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To the Man Who Fell in Love With Me When I Was Manic

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Living with bipolar disorder has many scary aspects. Things that are often easy for the average person become unimaginably hard for someone with bipolar. One of these things I have had to learn to navigate is dating and relationships. It has been a lot of trial and error; with most relationships, I feel as though I am still building a plane while it is in the air. If you consider this comparison, you wouldn’t want to be flying a plane that wasn’t completely built yet, would you?

• What is Bipolar disorder?

Bipolar has been the reason that a lot of my relationships have ended. People don’t comprehend many of the symptoms and explaining to someone what my illness comes with often scares them off. If the initial statement of the diagnosis doesn’t deter them, it seems it is only a matter of time until they find something that they truly cannot live with, or a family member or friend of theirs tells them to leave me.

The stigma surrounding bipolar makes relationships hard; people often make a lot of presumptions about me because of the way that the media portrays my illness. Even if I never do anything to harm my partner, there is always a lingering fear that one day, I will. Unless you are really educated on mental illness, you most likely believe some sort of stereotype with regards to bipolar, and if you are really educated with regards to the disorder then you know there are many aspects that are difficult and dark.

Even though I am an advocate for those with bipolar, I wholeheartedly admit that some of my days are excruciating. I still experience days where my mental illness brings me down and makes me act out of character. I fully acknowledge that my loved ones are impacted by my disorder and I would never force someone to stand by me or remain in my life. I do not want to have to hide the person I am, as I have had to in the past. And to live a lie would be a disservice to not only myself but my partner. My parents are bound to me by blood, but the decision of a man to love me regardless of my illness is one of the bravest decisions that one could make.

To the man who decides to love me regardless of my mental illness:

I remember the day I told you I was bipolar. Your reaction and response were unlike any person who has come before you. “Oh, that is so cool.” This is what you said.

(An important tidbit for the readers would be to disclose that my now boyfriend is a physician.)

You continued to ask me questions, the best questions I have ever been asked with regards to my illness, and not once did you say something offensive or demeaning. Every single statement you made with regards to bipolar disorder was correct, and this was an incredible change. You continuously told me how amazing it was that I was so successful and resilient — that even though you barely knew me at the time. you were beyond proud of all my accomplishments. This conversation set the tone for our entire relationship.

In several days, it would be uncovered that you had met me in a period of darkness where my illness was very prominent. Having treated many patients with bipolar disorder, you were able to tell I was in a state of hypomania and I was indeed rapid cycling. When this would scare any ordinary person away, you pulled me closer. This is when I knew you were different.

You would work a long day, treating patients and saving lives and then you would spend your free time guiding me through a difficult time. You remained so calm and patient and you used your knowledge to help me in ways you will never know. I disclosed so many scary truths to you, and you refused to let it deter you from me. You know secrets I have been afraid to tell anyone else and you have refused to let me give up on myself. You consistently remind me that although the statistics with regards to bipolar are grim and discouraging, I am so much more than a statistic. Every day, you empower me and remind me I am a beautiful human being with a beautiful mind.

We have had some very difficult and real talks about our future and what it may hold. You and I are both very aware that our future may be a roller coaster filled with many ups and downs. The difficult reality is that many individuals with bipolar disorder make poor decisions when they are ill and that these decisions end up impacting and hurting loved ones. You have informed me that you are very aware that I may one day make some very big mistakes and we will face them together and fix whatever mess has been made. You believe in me and my ability to choose life over death, even though statistics may suggest otherwise. You believe in me to be faithful and to love you. You are very much aware that loving me will never be a walk in the park, and yet you choose me time and time again. You have made it clear that you fell in love with me when I was ill, and that things can only get better from there.

Thank you for choosing me, over everyone else, and for making me feel like I truly deserve you. In every other relationship, I have felt as though I was unworthy or a burden. You have given me so much hope. Even if our relationship does not withstand the test of time, I have learned so much from you. I have never been so comfortable in my own skin and with my diagnosis. I can truly attest to the fact that you are not only an incredibly knowledgeable doctor, but one of the kindest souls I have ever encountered. Every day, your mind and hands touch and save so many people, and I am so happy that even though I will never be a patient of yours, you have chosen to save me time and time again.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Originally published: April 27, 2019
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