Who takes care of the carer? A question that doesn’t get asked often enough, if at all. It never even occurred to Nicky to ask. He was too wrapped up in his own bipolar nightmare to consider it.

Who takes care of my wife while she's looking after me? A full-time job when I'm in the middle of a severe bipolar episode. Who takes care of her anxieties and fears? Attending to me and my extremes is wearing, to say the least. A lonely thankless task. Dealing with the unpredictable, impossible to monitor mood swings. Who is there for her, for my brother, for my close friends, all united by a sense of helplessness. Emotionally drained by my needs and demands. There’s an unholy chaos in the air when I’m very ill. On my part an all-encompassing self-absorption. No one else matters!

I had emerged from a deep depression. A short while later I went into a hypomanic state. Euphoria! I would wake my wife at 5am every morning because I wanted to go shopping. I had to spend money, a lot of it and immediately. A tried and tested symptom of hypomania. She tried to convince me the shops weren’t open at 5am. Something I refused to believe but ultimately had to accept very reluctantly because it was the truth. Finally, at 9am, after what had seemed an eternity, we hit the stores. I was flying, my credit card burning a hole in my pocket. I was out of control.

We went to an exclusive jeweller in Knightsbridge. I chose a very expensive watch. There was no way I was going to pay the full price, just out of manic principle, so I asked for a discount. To my horror I was told they never gave discounts. Never! I was high and very persuasive. With my constant jabbering at twice the speed of light that would drive anyone to distraction I got my cherished discount! To this day I'm not quite sure whether it was my hypomanic charm, or they couldn’t wait to shut me up and get rid of me before the next customer came in and saw me in action. I have a very distinct feeling it was the latter. Meanwhile my wife was completely  exhausted. While I spent money like there was no tomorrow, she could hardly keep her eyes open. When I’m in that frame of mind, I'm pretty difficult to keep up with and she couldn’t manage.  Who takes care of the carer? Certainly not me! 

Other people are the last thing on my mind when my mood isn’t stable. When I'm either too high or too low. I only care about me. Everyone trying to look after me but I’m too Ill to give a selfish damn! My bipolar doesn’t take prisoners. It’s ruthless in that regard. At my worst I make those who care the enemy because I resent needing them. My illness has an inner anger born out of torment that has been growing over time. That torment needed healing and after many years I found a way. It was the way I had avoided for so long. Therapy. I had always maintained my illness was just a chemical imbalance I was born with.  Wasn’t it? Yes, it was but there's a lot more to it than that. I was about to discover it had deep emotional and psychological roots from way back to my early childhood that triggered it. I had stayed away from therapy because I had been frightened of what I might find out. A reason a lot of people, either consciously or subconsciously, avoid it. As I had feared, I found a lot out. There wasn’t much of it I liked, and it hurt like hell. It exposed the demons that needed exposing. I had known I needed mending, but I didn’t realise quite how much. I had to really dig deep, and I can't pretend it was easy. But it was worth it. I had gone into therapy with a great deal of scepticism. To my cynical surprise it worked.

At last, I was able to thank everyone for all they had done, for being there for me when it mattered. But they didn’t need thanking. They had done it all out of love and care. But in doing so they had been through their own kind of personal nightmare. Their own Armageddon. 

Who takes care of the carer!