Bipolar Disorder and Marriage: The Odd Couple

marriage“Sir, I am 39 year old and feel terribly lonely at times” Aakash sounded despondent when we spoke over coffee. “My marriage broke up after just 4 years when my wife deserted me. She could not cope with my mood swings. Although I do not blame her for her decision, the split left me devastated. There has been a vacuum in my life ever since. At times the loneliness becomes intolerable. Also Sir, a man has his need for sex. Being a shy person, I cannot casually date women. As for remarriage, that isn’t even an option: I have lost all confidence about sustaining a relationship. Although I have come to terms with Bipolar Disorder by now, this is one factor that weighs on my mind and depresses me.”

“Aakash, what if you found a partner who was understanding? Don’t you think that is a possibility? There are online portals for matchmaking for the disabled. How about reaching out on such platforms?” I questioned him.

“Actually, Sir, if you see, most of these match making portals are focused towards people with physical disabilities, not mental illnesses. So I don’t see much hope there.”

I empathised with Aakash. There are so many people out there, a few of them part of our Bipolar Peer Support Group living with this dilemma. Of them, a few very young men and women, who are of marriageable age.
companionshipThere are so many questions before them and their parents that leads to the indecision.

1) Should I tell my fiancee about my condition while proposing?

2) If yes, at what stage should I tell her? On my first date?

3) How do I break it to her~ will she understand?

4) What if she rejects me~ God, I won’t be able to handle that!

5) Will she find out if I hide it from her? I can’t afford to jeopardise our relationship.

6) I wonder if I can bear the strain of coping with my illness and sustaining my marriage.

7) Who will be ready to marry a girl suffering from Bipolar Disorder?

8) How do I know that my illness will not get worse over time?

9) Is it fair to burden a girl with my son’s illness~ it is better that he does not marry at all.

10) At the moment my son is not earning. After marriage will his wife tolerate this?

11) Already three have turned down our daughter’s proposal~ is there any point in breaking her heart again?

12) How long will my daughter and to be son-in-law sustain the marriage? If she has to return home later, why get her married at all?

13) Will I be able to conceive? What about the impact of medications on the baby?

14) Can she and I have a child? What if she inherits my genes and my illness?

15) He has already changed jobs seven times in five years. How will my daughter be assured of financial security?

16) My first marriage failed. Which man will want to marry a divorcee who is also Bipolar? I wish we

Many of these questions have actually been asked on our WhatsApp based Peer Support Group, some in our Peer meetings and few one on one. All these hurdles to face even before one sets off for what is the solemnest of all relationships and commitments… imagine how befuddled the person’s mind would be.

Isn’t it an irony that a stable and supportive relationship, especially marriage, can be the bedrock of recovery?
I myself give a lot of credit to my wife of 15 years for my well being and the positive state of my mind. I cannot imagine life without her. Also, physical intimacy is also a natural human need. How can one deny that. Indian society does not yet easily accept sex outside of marriage. Imagine how much an illness is denying a person for not a few weeks or months but for a lifetime.

‘Those who have never known the deep intimacy and the intense companionship of mutual love have missed the best thing that life has to give. ‘ Bertrand Russell

Well, so much about this REAL social problem of major proportions. Let’s come to what can we do resolve the situation. Firstly, all is not lost. There are so many who lead have lived in stable relationships for decades.

Aakash set my mind thinking when he said that most of the existing match making portals based on inclusiveness focus on physical disabilities. Physical disabilities are already known to outsiders, it is around mental illness that there is so much secrecy and taboo. So how about a matchmaking portal which is  created for people with mental illness?

Firstly, let us examine how workable this is. Some of the obstacles which come to my mind are:

1) Would people readily post their profiles with their handicaps honestly in public domain?

2) If they feel hesitant in doing so, would having a filter/login process that ensures selective visibility of the profiles solve the problem?

3) Can it be a chargeable service at nominal rates to cover costs?

4) How many people would actually be benefited by such a venture~ would it be sustainable?

5) Would Counselling by competent Psychologists/Psychiatrists make the matchmaking process smoother?

6) With the diversity of India’s culture, having language flexibility should be a primary objective.

7) Should this portal be restricted only to Bipolar Disorder? Not at all. Inclusiveness cannot stop at just one mental illness.

8) Although primarily directed at those with mental illness patients, this initiative must reach out to those with physical disabilities also. People with no illness could also choose a partner with mental illness, for instance. (My wife is perfectly healthy!)

So much for the posers. After having felt the anguish of so many needlessly lonely souls, is there any doubt about the need to provide a solution? I already have a domain and website which had been created a few years ago for another purpose. I some how feel that it is by providence that Lets Walk Together resonates so well with the theme.

Aakash, maybe, if this comes to fruition, your life partner could be just a few clicks away!

I would really appreciate if readers give their valuable feedback about this dream project either here in the comments or via the Contact Us page or on our WhatsApp Group.
Ideas can transform the world~ yours are most welcome!