Saturday, 20 August 2011

Relationships + mental illness

So it's been a while ! First things first - I scored myself an appointment with a psychiatrist in two weeks. I'm so happy I'm finally seeing a specialist and can take some real steps towards getting better.

But anyway, moving on. The point of this post is not to make it a sappy 'I love my boyfriend so much' blog, but I want to discuss some of the challenges I face when in a relationship. I won't be discussing previous relationships because a) I've changed a lot the past year or two and I really wouldn't be discussing the same 'me', and b) I would be really unhappy if I found out my ex's were discussing me and our past relationship to anyone who'd listen so it's just a 'treat other people how you want to be treated' sort of thing.

I'm currently in a relationship with this boy, Morgan, and have been for over a year and a half now. I think I'm with someone who fits my lifestyle and long term goals, we are so supportive of each other and just want each other to be happy. Having said that, I do have issues. Not that he has ever done anything wrong to me, but there are some things that I really struggle with.

To begin with, my jealousy is the biggest problem we face, and being jealous is just awful. Mostly during my 'down' moods, I feel really unlovable and feel generally bad about myself. When I'm in these moods I constantly think that he's going to find someone better who isn't so 'fat/ugly/stupid/boring/sooky/etc.' I don't really think it's an inherent insecurity per se, because I generally think I'm alright, and gosh, when I'm in an 'up' mood I'm the number one member of the Bianca fan club and don't think Morgan would ever leave me or cheat on me. It's just these stupid 'down' moods that make me question everything and draw negative conclusions, and Morgan has to suffer through having a girlfriend who is bothered by things she usually isn't.

My mood swings are also a huge problem, but I try to protect Morgan from them. When I'm sad, I just go to bed and sleep a lot. When I'm in an 'up' crazy mood, I go to my parents and can act really silly and no one bats an eyelash because there are so many people there, and my family are used to my silliness. But sometimes, they can be unexpected and then I worry he feels like he has to look after me. There have been nights where I'll go to bed early because I'm sad and then come back out of our room hours later crying my eyes out and telling him I want to die. And so, he carries me back to bed, tells me he loves me and rocks me to sleep, and I usually wake up in a slightly better mood. Other times I will be so irritated at nothing in particular, and get angry because he's tying up his shoes too slowly or something. It's so unpredictable but usually, as I said, I try and stop and think what I'm doing because I really don't want to do anything to push him away.

My general motivation in life also ties in with my mood swings. When I'm sad, I'll have to force myself to get out of bed to go to uni and work, and at timesI don't manage to do so and just stay in bed. I think it must be really frustrating for him because there is nothing he can do to make me feel any better, he just has to watch me sleep my days away or drag myself around in a somewhat zombie like state until I eventually feel better.

Another aspect of my mental illness that I think is frustrating for him is the physical aspects of being sick. I constantly have headaches, pain in my joints, sore muscles, and I am usually ridiculously tired all the time. He's constantly reminding me to take panamax or ibuprofen but I've given up on those drugs for most of the part. If I take a lot, the headaches go away, but nothing else does. So basically I'm often lying around with some kind of ailment and there's nothing anyone can do about it and it's often frustrating to watch (I imagine).

So basically, the hardest part about being with someone with a mental illness, or atleast the mental illness I have, is nothing is really predictable. My moods and thoughts are independent of what is happening in my life and aren't easy to change, so whoever is around me basically has to get used to it. It's important to note that I'm incredibly lucky to have a partner who is so supportive of me, and, well, 'puts up with me' during the bad times, because the good times we have are amazing. I think at the end of the day he knows how much he means to me and I'm pretty darn sure I mean a lot to him. Many people aren't so lucky - many people with mental illness either end up with someone who takes advantage of their vulnerable mental state and hurts them (physically, emotionally, etc) or they end up with someone who loves them but due to being mentally ill, end up driving their partner absolutely crazy. If you have a mental illness and you are in a relationship, COMMUNICATE ! Tell them how you feel, talk them through why you do the things you do and if you don't know just tell them that. Try and get help too ! It's better being with someone who is struggling but doing everything in their power to get better than someone who sits around crying or complaining and doesn't do anything about it. Because really - it does get better. Pre-medication Bianca around my first major depressive episode and medicated Bianca as of now are completely different, and no, not every day is smooth sailing but I know there is hope and I look forward to the future. And I look forward to building my future with Morgan because I know just how lucky we are to have found each other.


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