A Journey for Compassion

Kelly - Fenton, Michigan
Entered on April 15, 2008

A Journey for Compassion

I am currently married to a wonderful man who is not only my knight in shining armor, but my “soul mate” as well. We have been happily married for almost eight years, but will be together for eighteen come this November. We have a three and a half year old son together as well.

When we were married we recited the vows “in good times and bad, sickness and in health”, little did we know that these words would have to be taken seriously in times of my husbands’ mental illness.

My husband suffers from Bi-polar manic depression. He has battled this disease for the last nineteen years of his life and will always have to be on medication to treat this condition. He has been hospitalized three times due to this disease.

Five years ago, we were going through a time of hardship in our lives, I had just started a new job, after being unemployed for almost a year, and his employer was in their “slow” season. They laid him off and if he wanted to make extra money he would’ve had to move out of state for three months. This really took a toll on him and on our finances as well.

He began to experience a “relapse” of his disease. It started out as not sleeping, then severe anxiety, and then clear mania. While holding down my full time job and keep our household in tact, I provided him with comfort, reassurance, and the love that he needed to be free from worry that he wasn’t going to “die” as he thought. I have never seen this type of behavior in anyone before let alone my husband. It was at times extremely scary and sad. I remember spending many of nights up with him, losing sleep and helping him cope, then seeing the sun rise and going to my full time job while leaving him at home, wondering if he was going to be alive when I arrived home. I was fortunate enough to have a boss who was completely understanding of my situation.

We sought medical help from his previous psychotherapist who helped him as a teenager, he recommended drug treatment and out patient therapy as well. While this was reassuring to me, it still had a large impact on my husband, who didn’t start to come around back to “himself” for three or four months. It was almost like being married to a complete stranger.

Eventually he recovered and was able to start living a “normal” life. While I was still “recovering” from the drama, sleepless nights, and loss of financial income from him being on short term disability. I still somehow was able to keep my sanity.

I look back and realize that had it not been for the compassionate individual that I have become that our family wouldn’t have been able to get through this difficult time in our life.

I believe it takes a special, strong, and compassionate person to be able to handle this type of situation. I now am this person. I have come to realize that not all people are able to be compassionate, caring, and loving in times of difficulty. Had I been a selfish individual I could’ve walked out on him and said “deal with it yourself”. I felt that I was the one had to keep it together for the well being of our family and marriage. I tried to “conceal” or “mask” the financial adversity we were suffering from while making everything to seem as if it was satisfactory.

Had my husband been married to someone else, would she have been able to pull him through this. Had this happened to me, would he be able to pull me through it? I believe that God had a journey for us to take together when we met while in high school. God gave me to him to help him with “good times and bad”. God gave me him to learn compassion, caring, and love.

I believe that all things happen for a reason, and this happened to make me realize the type of individual that I am and am meant to be. Currently, I am in pursuit of a degree in nursing. Had I not had this struggle in my life, I cannot say I would’ve dug down deep inside myself to realize that nursing is my calling in life. I look forward to the completion of my education and to be able to put to use my skills, knowledge, and compassion for others.