So not long ago, I thought I hit it off with a girl I met in college. After a few semesters of chatting and hanging out, I thought I would ask if she wanted something more. She didn’t, and I was surprised.
Cue the garbled emotional hell that is a mixed episode.
Eventually she walked away completely. (Good call, in hindsight.) She left me a note saying, in essence, that it wasn’t going to work because it was not a healthy relationship.
As accurate as that was, I can’t help but feel the sting of those words come up every time a romance evaporates. Could it be that I’m just not keeping or attracting people because I’m always sick?
To illustrate, let me offer some normal, healthy attributes of a good date that I think should just be baseline qualifications for a long-term relationship. I think a partner should:
- Be financially responsible
- Hold a job
- Remain generally cheerful
- Maintain emotional stability under stress
- Set goals and achieve them
- Socialize regularly
- Communicate often, including expressing feelings
Of course not everyone will fit all of these all the time. But I feel they’re reasonable expectations. With bipolar, however, just getting one is hard enough. Point by point:
- No insurance means I pay more for healthcare than I do for my utilities in a given year. Three vital medications, refilled monthly and an out-of-pocket psych visit… I’m lucky I don’t see a regular doctor ever! Then there are therapist sessions if I need them. Sometimes those are vital to keeping away from the hospital. And if I ever get that far without insurance, I’ll come out of the inpatient facility straight to bankruptcy court, guarantee you that. Most of this can be attributed to:
- You try getting up every morning when you haven’t slept, or when it feels like you’re dragging your bones behind you when you walk. This one is hard to articulate, but there’s a good reason I’ve had to walk away from jobs. I’ve stayed in positions and worn out my sanity so long that people around me were visibly worried. There’s worse to say… but the long and short of it is that I can’t guarantee I’ll have the energy or presence of mind to complete a full working day, let alone overtime day in and day out.
- Yeah, no. There’s just no way I’m going to be pleasant often. I put on a good front around others, at social gatherings and public places. No one wants to be with a sourpuss, something I learned years ago. But all of that pent up rage and sorrow have to come out sometime. If I’m in a relationship with someone, they’re going to see me depressed, a lot. It’s not something that is easy to fight when it’s your brain’s default setting.
- The very core of my struggle is a volatile emotional charge waiting to go off. I admit I’m better at regulating my emotions than a lot of people. I’ve been forced to learn and be vigilant about it. But when the cork pops off, there’s a lot of messy, terrifying fallout to deal with.
- The energy that is constantly zapped from me… I wish it weren’t needed for things like, you know, keeping myself from walking into incoming traffic. But I’ve got a lot to manage inside. I have achieved incredible feats of strength and will in my lifetime. It’s just that no one pays you for these kind of things. You just get to survive. Lucky me. So yeah, sorry I’m not getting around to that novel or class assignment.
- I actually could do this well and regularly. Socializing invigorates me. But when the depression is creeping in, I’ll go into hibernation from people I know and care about for weeks or months. Not a good formula for a hopping nightlife, right? Also on the plus side, I’m the weirdest freaking weirdo in mania. Especially toward women. Sorry again and sorry in advance.
- This is another easy one to do: I communicate too much if anything. However, in an intimate relationship, it would get boring real fast to hear the same sadness and decay disclosed. If I ever make it into something serious, I plan on holding back. I already do to many around me. Who wants to know the bitter casualty reports of a war they know can’t be won? Better to keep the carnage off camera.
So there you have it. My spittoon shooting for the day. What do you think? Am I being paranoid, or is there a real hurdle to overcome? Is there really any hope for a healthy relationship in this scenario?
Thanks for sticking to the end and remember: Don’t give up the ship.