My wife is just now coming out of a severe depressive episode and is doing much better. However she doesn’t always recognize how well she is doing. Is this common and how can I help her understand the progress she has made?
If I had to guess, I’d say this is very common. It’s hard for us (with bipolar) to recognize when we are improving because in our heads we are still having the same thoughts and feelings. We are still depressed or insanely happy. BUT suddenly it’s under control. We’re able to function with our depression and we’re able to quell our impulsivity before it gets out of hand.
The funny thing is though, we don’t see it. We KNOW we are finally getting out of bed and going about our daily activities. We KNOW we have stopped going off on shopping sprees when the bank account clearly does not warrant it. We KNOW we aren’t stuck in a closet crying. We KNOW things are different, but we don’t always see them as better.
When I got out of the hospital, I was told I was a completely different person. My husband said he could finally deal with me and I was finally acting rational. To me, nothing had changed. Sure my meds had been tweaked and I was no longer sleeping 18 hours a day, but I was still upset about all the things that ended up putting me in the hospital in the first place. I was still sad. I was still just as lost and confused as I was before I went in. But what I failed to notice is that I was finally DEALING with it. I was facing my problems, not running away (or in my case sleeping it away) from them.
It will take more time for your wife to notice her progress than it will take you. You’ll see the changes instantly. To you they’ll be huge. She’ll be oblivious to those changes. To her any progress will be small and slow.
The best thing you can do is remind her how well she is doing. When she handles a situation that she would have previously broken down over, point out the fact that she just did something she couldn’t do just a few weeks ago. Show her the progress. Give her the validation she needs to see that she is indeed doing better and remind her that it takes time to heal. Nothing happens over night.
You can’t change the way she feels about the situation, but you may be able to change how she views it. Redirect her pessimistic views and show her the half fullness of the glass. She’ll catch on. (But remember…you need to be patient too!)