What Have Relationships Taught me about Bipolar Disorder?
I read a stat, that said 90% of people in bipolar relationships will ultimately fail.
That was pretty discouraging. I have only failed at every serious relationship I’ve ever had, hearing that was quite terrifying. To be honest, all these relationships did not end for reasons specific to me, but I look back at some of my behaviours, my feelings and my thinking. Without bipolar disorder, these experiences may have been quite different. But for me, there was something to be learned. Something about myself. Something about this illness that I sometimes forget exists until I am emotionally charged.
See I have always had these intense, toxifying relationships with people. I mistakenly used to call it “passionate relationships”. Truth is, there were just toxic and highly dysfunctional. Mind you, multiple relationships were with Narcissists/Sociopaths. (Yes, real ones!)
I came to understand through multiple traumas, that it all stemmed from childhood wounds. Wounds that had not healed. Wounds I am still healing right now. Childhood trauma is another article all together that I could go on about, but this article is focusing on what these relationships have taught me about my bipolar disorder.
I am a medicated bipolar girl, faithfully every night, I attend therapy and I do the work I need to do. But even though all these things are in place, there is no actual cure. Which means I still have the ups and downs, usually quite manageable, and not the dangerous extremes.
Quite manageable to me I mean. You see when I am single, I do my own thing. I spend lots and lots of time alone(not depressed, just introverted and have lots of goals) and I am horrible at adjusting to sharing my time. I honor my time and relationships have taught me that even more. While friends would want to be with their boyfriends 24/7, I wanted time to myself to self reflect, recharge and practice self care. I am easily overwhelmed and overstimulated by my environment. Relationships where there is a lot of fighting completely drain me and I get quite stressed during them. Like I said though, the type of men I chose were adding to this chaos. My bipolar brain loves excitement and impulsivity at times. These “Dangerous” men were quite attractive to me. This has taught me to be more self aware and conscious of my choices. Reminding myself butterflies in your tummy are not always a good thing. It’s probably your gut warning you! I have learned to not accept fault for everything. Yes, I have been unrightfully blamed all because I have a mental health condition. Talk about stigma. I have learned I too am allowed to have “normal” human emotions while also having more extreme ones.
My anger is
rooted in injustice and unfairness. My anger was on display quite ravenously
during some relationships. Looking back I was just protecting myself from extreme
verbal and emotional abuse. I was also so terribly hurt from certain
experiences and did not know to express myself or get help. I have learnt it
was okay to feel angry, but how can I learn to be more calm now. I accept I
have mood switches, mine are usually 3 days up, 3 days down from what I can
tell. This can cause confusion in a relationship, as when I am down people
think it is because of them. It is not, and even if it is, it still may not be.
Brain chemistry is weird. I have learned to honor the ups and get more done,
and always be more loving and affectionate. When I am depressed, I may not be
the most happy, cute, kissy girlfriend.. but I will be soon. I guess the
dynamics keep it interesting. But I am not trying to be difficult at all. Bipolar
is quite difficult for me and everyone involved; and a partner must try to truly
understand or at least offer understanding. Empathy goes a long way when
dealing with a partner with any mental illness, and I do not believe all
bipolar relationships fail. It just takes two people who love and support each
other to work out all the kinks. We really are great lovers!
Plus, I learnt: I am a badass and take no shit!
Sara Kay xo