After listening to many friends now be supportive of one another as we share the loss of a friend and role model as does her son and she is lost to her new husband and her own family as well as his, I feel able to talk more openly and feel that others do too about my own experiences with my own loved ones suffering from bipolar.
Bipolar is an extremely brutal disease. Many others have a course of treatments and you are aware of your chances. Bipolar is unpredictable and irrational. It has no rhyme and no reason. It’s no joke and must be taken seriously at all times. It can’t be treated without medicine and medicine can’t be taken when the patient feels like taking it. The signs of non compliance with medication are not always immediately noticeable. It took me two months to notice that my former husband had stopped taking his. As each day passed I noticed changes in his behavior, they went from minor little things to severe things. To the point where it was no longer safe for him to be living with me. I won’t go into any specific details because its too graphic and would open wounds I’m not prepared to deal with right now. The point I’m trying to make is that when he thought he was happy, he thought he was cured. Not matter what I told him he wasn’t having it and he certainly wasn’t hearing it. I had no other choice but to commit him for treatment. He hated me for it, but it was both the right thing and the only thing that I could do. When he came out he picked up where he left off with non compliance and abusive behavior and ended up being forced to live in a small apartment by himself without the people that he loved. One cold day at the start of November in 1995 my phone rang. He told me that “if I can’t be with you than there is no longer a reason for me to stay alive” and he hung up the phone. I didn’t have his number because at the time there was a protection order in place. The next call I got was from the hospital telling me that he had had a heart attack from overdosing on his bipolar medication. They had no idea of how many days he had been in his apartment before they found him but he passed away 4 days later in the hospital. His family didn’t want me to see him because he didn’t look like himself. The next time I saw him, I was burying him. For years I blamed myself for all that happened. I know now and I’m sure I even knew then that it wasn’t my fault. I did what I could do to help. Sometimes that just isn’t enough.
I have more stories of other people in my life that have this non forgiving disease that takes all prisoners good or bad and changes their lives forever making them lucky to survive or maybe not so lucky.
Please listen when someone needs to bend your ear. You never know how much of a difference that can make to anyone, not just someone who has bipolar. Sometimes it might not make any difference that you can see, but in the heart of the person you are listening to, they know that you made time for them. Sometimes it’s that one word from that one person that just makes the right thing click. But as with all illnesses there is no certainty that anything you do will even help, but you have to reach out and make the effort because the guilt that you would live with if you did nothing would be a lot harder to live with. It takes more than doctors, medicine and family to heal the sick. It takes patience, love and understanding from everyone.
“Heal a heart with love. Sooth a mind with the willingness to listen and understand. Give comfort by showing compassion. Be a friend to all those who need you” © Felina Silver Robinson