Love is not greater than mental illness. I’m writing that sentence out because I find myself needing to regularly tell people that love is a product of the brain. It’s not the heart, which pumps blood. It’s not the soul, an often debated construct of belief. Love is created, grown, and hosted in the mind. Therefore, love is just as vulnerable to mental illness as any other emotion or thought process.
Bipolar Disorder unwellness can create a fictional reality and emotions out of thin air. From the outside, it is incredibly confusing. From the inside, the fictional emotions and beliefs that arise from them seem as though they are reality. To say that, “they are not real” is incorrect. They are real in that the unwell mind is saying that “this is reality.” They are not real in that those beliefs don’t typically align with fact.
A person with a high degree of awareness, who retains enough presence of mind to listen to the people around them who can see when they are unwell, can attempt to counter that thinking by continuously reminding themselves that what they are experiencing is not factual and not base their decisions off of them. But, then there are people who are too unwell to see their illness, listen to supporters with rationality, or become convinced that they are being lied to.
“Why is my spouse being so awful to me now? We had a good relationship before!”
“Why is an otherwise loving parent now treating their kids like an afterthought now?”
“My significant other really loved our pets. Why are they so cold and ignoring them now?”
Mental illness would not be nearly as devastating if love surpassed it.
A majority of the people that reach out to me are the friends, family, and loved ones of the mentally ill who are trying to understand what is going on in the mind of their mentally ill loved one. The problem is that they do not have the appropriate perspective to accurately do that. They try to filter mental unwellness through the filter of how they experience and interpret life. It’s not the same.
A person with a typical mind may get angry with their partner but they still retain love.
A Bipolar mind that swings into mania can have that love overridden by the unwell cycle. Instead of anger with love, the person may wind up with intense anger and frustration, impeded decision making ability, impulsiveness, recklessness, racing thoughts, in addition to a removal of the filter between the brain and the mouth. Irrational emotions that are not based in reality flow through actions and words, free to deal drastic damage to a loving relationship.
And then the cycle will end sooner or later. The Bipolar person goes back to who they were before the manic cycle blasted its way through. Then the people involved are left to sweep up whatever ashes they can, because we can’t take back actions or words. All we can really do is apologize and try to put it back together as well as it can be.
“But, if they really loved me, they wouldn’t have done XYZ!”
No. Love is not greater than mental illness. In fact, I would argue that love is the single most vulnerable victim of mental illness, because it’s something that is an essential part of every person’s existence in some way.
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