Love Is Not Greater Than Mental Illness

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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18 Responses to Love Is Not Greater Than Mental Illness

  1. avatar Doppelgänger says:

    Wow. Awesome post, Dennis. You’ve helped me with words of wisdom and insight when my partner was unwell and you still do now that she’s got treated and all is well for tha past two years. Thank you.

    • avatar Dennis says:

      I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the post and that you’re partner is doing well. That’s great to hear. Thanks for following!

  2. avatar Lisa says:

    Dennis. This is the best thing I have ever read. I have been trying to be understanding for 2 years about the cruelty and anger that is portrayed about me. I have tried every way possible to understand and to reach through the mental illness and get some normality. My divorce will be final in two weeks and I am very tired of fighting the illness. It is so true that love is not stronger than mental illness.

    • avatar Dennis says:

      Hello, Lisa. I’m glad you enjoyed the article. All you can do is the best you can. It sounds like you’ve more than put in your time. I hope the coming years bring you greater peace and happiness. Don’t hesitate to look into therapy either. Dealing with that kind of thing on a regular basis takes a toll.

  3. avatar Scottie says:

    Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom. I think you could start a new religion, I honestly would volunteer to be your first disciple.

    I have only corresponded once before when I donated $100, best investment I have ever made if it helps you continue your selfless journey of enlightenment.

    I think at the end of the day, love is greater than mental illness but that love needs to start with loving yourself unconditionally then let that seed of hope grow even if that love is just a chemical reaction of the brain.

    Ive come to that conclusion because Im manic which is very unusual for me as I suffer from bipolar II and have spent the past five years suffering from melancholic depression. The only other times I have felt like this is after intense ECT therapy which occurs about once a year for two months.

    So I have to ask myself what has induced this abnormal condition. Following your logical thoughts its because a chemical imbalance is occuring. I have to accept that it will only last for a short time.

    So in that short time I have let me tell you a true story if you have the time to read its not long.

    I was sixteen when I finished highschool having lived in the US from age 13 to 15 and returned to Australia where I live. I was able to skip a few years of highschool because I was “bright”.

    If you are interested in hearing more of my storey because it might help you, email me and ill continue.

    If I dont hear from you I will have to conclude you are not real and only a figment of my imagination due to a chemical imbalance and all hope of meeting someone that gets it is gone.

    Love Always
    Scottie

  4. avatar Julie says:

    Thank you for this and all of your posts. They are a godsend for me when I experience the reality that is loving someone with bipolar.

  5. avatar Elizabeth says:

    Thanks, Dennis. I needed to read this because I clung to the false belief that love and reality should overcome bipolar mania. My beloved 19 year-old son has bipolar disorder and has been saying horrible things about our family as well as claiming his childhood was horrible when in fact he was the happiest and sweetest kid of all as a child. If it wasn’t for the fact that his twin and our other kids assure us his ugly allegations are just distortions and not at all how they remember it, I would probably die of shame and horror. Thank you so much for your blog.

    • avatar Dennis says:

      Hello, Elizabeth. That is an incredibly difficult thing for a parent to need to deal with. Maintain what the truth and reality of his childhood. Stick to the facts you know as a hard truth if he tries to get you to apologize or anything along those lines. Hopefully, he’ll remember it as truth when his mental illness is at a low and crack through his unwell thinking. But, no one can really know that for sure.

      Make sure you take care of your own health in all of this, especially your mental and emotional health.

  6. avatar G says:

    Hi Dennis I’ve been reading your posts for quite a while. I think, more than anything else, they helped me let go of a friendship in which I kept feeling hurt, rejected and confused. This latest post helps me understand my confusion a little more and for some reason that makes a huge difference to me.
    I still miss my friend… a lot but I do feel more peaceful, settled and able to focus on my life now which are all obviously good things.
    Thank you so much. Your writing is amazing and was a life line for me when things were chaotic.
    Sorry for the initial, my name is distinctive and I’m feeling a bit exposed.
    Cheers

    • avatar Dennis says:

      Hello, G. It’s alright on the initial. I generally edit distinctive names anyway so everyone’s privacy is adequately protected.

      I’m glad you’ve found my work helpful. Dealing with mental illness is difficult and painful. All you can do is the best you can. I hope things smooth out and are more peaceful for you moving forward.

  7. avatar Anna says:

    Hi Dennis,
    I am currently in a relationship with my partner who has recently been diagnosed. And he wants to be relentless in his pursuit towards getting well, this includes seeing a therapist, and then entering into couples counselling, taking his meds etc. He is very serious about doing well so we can build good relationship habits from month 3…..instead of year 3. I have read so many sad relationship reviews about love with someone with bipolar, and many of them end in divorce. Is this circumstantial, or should I really take this into consideration? My partner will literally do whatever it takes.

    Currently his medication isn’t working and we have gone through the weekend experiencing withdrawal… my first experience, so you can imagine I am quiet shocked. He sees his therapist on Tuesday for meds….. but how soon after do they “come back”…. and when they do “come back”, are they the same…..?? Sorry for such ignorant questions this is truly my first time, first episode.

    • avatar Dennis says:

      Hello, Anna. Thanks for taking the time to comment. It’s important to bear in mind that what you read on the internet is a very biased viewed. People who are doing well rarely wind up looking for information or are expressing their problems about the situation. I would really suggest that you don’t spend a great deal of time reading this stuff if your guy is really focused and passionate on getting well and doing better. You honestly can’t ask for much better. That’s the only way a person will succeed at it.

      Finding the correct medication can be a long, tedious process. A person’s body and brain chemistry is unique to them. So psych medication can have very different results from person to person. All we can really do is keep trying things until something works. Some people find something early, within a few months. Other people, like myself, have been trying to find appropriately working meds for years. My body seems to hate antidepressants and I still war with depression on a pretty regular basis. It is what it is.

      Can’t really answer your “come back” question though. There’s no real answer. Could be weeks, could be months, could be longer.

      You mentioned “good relationship habits from month 3….instead of year 3.” You’ve been together for three months? Or have you known him awhile?

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