Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Polyamory & Mental Illness

Tomorrow is my fourth wedding anniversary.  We did things a little backwards; we've been together six years and the Monkey is four and a half.  Just your typical American family.  For a very long time we resisted getting married, but the logistics of child rearing, home buying, etc. were far too crazy as a non-married couple. 
Over the past 6 years I've had to learn about, adjust to, and accept that the Mister has an illness that will never go away, and will always affect my life: he has ADHD. 
Living with someone who has ADHD is a bit like living with a teenage girl.  Non-medicated, the Mister is prone to wild mood swings, severe depression, and extreme apathy.  Tiny things can send him spiraling into a rage or trigger manic/depressive behavior.  Big things, like adjusting to the changes in our marriage, can cause him to completely shut down for days at a time.  Even medicated, some days are harder than others.
I've learned that I need to verbally communicate changes to my calendar, since he is prone to not checking it.  I've learned that I need to make sure to put my phone down and focus completely on him for at least an hour a day.  When we do poly family dinners, he needs a place to be alone for a few moments to escape the noise and commotion. 
The Libertine and the Mister get along extremely well, but there have been moments where the symptoms of the Mister's illness have made me feel like it's all about to come crashing down.  Dealing with this illness takes time, and patience, and sometimes I have neither.  The dynamics of my relationship with the Libertine have become complicated, and occasionally I feel like the Mister would like nothing more than to ask me to give it all up. 
We talked about it this morning, and it was extremely tense.  The Mister was feeling threatened, and it was hard for me to convince him that I'm not going anywhere.  When his illness puts him in a spiral, it's almost impossible to talk him down.  After almost an hour of circular arguing, I offered to cut back my schedule - and his reaction shocked me.  He said no.  He wants me to stay with the Libertine.  He readily admitted that I am happier now than I have been in years. 
If you have a partner fighting mental illness, please do what you can to communicate with them.  Their needs are going to be much different than those of a "normal" person, and you need to recognize that and adapt accordingly.  Not talking about it is not going to make it go away.  The best you can hope for is acceptance, support, and love.

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