Relationships, trust and bipolar

I was first diagnosed with a mental illness aged just nine when I was diagnosed with depression. At 25 this changed to bipolar disorder with my condition and behaviour having escalated considerably over the years.

I had friends and had had a few short term relationships but aside from my family, I hadn’t had a long term relationship. I had always assumed that nobody would want to be with someone who was always having erratic mood swings.

There is always the issue with relationships around when to tell someone you have a mental illness. It never seems like a good time, but it is inevitable that at some time the topic has to be broached! When I met Steve, the choice was taken out of my hands with surprising consequences.

I was at the height of a hypomanic episode when we met. On the one hand this gave me the confidence to go ahead and meet him, on the other I ran the risk of peaking and crashing, which is exactly what happened on our second date.

I remember very little of this evening, I don't even remember how it started. All I remember is that there was a lot of shouting and screaming, that things even got violent, but I couldn't say at whom or for what.

I self-harmed very badly during the episode and was suicidal, so much so that Steve had to talk me down from a river-side ledge. After doing this he sat me on a bench and said, "I don't care what's wrong, or how hard you push me away, I'm not going anywhere."

Nine years on from that incident we are now married and he hasn’t gone anywhere, instead he has learned everything he can about bipolar: what it is, how I respond to my illness, what my triggers are, what the signs of me getting ill are, and what I need to do to help myself be well.

It’s hard trusting someone with your illness, putting your faith in the fact that they know what is best for you, especially when you are sick and don’t have the strength to fight. But building a strong relationship, letting someone fight my corner is one of the best things I have ever done.

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