Chris & Wayne
“I’m sick and tired of being a caretaker. All I want is to be a husband.” These were Wayne ‘s first words with Marcia, from Bipolar Insights, calling for help. Wayne needed help for something he knew little about; something he didn’t understand; something he knew if he didn’t get help, it would destroy 37 years of marriage with Chris.
Chris didn’t learn that she has bipolar disorder until after an accident (in 2002), falling from a ladder, and suffering from a head injury. The injury put her in a state of depression. The anti-depressant that she was prescribed threw her into a manic state. She had grand allusions of being on the Oraph Show, she was going to write a book and make a movie. She went out one afternoon to buy a new set of tires for her car, but instead bought a new SUV. The mania put her in a psychiatric hospital for 11 days. This was a scary place for her – a place she never wanted to be again.
For both Wayne and Chris, learning that Chris has bipolar disorder was actually a relief. It explained the manic episodes and mood swings, the spending sprees, the poor judgments, the racing thoughts, the unrealistic beliefs. Every person and family has some sort of dysfunction in their life. “For fifty years, I did things because that was the way I was raised. The screaming, the shouting, the fighting, the divorce; that was the way Mom handled things. Even though I swore I would never act the same, I was the same.” People deal with dysfunctions head on or they shy away and hide from them. Wayne drank and Chris spent money. Their marriage suffered; they walked on egg shells around each other. They avoided what they couldn’t deal with.
In April 2007, Chris went into hypomania. She hadn’t slept in 3-days; she was hearing things – sirens and police. Chris needed to be placed in a hospital, but having experienced a hospital stay once before, Wayne knew this was NOT where she wanted to be.
Wayne heard about Bipolar Insights through the local paper. He saw the advertisement for the Bipolar Insights Support Group meetings. He called Marcia and said “I can’t take this anymore, we need help.” Marcia encouraged them to attend a group meeting. Wayne was very nervous; Chris was running a little high. After their first meeting, they couldn’t wait to come back.
The first meeting was different than expected. They were welcomed the moment they walked in. Marcia’s knowledge about bipolar disorder opened their eyes to what they avoided most of their life. Although Chris had been taking medications to help the manic episodes, it wasn’t until they started attending the support group that they became educated about the disorder and understood the medications needed to balance her life. They learned tools to become self-aware and help manage the moods. Chris learned that SHE is responsible for her illness and Wayne is there to support her.
Chris knows the number one tool to managing bipolar disorder is taking your meds. The second tool is using a journal to manage your daily life. The journal allows her to track triggers and show red flags that many times can cause an episode or mood swing. Chris shares her journal with her psychiatrist to help manage her meds. Chris keeps herself on a structured schedule and is now accountable for her actions. She hasn’t had a manic episode in over a year. She is responsible for herself.
Wayne was shocked by what he learned from the Bipolar Insights Support Group meetings. So much of what he and Chris have struggled through was of the results of the disorder, not Chris, not him. They gave up monthly rituals to attend the weekly meetings. The meetings are high priority for him and Chris. Wayne no longer has to babysit Chris. He can sense her moods and provides support. They go places, they travel, and they don’t have to worry about manic disasters. They’ve educated themselves as a family. Wayne is there as a partner to work with Chris to maintain her balance.
Without the mental health support, nothing else works. Both want to become ambassadors for Bipolar Insights. They want everyone to know, “You can live a normal life having bipolar disorder. It doesn’t come easy. You have to want that life to live.”
Bipolar Insights 2010
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