My Bipolar Valentine: A Reflection on Collecting Hearts
It’s Valentine’s Day Eve (do we call it that?) and it’s apparent that love is in the air.
The drug store has been filled with candy hearts since last month, and we’ve had our Valentine’s Day dinner reservation for about 10 days.
Now I’m pondering. Reflecting.
Valentine ’s Day can be a real rough time for some, and a joyous time for others. And as with any group of people, Valentine’s day has different connotations for different bipolars.
My impression of Valentine ’s Day has always personally been very positive, from the yearly gourmet chocolate hearts my stepdad gets shipped from western New York to the chocolate lollipops my grandmother makes.
However, Valentine ’s Day has cast a different type of shadow in my life, especially starting in high school.
To be honest, I’ve had boyfriends since I was allowed to have boyfriends. I guess it’s the way I kept myself happy and busy for a long time.
I always had someone lined up that either wanted to be my valentine. I’d get chocolates, teddy bears, cards.
It meant something for the duration of the day, but it was never love.
I was collecting valentines to fill up my own heart.
I wonder how many individuals with bipolar out there have had a dating history like mine—going from one dating partner to the next, always needing someone.
Because I was always obsessively strategizing my love life, I can’t remember the last time I had a lonely Valentine’s day.
I would have died if I didn’t have anyone to give me affection on that day—because for a long time, I was empty inside. I didn’t know how to have relationships and yet I was always in one.
I wasted a lot of time just to keep that valentine in my life. When I was not well, I would stay in relationships and beat them in the ground.
If someone was losing interest in me, I obsessively hung on. I have been put in a psychiatric ward after the end of a particularly infatuated relationship.
What I find is that I wear my heart on my sleeve, and that I experience emotions, good and bad, more intensely than others, so I’d become addicted to love.
Things have become a lot healthier since I met my husband in 2007. Actually, we had first met in high school. We started dating during my sophomore year of college.
The thing that has kept us together for nearly six years is the patience that my husband has had with me through times of psychosis, rage, intense depression, and indifference.
He has loved me and seen who I really am through a lot of moments when even my family can’t stand me. He is loyal and understanding and is the only person I ever wish I had spent Valentine’s Day with.
Because it is real.
For those that don’t have a valentine this year, we bipolars should not put our intense energy into wishing we had someone to share a bottle of wine with.
Instead, I would work to make sure that you can make yourself happy, that you’re engaging in caring for yourself and enriching yourself, because there is truly no one that can replace how you feel about you.
You are truly your best friend, and there’s nothing anyone else can do for how you feel when you’re in solitude.
It sounds silly, but it’s true.
And to be honest, when you are in a long term relationship, it becomes even more apparent how easily you can neglect yourself, and how detrimental that can be.
Now that I’ve been in therapy for a very long time, and now that I’ve learned a few life lessons, I realize that I have to be the most important person to me. Sometimes I slip.
However, I’ve started to make great strides in putting myself first in my life instead of relying on my significant other to make me whole.
If it’s cool to be going out to dinner with someone on Valentine’s Day, so be it. Valentine’s Day is a very commercial holiday, and I admit I might milk that commercialism a bit, but I’m one of those festive holiday people.
I like Christmas. And Easter. And I buy too much candy. I admit it.
What I’m saying is that I just think that love is weird. It can be perceived at the time to be real, or to hurt, or to not be fair, only for everything to become clear later.
I thought those Valentine’s Days were really important back then, but I realized in time that the only important ones are the ones in which you spend with the people you really love.
It doesn’t come every day, every year. When it doesn’t, keep going.
A last thought–may I recommend marshmallow Peeps hearts or giant Hershey’s kisses regardless of whether you’re single or taken. It tastes good no matter what kind of mood you’re in, and on Valentine’s Day, regardless of your situation, no one can take your candy away from you.
What are your thoughts about Valentine’s Day? Do you love it? Hate it? And what are the reasons for that? How do you spend Valentine’s Day, and any advice for those that go through hard times every year on February 14?
Dawkins, K. (2013). My Bipolar Valentine: A Reflection on Collecting Hearts. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 30, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/bipolar-life/2013/02/my-bipolar-valentine-a-reflection-on-collecting-hearts/