Married to Mental Illness

Married to Mental Illness

Please welcome my sweet friend Rachel Daniel of Brave Pursuit to the blog today!

This November, my husband and I will be married for nine years. While I am more in love with my husband today than I ever thought possible, I have to be honest and say that our marriage wasn’t always so great. In fact, I don’t think we got to the “honeymoon” phase of our marriage until we were three or four years into the marriage. Those first few years were rough, and looking back on things, I know now it was only by God’s grace and mercy that we made it to where we are today. 

This has to be one of the hardest blog posts I’ve ever shared because I want the world to look at and love my husband in the same way I do, through the eyes of Christ. However, to love someone with the eyes of Christ, you have to see every part of them with honesty and transparency…which is why I’ve been so guarded up until this point to protect the image of my husband.

The honest and transparent truth is that I’m married to a man who battles with a mental health disability: Bipolar Disorder. 

Neither David or I knew that he was suffering from a mental disability until things began to rapidly unravel in our marriage. He battled his disability while I battled my inability to meet his needs due to my own selfish pride, stubbornness, and unrelenting desire to always be right (classic baby-of-the-family syndrome).

Praise God that in spite of our difficulties, we both desired to stay married and do whatever we could to save our marriage. We ended up seeking professional help in the form of a counselor where David was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Once diagnosed and medicated, we were left believing things would be “fixed.” We had no idea that our marriage would still require work because a single pill doesn’t “fix” everything. Actually, we had no idea that our marriage would require more work than most marriages. 

What was heartbreaking is that as a social person, who has always lived my life like an open book, was when I shared with other Christian friends what was going on in our lives, the response went from dismissive to fear. It was then I realized that our culture, particularly in the world of faith, wasn’t speaking and supporting the battle for mental health, and I felt like I had nowhere to turn. I shut down and did my best to hide the struggles in our marriage from everyone for fear or tarnishing my husband’s image. God’s Word reminds us, “For I hold you by your right hand – I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you,” (Isaiah 41:13)

As a Christian wife married to a man who lives with a bipolar disorder, God has taken me on a spiritual journey that I never could have anticipated. I grew up in church my entire life, but I never knew what it was to truly have an intimate relationship with God until I desperately needed His grace and mercy over and over, minute after minute, every day to learn to be the wife my husband needed. Being nice, keeping a clean house, and raising our kids wasn’t what my husband needed. With the help of God every single day, I get the chance to really know what it means to be a Godly, Proverbs 31 wife that my husband needs and desires. I rely daily on prayer and counsel from God to help me in my marriage (Romans 73:23-24).

So what does it look like being a Godly wife to a Godly man who battles for his mental health?

On paper, it looks like most marriages: put God first in my life and my marriage, pray constantly for my husband and myself, communicate with my husband regularly, always forgive, and love him as Christ loves me. Click To Tweet

The reality of walking those ideas and principals out though often looks different than most marriages. For example, I am the thermostat for our house. I do my best to always gauge when the emotional well-being of our family is in normal ranges or when I can sense a shift in the climate. It’s my job, to understand and prepare to handle when the climate changes due to my husband and children’s emotional state. For example, when my husband is in a manic cycle, it’s my job to interpret his needs: space, sleep, adjustment in medication, extra attention, sounding board, problem solver, etc. Sometimes, this involves me understanding and encouraging him to spend time in his “man-cave” for a few days without the pressures of being the world’s best dad and husband. Sometimes I take the kids out for most of the day, giving him peace and quiet. Other times, this may mean that I set up a date night for us so that I can give him my exclusive attention without any interruptions. Other times, he just needs me to listen to him vent about his frustrations with life, kids, work, finances, and the other million things he’s carrying day to day for our family without judgment and without trying to “solve” his problems. I’ll admit, I struggle most with trying not to “solve” and just listening probably more than anything else in our relationship. That’s where God has to remind me day after day to show my husband I can simply listen, and God has to grant me a lot of grace and mercy because I fail at this task regularly. 

I used to rely solely on my husband to meet my emotional needs, and when he failed because he was a human, I was crushed and left unsatisfied. It was only when I turned to God to meet my emotional needs that I found a joy that I never knew existed within the contexts of my marriage. Because I rely on God’s ability to fill me with joy, when my husband is human and makes mistakes, I can still love him, forgive him, have a passion for him, and find happiness in him.

It was only when I turned to God to meet my emotional needs that I found a joy that I never knew existed within the contexts of my marriage. Click To Tweet

In recent years, David and I have become best friends. We don’t have the perfect marriage. We still fight. We handle the difficulties of him being bipolar daily. I fail to be the kind of wife and mother God has called me to be at least once a day…okay, it’s probably more like ten times a day.

Even still, by the grace of God, our marriage is wholly satisfying and filled with a joy that neither of us thought we could experience.

I always hold onto Romans 8:16-17, “The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

We learned (often times through trial and error) how to be each other’s spouse, best friend, partner, lover, and warrior. I wouldn’t wish for anyone to battle a mental disability. However, I know that because of my husband’s daily ability to be an amazing husband and father in spite of his mental health challenges, he has learned how to show compassion to me and our daughters in depths I don’t possess. He picks up the slack when I’m failing (especially in my third trimester of pregnancy with our third daughter), and he has an uncanny ability to get things done despite overwhelming obstacles. A bipolar diagnosis has taught us to rely on Christ in ways we could’ve never imagined, thus leading us to our best marriage ever. 


As Rachel so eloquently shares the struggles in life are really real, but SO IS OUR GOD, and He is always there to see us through! I am so excited to share The Struggle is Real: But So is God Bible Study is now available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon and launches May 7, 2019.

The Struggle Is Real, But So Is God is a 6-week journey through the Bible that will:

  • Equip you with empowering wisdom.
  • Help you grow spiritually by claiming God’s promises as your own.
  • Teach you how to declare scripture over yourself to strengthen your inner being.
  • Show you how to conquer challenges by activating God’s Word in your life. 

Pre-order your copy today The Struggle is Real: But So is God.

Much Love,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Misty Phillip

Rachel Daniel: Married to Mental Illness

Rachel Daniel: Married to Mental Illness

Rachel Daniel shares the challenge of being married to a husband who suffers from bipolar disorder, and how God has used this in her life to make her more dependant on the Lord. With the help of the Lord, she has actually learned to count it all a blessing.  Rachel is a wife, mom, friend, worship leader, prayer warrior, and blogger at https://brave-pursuit.com.

 

Dear Wife

Dear Wife

One of the places I encourage women in addition to my blog, speaking or podcast is through my writing at A Wife Like Me. A Wife like me exists to create thriving marriages by providing life-changing biblical truths and tools to wives. We have a fantastic team of contributors, the A Wife Like Me team who has come together to provide a resource for wives to grow closer to Jesus, and their husbands through our first book, Dear Wife.

I recently got a chance to read the proof of our book, Dear Wife: 10 Minute Invitations to Practice Connection with Your Husband devotional book this week and I bawled HAPPY TEARS! It is so beautiful and life-giving!!! This week on By His Grace Podcast I sat down with Amanda Davison The Founder of A Wife Like Me, and fellow contributor Natalia Drumm. We talked about the struggles of connection and communication in marriage, and the heart behind the Dear Wife book.                            

I would LOVE for you to join us as we release this beautiful offering into the world. We have a fantastic team of contributors at A Wife Like Me team who have come together to provide a resource for wives to grow closer to Jesus, and their husbands through our first book, Dear Wife. Dear Wife contains 26 invitations, with ten minutes of practices, to grow in your connection with your husband. Two of the invitations in the book I wrote and collaborated with the talented contributors who are accomplished authors, speakers, and Christian leaders. These wive’s love the Lord, and have walked through fire in their marriages and have lived to tell about it. Each invitation includes scripture from the life of Jesus, a message, and thought-provoking reflection questions.

The A Wife Like Me team has poured so much prayer, energy, and love into these pages!

                                                       

Do you wish you had more alone time with your husband? Do you find yourself going through the day-to-day busy routine of life while your marriage is on cruise control, without intentional time together spent connecting? Do you desire deeper intimacy and love with your husband?

Dear Wife Book

Being married is great, but being married and feeling intimately connected is what every wife desires. Dear Wife provides you with twenty-six heart-changing invitations to discover how Christ desires connection with you and how through connection with Christ, you’ll develop a deeper connection with your husband.

In this book, you will:

  • Replace boring and busy with building deep intimacy and love

  • Swap ongoing complacency with intentional connection

  • Spend guided alone time with your husband and God

  • Experience more depth in your marriage relationship

  • Restore and build connection with God and with your husband

Dear Wife is available for pre-order now and launches May 1, 2019.

Much Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

Misty Phillip

Struggle for Connection and Communication in Marriage

Struggle for Connection and Communication in Marriage

I am delighted to share a project I have been working on with A Wife Like Me. The struggle for connection and communication in marriage is real. Join me as I sit down with the founder of A Wife Like Me Amanda Davison, and fellow contributor Natalia Drumm as we discuss the need for communication and connection in marriage.

We have created a resource to help wives grow deeper in connection to their husbands, by first developing an intimate relationship with God by looking at the life and ministry of Jesus life here on earth in our book Dear Wife. To connect further with A Wife Like Me go to awifelikeme.com and join us in the gathering space on Facebook.

Dear Wife is available for pre-order now at Amazon or Dearwifebook.com.

 

 

Daughters of Dementia

Daughters of Dementia

It is difficult for someone to understand the complexities that accompany being the caregiver of someone with an illness or special needs unless they have walked a mile in your shoes. Over the course of the next two weeks we’ll be delving deeper into the subject of caregiving. My guest today Lauren Flake has not only found a purpose for her pain, but has joined forces with a friend to make a difference in the lives of others. Please welcome Lauren Flake to the blog today.


Daughters of Dementia

by Lauren Flake

I met my friend Shana face-to-face for the first time over enchiladas and margaritas. We were born and raised in Austin and San Antonio respectively, after all. We had far more in common than our Central Texas roots though. First and foremost, we had both reluctantly earned the title of “daughter of dementia” in our early twenties.

That night, we talked, through many tears and a few laughs, about our mothers’ battles with early onset dementia. We lamented being helpless to stop their decline and being devastated by their worsening symptoms. And we compared the handful of humorous moments we experienced as well.

If you can't laugh at the situation every once in a while, you may not survive caregiving. Click To Tweet

Shana’s mother passed away a few months before, in the final stages of Lewy Body dementia, which mimics the symptoms of both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. My mother, on the other hand, was still in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s. Her journey towards the end was just beginning.

In our first meeting, Shana and I discovered so many similarities in our moms’ and our stories. Both of our mothers had been writers, for example. Her mom was a journalist; mine worked in public relations and was a high school English teacher. Shana and I were both writers active in state politics and living in Austin when we met. Most importantly, we both took on the critical role of power of attorney and primary contact for our mothers following their difficult-to-navigate diagnoses at the start of our careers.

After seeing a local news story featuring my family and reaching out to the reporter for my contact information, Shana became the mentor I needed most in that moment. I know now that God brought Shana into my life at the exact right time to show me that I could and would survive this heartache. She gave me hope when I had almost none left.

Shana told me honestly, without any sugar coating, what I could probably expect in my mother’s remaining years. She offered me a shoulder to cry on despite her own unbearable grief. She made sure I knew it was okay to be angry and scared. Shana used her traumatic loss as a chance to offer me healing through our connection. For removing the isolation I felt before meeting her, I am forever grateful.

She ended up moving out of state and then all over the place for work a few years later, but Shana and I still keep in touch. Her friendship is the inspiration behind Daughters of Dementia, our growing online community connecting women caring for family members diagnosed with any form of dementia. Our ultimate goal is to match current with surviving caregivers for friendships and mentorships like ours that began by sharing Tex-Mex over a decade ago.

We want to use our painful losses to help other women in similar situations find their footing again. We want to show other caregivers that through our suffering, we persevered and came out stronger on the other side.

We want women to know that they are never alone in their grief and sadness. Our loving, righteous God sees and feels their hurt, and so do we. He counts every tear they shed and redeems every heartache they experience. And in his great love, he gives us one another to lean on through the pain:

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! ” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 ESV)


Lauren Flake is a writer, artist, wife, girl mom, and Alzheimer’s daughter near Austin, Texas. She is the author of two award-winning children’s books for grieving preschoolers, Where Did My Sweet Grandma Go? and Where Did My Sweet Grandpa Go?; the co-founder of Daughters of Dementia; and the editor of Love of Dixie magazine for Texas women. Find Lauren at LaurenFlake.com and on Facebook and Instagram at @loveofdixie.


The By His Grace podcast is now reaching people across the globe! Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. Please continue to share meaningful episodes with friends and family because you never know who is suffering and needs encouragement.

Much Love,

Misty Phillip

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