My illness has changed my whole world in the last few months and my co-habitating boyfriend has had a front row seat to the whole thing. People are constantly asking how he’s holding up. Well, he’ll answer for himself this week in his own words.
From the Perspective of the Other Half
I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world – I have a wonderful girlfriend(s). No, I’m not polyamourous, my girlfriend has bipolar disorder and depending on the day, she is someone new that I get to know. In the process of rediscovering all the wonderful things about her multiple incarnations, I grow as a person as well.
Recently I had a friend call me a strong person for being with my girlfriend because of her illness and specifically while she goes through yet another medication change. That is dangerous wording for a supposed compliment, even though I know it was said with the best intentions. I don’t think anyone whose partner has cancer would like being called strong just for sticking around. I believe they would rather friends say that it sucks, and it’s hard and there’s no reason for it, but I hope your partner gets better soon.
The statement about my strength is loaded with implications that aren’t helpful. I am not a martyr for love, nor am I a person who is better than the relationship I’m in. I’m just a regular guy, with a regular job, whose girlfriend happens to be sick at the moment. Yes, it may take a bit longer than the average cold to get over, but that’s life. Some illnesses take more time than others to recover from and I am very grateful that at least getting better is a possibility for her. A positive outcome isn’t even a remote probability for some people. It’s a hard reality, one that I am deeply aware of. She has a chronic illness and when things flare up, patience and taking the time to get the right help is the only solution.
I know that once this medication journey is over and my girlfriend finds the best medication for her, it will help her to be the best version of herself. That’s who I fell in love with. Even in her lowest moments, the ones where she is depressed because she “hates everything and life is garbage,”she might have a point. Life might not be so great at the moment and it’s magnified for her more so than others. The constant monitoring of one’s emotional self, one’s diet, not to mention dealing with all of the side effects of treatment would weigh on anyone over time. Yes, this particular situation is very hard and sometimes it requires cheese-flavoured rice cakes and marathoning episodes of a dark comedy in bed. If it works, why argue the results? More importantly, who am I to judge her perspective or discount what she feels?
If in the long history of humanity there have been couples to weather the storms of this ailment and make it through closer and better for it, that means that we can too. We may not, but if we try we just might.
Sometimes life is senseless, it is absurd and full of tears and that’s okay. That’s what life requires while traveling the wandering roads to becoming a better person. My girlfriend’s type of illness magnifies the changes that happen to all people on a daily basis, albeit perhaps in smaller ways. And just like any long lasting relationship we can actively decide to be with each other every day, or we can give up. We choose to remind each other that life can be difficult but and it can also be great and nothing is worth anything if it isn’t worth the work.
Having brunch, giving each other high fives, laughing about the amazing neighbourhood that we have a crappy apartment in, having a delicious cup of coffee…yeah, that requires lots of strength. Today’s girlfriend likes brunch and I like brunch. And I wouldn’t have it any other way, until tomorrow.
About Sarah Lindsay
Sarah Lindsay is in her mid-twenties and lives in Toronto with her boyfriend and their dog (who also has some anxiety issues). Sarah was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2005 at the age of 16 and is still trying to figure it out. Follow Sarah’s story on HMC’s Supportive Minds Blog, or additionally you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook or check out her new website: SarahsMoods.com