Hi, and welcome to he boards
There are two spectrums of Bipolar, the struggles of those who have the disorder and those of the family and friends who love them. I'd like to think of it as a rainbow in which this board serves to connect the two spectrums bringing each to a better understanding of the disorder and how it affects those around us. Afterall, to separate the two is so unrealistic because there are many who have this disorder and feel so misunderstood and many others who love these people and want to understand more so that they can better support and live with somebody who is Bipolar. A rainbow is not the same when there is no beginning or end and so when we see that there is a way to meet in the middle with support and understanding it makes this board a wonderful place to be.
I am the mother of a 15 year old who was recently diagnosed with Bipolar and I cannot even begin to tell you how much support and knowledge that I have received being here before, during, and after my daughter was diagnosed.
Being on the other side of things and not being Bipolar myself I found that the only way to really help my daughter was to have a good understanding of what it is like to be Bipolar. And that is key to being able to understand that somebody who is Bipoar does not act, think or always see things the way that you or I do......I mean no person does in the first place but we must remember that somebody with Bipolar has a whole different thought process that is creative, imaginative, brilliant and at the same time unfortunately works against them in the sense of emotions and sensitivities. This disorder involves the executive functioning of the brain and is a chemical imbalance that I have learned and understand can be corrected with the right meds and yet there will always be parts of who the person was created to be that no med will take away.
I have a husband who is not Bipolar and have been married to him for almost 20 years and I KNOW that there are just parts of him that I CANNOT change. But I CAN change the way in which I react to him and in the process be lucky enough to elicite some positive change in him as well. I have a feelin that this little tidbit may help in your situation as well...so keep that in your back pocket for now.
In your case, you married a man who did not have Bipolar but it did did lie dormant for many years throughout your marriage. The same with my daughter....we accepted them through God's grace and promised to be there in good times and bad, sickness and health....and believe me I KNOW we have been through both ends of those promises!!! It isn't easy but I guess what makes it most difficult for us is that we saw them before the disorder took over which makes it a little more difficult because there is such loss that we see and yet they are still the people who we have been blessed with and love. I know that if my daughter or your husband had any other disease such as diabetes, sudden loss of vision, or cancer that we would be there to love and support them in the capacity that we were predestined to be. Mine is as a mother, yours is as a wife.
What I want most to share with you is that my daughter and your husband are still the ones we love with a disorder that has changed their lives as well as ours in so many ways. It is out of our control but what IS in our control is to accept the changes and embrace them....just as the person who is blind will need more understanding, help, and support from us so does our loved one who is Bipolar. For the most part it is a matter of assisting them to be compliant with their meds, get good sleep, alleviate as much stress as possible (which may even be noisy grandkids
), and to love them for the beautiful, creative and sensitive being that they are.
You cannot change the hands of time nor can I and our loved ones cannot either....Bipolar has now become a part of our lives and so long as he is taking care of himself and following the treatment plan he IS doing his job. Our job is to come to the realization that our loved ones have Bipolar and what we can do best to support them is to learn about it and look at things through their eyes so that there is a better understanding on how you can best be there for them. I realize that there will be certain things that my daughter will be unable to do at given times and that is alright and perfectly normal because even people who do not have Bipolar just aren't capable of doing what you would like them to do either.
The most important thing to do is to ask yourself what you would do if your husband was blind and couldn't drive your grandkids to the park on his own or if he had lost his legs and couldn't ride a bicycle with them. His disorder affects his brain and cannot be seen and yet there are still some limitations to what he can do in terms of stress and how that may worsten things.
Also....overtime he may need some adjustments with his meds. I know what it is like to be blamed for everything and to be lashed out at while my daughter is adjusting to her meds. And I have learned to look at it as if I am wearing a badge of honor because only the ones they love the most are worthy of such a privelege
I also have made some changes in terms of how I deal with that and that is to disengage myself by clearly announcing that we will have to talk at another time and if it gets too heated up I have developed a hand signal like the referees use on the field, making a "T" with my hands and walking away. By doing this I am relieving my daughter of having to deal with the shame and deep remorse she has regarding things she may say or do when she is triggered and at the same time sparing myself of the pain of such interactions!!
I hope some of this helps....I know that others will chime in from the other spectrum to help you better understand.
Meanwhile....learn to take care of yourself too. I have realized just recently how very important that is.
It is so clear mow much you do love your husband and how difficult this all has been for you. Do you think that your husband is stabilized enough??? From my viewpoint it seems that he is unable to deal with the stress of little kids around....how old are they??? For most men that is difficult.....I know my husband is a wonderful father but he doesn't deal with the chaos very well and it sounds as if your husband's Bipolar didn't become a problem until your kids were older and pretty much raised. If his Bipolar came out when your kids were younger you may have seen much of what you are seeing with your grandkids at this time. Just some thoughts.....
Please feel free to vent, I truly hope things get better for you and that some of what I said helps comfort you.
(((HUGS))) ~ Goody