One of the saddest side-effects of mental illness can be the loss of relationships. Sometimes it is the other person backing away, sometimes it is you having to make a choice between health and the relationship and other times it is a combination.
During 2016 I have had to deal with a few losses and while it is definitely for the best, it can still hurt.
While I feel I have had control over my bipolar, anxiety and other mental challenges, the key word here is “control”. What I mean is, I am not cured or even in a remission. The illnesses are always there, it is just a matter of who has the upper hand. I like to think that for the most part, I do, but it doesn’t come easy nor without consequences.
I have mentioned my Christmas blues and seasonal affective disorder and how I am handling them. However, it goes so much deeper than that.
This year I have identified and dealt with three toxic relationships. One was a business partnership where I was able to identify fairly quickly that it wasn’t working out. It was difficult to break away but because it was a web partnership and I really didn’t know this person it was a good first step in removing the relationship toxins from my life.
Next, I had to say goodbye to someone who over the last ten years came in and out of my life several times. There was definitely some closeness, though as I became a stronger person and realized her control issues, she lashed out. This hurt me to the core but I rose above it and feel so much better for cutting ties. She will always be in my heart but will never be able to break it again.
Finally, the hardest thing to do is to say goodbye to family. I have talked about how my parents and sister were embarrassed and frustrated with my mental issues and behaviour. They never seemed to be able to accept that I was changing. Well, I have basically said goodbye to the last living member of my immediate family because she feels like the only victim and made it clear nothing will change that.
I have so many people in my life who are willing to accept me as I am.
Hubby’s family took awhile to win over; however, I feel closer now to them than I ever did my own family. Yesterday we had the family Christmas dinner and I had such a great time catching up with everyone I hadn’t seen in awhile (and at 11 people only half the family was actually there!).
My church family is proving to be a lot closer to me than I thought. A lady who I had several run-ins with in the years my bipolar was in control has become a dear friend. Another friend has become not only my crochet partner but someone I can really talk to. Of course, there is always Dee. She means more to me than I could ever tell her and I thank God for her every day. And there are so many others it would take days to write about them all.
Oh, I can’t forget Coach, a friend and life coach who has such a hand in bringing out the true me. She is a friend, counselor, and sister in Christ. This is a win-win-win combination!
My cyber world is sometimes my closest. Writing here is very healing and reading all of your stories helps take my mind off my own troubles. I have made friendships through FB and a couple of cooking communities that are so strong and we have never met face to face. But I can count on them.
My hubby is my rock. Whether I am in pain or anxious, or too tired to even cook, he is there for me. He has his own health issues but is always more concerned about me. This in itself has helped me to take the focus off my problems and direct it toward taking control and becoming my own person.
And of course, the most important relationship I have to help remove the toxins from my life is my Heavenly Father. I was recently told I was dancing with the devil and walking by sight not by faith. Anyone who knows me well knows that my faith is the one constant in a very turbulent life.
In a way, I am dancing with the devil every day. First of all, to some degree we all are. After all, we are not free of sin. As I said earlier, I am not free of my mental illness… it is my demon.
The other day I mentioned how God helped me aim a pear in a skit. The truth is that every time I almost drop something but catch it or almost fall and don’t, the automatic response in my brain (and often on my lips) is “Thank you, Lord”. I acknowledge that if it wasn’t for the Lord’s grace and mercy, I would not be alive today.
So, as 2016 comes to a close, I can move on to the next year knowing who I am, what/who is important to me and that while I will never be free of my mental demons, I have them caged up and under my control.
PS This was a very difficult piece to write. Wearing my heart on my sleeve is never easy for me; however, it is all part of the healing process
I am including a cover of Brittney Spears’ “Toxic” by Voice Contestant Melanie Martinez.