Trade The Lies of Mental Illness for Real Love from Family
For years, I looked into the mirror, and all I could see was my bipolar disorder. I felt worthless. I wondered every day if my family would be better off if they just quit loving me. Maybe everyone would be better off if they forgot to feed me, forgot to look for me, let go of fighting for me. I believed the lies my bipolar disorder told me. I spent all my time and energy staring into a mirror that was lying to me. But now I know that it is possible to put down that mirror. It is possible to find self-love and acceptance when I refuse to listen to the lies of my mental illness, and instead look to the people who love me to help me define my self-worth.
You Can Waste Your Life Looking Into the Mirror of Mental Illness
You can waste years looking into the mirror. The mirror can convince you that you have nothing more to give. The mirror can convince you that everyone would be better off without you (Suicide Prevention: Bipolar And Suicide). But, that mirror is lying to you.
The more you stare into that lying mirror of mental illness the less able you are to love yourself, or anyone else. Mental illness magnifies every possible weakness, replays every failure. When you believe you’re worthless, when you can’t see past yourself, you fulfill your worst fears. You can become the very things you fear.
Stop Believing That You Are Defined by Your Illness
But you do not have to be defined by what your brain tells you. No matter how many sins you’ve committed, no matter whose heart you’ve broken, you have worth. Even if you are someone like me, who has torn at the fabric of your family, who has broken hearts, ruined credit scores, and disgraced reputations, you have worth. If you have breath in your body, you have something unique to offer the world.
I used to think family was a name, a reputation, a legacy. I thought family couldn’t survive my mental illness. That mirror told me there was a line family couldn’t love me past. But after I stopped looking in that lying mirror of mental illness, I realized that family runs deeper than anything I can do.
The mirror fails to mention that nothing could devastate a family more than losing one of its own to suicide due to mental illness. Family ties in to the marrow of who we are as human beings. Even if we chop it down and burn it up, it still throbs and aches for us. Family may not forgive like they should. Family may be deeply wounded and may never be the same. But family is where we all begin. Our families' roots grow together. If you allow your self-hatred to rip you straight out of the ground, friend, you do your family no favors. You tear their roots up, right along with yours.
Trust Your Loved Ones More Than Your Mental Illness
So, this year, if you make one resolution, stop looking into that lying mirror. Instead, start looking into the eyes of the people who love you. When you're reeling, when you want to give into the dark, talk to your people about your mental health struggles. Ask them if your deepest fears are grounded in truth. Ask them what they see when they look at you. Ask them to help you fight back this darkness.
Your family has a stake in you loving yourself. Their love is real; that lying mirror is not. Deep, true, rooted love is the only way back from your nightmares. True self-love is the only way back to sanity.
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Arthur, T. (2016, January 13). Trade The Lies of Mental Illness for Real Love from Family, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, March 31 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/mentalillnessinthefamily/2016/01/trade-the-lies-of-mental-illness-for-real-love-from-family
Author: Taylor Arthur
A variance of different support systems, friends, family, therapeutic practitioners can come in different seasons of our lives. I’m a survivor of sexual abuse as well and have experienced family being toxic, dysfunctional since the abuse happened in the household with my father. They denied my claims of sexual abuse ever happening. Through therapy I learned that they felt shame that I shared with others. That I destroyed their perception of who they are in the public eye and with their family. I became isolated by voicing my pain, claim that sexual abuse happened in our family. Apparently this can be a common experience for survivors who “out” a family member of sexual abuse. It becomes their shame, their fear, and anger that one would share the secrets of what happened behind closed doors. After guidance from different mental health practitioners and years to sort my emotions about my sexual abuse I stepped back into family. I realized some, not all of my family, also realized how dysfunctional our family was. They embraced me with greater understanding. The ones that I truly embarrassed or shamed them, we still have distance between us. It does not bother me anymore. I figure it’s natures way to sorting out those who are more in alignment with myself. Every family, person, sexual abuse scenario is different since we are individuals. Sexual abuse victims will have different outcomes when it comes to the fallout of sexual abuse. I can relate to the writers story and also the commentator. There is no right or wrong when it comes to finding a support system after surviving sexual abuse. We take the support and love when we emotionally can. We find ways to pick up the pieces of ourselves along the way. To find love for ourselves is a survivors goal.
I am considered to be a high function bipolar. I feel better about myself when I am not around my dysfunctional family. I have also been diagnosed with PTSD and my family members stir up anxiety by either bringing up the past, verbal abuse or physical intimidation. Unfortunately, my work history is mostly manual labor and because of my petite stature have repeated orthopedic injuries. I am retired and considered 40% disabled due to my orthopedic injuries, although working on going back to work part-time in the administrative field, which I have over 20 years experience. I am hoping to buy into an assisted living facility (apartment), so I may settle into my "golden years". Living with family is only a temporary option. Although, I have considered a room mate, I am too fearful that I will get stuck with someone with "issues" far less harmonious than mine and I require sleep. I am tired of being identified as bipolar and unstable. I have not been in a relationship in over 10 years. In the past relationships I have been responsible for managing my significant other's finances and checkbook. I do not appreciate a person who does not, or will not manage a budget with flights of fancy when it come to their recreation expense. They simply are too much work and I am unable to respect them. In the 20 years I have been dealing with my diagnosis my family has never read a book on the subject and only once did my mother ever attend a session and that was when my medication regime of 20 years was no longer therapeutic and I had lost 20 lbs. It is impossible to have an educated conversation with "concerned" loved ones who remain condescending. It is vital to have a support system outside the family. I find your article without value, patronizing and pushing the mental health agenda back onto the family. A quick fix and cop out, that social workers often fall back on. What are your credentials and what is your level of experience in the mental health field?