Mental Illness and Relationships (Part one)

When I was diagnosed with bipolar, I had been suffering from it for around 15 years untreated. During that time I was date-raped on my grad night and had only one serious relationship that ended badly. I even became obsessed with a man who only ever saw me as a friend.

On top of this I had a father who believed only in tough love and a mother who didn’t want to be a mother. When they found out I was “mentally ill” it was an embarrassment to them and I became a burden they had to bear. This is not just my feelings, they basically told me so every time I would end up in the hospital for treatment. I loved them, but did not feel loved by them.

I did have a couple of relationships after my diagnosis but one only wanted sex and the other was more “friends with benefits”.

When I found the Lord, I met a man at my church. My first impression was not a great one. But he was very likable and I soon fell in love with him. After we were married (three days after to be exact), I realized there was a side to him I had never seen before. He too was suffering from mental illness, as well as learning disabilities and, though it was never diagnosed, I believe he had fetal alcohol syndrome. He was adopted and we tried to find information on his birth mother but were unsuccessful. His adopted Mom believed that the woman did drink and maybe drugs, and knew that he had been taken away from the birth mother as a baby. I stayed in this relationship even though I was abused physically, sexually and emotionally because I wanted to help him. The main problem was I needed help too. He eventually told me he wasn’t in love with me but he loved me and while I knew he did, the abuse got the better of me. If I had been healthy and knew how to give him what he needed, I think it might have worked.

Even before I met my ex, I met another man. The relationship was a business one, but we seemed to get along really well. I thought of him as a know-it-all computer geek, but that became his charm. He was young (at the time too young for me) and very smart. I was writing a manual for an accounting program he wrote. After the job was done we went our separate ways. Ironically, he called me on that third day of my marriage when everything was going wrong to ask if I could revise the manual as he had updated the program. I told him I had just gotten married, my computer wasn’t working and I was sorry but I couldn’t help him. I remember feeling sad about this but never let that feeling out.

I went back to work for the programmer when we needed extra money and I felt comfortable with him. We became good friends. This was about the time my marriage was falling apart and I realized I didn’t have the strength or will to fix it. During the next few years the programmer and I worked together, talked about everything and he made me feel like a viable human being. When my divorce was final, he told me he loved me and I dove right back into the cycle of mental illness, mistrust and low self esteem. I told him many times that I was not an easy person to get along with but he stuck it out. We got married and the first ten years were a struggle for both of us. I will expand on this in other posts.

We have been married for 13 years and it took until a year after my father’s passing (3 years this coming March), for me to realize I am worthy of life and love. My husband had been ready to leave because he was frustrated and feeling that it was a one-sided marriage. But I knew that it was worth fighting for and was able to rise above my fears and illness to become the wife he had wanted. And he became the caring husband I had always dreamed of.

How does all this fit the title? I believe the abuse I received from parents and partners was partly to blame for my mental illness and I also think that the mental illness made me feel so bad about myself that I took the abuse as being what I deserved. Now that I am stronger and keeping the bipolar and depression in check, I am able to forgive all the abuse and put the past in the past. I am becoming a better me, a better person and a better wife.

6 Replies to “Mental Illness and Relationships (Part one)”

  1. They say opposites attract, but truthfully I’ve found with mental an emotional problems the opposite of that to be true, like seeks out like, don’t ask me why, but in 28 years I’ve seen it a lot. I counsel most folks get your head and heart in order to find someone with their head and heart in order. The desire to be in relationship is strong, I know, but hold on; the better you sort out yourself the easier it is to find someone who has their stuff more together. Don’t give up hope!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am in a wonderful and strong relationship with my current husband (the programmer). It has taken a lot of work on both our parts but it has been worth it. We both have our heads and hearts in order and know what the other one does and doesn’t need. As I have become stronger than my bipolar and depression, I have come to love myself and therefore able to receive love.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel like I want to go back to your childhood, your late teens, and your early married years and give you a huge hug and encouraging words! I fully intend to do that someday! I thank God for you, so much! Also for your programmer and my “five-year-old!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much. I feel hugged by you every time we connect. I am so glad I can have normal relationships with people now that aren’t scarred by my illnesses. That is why I have started to write about this. A lot of it has been locked away for a long time.

      Liked by 1 person

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