When you first met Laura, what was she like?
When I first met Laura, I saw a blonde bomb-shell. Some of the guys at her workplace said to check her out.
The first time I worked with her, I was volunteering, showing a bunch of Brownies, that Laura was doing a presentation with, how a Fire Fighter puts on his/her gear.
Laura was extremely happy, extremely energetic (I'm not exaggerating with the extremely), big blue eyes, bright smile, and raring to go.
Laura's Bipolar Disorder didn't manifest itself until after you were living together. Why did you still marry her?
Even though she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and her behaviours were different, Laura knew she needed therapy, and we assumed things would get better.
We sat down, and we said we would be committed to do everything possible to regain her mental health. I told her not to allow the Bipolar Disorder to consume her but to turn it into a success.
**Note: I find this question offensive as would you ask the same question if I had cancer or was in a vehicle collision and was paralyzed?
How has Bipolar Disorder affected your friendships, personal lives, and professional lives?
In the beginning, I had to take off a significant number of days due to Laura's deep depressive cycle and to attend the numerous specialist appointments. My previous employer wasn't understanding nor tolerant with my absences. I have since changed employers who is very understanding and accommodating.
Our friends, that were close to us (therefore the important ones), all were completely understanding of Laura's Bipolar Disorder and it did not affect those relationships. We have two close friends that when they come over, they will just look at Laura and say, "you're not having a good day", make every effort to engage in conversations with her, and try to brighten her day.
How do you feel society treats people that have Bipolar Disorder or other Mental Illnesses?
I hate to say it, but society/Joe Public, even people working in the mental health care system, treat those with Mental Illnesses as 2nd rate citizens and have no regard for their true feelings (which is why so few come forth or hide behind the mask). When Joe Public is around someone with a Mental Illness, they literally turn the other cheek, talk behind their back, and spread vicious rumours.
What do you think are Laura's greatest strengths?
When the dark cloud covers her, and there is nothing we can do to help her, she keeps saying, "It is what it is, tomorrow is a new day".
Also, no matter how low, sad, and numb she may be feeling, she wears her happy mask, as not to create any extra stress or worry for her family, especially her 2 girls. When she takes it off however, you can visually see the amount of effort it takes her to stay strong for her family.
In your opinion, what have been the major contributing factors to Laura's constant improvement?
#1 Consistent access to a good psychiatrist who cares. In fact it's paramount.
#2 A wonderful family support team.
#3 Constant commitment to continuing education on the disorder that she has. It's safe to say that through self-study, in my opinion, Laura is resident expert on Bipolar Disorder. Under Laura's psychiatrist recommendations, she has tried just about every available therapy and she is completely honest and open about the results, and she continues to use every coping strategy, that she researches and learns, and moves progressively forward.
What advice can you give to someone who's significant other has Bipolar Disorder?
#1 piece of advice for someone who's significant other has been diagnosed with a Mental Illness is to understand that this diagnosis was not caused by them, it is not their fault, and no matter how much you think that you understand what they are going through, you don't have a fucking clue. There will be times when they aren't "there" or not themselves. You just have to be there to ride it out. There's really nothing you can say or do that will help them get through the episode .
I could elaborate greatly on this question alone and think that this should be discussed in another post of its own.
Listen, if the person, who is diagnosed with a Mental Illness, doesn't take their treatment seriously when they aren't in an episode, it's not fair as a partner to have to try to support them when they are in an episode. It won't end well.
Laura Marchildon will blog honest and true posts about her real life experiences.