Diane has been a pioneer in sharing her story publicly to a wide variety of audiences including health professionals, students, city councils, church members peers and law enforcement since 2013.
“In Sickness and in Mental Health” was one of a handful of biographies on bipolar disorder and is now on the top 100 Bipolar Books on BookAuthority.com. This is her letter to her husband and life partner Greg.
Lover, our life together has been like no other and we went through fires before we even met. We have had many challenges, yet so many victories and blessings along the way.
I thought that I finally had a grasp on our mental health conditions back in 2013 since it took me seven years of observing our recovery road to write our story In Sickness and in Mental Health: Living with and Loving Someone with Mental Illness. Since then, there have been many twists and turns revealing even more around each bend. We had no idea that rougher terrain was yet to come.
We certainly have had a marriage of multiple miracles. The fact that I have not had an extreme manic or depressive episode with a bipolar 1 diagnosis since 1991 throughout the incredible challenges we have faced blows my mind. God always had bigger plans for us than to just survive. He opened doors for me to speak openly to many audiences from students to law enforcement and free many silent sufferers of mental illness and stop stigma. Thank you for allowing me to share and follow the mission I felt I was called to do because just that drop in the ocean made ripples and waves like only God can do.
The past three years has been the biggest challenge on our marriage. We did not anticipate that you would be on your back 95% of the time and need to undergo several procedures and two radical spine surgeries, all while battling our invisible foe: your brain… and mine.
I believe that your complex diagnoses of dissociative identity disorder (DID) might have saved you from feeling the constant intensity of physical pain all these years, but the mental struggle was another layer of pain that was unbearable for you and left me feeling helpless, confused, and distraught. I couldn’t understand why the pain was so intense you couldn’t stand up, yet other times the pain seemed far away. Now I know that when your amazing brain split into parts to protect you from what a child’s brain cannot deal with on its own, it sensed physical pain in parts as well. Before the MRI that showed the pain that was always there, I didn’t understand what you felt was always different and why I felt insane trying to figure it out!
DID still remains a mystery to me despite knowing “about” your diagnosis. I still can’t wrap my mind around your internal struggle when I see you from the outside managing our business and loving me and the kids through it all without letting on what goes on inside.
I marvel at your brilliant brain. You have perfect recall of every clients’ computer network that you set up. You can simply “see” how to build, create, and remodel our homes. What a gift! Yes, you have a terrible thorn in your side to suffer the mental anguish you do, which was made even worse in time of physical pain, but you preserved! You are my hero.
Clearly, I have made many mistakes by reacting badly and taking things personally when I really needed to be quiet. Even if I can’t recognize your dissociative states, I should always empathize with the pain that caused them. The thought of you as a child living in such a volatile rageful environment that your mind had to escape into alters to handle it for you, breaks my heart and won’t allow my mind to fathom!
I realize as I am writing this that I built a wall around my empath heart with only you, to protect me from feeling all of your pain. It has hurt us and am trying to tear it down and be healthy enough to have boundaries, not walls.
Sadly, very few people talk about their experience with what was once called “multiple personalities” to make it comfortable for you to talk about. I get that! I was a pioneer in our world when I opened up about having bipolar disorder only a decade ago! It is awful to think you are alone and judged. I think Hollywood has done great damage in portraying DID, leaving the victims of abuse to suffer in silence still. Yet the biggest obstacle is that many psychiatrists don’t believe in it at all which made it hard for me to believe for a long time. I am so sorry for my unbelief.
I do believe there are far more people with DID than the estimated 1.5% that is reported. Tragically, there is a lot of childhood trauma. Neither of us understood what was going on with you for many years, so I believe it is still hidden disorder for many. We know three other people with this diagnosis just in our circle of friends!
Our love and faith kept us together but if it wasn’t for your courage and perseverance, you wouldn’t have survived. I nearly lost my mind trying to “help” you with the list of temporary remedies and words of encouragement when I had none left to give. I often forgot it wasn’t up to me, but the One who brought us together and He is faithful always.
This year God blessed us with the miracle the spine fusion that allowed you to walk again! What a game changer to allow you to go back to the projects you love and let your brilliant brain spring back into action. The miracle of miracles.
Clearly our story has many more chapters for me to write. I will start on the second edition with Part 3 this year. We have only scratched to surface to our understanding of DID, but I am committed to learning and adapting. When I think of how rare it is to find a therapist with DID expertise and you found one, I am certain we are on another of God’s amazing missions. I am so blessed to be on it with you.