An Interview With Mark Delaney-Howe
I have been very open about my struggles with bipolar disorder. Some would say too open, but I usually don’t respond to that criticism. If we don’t talk about it, how will we ever end the stigma that mental illness carries with it? Instead of writing about bipolar from my point of view, I am writing about my husband’s point of view. I interviewed him, and it was an eye-opening interview for me. Maybe it will be for you as well.
To get things started, I wanted to know his thoughts on marrying me, knowing I am bipolar.
Tell me about your thoughts on our wedding and marrying me.
At first, I was actually terrified about getting married. Not for the fact it was you, just in general. The wedding was amazing, especially at night when all the window vase lights were turned on. It was a very magical day.
(That answer melted my heart.)
What were some of the signs you observed at the beginning of our relationship that I had mental health issues?
Some signs were not sleeping, then being or talking about everything and anything randomly. The mood swings and not knowing what was wrong. Things being said that you didn’t mean but couldn’t stop saying them. It was tough at the beginning. I didn’t know how to approach you, which is why there was lying about things because I didn’t know how you would react to the truth.
What has the journey from the beginning of our relationship been like?
It was a tough road. It was very rough. Not knowing how to handle/deal with bipolar. Not sure what the triggers were. Me sabotaging us and not knowing what to do.
Has there ever been a time when you have wanted to leave because of the struggles with my bipolar?
There were times after we first got together that I thought about leaving, especially when there was all the yelling and arguing. I stayed because I started reading about bipolar and how to approach things and then sitting down with you and talking about signs and symptoms.
Please explain why you stayed with me during and through the difficult times
Because first, I love you. Second I learned what bipolar does to a person, so I know in those manic times, it’s not you. I realized that we would get through the episodes, and you would return to your usual self.
What’s love got to do with it? What point or part does love play in all of this?
To love someone is to go through everything, the good, bad, ups, and downs, with them. Everyone has to have that one person that has unconditional love no matter what the other is going through. If a person doesn’t love the one they are with, that will cause more mental issues. It makes them think they aren’t good enough, and no one will love them, they are alone, etc.
You pick up on signs and triggers, most often before I do. What kinds of things do you observe?
It starts with insomnia, sometimes days at a time. Then comes talking about seven different topics in 5 minutes. Paranoia comes next, thoughts of running away, putting yourself down, and wanting to do everything right now. As you come down, you get emotional, start sleeping more, depression sets in, and you think you can’t do anything right.
Have we lost friends/relationships with family members, or have those relationships changed since the diagnosis?
I feel that friends and family saw or heard what was happening with/between us and backed off. It might not be that, but it does seem that people “check in”….”oh no, I hope he gets better soon,” and then they are gone for a while
How has my bipolar and your going through it with me affected your life positively and negatively?
I can tell and see other people that may have it and go out of my way to make sure I do or say something, so they know I understand. It made me grow up and realize how to talk and treat people differently. There are no negatives now because I know what to expect
What are some of your coping skills to deal with the ups and downs of my bipolar?
When the weather is nice, being outside, doing yardwork, or on the tractor mowing. Playing my game on my phone and talking to those friends that have never left our sides and do truly understand
Writing this piece was very eye-opening for me. I am so wrapped up in my bipolar disorder treatment and self-care that I cannot see how those around me are impacted most of the time. It was good for me to see what was going on from his viewpoint. As he said, it has been a bumpy road-but he travels it with me. He is my biggest advocate, my strongest ally, and my biggest encourager. He truly is my center. (Well, a big part of it anyway).
Thank you, Mark, for being willing to share your side. And thank you for all you are and all you do, not just for me but for our family as well.
P.S. I love you!
Thank you for reading my piece! I appreciate reads, comments and feedback.