I’ve been fighting a losing battle for some time now. Not because it isn’t possible to win. I just haven’t been approaching it the right way. And in many ways, it’s not just my battle. You could say I’m an innocent bystander a lot of the time, a victim of collateral damage. This “war” has caused me to lose my way in some areas, to become a little more neurotic than I already was. But it has also helped my find out who I am, who I can be, and just how strong I can be if I don’t give in to the voices. Instead of just ignoring the voices telling me to take a stand, to be true to myself and not try to fit the image others have of me, I’m listening. And part of this listening is my writing. I’m writing to be heard. Problem is nobody else seems to be listening. And other people’s demons are making it hard for me to have the energy to deal with my own issues. But in many ways, their issues, their demons, are egging on mine, saying “Come on, you know you can get her to crack if you really try.” I’ve already cracked. Several times. And I’m still standing. A bit wobbly, but still standing.
My partner is bipolar. She refuses to see a doctor or get on medication. And there’s always a different excuse, none of them good. But I know this isn’t something I can force her to do because if I do, it won’t stick. So I’ve been battling her demons and mine. And is if that weren’t enough, I have to deal with trying to get my family to understand that the things they hear and see that they don’t like aren’t her. Those things belong to the illness. It’s been difficult even for me to make those distinctions sometimes, and I live with it everyday. I’ve suggested books to read, I’ve tried to explain it different ways. Sometimes I feel like there is some sort of understanding there, but I know there’s also judgment. And the lack of understanding and the unfair judgment fuels my demons. I’ve always been a bit of an angry person, and some things just really set me off. But I’ve always been good at hiding it from most people. Actually, I’ve been good at hiding most of my feelings for many, many years. That’s one of the other demons. The one that says “why show how you really feel? They’ll just use it to hurt you.” This is a learned reaction from years of feeling rejected, unappreciated, overlooked. I think part of the problem is that because I’m now choosing to share how I feel, it’s overwhelming for everyone, including myself. Years of pent up shit is just spilling out and I don’t yet have control over it. People who’ve known me for a long time see this drastic change and associate it with my partner. It’s not her doing this or causing me to do it. It’s me not having the energy or desire to hide myself anymore.
Others don’t see the good things that go on daily. And I don’t feel like I should have to give a daily report. In previous relationships, there was never an assumption that things were going poorly. Being with someone who has a mental illness is no walk in the park, especially if it’s untreated. I knew things would be difficult, but I underestimated just how debilitating this illness can be to the person who has it and to their loved ones. We do our best to control things that could trigger some sort of meltdown. But the stress of grad school, work, and life in general can push all of us over the edge. I can see the change in her body language that tells me something is about to happen. I do my best to help when I can and to diffuse situations that are going to make her feel worse. But I can’t control traffic or computer problems. I can’t control the behavior of other people. This is what I have to remember when I feel like I can’t take anymore. I also have to remember how much we love each other and the fact that we’ve made it through three very difficult years. Are things ideal? No. But we do our best. I don’t always have the energy to call people and tell them things are fine. I also don’t always have the energy or feel inclined to talk about the bad days. But if I get a call on a bad day, things will come out because something has to give. It doesn’t mean that everyday is bad. There have been long stretches of time when there weren’t any bad days. There are also stretches of time when every day is a bad day. But nobody is to blame for that. If you want to blame anyone, blame God or nature for creating such a horrible illness. Nobody would choose to have this illness. Nobody would choose to have to fight daily with such destructive demons. I’ll keep fighting them, but my approach will have to be different. And I won’t let them get to me or win.