Relationships take a lot of effort. Both must be able to work together to make a relationship thrive, but if one is unable to do his or her part then things can fall apart. A mentally ill person becomes consumed by his or her illness and forgets others have needs, too. The person with the illness can’t see beyond his or her own needs and begins to expect too much of others. This makes it hard for him or her to be a good partner or friend.
When I relapsed into my mental illness, I became very needy and consumed with the darkness within me. I had a close friend that I spent a lot of time with before I became ill. I even used to go to her and her husband’s cabin for the weekend. When I became ill, I started giving her notes and sending them to her with my feelings. I wanted all of her attention and support, but I was unable to give her anything in return. I wanted to be the center of her focus, but she had children and grandchildren who were beginning to take up her time. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t have as much time for me. Couldn’t she see I was suffering? Wasn’t she supposed to be there for me no matter what?
After the friendship ended and when I got better, I realized I couldn’t be a good friend unless I was able to take care of my illness. Our friendship ended because I couldn’t see that she had needs and limitations. I realized in order to be a good friend, I had to take care of myself first. It takes a strong person to stick by a person who cannot give the same support.
A friend of mine is desperate to find the right girl. He has tried many ways to find the girl of his dreams without success. The only problem is he is deeply depressed and has isolated himself from the world. He struggles from day to day just to take care of himself. He hides from the people who love him the most and sometimes he disappoints his friends, not on purpose.
I tell him; first he must take care of his mental illness and reach for recovery before he could be a good boyfriend to a young woman. I believe once he reaches recovery and learns to look beyond his own illness to others’ needs, he will find the right girl. I believe the right girlfriend is out there for him waiting for him to reach the light.
I often got angry while I was sick that I couldn’t find Mr. Right. I bounced from one bad relationship to the other. The men were not the right ones. Then I spent a long time alone. I wondered if Mr. Right existed. I decided I would spend my life alone. It wasn’t untill I started to step into the light that I found my husband. I wondered why God took so long to bring him to me. In time I realized if I had met him sooner I could have never been as loving, supportive, and able to give back to him as I am now while I’m well.
I’m a better wife because I can take care of myself and handle my mental illness. Without my new found strength I could not be there for him as I am now. I take care of myself and him. God waited for us to meet until he knew I was ready and able to be a good companion, friend, and so much more.
Don’t rush into relationships until you take care of yourself first. Get the treatment for your illness, reach for recovery, and then pursue healthy relationships. If you’re lucky to find a friend who stands by you even when you can’t give back, cherish him or her, and when you reach recovery, be that friend you always wanted to be to him or her. I had a good friend who stood beside me and now I thank her and give her support like she gave me.
Because I reached recovery I can be in healthy relationships and I can contribute. I see others’ needs and I’m a stronger person because of it. Being able to be a helpful partner in my relationships helps me stay within the light.