We’ve been together 9 years, 8 years married. I want to introduce you to my best friend (after Jesus) and love of my life, Mr. Awesome, Mr. Christopher Dale! He graciously agreed to be interviewed and so here is the tell-all story behind my better half, my mental health advocate, my man…
So Chris, tell me, when we first met and I shared I was bipolar with you, what was your reaction?
(Laughs) Well that was like ten years ago.
I didn’t know very much about it and I figured we could work through whatever it was, and honestly there was probably a little bit of – I don’t know if incredulous is the right word – just the thought that I wasn’t completely convinced at that point in my life that most mental illness diagnoses were accurate or real. Based off some people I had seen in my youth and growing up really took advantage of their claim that they were “whatever” their mental disorder was.
So when you met me in person and got to know me, when did my diagnosis become evident to you in my behaviors?
Well honestly other than you taking medication it didn’t make any sort of difference until you had your episode in 2012.
What was that like for you?
At first it was really frustrating, because at that point I wasn’t completely sure of what all an episode like that could entail and so having just gotten back from Mongolia for a month, I assumed it was a marriage difficulty – me being gone for so long. It took a while to figure out that is more than just a tense moment in our marriage.
What kept you strong during that time?
There were a lot of times where I didn’t feel very strong. I would say primarily, the spiritual support and guidance I got from family and friends, and just the support I got from them in general. I talked to my dad and mom a lot, your brother and your parents, and other family that helped me deal with going through that. We spent a little bit of time at my aunt and uncle’s to calm down, and whenever we went up to go to your cousin’s wedding. So it was the fact that I didn’t get left alone in it, while we lived away from family. We had a lot of family that was willing to provide that emotional support – we had friends too who were willing to step in and help out as well.
I feel like one thing that may have made it a little bit more difficult was that we weren’t as plugged in with our church and more friends. It was one of those things that we tried to get some help from the church – and we did get some who were willing to sit and talk – but it felt like either they weren’t prepared to help out, or unwilling.
Now that I’ve recovered, do you have any concerns or fears for my health?
There’s always the concern that if you decided to go off your medication again for some reason, we’re probably going to have an issue with it. The concern that if something were to happen, incredibly unlikely, if we weren’t able to get the medication for some reason, the same concern with someone who’s diabetic or just needs medication for an illness – they get trapped on a deserted island or something weird – that it is going to cause an issue. Not, okay we’re going to get enough exercise. It’s – what are we going to do if we just cannot get you medication?
Also the concern of if we’re trying to have kids, what does that mean for you if we adjusted the medication some, or if we don’t adjust it, the potential ramifications it could have on our kids.
Then, no matter what happens with the pregnancy portion, there’s always the chance that our kids or grandkids could suffer with bipolar disorder as well, with an increased likelihood due to someone in the family having it.
How are you handling my work on the blog and management of the illness?
There isn’t a whole lot to that at this point. You take your medication regularly. It was a gradual process from whenever you finally got on the correct medication, it took a number of months for you to really feel like you were back to a sound mind. I would say even up to a year later you were dealing with uncertainty about your thought processes and your emotions.
And even now, I don’t know if it’s an byproduct of having lived with this diagnosis, or a personality trait, but you deal with a lot of self doubt, where you’ll let other people influence you – greatly – and so a lot of it at this point is trying to help you work on having that self confidence. It’s not a bad thing to seek advice and counsel from other people, but it’s just encouraging you to stand on a point.
I think maybe your diagnosis shook your self confidence the first time and the second time, so it’s trying to help you realize you can have the right thought or opinion about something on your own, and just because someone disagrees with you about it doesn’t mean that you’re wrong. At this point, self confidence is probably the biggest area for working on with you.
And do you have any final thoughts on the work I’m doing and your role in my life?
I know I’m called to be the spiritual leader in the house, I definitely have that strong protector/provider impetus/impulse, and so that’s a big part of how I operate with you. Even whenever you’re not there, it’s the idea that I need to protect you and provide for you. That’s really how I see that role in trying to encourage you in not only to pursue things, but to see them through. With your book, with your exercise, diet, whatever it is you’re saying you want to do, trying to encourage you to have the follow-through and to pursue what it is that you’re desiring to do, and providing that background of safety and security where you don’t have to worry about the other things.
Okay! Thank you for letting me interview you!