Why is it that whenever we go through a particularly difficult time in our lives someone automatically thinks we're bi-polar and in need of happy pills? In this Prozac nation full of Pfizer babies, it's much easier to cry depression than it is to man up and deal with the problem at hand. Instead we choose to pump ourselves full of mood stabilizers in hopes of curing some kind of chemical imbalance, a hypothesis that was coincidentally discovered during the same time as the pharmaceutical boom of the 1950's. Has our generation really become that quick to buckle or are some of us just better-equipped to deal with the highs and lows of this rollercoaster called life than others?
As I sat in the doctor's room waiting for my diagnosis to come through, I started thinking about commitment and the mental strength it takes to love someone on a permanent basis. A long-term relationship, and a marriage in particular, is the ultimate indication of love, one that was designed to test our emotional fortitude. It comes with a number of extreme contradictions that become even more intense the longer we stay in a particular relationship. Pain, joy, happiness, resentment. Everything is amplified. We love them the one day and we hate them the next. Was love also bi-polar and if so how do we overcome the negative side effects without any form of medication? Do we simply give up and declare the relationship emotionally unstable or do we fight the symptoms before they become critical?
My dearest English friend Anabelle had lived a very full and independent life before she eventually settled down and got married at the age of 40. It was quite an adjustment going from single international tour operator to working super-wife and mother of two. In eight short years Anabelle had learned how to juggle the various roles in her life, a feat that was not easy to accomplish considering the premature cracks in her marriage. She'd conquered rumors of infidelity, insolvency as well as a number of physical complications that could have ended her husbands life sooner than she had hoped for.
Despite all the drama, Anabelle always seemed to remain calm. At first I thought it was because she was British but I had soon discovered that the key to Anabelle's success was not self-medication but a little relationship tool called diplomacy. She had successfully managed to perfect the art of negotiation between any two opposing thoughts, ideas and feelings to the point where all parties involved were able to reach an amicable and mutual decision. "There were many times that I thought of divorcing Reggie and sometimes I find myself resenting him for things that have happened in the past but at the end of the day, if you still love someone and choose to be with them, you'll find a way of making things work."
Had Anabelle come up with some kind of "relationship prognosis"? Were conciliation and communication the natural endorphins needed to overcome the emotional imbalance in one's relationship?
My own relationship had recently gone through a state of clinical depression and I was just about ready to raise the white flag on love for good. Instead of confronting the problems in our relationship, Aiden and I decided to avoid each completely. This unhealthy approach went on for days until the suppression finally turned into a full-blown shit storm. Things were thrown and harsh words were spoken. I was furious, he was hurt. It all became a little schizophrenic but by the end of the day, we had reached a mutual understanding and respect for one another, and peace had finally been restored to our three year relationship. They don't call it crazy stupid love for nothing.
There seems to be a quick-fix pill for everything these days, guaranteed to bring eternal sunshine to any spotless mind. I wouldn't be surprised if some lab had already found a way of curing the downsides of being in a relationship. Imagine how well that would go down. Until then, we have to make mental adjustments and put a little effort into making something worthwhile work. Despite all of love's trials and tribulations, you know you've struck gold when you find a relationship able to withstand the most manic of situations. Hold onto the man that will love you for better or worse, for richer and poorer and in mental illness and in health.
When it comes to commitment, I couldn't help but wonder, are we all a little mad?