May is designated as Mental Health Awareness Month, and I wanted to mark the occasion by telling you how much I appreciate your support over all the years we’ve been together and the years since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
You have always been my biggest fan. You believed in me as a person long before I believed in myself. You supported me through a serious depression when we were dating when it would have been so easy and convenient to bail out on me. Even though we broke up for a little while, I still knew I was valuable as a person because you had shown me that I was through your actions and words. You held my hand as I completed my studies that final senior semester and nursed me through without demands and with unconditional support.
Once I began graduate school, again you were supportive of my decisions and believed I could accomplish my goals. We began dating again as I regained my strength after the depressive episode and went on to complete my Master’s degree. You loved me even when neither of us understood my moods and supported me through my regular ups and downs as we continued to date and after we got married.
Even before I was formally diagnosed, you supported me financially through paying for what treatment I felt I needed and by enabling me to attend counseling for what we just thought was low-grade depression. Thank you for holding my hand as I stumbled through post-partum depression and helping me regain perspective by reminding me of how much you loved me and wanted me to work through my issues.
I’m most thankful that you took me back after I tried to run away and kill myself when it would have been the most natural thing in the world to kick me out and let me fend for myself. But your love has been a constant throughout this ordeal and the many others that were to come. From me having to quit work to me finally having to put the youngest in full-time daycare when I was incapable of caring for her any longer, you were there to support me through each high and each low throughout the past ten years.
Even when I crashed so hard we feared for our marriage, you hung in there with me and did the hard work of forgiveness even while administering some tough love to me to help me rein in my moods. I thank you for sticking by me and for loving me when I was most unlovable.
I know this letter is short, but even I can’t conjure up the right words to thank you for your love and support throughout the years. For every time we had to go out and eat because I couldn’t cook and for every time you load and unload the dishwasher so I don’t have to, I thank you. For all the nights I cried in your arms, I thank you. For the unthinkable sums of money my treatment cost, I thank you . For everything, I thank you, Bob. I love you for all of it and more. Happy May!
Julie Whitehead currently writes and blogs from Mississippi at her personal blog. She has been a university lecturer, a disability examiner, and a freelance writer. She carries a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and blogs to create awareness and help others understand the disease and its effects.