Early this year I had another episode of being manic, which led to me acting bizarre around a number of people, including friends. After coming back down to reality and becoming depressed for many months, I eventually got my health back to a reasonable state and had time to reflect on my actions. It was at this point I attempted to reconnect with the people I had disturbed in some way.
Unfortunately, when it comes to mental illness, there are those who can only see you for the person who is unwell, without recognising that you are going through the motions of being mentally ill and this becomes what you are judged by. Others distance themselves even if they do understand, because they don’t want someone in their lives who disrupts their world in that way. Very few seem to accept you and stand by you….so my attempts to reconnect with those who were affected mostly ended in disappointment and rejection. I lost a community of people who I was a part of and it was that blow that affected me most. All this results in more isolation. Recovering and making new contacts presents a greater challenge, especially in such a small town.
Another thing I wanted to mention, is that around all this I entered a romantic relationship with someone. While this is wonderful and I couldn’t be happier, I do have to take into consideration my ill health and the journey of building other connections, as well as creating a life for myself, without depending too much on the relationship for support. I think this is the important factor in having a successful relationship. No matter how understanding and how much your partner is able to relate to you, being able to manage and thrive with tackling your mental health alone, is in my opinion, essential. We have to depend on ourselves to overcome our difficulties, first and foremost.
While being around people who have similar mental health issues can help and certainly bring people together, it does not guarantee the success of forming a connection. I think a number of people who have mental health issues have been hurt by people in the past and it can take a great deal of trust and confidence to open up and form a bond with someone. From my own experiences, having lost so many people over the years, getting close to others comes with the anxiety of pushing them away or disturbing them to the point of losing them. What does it take for someone to stand by you when you lose your mind? I would say it takes someone to get to know the real you beyond the illness, being able to see you for who you are at heart, after all, we are not our mental illness; it is something we have to contend with in our everyday lives.
Saying all this, I am hopeful for the future. I am hopeful with the partner I have in my life now and it encourages me to let other people in to form friendships with. It encourages me to create opportunities to band together with others and work with them. It encourages me to want to help others again, who have been where I have and know the difficulties with forming and maintaining relationships.
It’s the people in our lives that matter most and make a difference to the world we have around us. Being honest and open with who we are, where possible, will hopefully bring the people into our lives that we deserve and who deserve us in kind.