Diagnosed With A Mental Illness After the Wedding Vows – The 10 year Anniversary edition

weddingToday,  my husband Kevin and I celebrate our 10th year of marriage! We met at a local bar on New Year’s Eve 2003, so it was only fitting to be having dinner there tonight with our 3 kids, where it all began 13 years ago.

When we first met, I had only recently turned 23. I had graduated from college that Spring and was working at, what I thought at the time was, my dream job as a Program Director for a local YMCA . I had worked at various YMCA facilities throughout college and loved the job as a camp counselor that moving up to management was the next best step. The bar I was at on New Years Eve is a local hot spot but not in the fancy schmancy kind of way. Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern is a place a lot like the one depicted in the television show “Cheers.” You walk in and everyone knows your name. There is never a cover and you don’t have to be all dressed up to walk through the front door. An attire of jeans, t-shirt, and flip flops in the summer is perfect. Now, in an effort of full disclosure, I was a regular at this bar since I had turned 21 so yes, they knew my name. My girlfriends and I knew the bartenders by name and it wasn’t out of the ordinary to get to the front door after waiting in line to get our ID’s checked and to have our drinks waiting for us, chilled and ready to drink. So yeah, I totally was “that girl at the bar.”

That night I was taking pictures with all my friends – those I knew from high school and those friends I had met at the bar over the years – and out of the corner of my eye I see this guy who keeps making eye contact with me. I noticed him and he was noticing me. The night went on and after a little liquid courage, I went up to him and wait for it…this was my first line to who would later be my husband – “is that your beer?” A tall glass of beer was sitting on the edge of a foosball table and, even though I wasn’t a mother at the time, I was concerned it was going to spill….or I just made up something to ask to break the ice. He said it wasn’t his beer and we started talking, introducing ourselves – I was there with a girlfriend from high school and he was there with a guy he knew since elementary school (who would later be the best man in our wedding).

Kevin was 29 at the time and had moved back home after spending college and then some in Myrtle Beach (who wouldn’t stay in Myrtle Beach after to college right?). The night went on and everyone was having fun ringing in the New Year. At some point, he asked for my number and I (remember I now had a management job and had business cards) gave him my YMCA business card that had my work number on it. It was a Wednesday night and I didn’t work again until Monday. Let’s just say I didn’t think that through very well. At the time, there was no Facebook, MySpace or even smart phones (if there were, I didn’t have one) so a pen and paper OR a business card were the only ways to go. I obviously chose the latter. Poor guy had to wait 5 days to call me and you know how it goes in the dating world, you don’t want to call on that first day so he waited until Tuesday to call me at work. We scheduled a date to the movies and as they say, the rest is history!

We dated for a year and were engaged a year and all this started by meeting a guy at a bar on New Years Eve! We had an amazing wedding surrounded by our loved ones. We bought our first home shortly after along with two cars, found out we were expecting our first child on our one year anniversary, a couple different jobs and then 4 years later we had two new additions to our house when the twins arrived. Life was “normal” before then. I’m not saying that the boys birth was when it went downhill but that is when I really began to struggle: It was bed rest for two months, visiting the NICU for 9 days, many sleepless nights…err sleepless weeks, PPD diagnosis, hospital stays, medication, medication changes, financial hardship and living paycheck to paycheck, panic attacks, nights of insomnia and later receiving the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in 2013.

The man I married has been my constant. He isn’t the type to jump up and down with excitement and thankfully he isn’t the type to get really low with emotions either. He is about as even keel as it comes – thank God because one of us is! When you get married, you only know what is in past and have dreams and desires of what you want the future to be. You pray that the person you are going to commit the rest of your life to will be on the same page or at least support your (and you support their) dreams and desires. We had no idea that mental illness would play such a big role in our lives and our marriage but it has and we have made it work. We have to make it work. We have 3 children who depend on us to make it work. And we love each other. The last ten years have been interesting but also a great testament to our love and commitment to each other.

The last ten years have been interesting but also a great testament in what it means to marry someone “in sickness and in health and richer and poorer.” We’ve lived all of that – the sickness and poorer parts a little more in the last 5 years but from such pain, so much good has come.

The last ten years have been interesting but also a great testament of what it means to marry someone “in sickness and in health and richer and poorer.” We’ve lived all of that – the sickness and poorer parts a little more in the last 5 years but from such pain, so much good has come. I know that the man I married on April 22nd, 2006 isn’t going to walk away even if he didn’t sign up to marry a woman with bipolar. He is still by my side 3 years later. We’ve gotten through this storm. Life will bring us more but with him by my side, I know it will all be okay. Thank you for loving me through all of this. Here’s to ten, thirty even fifty more years together Kevo! Happy 10th Anniversary!

2015 Family pic