At the end of a long day all most of us want is to go home. But what do you do when you don’t have a place to call home?
Those of you who followed my blog from its infantcy will have known I lived with my mother after my brother went to university. Now he’s gone and got his expensive piece of paper he moves back here to join the hoards of unemployed postgrads. As most siblings we do not get on. He has such a negative impact on my mental health and self esteem. And after a series of dramatic family arguments I wound up here. Living in my car. Sofa surfing between what few friends I have. And understandably my mental health is suffering. Each day becomes a struggle to just get through work. Thank God I still have a job. When I think about all those living on the streets with nothing it makes me realise hey it could be so much worse. This situation is temporary.
This week I am facing up to the realisation I will have to start viewing bedsits I can afford to rent. I will have to live by myself for the first time and deal with the anxiety that will no doubt follow. But this will be a good thing.
One thing I had always been sure of was that I never wanted to date someone who smoked. So it was a shock to myself that I fell for someone who not only smoked tobacco but other substances as well.
When I met him he was in chronic pain most days, smoking helped relax his body and ease the constant pain. Could I blame him? If I was in pain and found something that would give me a small respite surely I would take it too.
After the surgery I had been sure without the need for constantly pain relief he would stop, and for a while he did. But as time passed I saw him slip back into old habits. We argued. Every time I spoke to him about quitting he would accuse me of trying to control him. Soon I started to realise I was wrong, he wasn’t going to stop. I thought about our future, living together in a home full of smoke that clung to everything. My asthma worsening. Me years later, belly swollen with our baby, breathing it in.
An impossible decision. The man I love, or the life I dreamed of. What did it say about his love for me, that he wouldn’t give this up for us. It gave him a high that my love could never compete with. It gave me a list of songs I can’t listen to. Sore eyes and wet pillows. It broke both our hearts.
Love isn’t easy. And when you are living with Bipolar II love is god damn hard.
For me feeling emotions so intensely is both a blessing and a curse. Falling in love is a beautiful euphoria, but for someone who has known so much pain and darkness, that feeling is addictive. I crave it, more than food more than the sweet release of alcohol poisoning my veins. It’s absence like the crippling withdrawals of a heroin addictive. I can love fiercely, but like a forest fire it burns consuming everything until I don’t know who I am anymore.
Someone once told me nothing ruins happiness like the images we create in our minds. Somehow my mind is capable of creating intricate pictures of exactly how things should be. The problem being I am the only one who can see them!
If I have learnt anything through my mental health journey, it’s that I am not easy to love. I have crippling depressions and crazy mania that cause me to push people away. I get anxious, and insecure and paranoid and no matter what there is always a part of me that thinks you will cheat. I am stubborn as hell and more complicated than algebra.
Even in my current relationship I cause arguments all the time, I can’t stand disappointment or changes and I overthink all the time worrying we aren’t right for each other. But I keep trying to remind myself that while we don’t like all the same things, while there are little things about each other that annoy the hell out of us, we love each other without conditions. We learn to compromise and grow together. And no one has ever treated me like he does, like he would move the moon to make me smile. Everytime I push him away he comes back with understanding and love. And really that’s all that matters isn’t it.
I am not good at love, but I want to be. So if anyone has any words of wisdom on managing a relationship with a mental illness please feel free to share in the comments 🙂
As you regular readers are aware as well a the battles of living with a mood disorder I struggle massively with anxiety. I was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety (aka anxious about a whole bunch of stuff!) One way that manifests for me is Social Anxiety. I forever live in a state of wanting to have people around me, to make new friends, be invited to social events, and also absolutely hating social events and meeting new people. So when my partner asked me to go with him to a wedding reception and meet his friends my first reaction was that sounds great. But the closer we got to the event the worse my anxiety got.
The fear of being left alone, even for a moment while he went to the toilet, was terrifying. Having to interact with people I didn’t know. The worry of what people would think of me. On the day I told him that I just couldn’t do it. And rather than accept that like most people who know me would, he kept trying. Telling me how important it was to him that I was there. How everyone was looking forward to meeting me. He offered to check with his female friends what they were wearing so I could feel secure in my appearance. He promised not to leave my side. At the same time reassuring me if I still didn’t want to go that he wouldn’t be upset with me. After hours this, and the promise we could leave if I didn’t like it, I agreed to go.
When I got there I was nervous as hell! Shaking and sweating. Making a move straight for the bar hoping alcohol would calm my nerves, and at least I would have something to hold to stop me fidgeting. He made sure that we were always touching, whether it was holding hands, an arm around my waist. And the more time that passed the easier it got. Everyone was friendly and soon enough I was joining in with conversations instead of listening. When the time came to leave, I found myself almost wishing we could stay longer.
The moral of the story is sometimes it is better to face your anxiety than miss out on things you might have enjoyed.
And having someone there who is encouraging and supportive can make even the scariest situations feel that bit safer.
As time goes by I have started to notice how those people you thought would always be there suddenly aren’t.
It starts slowly, maybe a few friends start to drop of your social radar, maybe that friend you saw every week now you only see every few months, where your phone was always buzzing with new messages now you are staring at a blank screen.
I was never a popular kid, and I definitely haven’t acclaimed popularity in adulthood. Obviously things change, everyone has their own lives, their careers and their families. But recently after losing what was more like sisterhood than friendship with my bestie, it’s dawned on me that I don’t actually have any friends left. Sure I have acquaintances, I have work friends, but I don’t have anyone that I can talk to about anything, anyone who I can go on a night out with, anyone who I know will have my back.
I cannot say I am lonely. I have social interaction every day at work. I have a loving boyfriend. I share a home with my mum. And I not uncomfortable with my own company. But I am still overwhelmingly sad. I know that this is life, people come and go and really we cannot depend on anyone to be there forever. But I cannot help but feel Abandoned. Worthless. I cannot help but think ‘What did I do wrong?’
As a singleton walking around seeing happy couples it was easy to feel like it was everything I was missing. Easy to convince myself being in love would fix everything. But it’s never that simple.
They say love comes when you least expect it, and in the most unlikely person. 3 months ago when I went to Canterbury with a friend of a friend, on what I didn’t even know was a date! I definitely hadn’t expected to fall in love. Someone 7 years older than me, crazy as a coconut, and physically nothing like anyone I have ever dated. But he makes me happy, even if he annoys the hell out of me sometimes!
So the impossible happened and I met someone who loves the flawed person I am, someone who can manage the challenges my mental health presents. But it is far from a field of roses! Life throws up obstacles whenever it gets a chance, neither of us are perfect and we do argue. The biggest thing is despite being in love, I am not always okay. Love didn’t erase my mental illness, if anything it probably made it even harder! I still have depressive and manic episodes, I still get paranoid and obsessive.
Love might not have helped my bipolar, but my bipolar didn’t stop me falling in love ❤
So you might remember in my last blog post mentioning I had met someone. The last few weeks have been wonderful. He treats me so nice 🙂 makes me laugh, showers me with affection. And when he found out about my bipolar he handled it so well, having experienced a few of my downs and my irrational anger he told me he doesn’t mind at all and my unstable moods keep things interesting as he never knows what mood I’m going to be in.
To say he’s perfect would be a lie, everyone is flawed but I never minded his imperfections.
While it’s only been a month I can feel myself falling for him. And having been hurt before I am super protective of my heart, so I needed to start looking to the future. Despite my bipolar and spending a large amount of time wanting to be dead I know that I really do what to fall in love, get married and have a family. But it’s become clear he doesn’t share that dream. He isn’t the kind of person who believes in compromising on their dreams for anyone, and being 32 already I know he isn’t going to change his mind. So really I have only 2 options..
1. Continue this relationship knowing while I can have love and companionship I will have to let go of my dreams of being a mother.
2. Or follow my dreams and leave now before investing too much into it, hoping that one day I will meet someone who does want a family with me.
I honestly don’t know where to go from here 😦 so I am off to the gym to absorb myself in a workout!