There is More To It …

surreal art

I once went to a forum that is on a popular free dating site, looking for an answer to ..something.  Probably related to what is the proper dating etiquette if you have a Serious Mental Illness…when are you obligated / expected to tell the person you meet and date. 

Well according to a few of the threads there, it isn’t even an issue because there are warnings all over the place, on threads that were started by someone asking what to do with someone they are dating that they just found out is bipolar, they like them a lot by the way but …   BUT…

RUN AWAY AS FAST AS YOU CAN…  THEY ARE EMPTY AND SOULESS AND WILL SUCK THE LIFE OUT OF YOU…  THEY DON’T DESERVE CONSIDERATION OR LOVE…

Yea… I can’t wait to get out there and date…  NOT.

Never again.  For more reasons than that, but I don’t want to talk about that anymore right now.

Now, I want to say that these threads that I read this stuff on were obviously written by ignoramus pezheads who can’t keep their mental disorders straight (no one deserves those kinds of comments but the jerkfaces had all kinds of misinformation)   Unfortunately, there were hundreds of them…  hundreds that I saw before I gave up reading.

That is one reason I am a little hesitant at times.   And I have been really truly blessed to have found people here who are not ignorant and judgmental to counter the ones who are.  Slowly but surely, I am learning to trust and believe ….

Sometimes, I think that the people who care about, care for, and love someone with bipolar disorder actually have it harder.  Mental illness doesn’t just affect the people who have it, it effects the ones who love them.

Sometimes the effects are devastating,  at the very least confusing, but the one big difference is that the friends / significant other / care giver  can choose to walk away.  The person with bipolar doesn’t have any such choice.  There is only one way out for them.

They certainly don’t get enough attention or recognition.  It’s not easy to stay in a relationship of any type with a someone who is mentally ..ill,   Sometimes there are 1000 reasons to cut the ties and only one to stay.

But that is why it must be really hard to be involved in any capacity.  It’s a choice, and if it ever does become unbearable, unsafe or something you can just no longer do, the thought of having to make that choice, and the actual leaving, must be excruciatingly painful.

It’s a touchy subject for both those of us who have this illness, through no fault of our own, and those that love us. in whatever capacity.  There usually ends up being a lot of finger-pointing and blame.  The disordered, hurt and upset that someone would leave them because of an illness, the leavers, hurt because they can’t make their point without looking like insensitive jerks faces.

But I tell you this, and I am pretty sure of myself on it, those of us who have bipolar disorder, are well aware the effect our illness can have on our relationships.

I think that it is only at the point that we accept and begin to live with our illness rather than deny and fight it, that we are able to let go of the blaming and understand that the people who truly love us…  the ones that really truly care and want to be part of our lives and have us in their lives… those people,  do not want to leave, and they especially don’t want to leave because of us being bipolar.

But sometimes, it really is the best thing

Its unfair.  But is it any different really than leaving someone because …(insert any old reason here)

See the thing is, in my mind, it’s not really about bipolar disorder.  Ok it is but here is what I am getting at,

A relationship of any kind with someone who is bipolar is the same as a relationship with someone who isn’t, just…more.

more complicated
more exhausting
more confusing
more fun
more rewarding
more sorrow
more joy

All of the above apply to any relationship.  Relationships aren’t easy anyways.

In my mind, what it is really about is …  communication.

Yup,  and of course, that means MORE communication.

Think about how many times you have seen it happen, or maybe it has happened to you.  Someone changes a habit or all of sudden withdraws, or gets snarky and short with a friend, lover, significant other and this is different then the way the person normally acts.

If it’s the first time that a bipolar person is having an episode around someone who cares about them, it can be really truly hurtful and confusing.

Forget the bipolar for a second though.  What is the first impulse or thought of many people?

What did I do wrong?  They are mad at me?  or maybe…

Wow what a jerk face.

Not everybody, obviously will assume they have done something wrong or that the person in question is mad at them, but a majority will start there.

And then, they won’t ask.  They will assume.  Once someone assumes they know your motives or your problems, especially if they assume its about them, the wall goes up and eventually…  the relationship crumbles.

And the sad reality is, that the person with bipolar, needed that person more than ever but didn’t know how to ask, or even tell them what was going on.

Speaking from personal experience, if you are lucky enough (using the term loosely)  to catch the full brunt of what I have going on …  I trust you enough to ask for help, I just don;t know how to say it.   And if I get snarky and short with a friend, someone I love, there is a little voice somewhere in me that says, don;t do this, it’s not their fault.  TELL THEM.

I am learning .. to ask for help, and to …share.

Or, speaking again from experience, once I have been in a rut too long, my brain starts to tell me things that aren’t really true.   About myself, and the people who I care about and care about me.

A good example, or explanation…  HERE  in the Unbearable Darkness of the Blessed Light Bringer.   If I can;t bring myself to ask, I will eventually convince myself, or rather my brain will that I have been cast out and turned on.

It takes a huge effort to not give in to irrational and illogical thoughts after a while.  And all it takes is one little change in ..mannerisms, or habits from someone to  have me thinking I am no longer of any use ….  it doesn’t bear a continuing explanation because it’s not a thought I want well-formed pinging around my brain anymore.

My point. is that all this can be avoided with communication.  Just like a normal relationship of any kind.  Just um….more.

The burden does sometimes fall more on the person who isn’t disordered.  Much of the time.  At times, it gives an uneveness of contribution to the relationship, with the bipolar person seeming needy and the non seeming to be a care giver.  But ..ahem.. it isn’t always like that.  

A relationship in any capacity with a someone who has bipolar can be as they are, unpredictable, highs and lows, ups and downs…fierce, loving, passionate, fun, spontaneous…all that goes with that person.

If the lines of communication are kept open, and assumptions are put aside, if doubt and fear of rejection are not given a place of primary concern, a relationship with someone with bipolar disorder, be it a friendship, or more, can be one of the most rewarding in your life.

I am not just saying that because I am bipolar.

I would also note that change, and relationships and that kind of stuff can be a trigger for bipolar episodes and again, in my experience, there is a period of adjustment where things may be worse, and those that aren’t up to it will leave then, but once there is a level of comfort, stability is again possible.

It takes a special kind of person to love or care about someone with bipolar disorder and to stick it out through the highs and lows.   That’s not to say that those who can’t or won’t are not special.

We are all special in our own way.  We all want, and deserve love and friendship.

What more is there to say?

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37 responses to “There is More To It …

  1. Lizzie – Do you follow A Clown on Fire? His wife is bipolar and he speaks very candidly about what it is like to be married to her and his love for her. I find his blog very inspiring and heartwrenching as well.

    You are never alone, my dear.
    GC

    http://clownonfire.wordpress.com/

  2. Every so often, you put up one of these that makes me think “And I know her. How effin’ cool is that?”
    This is another one of those.
    In the time I’ve known my bipolar friend, I have yet to regret a second of it.
    And doubt I ever will.

    You should post this in that dating site forum.
    Just sayin.

    • I write it…I post it. I gather myself in and I wonder..should I have put myself out there…Sometimes I get agitated..and I doubt myself, then I see ..If I tel you I burst into tears when I read your comment… don;t feel bad… they wouldn;t be sad tears… thank you my friend… I completely …I burst into tears….

  3. I remember being in love with a bipolar person once, only she didn’t know it at the time. The highs were very high, the lows were very scary. But without the label of “bipolar”, it was just a couple people trying to hold together a regular relationship with the only tools they knew: patience and compassion.

    • remember being a girl, falling for and loving a boy who turned out to be more of a man than many I have met since. I loved him before this had a name, before it twisted me up.. and he showed me the world and taught me so much that I still remember to this day…..and loved me for who I was. when I slipped, he was there and he did not blame me or call me crazy..he just was there and tried so hard to help me..his mom treated me like I was her daughter and many times when he was away at college, I spent time with her… whatever she thought of me..she always showed me care and compassion… I put him through hell for loving me…and because I loved him too…only then I didnt know why or what I was doing or why I couldn’t stop.. I know I hurt him, I hurt myself.. I didn;t want to but I did not know how to stop… There are times over the years I have wondered, if there had been a name put to what I was .. would we have figured out that it was never about looking for someone other than him..I was looking for me. the girl I was when he first loved me…But for sure I know that if not for him..just who he was… I would not know my worth. now..disordered brain or not, because of that, because of him I don’t feel I ask too much when I ask to be given a chance,despite having bipolar disorder….,,he did… It may not have had a name but he knew something was wrong and did not abandon me for being ..the way I was… am,,it was not him that thought me unworthy,,,it was me,

      It sounds as if you tried to make it work..By doing that you did not turn her away for what she could not even name but tried to find a way to help her. and still loved her…I can tell you without a doubt that just by that… you made a huge difference in her life. . .

  4. Dating is frightening for me too. I often get “I am not making you happy” which of course is nonsense… this disorder comes with its own set of rules.
    I have often wondered if there are any bipolar single groups… LOL… who better to understand what we go through.

    • thats funny you mention that – I was thinking this morning that if you put a bunch of us together and someone who doesn;t have bipolar..and has never been around people with bipolar disorder… then it would be they who wont fit in…but it would be so different too…. I just..can’t even fathom starting over again…but can’t imagine not being loved…ever again either,,, if you started dating someone and found out very early on…when it was only a crush,,they have bipolar,,say they aren’t stable ..or even trying,,,what would you do? Not trying to put you on the spot. just wondered if you ever thought about it,,, I never did til someone asked me… Good to see you by the way…I need to come and catch up over your way…I got blindsided …

      • That is a hard question! Brandon was like that and I knew early on that he had mental problems that he didn’t manage. I guess it depends on the man… or the intensity of the crush. I would hang out a bit to see how things are because I would hope that someone would do that for me.
        Now that I am single again, I have been running the dating thing through my head. I want to be single for at least a year to concentrate on myself and my children… but when it comes time to date… do I mention it from the get go?? I use to mention it right away to weed some people out… some stuck around, some didn’t. But I made the biggest mistake when I was denial and never told my second husband I had a mental disorder. He didn’t know until my world crashed down around me and I finally told him because I could no longer afford being in denial. My actions caused me to lose a great man and our family.

      • i know what you mean.. about the wait and see…but really I never stopped to think – I know what is involved..how bad it can get…what if I had to choose…if I liked the person enough to date them..well then I would just have to see how it goes…but I would kinda be afraid of getting sucked into the ..intensity…especially.. denial has not caused me a relationship.. not knowing has.. and I dont have a clue when you tell…. some people say full disclosure but I say that isn;t fair cause if you start with casual dating…thats a lot of people you wouldn;t normally tell…on the other hand… if you are open about it.. then why does it have to be a separate conversation unless they have questions…sigh… someone actually suggested that anyone with a mental illness ought to put it on their profile…. funny huh? bipolar…not contagious but we should tell you…be obligated to tell…HIV deadly..and you dont have to tell anyone a single thing… I dunno the answer… .

  5. As you say communication in any relationship is the key to it being what it should and can be. But as you also say and I can attest to, it is sometimes hard to express our needs to another and so the lack of, said necessary communication….It’s a tough one!……….Diane

    • yea..that kinda is how it comes full circle… if we can never express our needs…eithr by learning them if that is the issue or telling them if it is that… then it isn;tr about communication being the probelm..its about depression..or bipolar…or….. at least that is what it would seem… and thus why ..it is impossible …just keeps going round.

  6. Communication where both people understand each other in a relationship is so rare. You walk away thinking you know what the other person meant and they think they know what you meant and it’s nothing like either of you meant! Well, what can you do but just keep going forward! Wonderful insights you’ve given us Lizzie! <3

  7. I say that the ‘right’ person will be able to hold on and see you through it!

    I get it though, I am difficult ,at best, to live with, but Mountain Man sticks with me. He goes to my ADHD therapy appts with me when he has hit his breaking point and he sees it through. That’s what love does.

    You are worthy of that and I know there is someone out there who will see you through it ( in addition to your friends here), just like MM sees me thru it!

    Don’t give up Lizzie!

    • that is also commitment… and you are right about the right one… I think it takes more than love to be in a relationship – beyond friendship with people like you and me…commitment…think about how many days if someone said we could get away from it we would… that doesn;t make it right for anyone else but it sure puts a heck of a different perspective on it doesn;t it?

  8. Just some thoughts on telling someone you meet right away about your bi-polar illness. I personally don’t think you need to do that..anymore than you would disclose other personal details about yourself right off the bat. I would think that getting to know each other and sensing what kind of person you both are would be the most important. Then if you like what you ‘see’ and the relationship develops into more that a casual dating friendship..then I would maybe see explaining that you have BPD and what it means or could mean in any relationship…and then see what the reaction is..I guess I don’t mean you should let yourself fall in love before telling, but when you see what kind of person they are and whether there is a need to ‘disclose’….not sure I’m saying exactly what I want to but you get the gist I guess….Diane

    • I do..and I think it makes a lot of sense..and too I guess if you get someone that freaks out because you didnt tell them right away and they feel like you trapped them…well…I dunno.,..maybe thats not who you want to be with anyways…its all kinda confusing..so I am just avoiding the whole mess

      • And yet, as I’ve been following the comments, I find the idea of a dating site for those whose brains work differently very very intriguing…

      • why? I mean..intriguing like if you were ever going to one..thats where you would go? You’d fit in.., I mean.. well take that in the good spirit it was intended….

      • I think the idea of those with similar interests/attitudes who are looking for company having a place where there doesn’t need to be that extra layer of caution and stress is a great idea.
        And I take that as a high compliment LizzieC!

      • well … they have sites by age and ethnicity, orientation and religion.. also sites by what you are looking for..i.e. booty call.. flirt . marriage. .. I don’t see why there can’t be sites by mental. .. state? scatterbrained.com?, <~ haha that was autocorrect but hey why not?

  9. I love you Lizzie. You are one of my favorite people in the whole world, and if people can’t see how amazing you are, they are blind.

  10. You provide amazing insight and allow us to learn. Communication at the best of times in relationships is sometimes like walking on broken glass. We start with the notion the other person hears us, not what we have said but what we are thinking and haven’t bothered to say; the intent behind our words.

    You Lizzie are a wonderful woman, deserving of someone who will lift you up and hold you. Compassion is always a two way street not a dead-end. Communication is simply part of compassion. I suspect there isn’t ever a perfect time to reveal all of our cracks, whether they are the history of our lives or simply who we are, what we are blessed with. When you meet the person whose light shines you will know, then you won’t feel as if you are speaking in tongues nor will you feel as if he is either.

  11. I love this article so much. It reminds me of a friend of mine who had bipolar disorder and everyone loved her just the way she was. But, every once in a while, someone would be really mean or insensitive to her and it would make her so sad and hurt. She had good friends that helped her in times like that, though.

    • hi :-) How are you? I have been thinking about you wondering and I was going to email but here you are :-) I also dread my email box.. not a good excuse but you were on my mind :-) I have been in and out.. so not really aware that .. the length of time and stuff.. I noticed your absence but didn;t realize the length until earlier today.. Glad to see you and let me know if I can help in any way at all….

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