and understanding of my illness.
I was just diagnosed last Spring. For years my husband has shown his love towards others by playfully poking fun at them in various ways. This has always been a dynamic of our relationship and although it sometimes hurt me, he didn’t quite get it or comprehend in any sense why it would affect me differently than it did the rest of his family. There were times I would cry and scream out for him to understand why it was that what he said made a difference in the way I thought about myself. That stinkin’ thinkin’ that bipolar people are so good at, always thinking the worst is going to happen, was made that much real when he would say the things he did. When I would tell him to stop saying or doing what he did to show his love he would assume I was joking. I wasn’t.
Not long before we were married I was diagnosed with depression, which was incorrect. It wasn’t until my diagnosis with bipolar that everything began to change. I completely broke down due to overwhelming amounts of stress in my life and was placed under a suicide watch with partial-hospitalization for three months following. During that stay I received my bi-polar type 1 diagnosis.
During my partial-hospitalization my therapist requested a meeting with my husband to discuss said diagnosis. She explained what was going on and what I needed from him. He said that he understood but just as it took me three months to learn to manage my symptoms it took him several months to show his support and compassion. I would come home and tell him what I learned about myself and when he would say certain things which triggered my stinkin’ thinkin’ I would remind him that this kind of behavior was not beneficial to me.
After a while of my attempt to teach him he needed to change, I broke down in tears! I asked him why couldn’t he show that he was compassionate and supportive of what I was going through and his answer changed my view of our relationship. He stated that he was supportive, and that he just didn’t know how to show this. I told him that I needed a hug when I cried, I needed him not to say negative things around me or about me as I would take it to heart and stress over such statements, that when I told him to stop doing or saying something he needed to stop joking around. I had to teach him what it means to me for him to be supportive or at least show that he was and always has been. Since that final breakdown approximately eight months ago things have never been better than they are right now. If my husband ever steps back into his old habits all I have to do is remind him, once and that’s it. When I come home crying because I’m overwhelmed with stress he’ll hold me. Later he’ll do what he can to alleviate some of that stress.
I hope that your spouse can be as supportive as my husband always has been and now has learned to show.