“Are you mad at me?” He asks from the sofa. I’m standing in the kitchen about to start dinner, and our dishes from lunch are still sitting in the sink.
“No, I’m not mad. Why would I be mad?” I’m doing that stereotypical female thing that, as a feminist, I hate so much. I hate being that trope of a wife. But the fuse in me is lit and it’s short.
“You sound mad…”
“Well I guess it’s up to me to do all these fucking dishes and make dinner!” I scream, throwing the dishes into the sink. Rage possesses me like a demon. It’s like there’s a little voice inside of me shouting at me to shut up, telling me that my anger at him is irrational, and brought on by the hypomania but it’s fighting a losing battle. I am the demon’s bitch. I don’t have control over my words or limbs.
“Well that’s unfair,” he says, joining me in the kitchen. “I was just going to check something quick on the computer and then I thought we’d cook together. I wasn’t leaving you to do all of this on your own. You know I wouldn’t do that.”
Of course I know that. For a moment the little voice inside of me has beaten the demon down. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I say clutching my head, as if holding my head between my hands will somehow keep the demon at bay. “That was totally irrational.”
“It’s okay, you’re not feeling well.” He tries to rub my back, but I feel myself shirk back. I try and mask my aversion to his touch by grabbing a head of broccoli out of the fridge, I reach for a cutting board, and a knife.
He’s right. I’ve been hypomanic for about 2 weeks and the rage is an indication that it’s about to break. I had felt a murderous pressure in my chest all day.I could have ripped the face off a bear. I scowled at anyone who looked at me the wrong (or right) way. It didn’t matter what was said or how someone smiled or even how they complimented my outfit. Everyone was out to get me. Everyone was an idiot. Everyone was in my way. Everyone was just so fucking slow.
The demon is back with a vengeance as I recall my day. Why can’t everyone just do what I want them to do at the speed and capacity that I want them to do it? I wonder, savagely attacking the head of broccoli like it has murdered my puppy. Like, why doesn’t my husband know that he should be fucking washing these dishes right now while I prep dinner? It’s all part of the plan so that we eat by 7 p.m. Why can’t he just see the fucking plan? Why can no one ever see the fucking plan?
“You know,” I say turning and pointing the knife at him. “You should just fucking leave me.” The words come out of my mouth like a flood. They come out before I even think of them because I don’t control them. “You’d be better off without me. Actually, everyone would be better off with out me.”
He takes the knife from my hand and places it on the counter away from my reach. He’s not afraid for his life, but he’s afraid of what I might do to myself. But I’m not threatening suicide. I truly believe that he would be better off with a partner who wasn’t bipolar. I believe my parents would be better without a bipolar daughter. I know my employer would be better off without a bipolar employee. My existence is just a fucking disaster for everyone.
I have this sickness that turns our lives upside down. I have this sickness that makes me dependent on him in so many ways. He is my support system. He comes to doctors appointments with me. He worries about whether or not this will be the episode when I kill myself. He has been working on his thesis while picking up the slack at home. He does groceries when I cannot handle the people. He cooks. He cleans. He does all of those things that we would normally split because I have been mired in this sickness.
“I have some fucking audacity to be angry with you for not helping out. These past 6 months have been all you taking care of me and the house. Aren’t you tired of babysitting your wife? Fuck I’m such a mess and here I am, angry at you over some fucking dishes. You should just leave me before you just end up resenting me.”
He is crying now. But I’m not sure why. I’m giving him this out that so many men in relationships much worse than ours would beg for. I’m giving him permission to leave me; to be free of me and this illness. I often wonder whether he’s a masochist because the reality that he could actually love me this much is currently beyond my understanding.
The rage has now left me, as if I have gone through an exorcism. Now we can talk through the issues. I explain how guilty I feel. How sorry I am for yelling, for the sickness, and for everything I have ever put him through. And he tells me that he never feels like a babysitter because he loves me. He loves me and all my flaws. He has stayed with me this long and is not going to leave me, ever. I am stuck with him, not vice versa.
And then we fall back into our regular routine. He washes the dishes as I finish preparing dinner. But we both know that this isn’t the end. This won’t be the last time. But we take the calm as it comes.