This is my love letter to my wife Susan. We have been together now for three years and have experienced as much joy and sorrow than many couples together for fifty. We now live in our own home with our devoted lab Briley. We enjoy listening to music, Facetiming grandchildren, taking drives through Brown County state park, and visiting with family.
When we first met we went on a whirlwind romance that was magical. It also had some of the marks of a manic episode, but it was much more than this. I was not psychotic; we were crazy in love. We talked for hours on my trip to New York and back. I stayed up through the night making a playlist filled with your favorite music and selections that would soon become “our songs.” We still listen to it on quiet date nights, look over at each other and smile.
I sometimes wonder if I could have done more to prepare you for my illness. I told you from the start, but it’s one thing to hear it and quite another to live it. One thing I know is I have no regrets of moving too fast in our relationship. I do wish there was a way I could have eased you into an encounter with my mixed states, but they come on so suddenly, there is virtually no warning. Like an emotional tornado, the best thing to do is try to learn the warning signs and stay out of its path. You are learning, but there is still damage when it strikes.
If I have hurt you emotionally in what I’ve said or done, please forgive me. Know this is never my intent. My intensity comes on so suddenly and in the moment my only means of curtailing it is to step away. We are learning that sometimes I need to go to my bedroom, take a drive, or stay in my sister’s basement. I will always come back to you and with God’s help we will work things out.
I want you to know I will do everything in my power to stay healthy. Take my medicine. Go to therapy. Eat well. Sleep when I need to. Pray. Call friends and family for support. You are my life partner, but I will not sap you of your spiritual resources. Your love for me is a precious treasure but even the strongest love does not cure a brain illness like bipolar. I need more support. This doesn’t mean you have failed me or fallen short in any way. Your love means the world to me and I rely on you as my steadfast lover to take care of yourself so we can take care of each other.
If you need time away from me, take it. If my conversation gets too intense, say you need a time out. If you need to talk with family, call them. If you need to go see your grandchildren, go. If you need to process our relationship with a counselor, make an appointment. These things will ultimately benefit our marriage and strengthen our relationship.
Words alone can’t express the depths of my feelings for you. Your steadfast love gives my heart and my mind hope for stability. I can not only function but thrive with you by my side. I can grow daily in faith and love. You are not my Savior, but you inspire me to walk closely with the One who is.
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This letter is for my collaborative writing project HOPE FOR TROUBLED MINDS: GOD’S LOVE FOR THOSE WHO LOVE SOMEONE WITH A BRAIN ILLNESS.