My husband is bipolar.
I haven’t written about this before. Partially because I don’t enjoy writing nonfiction (occasional articles for the local newspaper notwithstanding), and partially because it’s been so well-managed that it hasn’t impacted our life in almost a decade.
Mostly, I haven’t written about mental illness because I don’t want my husband to be defined by that label. He’s many things – a Ph.D. in organic chemistry, a talented and beloved teacher, a helpful beta reader, one hell of a good cook – and I don’t want his accomplishments or his role in my life to be reduced to a person with a serious mental difference.
But last Monday, after nine years of stability, he had a manic episode.
I drove him to the ER and waited with him for six hours. On Wednesday, I drove him to his first day of treatment at an exceptionally good outpatient center (McGeachy Hall at Maine Medical Center, if you’re interested). And, on Thursday, my children broke my laptop. The laptop that holds everything I’ve written in the past five years, from The Trickster’s Lover to my current fantasy romance WIP.
Oh, yeah… and we got a puppy two days before my husband had to go to the ER.
It’s been emotional.
But, between the dog, my husband’s treatment, and the broken computer, I just didn’t have it in me to promote the damn thing.
I have been thinking about it though, and here’s why: With Fenris, I wanted to create a romantic lead who wasn’t neuro-typical. Fenris isn’t bipolar; still, his physical tics, difficulty understanding social cues, and overall desire to run away into the woods were all my attempt to reflect a level of mental difference.
The Fenris Series isn’t my only piece influenced by mental illness, of course. My own social anxiety came through in The Trickster’s Lover, and my struggles with post-partum depression were reflected in The Wolf’s Lover. But The Fenris Series is closely influenced not only by what it’s like to struggle with mental differences but also what it’s like to love someone who does. It’s run through the filter of a fantasy world and epic mythology-level struggles, but parts of the Fenris series – especially Loki’s conversations with Sol in The Monster Freed – come directly from my own life.
Don’t worry; we’re all doing okay over here in the MacLeod household – the puppy is slowly learning not to sink her dagger-like little puppy fangs into us, my computer was actually repaired by the angels at Portland’s Necessary Technology, and my husband was discharged from the treatment center after four days with a new perspective on his diagnosis and what he calls “about six months worth of therapy.”
And guess what?
The Fenris Series has a happy ending.
Because I don’t just imagine that it’s possible to live a happy, fulfilling life after being diagnosed with a serious mental illness.
Reader, I know it’s possible.
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