This I Believe

Peter - Suffolk, Virginia
Entered on April 11, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: illness, love

I believe that love can surmount any hardships that arise. I have been in a relationship with my girlfriend, the love of my life, for a year and a half. The time frame alone is nothing to weigh our love on since couples will go out for years and then break up. Instead our love is weighed on the struggles we bear and overcome. Our life, our love, and our relationship is far from perfect and far from normal. Only six months into our relationship she was diagnosed with type II bipolar disorder. She was put on medication for the disorder, but it only made things worse. Now she has spells that are more than just up and down mood swings; they include hallucinations, excessive anger, paranoia, and maybe the worse symptom: not knowing who I am. When she is in a spell, her speech also becomes slow and slurred, and she will have panic attacks and not know where she is.

Half the time my girlfriend and I have a normal relationship by going to the mall, going out to eat, and doing things normal couples do while loving every moment of being together. The other half we are struggling to deal with bipolar disorder and how it tries to tear us apart. Some statistics suggest that among married couples where one spouse is bipolar the divorce rate is over 90%. I hope and truly believe one day we will be part of that statistic as the 10% that make it through, because no matter if she’s in a spell or not, we can still laugh a lot, be happy and depend on each other.

Many types of love are necessary for a successful relationship no matter how normal or irregular the relationship. Romantic love where you are deeply attracted is a must but unconditional love may be the most important with everything in between being relevant. Unconditional love is when we argue, get upset, and even get mad but still go out of our way to make the other person happy. It’s when she gains weight from her medicine but she’s still more beautiful then anyone I know. If two people can have this type of love for each other, that’s when true love is born.

When we are young we believe in the perfect fairytale life that is portrayed in Disney movies. We believe that one day we will fall in love, and live happily ever after. I thought this way until my relationship was challenged by bipolar disorder. Because of this I was able to realize what true love is and the miracles it can do for a relationship. Her doctors say this summer they may be able to make more progress because she won’t have the stress of school to deal with, but the truth is she may never fully recover. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of how it would be to have to take care of her and who will make sure she’s ok while I’m at work. I know it won’t be easy, but the fact is we have a relationship that only happens once in a lifetime, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.