The journey through mental illness is never an easy one. Everyone has a story and everyone has a path. Some of those paths are rockier than others, some have few bumps along the way, but all of them will eventually have a fork in the road, a time to choose whether or not we want to do what we can to live the healthiest lives possible. But what if there is someone holding us back from doing just that? What if someone we care about wants us to stay sick?
It took a really long time for me to accept the fact that I have an illness, one that I am going to have to live with and manage as best I can for the rest of my life. Even after turning my life into utter chaos and misery with the consequences of my extreme behaviours and poor choices, I didn’t want to let go of the intensity, creativity, euphoria, and in some cases the delusions. It was a cycle of unhealthy with a sprinkling of, “you have got to be kidding me” mixed in. It was my life and when it was good it was really good, but when it was bad oh so bad. One of the hardest decisions that I have ever made was choosing between a life of chaos and destruction or a life of balance and hope. I’m not going to lie it’s a tightrope act at times, just when I have my balance a small shift happens and I feel like I’m going to fall, thankfully I have people there to help center me again so that I can regain my footing. This wasn’t always the case.
Like a lot of people who have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder I was charismatic. I could charm anyone anywhere at any given time, and I did it very well. Throw in some serious manipulation techniques and I was always on fire. Looking back now I shudder at some of the ways I have treated people – we’ll address making amends in a future post.
I started an intensive treatment plan that included being admitted to a psychiatric facility for quite some time. The reason behind the admission was because I was in a crisis state, but I also needed a supervised medication review. I was starting a lot of meds and my psychiatrists wanted to make sure that I was well monitored. Treatment also included daily group therapy led by a psychologist, one-to-one therapy with a psychologist and daily check-ins with my psychiatrists. This was intense to say the least. After discharge I continued with the medications – with hiccups that had to be straightened out, my therapist and started taking CBT classes. The CBT classes were incredible. This was the tipping point for someone who I loved dearly to tell me to stop all of it.
Once I had decided to take back some control of my life and health it took a lot of my time and energy, this wasn’t something I could half-a$$ my way through. It was also becoming clear that many of my relationships were not solid, healthy or meaningful. One in particular was as destructive, if not more so than my illness was. This person insisted that I stop all medications and therapy because I was taking time away from him, had changed too much, and no longer wanted to be unhealthy anymore. He didn’t like the fact that I wanted some control over my life, because that took his control over me away from him. You see, while I believed that in my states of bliss and shocking clarity that I had it all together, the truth was that I was easily manipulated, pliable and taken advantage of. As I continued on my path to getting well I had to face the realization that someone who I trusted and cared deeply for didn’t care about me, this sent my improvement back more than I can begin to tell you. Now not only was I trying to fight for a life that I deserved, but I was also trying to deal with the pain of betrayal and having to learn how to create and enforce boundaries. I was completely overwhelmed, but I did it all with the help of my therapists, family and some wicked online support groups.
There are so many reasons why people may want you to stay sick, it’s unbelievable to me but sadly it’s true. Award winning blogger and advocate Natasha Tracy wrote a great piece called Do People Want You to Stay Mentally Ill? And it is completely on point. She offers some great advice on what to do if someone in your life would rather see you unwell before seeing you live your healthiest life possible.
Search out those people in your life that will stand up to support you and use your doctors I cannot stress that enough. You don’t deserve to live unwell, and you certainly don’t deserve to have people pushing you to remain that way.