Like any relationship, the one between mental illness and ‘self’ has its ups and downs, it has its own balance or sometimes an imbalance, but it takes work.
Sometimes, more work than the ability we have to do so.
I don’t want to sugar-coat anything I write, for I do that with my thoughts every day and I want this blog to be the ‘safe place’ where I am honest and not just with you but myself because sometimes that’s the hardest thing to do.
Writing this post has taken several attempts and drafts for me to feel like this is a true representation of my relationship with mental illness. I wonder whether I have said everything I think I need to say but that’s the beauty of having this blog, there is another day.
So as I write this, I’ve had a week full of rapid-cycling. Which means, I can shift from depressed and exhausted to eagerly energetic and productive in the space of one day, or sometimes even hours.
There are times I don’t recognise myself, I don’t recognise my behaviour, but I am aware of myself. Sometimes more than I’ve been aware of anything else.
My relationship with mental illness has not only taken its toll on me but my relationships with others and not just romantically.
I used to only know who I was when I was in a relationship with another human being but now I look back and I know that I wasn’t who I really was. Sometimes everything about me was just a representation of either the greatest parts of me or my worst.
In times of mania, I was found stripping wallpaper at 2:00 am. Or sat writing in the dark blasting rock music through my headphones. I was energetic, I was happy, I was driven, I was the best parts of myself amplified.
In times of depression, some days I could barely get out of bed. I am withdrawn, I am tired, I am the worst parts of me, on full display.
I am not my mental illness, it is simply a part of me. I may be bipolar, but that’s what I am, not who I am.
I am a creator, I am an artist, I am a writer. Even without having a mental illness, I would still be these things and it may change my ability to do them well, but I still do them.
Some days when I can’t write is the right time to write and sometimes I can’t paint, I can’t even pick up the brush but that is okay.
There are days when it is okay to say “today is not the day”, it is okay to know that you aren’t feeling your best, because one day, you will wake up and recognise yourself.
You might not see the balance, but you will feel it.
So just like every other relationship, this one takes work, it takes dedication and perseverance but the only difference is that you can’t run from it, you can’t break up with it as much as I’ve tried.
Mental illness has tested me more than anything, it has pushed me further than I thought I could ever go, yet I’m still here. I may not be standing but I’m still here and if you’re reading this?
So are you!
It’s a part of you, but it’s not who you are, remember that and your half way there.