April 26, 2011

Perfect imperfection

My husband doesn’t listen. He read some research somewhere that basically said the typical key and rhythm of a woman’s speech patterns make it sound like soothing background music to a male mind. This results in them tuning out a large part of any conversation. So, biologically, he’s not responsible. (I question this VIGOROUSLY. Unfortunately, he doesn’t hear me.) My husband pouts and excels at passive aggressive tantrums when the moment strikes. He will probably never get the hang of planning a date for us without my provocation. He stays up too late and then grumps in the morning about being tired. After 9 years (and three children) together, he still won’t kiss me until after we’ve both brushed our teeth.

He also empties the diaper pail without ever being asked. He lets me sleep in almost every weekend and then makes me a PERFECT cappuccino when I come downstairs. He sometimes sends me out, kid-less, to “go do my thing”, whatever that may be. There are times when he laughs so hard that his whole face turns red and his eyes tear up. He taught me to cook and enjoy the intricacies of wine. He endures my pent up outbursts and drama with barely an eye blink. When I apologize afterwards, he almost always says, “What? I didn’t even notice”. He is devoted to family, mine and his, without a second thought because, “that’s just what you do”. He is an amazing father, in every way a man can be.

I have never once, EVER, had to tell him to put the toilet seat down.

In the book, “Olivia”, by Ian Falconer, Olivia is a typical little kid. She has tantrums, makes messes, lives within a vivid imagination, dresses up constantly and doesn’t want to take a nap. Because of these things, and in spite of these things, she’s a much loved child to tolerant and amused parents.

In the final scene at bedtime, her mother tucks her in and says, “Good night, Olivia. You know, you really wear me out. But I love you anyway”. To which Olivia responds, “I love you anyway, too”.

For me, that’s real love. It’s honest, all the spangles and starry-eyed bullshit scraped away. Kurt will probably never stop hiding my purse throughout the day and I will probably never stop leaving it hanging on chairs or shoved against the couch on the floor. I am sure, given the exciting opportunity, he could EASILY come up with his own laundry list of my irritating habits. But it doesn’t matter. We love each other anyway.

You can’t ask for more than that.

April 14, 2011

All the cool kids are doing it

Catherine Zeta-Jones seeks treatment for Bipolar II

I'm always gratified (if that's the right word) when someone noteworthy "comes out" about having bipolar II. The word "bipolar" alone conjures up images of wild-eyed people talking to themselves on the street while chewing on their clothes and probably wearing their undies on the outside of their pants. It's just not fair or anywhere close to accurate. All kinds of people, from movie stars to poets, live with it every day. In fact, they tell you in the psych ward that pretty much every famous, highly creative person is in the same boat with you. Or at least in the same flotilla.

They probably have a nicer boat.

I've joked that living with it is sort of like the diet version of full bipolar disorder-- all the depression, half the mania. The downs suck. Anyone who's struggled with depression can attest to that, and quite honestly, who hasn't gone there at some point in their lives? The hypomania (the diet version, get it?) sounds like it'd be ok-- lots of energy, motivation, flights of inspiration. But it's also shakes and compulsions and sleep deprivation. My especially awesome symptom was pressured speech. I'd talk and talk and TALK and be so sure I was being SO HELPFUL and after that... I had more to say! Yay! Buy some ear plugs!

I've been on medication for three years now and it's basically kept me straight. Or, you know, sort of straight-ish for someone like me who's kinda wonky anyway. But in a good way, right? I've toyed back and forth with the idea of going off the meds, but of course every therapist and doctor I've seen says if it ain't broke don't fix it.

I still sometimes have trouble accepting that bipolar II disorder is a part of my life now, especially because for the most part it is now off my radar. That's why I wonder occasionally about the medication-- would I still be fine without it? Do I really need it? But the truth is, it is just not something that goes away. It is, however, something that can be controlled and treated and I'm living (yay!) proof of that. It doesn't get in my way anymore. I'm still me.

And Catherine Zeta-Jones, every deliciously gorgeous inch of her, is still her regardless of black clouds and chain-smoking. She's just honest. I like that.