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One of the Most Difficult Parts of My Mental Illness to Talk About

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One of the most difficult parts of my illness to talk about is attachment. I often feel like I can’t accurately express the degree of my attachment issues to professionals either because a) I’m attached to them and don’t want to weird them out or b) because I’m afraid they’ll dismiss it as a “normal” part of life.

While attachment is a normal part of life, it can definitely get out of control. For me, it seems to always have been a part of my life for some reason. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been very emotionally attached to people whether that be teachers or friends. I would get upset in elementary school when we changed teachers each year. I would be overly protective of my friends and it would result in fights born out of fear of abandonment and jealousy. Of course, it would never end well for me and those friends would invariably leave me, the “possessive freak,” and I would be alone again.

Attachment can be a wonderful thing though. After all, how could you build any sort of meaningful relationship without getting attached? It’s a part of any patient-doctor relationship, yet for me it is also a massive source of distress and anxiety. I fear getting attached, as nothing lasts forever and I know the relationship will end. I will feel abandoned by yet another person I put trust in, yet I can’t help it and let myself get attached anyway.

It’s a part of being human, I realize, yet it often feels as if life would be easier if I didn’t form these unhealthy attachments. Not to sound melodramatic, but when they leave, it’s traumatic. It feels like a massive loss, like a death to me. It genuinely feels like I’m grieving — for them, the long relationship that couldn’t be, the relationship we had, gone forever. I look for their face wherever I go, hoping to bump into them just to see them one last time, yet I also know that that cannot be. It would only cause more hurt, like ripping a scab from a healing wound.

I’m leaving my adolescent service soon and transitioning to adult services. Saying goodbye is going to be one of the most difficult things I’ll have to do, yet I must do it. Attachments are a part of life and the attachments and bonds I have formed with my team there have brought a lot of pain. But they have also been wonderful and therapeutic and have allowed me to open up when it felt impossible. It’s going to hurt immensely, but perhaps I have to look at the bright side: what we have achieved and what we have built. It will hurt, but it’s a pain I can live with and have lived with before. I’m not necessarily ready for the pain, but I will never be. So here we go, into the painful unknown.

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Thinkstock photo via nuvolanevicata

Originally published: July 18, 2017
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