Someone I love suffers from bipolar. If you don’t know what this mental illness is, consider yourself lucky. It’s characterized as both manic (high energy) & depressive episodes. These episodes can last weeks or months & unfortunately they never come with dates of when they will end. You ride it out like a storm and hope the damage isn’t too extreme.
This person I love isn’t my significant other, or part of my “blood” family. She is part of my soul family though; my person, my constant, my ride or die, my soul-sister. We know each-other better than our spouses know us, and better than our parents do too.
We met at the bus stop when we were 8 years old, I liked her shoes. I spoke first, and if you know us, that’s no surprise. It was that moment that our friendship/sisterhood began. Obviously neither of us knew at that age that we were building an everlasting bond. We went through the typical things through the years; bad relationships, good relationships, parent issues, lots of laughter, and of course some tears. We both got married, she had kids who my husband and I are Godparents to. I did not, but, I feel like her kids our mine, which is just an extension of our connection.
I have sat in dark rooms with her when she was in a depressive episode and I have watched her clean the hell out of our apartment when we lived together during a bout with mania. None of this was new to me; I have been down this road with her, actually many times. For the most part, I could see these episodes coming a mile away. However, this particular time was different.
This was not “typical”. She was saying and doing things she would never have done in the past. She was mean, spiteful, distant, engaging in behavior that she normally wouldn’t, and just all around unrecognizable. This was apparent to anyone who loved her & anyone who really knew her. It was almost as if she was possessed, she looked the same but she was now someone I didn’t know. Someone that scared the hell out of me because I thought this “new” person could possibly be permanent. That was terrifying. So many years filled with tons of memories and laughter to be shattered by something that I couldn’t wrap my brain around.
Over the 34 years, we of course have had disagreements, but we never really fought. It just wasn’t part of our relationship. If anyone would have told me before all this happened that she would ever hurt me, I would probably get pissed off and say they didn’t know what the fuck they were talking about. But, it did happen; she cut me so deep with one of the most dangerous weapons out there…words. She brought me down to my knees, I couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of her mouth (or that I was reading on texts). This wasn’t just happening to me either, she was hurting all of the people she loved, not intentionally of course, but nonetheless she was hurting us. We didn’t know what to do, we felt helpless, confused, angry and bunch of other emotions. We wanted her to “snap” out of this which is completely ridiculous, by the way. If it was only that easy…
She was pushing all the people that really mattered away. This was an internal battle which she was completely aware of, she just didn’t know what to do, we were all in the same boat as far as that was concerned; none of us knew what to do. They say you hurt the ones you love the most & that was so apparent during this storm.
Then we found out she was in what they call a “mixed state”. Which is depressive symptoms & manic symptoms that occur in sequence or worse, at the same time! I had no clue that it was possible to feel those strong emotions at the same time. Imagine having suicidal thoughts one minute and literally the next minute feeling tons of energy and racing thoughts?! Talk about a mind-fuck! As with most mental illness these episodes defy logic. You can’t look for logic, and you also can’t fix it. As you can imagine for the loved ones of people who suffer from this, watching from the sidelines, powerless incapable of taking any of this pain away is extremely difficult. Being there for them is hard, I will not deny that, but it’s legitimately the only thing you can do. That, and also realizing that nobody more than that person wants to be back to “normal”. Believe me when I tell you she would have done anything to feel like her old self, but its not that easy. There is medication and therapy that have to be done which takes time, a lot of time.
This CANNOT be controlled. Even with the proper medication, sure it can lessen episodes or make them less severe, but to eliminate them all together? Nope. Which to some, logically it doesn’t make sense. You think cancer, now that’s a disease you can’t control! But, saying or doing things out of character, being mean, or being full of energy, that has to be something that someone can control. WRONG. It’s an illness that people refuse to accept because of the stigma that comes along with mental illness.
I’m happy to report she is on her way to feeling better, like I mentioned, it’s going to take time but she is moving in the right direction. Thankfully our relationship is resilient and the love we have for each other, along with our unbelievable bond can’t be challenged. Ride or die, through thick and thin, we will never waver when it comes to that.
There isn’t enough compassion for people who suffer from many illnesses, but especially mental illness. I’m hopeful that can change if people continue to share their stories so we all see we are not alone.