With bipolar and many other mental illnesses, it is very easy to feel unloved and unable to show love to others.
On one side, the illness itself makes it difficult to know what love is and is not. On the other, the stigma alone can make getting close to others challenging.
I have always felt I have had to work harder in all relationships. I know that people feel hurt by me; however, it is almost impossible to tell them that whatever they are feeling it is a lot worse for me. With mental illness, I realize it is hard for an outsider to separate the condition from the person. However, for me, it was like seeing myself blow up in anger or melt down in tears and unable to do anything about it.
My family was hurt and embarrassed by my bipolar. While I can understand this, my dad and sister were never able to get past it to see my growth and change. My mother passed away long before the changes started occurring. My sister is still living; however, I don’t have a real relationship with her anymore. While I would love to change that, anything I try to do seems only to make it worse.
It was like they were holding me back because to them I would always “be” bipolar. I “am” Lydia. I “have” bipolar.
Friendships have come and gone throughout my life, and many have ended over my moods and emotional swings. I have been hurt so I built up walls against it happening again. This has resulted in me hurting others and feeling alone.
A couple of recent things have helped me to realize I not only know what love is, but I can also finally give and receive it.
First I have been watching the summer event series, “Greatest Hits” and have enjoyed all the memories the highlighted songs bring back. Foreigner’s Mick Jones talked about writing “I Want To Know What Love Is.” He said that it came together very quickly, and he was pleased with it. He couldn’t wait to tell his fiance that he had just written a great new song. She was happy for him and asked him the title. He then hesitated for a second realizing the irony. When he told her, she said, “What? You don’t know what love is?”
I think anyone with bipolar, depression, or most mental illness can relate to the feeling of being alone. It is partly that others shy away from us but also that we are afraid to get close.
Secondly, the other night my husband sent me an email. I won’t quote it directly, however, the gist of it was that he was feeling more love for me than ever before.
I had told him in a previous conversation that I was feeling like all the walls I have ever put up have come crumbling down and I can finally trust and love. He mentioned that he feels his walls have come down too.
My marriage is the relationship I was meant to have with the person God chose for me. While the first years were challenging, we have learned a lot from each other, and we have never given up. As we head to our 15th anniversary, I am happy to say that my husband is both my best friend and the love of my life!
And of course there is another, even deeper, love and that is for our God. Without His love and guidance, I would not be where I am today. Yes, I still suffer from pain and emotions; however, I know that the Lord is always there and always in control.
Now that I feel I have control over my bipolar and am more self-confident than ever before, I can honestly say I know what love is.