Sunday, November 16, 2014

What Are You Thinking? Sorry I Asked...


Nate:    Lately Jane and I have had a hard time understanding each other. It’s easy to misunderstand what is going on when she bounces from one idea to the next.

Jane:    In our relationship, I have always said the first thing that comes to my mind during our conversations. Most of the things that come out of my mouth are random and does not necessarily go with the topic we are talking about. I am easily distracted. Sometimes a thought will enter my mind and I need to bring it up before I forget what I wanted to say. Our conversations jump from one topic to another. Many times, we are talking about one thing and my mind switches to another subject and he thinks that we are still talking about the original subject. To Nate it may seem that my comments come out of nowhere. Often times, I am thinking about a topic that is running through my head for quite some time and it seems that there is never the right time to bring it up.

Nate:    I am constantly trying to play catch up and keep up with what we are talking about in that moment. This feels like driving a car at 100 MPH and then slamming on the breaks to change directions in the middle of the road. Sometimes the things she says brings me to a dead stop and I am not sure where to go from there. This gives me the feeling of emotional whiplash.

Jane:    During the recent visits with my psychologist, I told him that I say some harsh or shocking things when I am in a conversation. Since those visits, I have been trying to exercise control. He suggested that I take a few seconds before I speak in order to decide if what I am going to say is appropriate or to change my words in order not to offend the person to whom I am having a conversation. It is hard. I told him that I thought that being honest meant saying what I am thinking when I am thinking it. I guess there is more to it than that. For example, if I asked someone, “Does my butt look big in these jeans?” would it make me feel good if the person shared the their honest opinion and said the first thing that came to their mind? I don't have a filter from my brain to my mouth. I haven't learned the art of the little white lie. Isn’t it a form of dishonesty, even if it is meant to save the other person from hurt feelings? Why not be bold and say exactly that you mean?

Nate:    Our situation goes way beyond just talking about cute and simple things. In the middle of a conversation she opens up about something that has been on her mind for a while and it makes my head spin. I have many WTF moments when she shares her opinion. I need stop myself from reacting negatively to what I hear. When I pause in the middle of our conversations it probably seems to her as if I am hiding something. In all actuality, I use the time to figure out how to react appropriately and what to say. I constantly feel like I am walking on eggshells.

Jane:    As Nate has said, when he pauses during one of our talks, I feel as if he is hiding something. The reason why I feel that way is because whenever I keep quiet during a conversation, I am keeping a secret. The secret is usually my private thoughts that I do not feel comfortable sharing with him. I have many things rolling around in my mind that if he knew what I was thinking, it would hurt his feelings. Keeping these things bottled up inside is not good for me. Sometimes I cannot hold it in anymore and it usually leads to one of my random outbursts that makes him wonder what the hell is happening. I am walking on eggshells, too. Sometimes I am afraid that sharing my true feelings will ruin our relationship. I can be rather harsh.

Nate:    While I am used to her sharp tongue and the fact that she can be very harsh, I get very confused by what she says. I try my best to understand what is going on with her, but I can only react to what I know and what I see. Trying to focus on what she has to say confuses me. Sometimes I feel like a Haitian torch in the middle of our conversations. Other times I feel like I am the best husband in the world. It all depends on what falls out of her head and rolls off her tongue. 

Jane:    Another thing that bothers me is that Nate jumps to conclusions. He will misinterpret my words and behavior. He frequently assumes that my demeanor is a sign of mania or depression. I feel that the thinks that the fact that I have bipolar disorder automatically means that what I do means I am changing towards one of the extreme phases of the disorder. People without the disorder get angry or upset. Just because I am medicated for my condition it does not mean that my personality would all of a sudden switch from having my usual moodiness into behaving like life is full of sunshine and butterflies. Medication helps to calm my moods, not perform the miracle of transforming me into a saint.

Nate:    I try to base my conclusions on actions, behavior, attitude, and what she tells me. I know that even though she has bipolar disorder that there is a difference between her illness and her personality. Being able to differentiate between the two is not always easy. Asking her if she is manic when she is not pisses her off. What am I supposed to think when some of her actions seem more radical than usual and out of the ordinary? I have known Jane for almost 20 years. When I see something that is not normal behavior from her, I start to wonder if she is cycling towards a mood change. Medication is not a cure all. I try to stay vigilant so I can recognize when her moods take a turn for the worst before it happens. Sometimes I am totally wrong and misread her. I understand why she would be upset when I assume something as being bipolar when it is not. I would rather misinterpret one of her major bipolar mood swings and be safe because the consequences of her actions can be life changing. People with bipolar disorder can exhibit self destructive behavior including attempts at suicide. 

Jane:    When he overreacts it infuriates me. My life is not as complicated as he makes it seem. The corresponding behaviors of having a good or a bad day is common in all people. Emotional outbreaks are not a trait only reserved for people with bipolar disorder. Am I allowed to have my “moments” without having my every action scrutinized?

Nate:    One of the questions I ask myself often is, "At what point do I go from being a supportive husband to an overprotective asshole?" Sometimes I think that I am a bit of both. This causes some strong arguments. I enjoy being a good husband to Jane but I don't want to be a parent-figure to her. I don't know where one role ends and the other one begins. These questions leave me highly conflicted. I don't know the answers. I just try very hard to be the best partner that I can.

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