Marathon runner describes how the sport helped him support his wife through ...

sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more

The second time Matt Fitzgerald’s wife tried to kill him, he was convinced that she was going to succeed.

Charging at her husband with a seven-inch kitchen knife, before clawing at his face and lashing him with a studded belt, Nataki screamed: ‘Nobody's going to save you this time. You're all alone.'

After suffering two painful swipes from the belt, a shoeless Matt escaped their home in his car, only to be pursued by his wife who threw herself on the roof of the vehicle screaming insults and curses. 

Sports writer and endurance athlete Matt Fitzgerald has spoken out about the struggles he and his wife Nataki faced when she suffered with bipolar disorder

Sports writer and endurance athlete Matt Fitzgerald has spoken out about the struggles he and his wife Nataki faced when she suffered with bipolar disorder

During the attack - one of several that occurred throughout their marriage - Nataki was in the grip of a devastating mental illness that sent her into a downward spiral of paranoia and psychosis.   

Over the course of a decade, Nataki had repeatedly attacked Matt with a kitchen knife, throttled him, attempted to run him over with her car, and even tried to burn down their house with him inside.

Speaking to DailyMail.com at his parents' home in Rhode Island, Matt describes the pain of watching the ‘most peace-loving’ person he knew turn into a completely different woman. 

'I didn't know that I was going to come out of some of those moments alive,' he says. 'Nataki was a strong woman. And she just became almost supernaturally strong during these psychotic breaks. 

Matt and Nataki in a recent photo. It has been nearly six years since Nataki's last psychotic episode and her health is now stable

 Matt and Nataki in a recent photo. It has been nearly six years since Nataki's last psychotic episode and her health is now stable 

He describes an incident when he locked himself in their home to escape Nataki's rage, and she responded by lifting a four-foot plaster bird bath with 'Herculean ease' and hurling it at their glass back door. 

'[The illness] took her natural personality and just flipped it on its head,' Matt says.

As an endurance athlete and coach, sports writer Matt is used to writing about training plans, performance goals and athlete nutrition. 

But his most recent book Life is a Marathon focuses not only on his relationship with sport, but more specifically how this has helped him endure the challenge of loving and supporting Nataki through her illness.

Matt, now 48, grew up in rural New Hampshire and first met Nataki on a blind date when he was 26 and living in San Francisco. He describes how he found the 22-year-old Nataki, who had been raised in Oakland, not only beautiful but also disarmingly straightforward and genuine. 

'I was just struck by her authenticity,' he says. 'I’ve always been attracted to people who are just genuine and she seemed that in spades to me.'

He recalls the moment he realized he wanted to be with Nataki forever. Four months into their relationship he brought her to his hometown of Madbury to spend Thanksgiving with his family, and Nataki took it upon herself to feed hors d’oeuvres by hand to his grandmother, who had severe dementia and was unable to feed herself. 

'We’re such an odd couple that when we meet people you can see them sizing us up,' Matt says. 'I wanted the book to give people a sense of how it does work, why our chemistry is what it is, and why I consider her to be a really special and remarkable woman.'

The couple married in 2001, but shortly into their marriage Nataki, who had previously been religious but never to an extreme, turned to Christianity with an almost fanatical fixation.

Nataki is pictured with Matt during the time that her mental health was deteriorating. Matt describes how his wife fasted down until she was little more than skin and bones

Nataki is pictured with Matt during the time that her mental health was deteriorating. Matt describes how his wife fasted down until she was little more than skin and bones

Her Sunday morning visits to her Pentecostal church were soon joined by evening services and Wednesday night Bible study, and she spent increasing amounts of time praying, fasting and watching Christian television.

Matt describes how his wife gradually lost the ability to enjoy anything in life that was not part of serving God. She stopped listening to secular music, watching secular television, buying clothes or jewelry, and began referring to sex as doing her 'wifely duties' before abstaining completely.

Matt, who himself had recently taken up endurance sport with an obsessive focus, initially failed to see that Nataki's mental health was deteriorating.  

'I was a little bit uncomfortable, but I wasn’t going to be hypocritical because I wanted freedom to do my own stuff and I wanted to allow her that freedom as well,' he explains.

'So that’s what I did. But she just kept going further and further down that path.' 

Eventually Nataki stopped bathing, rarely slept for more than a few disrupted hours a night and fasted until she was little more than skin and bones. 

Nataki aged 22 in the outfit she wore on her first date with Matt. He describes how when he met his future wife he was struck but how she was not only beautiful but also genuine

Nataki aged 22 in the outfit she wore on her first date with Matt. He describes how when he met his future wife he was struck but how she was not only beautiful but also genuine

Matt at the 2017 Dust Bowl Marathon

Matt at the Glass City Marathon in 2017

Matt estimates that he has run around 45 marathons. He is pictured in 2017 during the Dust Bowl Marathon (left) and the Glass City Marathon in, Toledo, Ohio (right)

Matt describes how she 'spent the better part of each day locked in our bedroom, kneeling in front of her Bible, wailing piteously in unknown tongues'. 

'One day she asked me in dead earnest if I was Jesus,' he adds. 

Matters came to a head when Nataki accused Matt of poisoning her, flew into a rage and tried to cut his throat with a kitchen knife, slashing his fingers as he attempted to defend himself.  

WHAT IS BIPOLAR DISORDER? 

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. 

These moods range from periods of extremely 'up', elated, and energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very sad, 'down', or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes).

An estimated 4.4 per cent of US adults will experience bipolar disorder at some time in their lives.  

Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness. Episodes of mania and depression typically come back over time. Long-term, continuous treatment helps to control these symptoms. 

Source: The National Institute of Mental Health 

Matt escaped the house and dialled 9-1-1, which resulted in Nataki being arrested and taken to a private psychiatric hospital. She was sent home 12 days later, having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and prescribed anti-psychotic medication.

The medication caused drowsiness, muddled thinking and joint pain, which meant Nataki went through periods where she resisted taking it. But even when fully compliant, she would suffer terrifying psychotic episodes.

Matt describes how his wife complained about vampire spirits sucking out her energy and ventriloquist spirits taking over her tongue, and recalls an incident when she put on a ball gown and tiara and promenaded up and down their block with their puppy Queenie.  

But Matt says his lowest moment came when he was sent to jail for domestic assault after hitting

read more from dailymail.....

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

NEXT SEC fines blockchain company Block.one $24 million over coin offering