Though he doesn't keep it a secret, most people don't know the truth.
He is Bipolar and has PTSD.
Like a diabetic, he has to rely on medications to keep functioning. He doesn't take insulin to help a failing pancreas, he takes Lithium to help a failing brain. Not failing like taking tests in school is hard, but failing like, "Hey, this organ controls your entire body and it is missing the chemicals needed to control emotions and make you capable of seeing things the way healthy people do."
If people get in an accident and encounter head trauma a common, and valid, question is: Was there any brain damage? Everyone accepts that if the answer to that question is "Yes" that life will be forever different and difficult for all involved in that person's life.
My husband is basically walking around with permanent brain damage. This brain damage doesn't make it hard to talk, or to use one of his legs or arms. It makes it difficult to feel love, understand some social cues, cope with stress, and sometimes find a reason to live.
Sometimes people with brain damage can find a way to "re-train" their brain to compensate for what has been lost so they can eventually live a pretty normal life.
If you are bi-polar that is impossible. You will forever be dependent on some sort of medication or supplement to help you get as close to normal as possible. But you will never quite hit normal.
If your husband were to get in a horrible accident and be hospitalized, or were to contract some horrible disease, or cancer, everyone who could would try to come to your aid. Meals are often provided, people will try to set up babysitting so the spouse can be there for the hospitalized as needed, a kind hug and a concerned inquiry of "what can we do" will be extended. Even after returning home there is often a hand of charity extended for a while as you adjust to your life.
If your husband were to be hospitalized because his medications are incorrect you will be met with a lot of awkward conversations, and maybe a few people offering to help as needed. No meals are brought in. No babysitting schedules are set up. No big hugs and very few inquiries of what can be done to help are received.
This whole thing is pretty messed up. Honestly, it ways it would be easier if Hod were to have been in an accident and he had broken four bones in his leg. That is a HUGE deal! I'm not saying it isn't. But people know how to respond. We would know that after so many weeks and probably a few months of physical therapy that life would return to normal. While working through those weeks and months a hand would be extended to assist as much as possible. We would have a schedule, a plan, and help.
Instead our schedule is, we don't know how long he will be in the hospital. Once he gets out we don't know how long it will take to get his medications adjusted correctly. Once that happens we can hope for some semblance of a normal life, but there is no point where this will no longer be a major concern and problem. We are aware that the only true reprieve from this will be death, or Jesus Christ coming again and making him perfect. Whichever happens first. And our help is me having a few close friends who will try to find a place in their schedule to babysit so I can visit my husband for one hour a day.
I need to stress again, I am not in any way putting down people who have to go through physical conditions. I'm just saying that they often have available to them amazing help while dealing with their problem.
If your problem is mental you get awkward conversations.
We as a people need to see things like this in the serious light they deserve. My husband has been hospitalized. That is a huge deal! Sure, I've done this once before. Back when I only had one kid who was only three months old (read slept a lot of the time) and I lived a 60 minute drive from my family, and only 25 minutes away from some of his family.
This time I am ... alone. But with two kids who are missing their dad.
So, what can be done? We can work on changing the mentality. Help others understand that this is a big deal and not just something that a person needs to "learn to suck up and deal with it."
Then if you encounter a person who has hospitalized their spouse help them. Start with a hug and a real concern when you ask them if they are ok. If you don't know how to respond try saying something like, "This must be hard to go through. What can I do to help?" And mean it! If they have young kids ask when they need help with babysitting so they can be there when their spouse needs them. Give them a shoulder to cry on as they feel overwhelmed and helpless. Help them with their children. Seriously, that is a huge deal. I am completely torn between two worlds right now, the hospital world and my husband, and trying to juggle all of the balls he is normally keeping in the air, and the world of my children still here with me trying to give them as much love as possible because they are missing their dad. Trying to be both parents and disrupt their lives as little as possible. I am going through everything that a spouse of an accident victim goes through. I just have to do it alone.
This post isn't for you to say, "Oh, poor Paily." It is to try to change the world a little. To try to help someone else who may go through this at one point. I hope that when you meet someone going through what I am going through you will treat them differently than I have been treated.