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Learning to Wait for Love When You Have a Mental Illness

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“It’s a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply.”

David Jones

One day, you realize you’ve stopped living and are just waiting. Just trying to get to the next day while living in the thought of tomorrow. That’s not living. And the problem is, you don’t even know what you’re waiting for and fear what it might be.

You’re OK for a while. You talk normally, sleep normally, eat normally, laugh normally and those around you, love you. Then something suddenly happens and it’s like a switch turns on without any notice. The darkness creeps in. Then you are anxious. You become more anxious because you realize you’re anxious. Next you’re terrified you’re never going to make it back up again. You’re gasping for air and screaming but everyone passes by not knowing a thing. They can’t keep up with the cycle. When you’re feeling “up” you’re fine. You’re happy, jolly, expressive, fun, energetic, talking fast. It’s like you’re excited, but you know yourself what follows will break you down as quickly as it can switch on in the first place.

Then you’re asked, “everything alright kid?” And you say, “I’m fine.” You walk away and you realize, you’re not fine at all and feel “crazy.” All you can think, over and over again is, What the hell is wrong with me?

You hate the constant feeling of being a burden. Creating problems for everyone to deal with. Believing you are the problem. You provide them with disappointment. You feel the best thing you can do is to wear your best fake smile and stand tall and pretend all is fine for their sake. You hear “you’re so much better now and actually look healthy.” You smile but in your head you say, They think I’m fine now. And the pretending cycle continues.

You get attached to those you shouldn’t. Then you fall into a downward spiral. You want to please, make them proud. You want to be honest about yourself, how you feel, how you think. But you fear. You fear they’ll run when they know. Or they’ll stay, but judge you. Or, worst of all, wish you never told them anything. You can’t undo it. A conversation like that can’t be forgotten.

When you’re honest and they stay, you then worry everything will be blamed on your illness.

“Wow she’s moody. Must be an episode.”

“She’s not eating. She needs help again.”

“I’ve said something I shouldn’t and she’s reacted badly. I’ll blame it on an episode.”

Then you wonder. Is my illness now a part of our relationship? Like a third person. You fear the next moment will cause the break up. When they decide it’s too much. You’re too much.

They walk away because “I’ve got stuff I need to sort out for myself” or the classic “you’ve already got enough on your plate.” You think you’re used to it, but each time it gets harder because each time you convince yourself it won’t happen again, but it does. And you break. And break again. You’ll continue to break until enough is enough because some things are too broken to be fixed. My biggest fear is one day those I love will see me the way I see myself.

So what happens if someone comes along who does care? Not just says they “care” but actually wants to be a part of it and part of you. To learn about your illness and what you go through on a daily basis in order to provide support. You never would think it would exist, but it does. You meet someone you can talk to in whichever way you need or want. To shout and scream or cry and hug. To hold you and support you. To have fun with you and keep you feeling positive. To love you when you can’t even love yourself. That moment when someone comes along and makes you feel worthy and like you have a place and that without you, they wouldn’t be them.

It’s not always easy. There’s still feelings of responsibility and guilt, but sometimes it’s what you need. To have someone who makes it seem worthwhile standing here in this world today. Calls you brave when you don’t feel it, calls you strong when you know you’re not being strong and calls you amazing for holding on no matter how hard things are right now. And best of all, they are proud of you, who you are and all you are yet to be. This someone will come along and say, “I know you’re sad, so I won’t tell you to have a good day. I advise you to simply have a day – stay alive, eat, wear comfortable clothes and just don’t give up on yourself yet. It’s OK if the only thing you did today was breathe.” And this someone reminds you that you are here today living despite it all.

Sometimes the moment you stop looking for something to get through the daily pain and struggle is the moment someone will come along and change your outlook. To live, not just survive. To believe maybe, just maybe, your good moments or your good days may just happen a little more often and last a little bit longer.

When you stop looking, it’ll come.

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying I will try again tomorrow.”

Mary Anne Radmacher

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Thinkstock photo via Archv.

Originally published: March 10, 2017
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