30 Days: 15

I have skipped to 15 because I didn’t feel like doing 11-14 at this exact time.

Day 15: How has your life been effected by your illness(es)? (Some ideas are: relationships, career, school)

Every aspect of my life has been effected in one way or another by my bipolar disorder.  I’ve talked a fair amount about school and university already on this blog, so I am going to talk a little bit about relationships here.

https://balfourthrb.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/from-either-side/ Is a post I wrote some time ago about the effects of depression on a relationship, from both “sides”.  I know that my illness has, in one way or another, effected most of the relationships I’ve had.  There is a general misconception, I think, that people with bipolar aren’t good at relationships, that we are fickle or that somehow the fluctuations in our moods translate directly into fluctuations of emotions regarding those we love.  Not the case.

However, I know that living with somebody with a mental health problem can be confusing, painful and difficult in many ways.  A relationship somehow incorporates every aspect of two peoples’ lives, while an illness effects those same aspects.  So it is inevitable that an illness will have an impact on a relationship.  Overwhelmingly, the impact of my illness on my relationships has been negative.

I think that for me, the main problem caused by bipolar in my relationships was a lack of knowledge of how to get better, or a lack of desire to take the steps required.  In some of my relationships, I have spent most of the time depressed (or “in a sub-syndromal state”, thank you psych.) and that is a very difficult thing to be around.  In the thick of depression, it is hard to see a way out, particularly with alcohol as a temporary solution.  And there’s the crux of it.  My bipolar has, in one way or another, led me to drink much more than I should, and my drinking has had the most negative imaginable effect on my relationships.  Alcohol has made me unreliable, unpredictable, unkind and generally unpleasant to be around.  It has fuelled my downs and darkened my ups, to the point where the line between alcohol abuse and bipolar has seriously blurred, the symptoms a tangle.  My relationships have been dramatically affected by alcohol and my alcohol consumption is directly linked to bipolar in that it started as self-medication and moved on to become a problem all its own.

As I mentioned above, my feelings are constant.  If I love someone, it is because I love them and that doesn’t change.  But my attitudes change with my mood and my alcohol intake, and that can make things shaky and unstable at times.  The difficulties bipolar and alcohol have caused in my day-to-day life: holding down jobs, meeting deadlines, completing coursework, have extended to impact my relationships.  It’s hard to be in a relationship when you can’t or won’t go to work.  It’s hard to be in a relationship with someone whose hangovers blight whole weekends.  It’s hard to be in a relationship with someone whose sex drive fluctuates.  It’s heartbreaking to be in a relationship with a person who self-harms.  I know these things, as I said, from both sides of the coin.

Bipolar has ruined several of my serious relationships but I can’t just blame the illness.  It’s up to me to be stronger, more pro-active.  It’s up to me to take the steps I need to make sure that in future, I can be the person I want to be, and the person that I need to be, to make my relationships work.  For both people concerned.

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