Relationships and Mental Illness

It’s no secret that relationships take work. For those like me, it might take a little more. There are three types of relationships that I am going to discuss–Family, friends, and significant others. When you think of relationships, you think of stability. When you pair a relationship with Mental Illness (in my case, Bipolar 1), it’s hard to have that. Sometimes your relationships will fail, and that’s okay. I have learned that I am not for everyone, but so what? The people who matter will stay. It takes both people to make a relationship work, especially when your loved one suffers from a disorder.

Significant Others

Growing up, I didn’t have the best luck with guys. I remember when my first boyfriend left my mom a note in our mailbox about my virginity. Yes, you read that right. Lol. After that ended, I stayed in a relationship from sophomore to the beginning of Senior year, and it didn’t end well. I don’t enjoy talking about my trauma from before Tristan very much; it’s just always been something I’ve put away in a box. Senior year was a roller coaster. I was all over the place, and I went through things that I’ll cover another time. I met Tristan when we were young, he was this little thing with long-ass hair. We got together a few months before I left for Mississippi State. It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years. No relationship is perfect, and I don’t always make things easy.

I did a little research when I decided to do a post about relationships. Ever since I got diagnosed, I’ve had this internal struggle about Tristan having to deal with me for the rest of our lives. Is it fair to him? His life with me will never be “normal”, and that makes me sad. Tristan doesn’t have the best understanding of mental health, but he’s made such an effort with all of it. Having Bipolar Disorder can make simple things turn into absolute turmoil. My biggest problem when I am Manic is that I start to put myself in bad situations, and Tristan is always the one who has to pick up the pieces of my wreckage. When the depression comes, I withdraw. I shut myself down. It’s unfair to the people who love me…but it isn’t their fault. I hope they know that.

When I asked Tristan what it was like living with me, he said it’s something he can’t describe. That sounds about right, LOL. When you look at Bipolar Disorder, you see that 90% of marriages fail. Yep. They fucking fail. Now, I come from a family where divorce is not insane. I know that it happens, but 90%? I mean, come on. For a relationship to work, BOTH partners have to be actively involved. If you are dating someone who has a Mental Illness, do your research. The more you learn, the better role you can play in your partner’s life. If your significant other is open to it, I suggest therapy. Speaking to your partner and learning when you should help or when you should leave them be. Having a relationship with a Mental Illness isn’t impossible. It’s an ongoing effort on both sides. I believe that with the right person, it will all work out anyways. Now, my relationship is far from perfect. But if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that I’m going to marry Tristan. PERIOD. If you haven’t found your person yet, I promise you will. Don’t ever give up hope. You deserve to be loved.

Friends

Jeez. Time to talk about friendships. I assume it’s hard being my friend, but I also feel like I can be a good friend to have. Although, manic me tends to be shitty. I’ve lost a lot of friends over the years. Not all of them were my fault, but some were. For friendships to work, they can’t be one-sided. For the one who has the disorder, you have to remember that they struggle as well. In the past couple of months, I have learned what kind of friends I need and why some friendships ended. We all need someone to lean on. Learning how to maintain friendships while being Bipolar is key. But, not every friendship will last. You have to accept that. You have to let them go.

I said above how I’m not for everyone, and that sucks sometimes. I can see how I can be too much for some people. In the past six months, I lost a friend who meant a lot to me. Before I got on my new medication, I was shitty to her. That friendship is one I will always cherish and miss. Much love to her. Although there seem to be a lot of downfalls, there are some good parts to being my friend. My experiences have made me more empathetic. I’m an extremely good listener–probably because I know what it feels like to not be heard. I also know what it’s like to not fit in. In high school, I had very few girl friends. Girls never seemed to like me, I always bonded better with guys. That could have been why the girls seemed to hate me. LOL. I also think I was misunderstood by many. It takes a special person to stick around through all my shit.

If you have a friend who is Bipolar, the first thing you can do is RESEARCH. I say that a lot, but it’s for real one of the quickest ways to learn. Remember that medication doesn’t remove their disorder. I went through so many different meds before picking the right ones, and I’m still making changes. Maybe one day your friend decides they can stop their meds…I am proof that this is never a good idea. A friendship with someone who is Bipolar is all about rolling with the punches. Your friend experiences the highs and lows to more of an extreme than others. Keep this in mind when a minor thing sets them over the edge. There are so many people in the world who have loved ones with a disorder. Find a support group!! Go to therapy. If you are committed to your friendship, you will learn how to handle it. Although, some people can’t handle being friends with someone who is Bipolar. This is something I don’t hold against any of my old friends. I know it can be rough at times. Don’t be ashamed of that either. But if you commit, full send it. Go all the way in for your friendship. It’s the only way it will work.

Family

I suffered a lot growing up. My mental health problems started in middle school. In sixth grade, I started cutting myself. In seventh grade, my mom caught me. Can you imagine? My teenage years were a mess, lol. I did not make it easy on my mom. I was the BEST liar, and I got away with so much. I was extremely depressed in high school. I withdrew from my family, especially my dad. He reminds me so much of me that it scares me sometimes. I started going to therapy after that one night in the kitchen. My mom called my dad over that night, and we sat outside on the patio and talked for hours. They were scared, and rightfully so. It was only the beginning of my long struggle with mental health.

Bipolar Disorder can affect your family members in many ways. They can feel guilty or worried about what you are going through. It disrupts everyone’s routines and throws everyone for a loop. It can be stressful. I know there have been many times that my parents felt like there was nothing they could do. You have to be able to come to terms with their diagnosis. There’s no right or wrong way to feel, but you have to learn how to handle your feelings. Some people feel like they have lost the person they once knew, or like they have to grieve their thought of how it was going to be. Your siblings may feel like they have to help manage you. My brother was a godsend when I was growing up. He was always there when I needed anything. My little sister is only eight, and I’ve tried my best to shield her from the hard things. One day she’ll be old enough and ready to hear about it. There are so many ways to help deal with having a loved one who is Bipolar. You just have to be open to taking that step.

Again, start by EDUCATING yourself. Order some books. Go online. Get some gosh darn KNOWLEDGE. Learn how you can best support them. You can start by getting with your family member and asking them how they feel you can help. There are some times when I don’t want help. I don’t need people to see me when I am in some states, especially my younger sister. Things can get dark, and they can get rough. Just be there, and let them know that you love them no matter what. Love them in their darkest (Romans 5:8). There are also so many support groups out there. I promise there are others out there dealing with the same thing. There are groups for people who are Bipolar, and there are groups for people who love someone who’s Bipolar. Go to one of them! I promise you they help. One of the things that came up recently in therapy was the option of making a “game plan”. You can get together and figure out the best ways to help them when things aren’t going well. Lastly, remember to come at it with NO judgment. You can’t help someone that you are too busy judging. I promise you can get through it. My family and I have made great strides in rebuilding our relationship. I’m so thankful for the way it is now.

To sum it up, it can be work to be in a relationship with someone who is Bipolar. To all my friends and family, I love you guys. Thank y’all for all the support. I truly don’t know what I would do without you guys. For the friends I’ve lost along the way, I’m sorry. There are many days that you cross my mind. I know I was a lot to handle. I wish you guys nothing but the best (you know who you are). I will continue to watch y’all grow and cheer you on from afar. To Tristan, I love you. Your unwavering support is incredible. You love me despite everything, and you have no idea how much that means to me. You are my absolute best friend. I have enjoyed these past seven years so much, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us. And lastly, to my readers. Thank you guys for coming back to my blog. I had no idea how much support I would get when I started this. I also never thought I could reach people. I’m so happy that I can be a voice for those who haven’t found theirs yet. I hope that I am helping in some way. See you next time.

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