The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is relationships. So often when your mental health is poor it can be detrimental to your relationships.
I often lash out, make accusations and say cruel things I don’t mean. All I can say is that I’m extremely lucky to have friends and family that can tolerate these outbursts. They tolerate it because they know that my mind is a very powerful thing. The only way I can think to describe it is like when you fall into the wrong crowd. You go from being kind, empathetic, caring to making bad decisions, withdrawing from everything you once enjoyed and start trying to cut all ties to who you were to make room for this selfish, spiteful version of yourself.
In my low spectrum, my mind tries everything it can to isolate me. It makes me incredibly anxious about social interactions or leaving the house, so I stay in and ignore messages and phone calls. I sit or more likely lie in bed, ruminating over my lack of worth. Most of the time, it’s because “the black dot”, as I call it, wants me to believe that I am alone, unloved and a waste of a person. Often, it wants me to end my life.
My high spectrum takes a completely different form. I disconnect from social interactions because I’m so concerned with my own brilliance. Everyone else is irritatingly slow whilst every nerve ending in my body is lit up and I feel more alive, more important than I’ve ever felt before. Everything starts to connect in ways it didn’t before, everything feels as if it is under my control, as if I am the sole reason the world is spinning. I make lists of 50 things I want to get done that day, do research into starting charities, setting up tea shops and spend exorbitant amounts of money. I can’t realise the consequences of anything I’m doing. I want to run in front of cars to see how fast they’re going, and I think this without knowing that that would result in a horrible accident.
Understandably, they’re both quite a bit to handle if you’re a stable person with concern for me. They also make it incredibly difficult for people to simply be my friend, mum, dad, husband without also feeling like my carer at times.
The worst feeling is when I come back to stability. When I realise what I might have said and done and who I might have lost as a result of it.
Because of this my relationships are incredibly hard work. I can’t ever repay the patience and kindness that those I’m closest to afford me. What I can do is work to be as open as possible, explain myself, apologise and be grateful. Sadly, I’m sure this is the reality for many people with mood disorders. And this is why we need to break the stigma that still exists around mental health issues.
My day-to-day life would be a hell of a lot easier if I could just walk around saying “I’m actually really low today, could you come over to my house?” or “I don’t feel that safe, do you think you could come and be with me until this passes?” but I don’t (unless it’s family). Because people look at me like I’m an inconvience. They ask me why I can’t just pull myself together and stick to the plan. So I shut up, and I keep a part of myself well guarded. This isn’t healthy. We need to make it okay to say these things by helping as many people as possible understand what these moods actually feel like and how they debilitate sufferers in a very real way. And I’m hoping that this week goes some way towards that.