In my experience, the way I handle mental illness has been the #1 killer in my interpersonal relationships, in my successes and ambitions, and generally of all positive things in my life. I have been in therapy for almost fourteen years, in and out of hospitals and wards, and this is still a problem.
Sometimes, it would be the Schizoaffective Disorder. There were times I couldn’t understand what was happening, despite knowledge of my diagnosis. The things I saw and see were and are traditionally terrifying. I would talk about it. I would call friends. I would be crying on the phone in the corner of my room, afraid of what was happening and of what was happening to me. I used to be a hotline, and I get it. Nobody wants calls like this, especially late at night. People have their own stressors. But some of the things I thought were also delusional which, of course, brought paranoia, rage, and obsession. I am still hard to handle.
The way I handle (or haven’t handled, more accurately) my Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has caused more interpersonal relationship “casualties” than anything else in my life. It has also ushered me into horrible relationships and truthfully, continues to destroy me from the inside out. This is something that although I’ve had for most of my life and have had the diagnosis for six years, I haven’t addressed until recently. So I am raw. I am more sensitive than usual. This sucks, and I’ve lost someone already.
Some people will tell you that those people don’t matter; that you deserve someone who cares more about you and can handle your flaws. But I lost my best friend to this years ago, my best friend who at 15 had a baby while at 14 was trying her best to take care of me and did a damn good job for where I was in my head at the time. Friendships, interpersonal relationships of any kind, they go both ways. There has to be energy input and energy feedback and balance. I try, because it’s important to me to upkeep a balance, but I’m still extremely sick, and everyone handles things differently. I talk a lot about my problems; she didn’t, so the support I could give her was extremely limited.
If someone uses you or manipulates you through anything–your mental illness or otherwise–then yeah, they’re definitely worth leaving and staying away from. But do remember, there are people who love you who just don’t know how to help or can’t at the present time. That’s okay. It sucks, but it’s okay. Because, really, after emancipation from our parent(s)/guardian(s), we should be learning how to take care of ourselves.
I am getting better. There were years, a huge chunk of my life, where I thought all I’d be is fodder for the State system, trapped in a State hospital and having nowhere to go and no way to live. I don’t know the future and can’t say it’s impossible, but the possibility of that reality has become quite slim comparatively. I am getting better. Every day. There are setbacks. There are problems. There is pain. Also every day. But I am getting better. I am getting stronger. I am learning how to manage this. It is going to be difficult. It is going to take a long time. But I know I have the potential to be successful, even with the shit psychiatric lot I’ve got.
Thing is, people come and go. There’s a fluidity we have to allow with social health, even when that health is not crippling and not stunted. It’s important not to forget people. Maybe I should. But I think it’s important not to. I think people can learn most about themselves from their interpersonal relationships, especially in the factors of what a person needs and wants, and the important division as well. I know this philosophy is harder to adopt from people with certain disorders–Borderline, for instance. But this is my truth that I’m speaking to you: Interpersonal relationships are fluid. Imagine them as watercolors. They come into your life and spill onto the page, sometimes spilling off. Sometimes barely leaving a mark, sometimes distinctive and powerful on the canvas. It’s important to show love to people, but it is also important to show self-love. Healthy love of the Self will actually lead to natural and stable love for others. People come. People go. But truthfully, you are the only person you’ll always have.
Worry less about being loved and love yourself. Honestly, no one can truthfully save you but yourself. People may try. They might not. But ultimately, you are faced with the choices, and you are the one who must choose which path to walk.
Love to everyone.