Mending Relationships is Good for Mental Illness Recovery
In business school, I slept with my best friend Bob and then proceeded to fall in love with him. As these things go, he didn't return my feelings, we fought a few times then left town without speaking to each other. A few years ago we reconnected - figuratively and literally - with similarly disastrous results. Now, Bob and I are speaking again and I'm committed to making the friendship work. No, I'm not a glutton for punishment. Rather, I believe that making amends will help me be healthier and better manage my bipolar disorder.
Mending Relationship Mistakes to Avoid Repeating Them
The last time Bob and I were intimate, I harbored thoughts that this time it would stick. This time I thought we'd date and things would turn out well. I also worried that I'd be rejected if I confessed my hopes. Instead I silently obsessed about my feelings and pushed Bob away with callous sarcasm. Eventually, Bob stared dating another woman.
I lost my cool when he finally admitted it and, in a fit of drama, I yelled the following: "If you don't want to date me, you need to stop treating me like your girlfriend and start treating me like your friend...go call this other chick 10 times a day and leave me the *expletive* alone." Then I treated myself to a nice, pitiful crying jag.
Less than a year later, my pitiful crying jags were limited to a nice wing of an inpatient mental hospital. I'm not saying that Bob sent me around the bend, but my inability to express honest feelings - to Bob or to anyone else - became an ongoing theme in my treatment.
Mending Relationships Is Part of Emotional Recovery
There's a lot of blame in mental illness: we blame ourselves for our thoughts, or for things we've done to hurt ourselves. We heap on the "shoulds" of being positive and being in control of our disease. Once we get out of the negative spiral, we can view our behavior rationally, admit our mistakes and learn from them.
For me, that means seeing that Bob was wrong not to tell me about his girlfriend, but I was wrong too. I lied to myself and pretended that Bob and I wanted the same thing from our relationship. I expected him to give me what I needed, even though he didn't really know what that was, then got mad when he didn't come through. I was sarcastic and passive-aggressive to protect myself from getting hurt.
Right now, I can forgive myself for relying on defense mechanisms instead of communication while realizing that I'm healthier when I communicate my needs to others. I can also forgive Bob for dating someone else and not telling me because he's not only admitted his mistakes to me, but has also become a more honest person in the years we've been out of touch. Also, I acknowledge that if he'd been as honest with me years ago as he is being now, I couldn't have handled it.
As far as my current relationship with Bob goes, we've spent a good deal of time hashing out why we didn't work out all those other times. He knows about my disease, and we're trying to find a relationship status that's healthy for us both. I still find myself wanting to retreat into humor to avoid saying the hard truths. But knowing that I'm aware of my behavior makes me pretty hopeful that I can correct it and recapture my best friend.
Lloyd, T. (2011, December 1). Mending Relationships is Good for Mental Illness Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/relationshipsandmentalillness/2011/12/mending-relationships-is-good-for-mental-illness-recovery
Author: Tracey Lloyd
Don't let some guy, ruin you.I've found most guys are wolfs in sheeps clothing.they put on an act till they get what they want.