A Letter From Your New Bipolar Love
You and I have been dating for three and a half months now. Those who know the intricacies of queer female romance would tell you that’s more like six or nine months. Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that you have expressed having no idea what you are dealing with regarding my newly sprung depressive episode, and that you aren’t sure what to say or do. All of which is understandable. Thank you for expressing your concern.
I told you I had a med-resistant diagnosis of bipolar disorder type I right from the get-go. My candor about my mental health is something you have told me you admire. I have seen you love and respond excitedly to the way the bipolar manifests itself in my mood and behavior. You love my ingenuity, spontaneous warmth, sensual and sexual prowess, creativity and endearingly infectious humor. You have perceived my courage and candor. You have seen much that you like, and much of what you have liked is in the grey area where bipolar influences my personality, and vice versa. They are inexplicably linked.
What you haven’t seen fully is that the things you find hardest to handle about me are as linked to my illness as the things you love about me. The truth is, no one really knows where one begins and the other ends. No one will ever know who I am without the diagnoses because it is part of how my mind works, period. Cures are kind of far off on the horizon for me, and I don’t need a cure anyway. The greatest parts of my life have been the times when I have embraced the clash of bipolar and self, and learned to treat the illness, and flourish therein, and outside its limitations. Acceptance has been my salvation. “I am bipolar” is not a negative to me, and I’d love for you to one day grasp that. I think you know, and I know you want to grasp everything. Your spirit and determination is one of the things I love most about you!
What I am ultimately saying here, as today was the first drastic spot in a bipolar shift since we started dating, is that I cannot teach you in a few words, or by breaking down, everything you will need to know to be able to handle this illness with me. And very often, I am incapable of describing the chaotic processes going on in that mysterious grey matter that is my mind, the human mind, under bipolar fire, or frost, because the mind is the greatest mystery left to humanity. How exciting is it that we can’t know everything, even within ourselves? It may be frustrating, but it also allows room for wonder in the world of human conception and science.
Anyway, I woke up today and was incapable of functioning without weeping. I reacted harshly to you because of it, just because you happened to text at the right moment, and it was unleashed. To be completely honest, the darkness has been building for a while. I hadn’t realized it until the last day or so because stress and anxiety have been masking it. I have been unable to slow down enough to assess my mood. With a severely ill pet, hospitalizations for her, a triggering episode regarding another mental health issue a few weeks ago, and having had responsibilities that could harm others if I did not carry them out — I have had to keep moving. Life stuff and panicked states fueling a neglect of what has been building up like a river underneath. My fear now is that the bipolar depression is becoming more rapacious. Like the exotic green basilisk lizard that can run over water due to the physics of speed and certain body traits, stress gave me the ability to run over the depression’s waters. It was my speed and evolutionary leap… but no such feat can be maintained for long, and doing so takes a huge physical toll.
At some point here, life will calm and mellow. The stressors and necessary demands will ease. I will slow down. I will have to stand still upon the water. I think I started to already. I am going to have to swim now, even with this utter exhaustion, in order not to drown. I am going to need love and compassion in that struggle.
You are going to see the darkness that I have no energy to slowly ease you into. You know, like when I had that panic attack, couldn’t help it, and you saw, even when I didn’t want you to.
I know I love you. I know I am in a state of apathy and anhedonia. I am panicked because I don’t have the strength or ability to paint that picture full enough for you so that I think you might be able to show me love, more love than ever, when I am unable to show you much in return, and definitely not in the manner you have experienced before. I am bankrupt, asking for funds if we akin love to currency.
How dare I ask for that, which I may only be able to express in words, not in actions or deep connection?
I am also worried my depression may say things I don’t mean while it has berth over my mind and body, and I will hurt you, or you will walk away because it will be too much for you.
I am sorry the honeymoon period is coming to a halt so soon.
So what next? What now?
Well, I have some promises for you:
1. I am still me, I am still in here, but I am ill, too ill to surface a lot of the time.
2. I will work with my doctor, therapists and professionals to safeguard a breakdown that could be dangerous.
3. I will try to communicate with you, as best I can, what is going on with me.
4. I deeply assure you and promise, even if it doesn’t seem like it, you are loved and wanted by the me who is not ill. Even if that’s just an inch of area, it is there. I want you here!
5. I will survive this.
Now, what I cannot promise you:
1. I cannot promise you that this couldn’t get ugly at times, though I do have 20 years of experience and tools to use.
2. I cannot promise to be there for you as I normally would, because I am not mentally capable of doing so.
3. I cannot promise you that it will get better quickly, even though it could.
Hey, at least that list is shorter right?
And now, I have some requests, if you can bear with me, and want to fight for this new, blossoming love, through this episode:
1. Please know I am ill, and that it can affect my behavior and who I am at this time.
2. Please treat me as a severely ill person and expect that sometimes the illness can get so insidious that I need emergency care.
3. Please don’t try to fix or solve this. Unless I am suicidal or completely not functioning, in which case a hospital is where I need to be taken, let me have a little power regarding treating an illness that takes a whole lot of power away from me. Over time, you will become a part of decision making, but it’s too early yet for me.
4. Try to remember me the way you love me most, and show me as much empathy and care as you can. Feel free to ask what will help or comfort. It’s OK not to know yet, babe. Any kind gesture or love shown, without expected reaction, can be a comfort. Comfort can literally be everything at times like this!
5. Most importantly, don’t sacrifice your health for mine. Let me know if you need boundaries. Take care of you. Take care of the person I am so smitten with!
If you want this, if you can help me with those requests and I keep good on my promises, I think we will both learn what we’re made of. I believe we will start to understand how to do this.
I will learn to trust you enough to be vulnerable sooner, and we will benefit each other in ways we can’t imagine. The future is endless with a gradual progression into the us we want to become!
All my love, yours truly.
Oh and P.S. You never know, with that mystery that is the human bipolar mind, maybe writing this will kick up some mania, as creativity sometimes does, and then I’ll have to write a whole new letter. Haha! ???? Muah*
Editor’s note: This story has been published with permission from the author’s girlfriend.
We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.
Image via contributor