Guest Post by Claire – But you were Doing so Well…

Recently I’ve decided to feature some guests here on my blog to showcase some other people’s troubles with mental health. Here we have Claire who talks about having Bipolar Disorder and making sense of what other people may say to us when we’re unwell. Please check out her blog by clicking here.

claire

Learning to live with a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder means learning to live your life quite differently. You have to get used to what triggers you, to make the most of the days where you feel well, to recognise the signs of slipping into depression, and equally raising into hypomania and for those who go there, mania.

The people around you also have a steep learning curve, and despite all their efforts, sometimes it’s really hard for them to understand that your recovery will not be straightforward.

Many of us with mental health issues have felt as though our families and friends don’t understand us, or that they don’t support us. In recent month’s I have started to realise that a lot of the time it is less that than it is near impossible for them to wrap their head around the reality that life really is a roller-coaster for us.

My reality is bipolar disorder, but I know many other illness’ have similar patterns and many people hear phrases similar to one’s I’ve heard from people. These are a fraction of phrases I’ve heard in the past few years from friends, family, and others. I’m sure everyone reading this has heard at least one of these at some point…

“But you were doing so well…”
“You’ve done this on purpose to ruin my careful diary planning”
“Just stick a smile on your face”
“When I was depressed I didn’t…”
“You look fine”
“But you’re laughing”
“Well if you can write a blog, you can work”
“I wish you would come out, just for a bit”
“but I miss you”

I could write these all day, but you get the idea!

Some people are very well-meaning with what they say, and it’s maybe just the wrong thing to say and shows it’s just hard for them to understand exactly what it’s like in your shoes. I find this a lot with family. I know they try very hard to support me, but unless you’ve lived a week in my shoes it’s impossible to know how this feels, to know how one minute everything can be fine the next I can either be in a foul mood or bouncing off of the walls and often for absolutely no reason. The psychosis must be terrifying for them, to see someone afraid of things that aren’t there.

With my sensible head on as I write this, I can understand that as a carer, someone who loves me this must be awfully scary. They must hold onto the moments where we are well so tight and then when we start to get sick again it must be devastating. As the person who is sick, we know it is going to happen, we prepare ourselves for it. But I think our loved one’s hold onto some hope that the last time was the last time.

Often some people just get plain sick of us, and that’s where the more snarky and nasty comments come in. I find these often come from people we had considered friends and it can be soul destroying to find that these people we had found a source of comfort and support are no longer there for us.

From their point of view though, it must be very difficult having friendships with people who consistently cancel plans, aren’t always happy, and I’m being honest here can be quite self-centred at times!

Before the comments get inundated with abuse I am just playing devil’s advocate here, I’m trying to see what they must see. I’ve fallen foul of friend loss because of my illness as much as the next person. I think it helps for us to step outside of ourselves sometimes and see the bigger picture, to see what other people may see.

You then also have the people who are dealing with their own problems, remember that one in four of us have a mental health issue. Not everyone can handle dealing with somebody else’s aswell as their own, or they don’t own up to having one, or won’t realise they have one.

We live with an illness that cripples us, but can be so consuming for us that sometimes we forget to see that it does affect those around us aswell. There could be a whole host of reasons why someone reacts negatively towards you and your illness. Of course, some people are just plain rude and uncaring, and in those cases we are best off without them in our lives.

But for the most part, when you through the rough patch, take a moment to think about why someone has said something hurtful to you. Did they actually mean it in the way you took it? Was it meant as a word of support, a show of love, an act of frustration because they do actually care, do they have an issue you could show them support over?

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21 thoughts on “Guest Post by Claire – But you were Doing so Well…

  1. Not So Cold says:

    This is perfect and perfectly timed. While reading the entry, I had to send a message that I am not able to go to rowing practice this afternoon (because I can’t get out of my apartment). Your writing reminded me that we really do try to do our best, but sometimes our bodies and/or brains have other plans. Right now I feel terrible, but your writing is somewhat comforting because it reminds me that at least one person understands.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. proudmummabear says:

    Great post. As an ‘outsider’ watching someone you love struggling is so difficult. I’m sure I say the wrong thing at times, either through ignorance of frustration. Lauren knows that I have felt like shaking her to make her ‘better’ but this is only out of pure love and absolute need for her to ‘get over’ this. But I know this would never solve anything so I try to be her rock, supporting her in whatever way she needs on any given day/situation! Education is key to helping us all understand mental health, teach us how to talk about it, and how to be there for those in need. You girls are doing amazing things for raising awareness. Hopefully one day everyone around you will know how to support you in the way you need, and if friends judge you and aren’t there for you at your worst, then they don’t deserve to be there at your best x

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Michael Dahl (@Michaelsphere) says:

    Thanks for writing this. Just yesterday someone — a good friend — wrote something I perceived as insensitive on my Facebook page after I shared yet another post about my struggle with Anxiety. They wrote that they wanted to see more “happy pictures on my website.” At first I wrote a snarky comment back along with a sentence that happy just wasn’t what I was feeling. I later went back an deleted my comment, knowing that while her words weren’t especially helpful to me, she was really just trying to say she hoped I could get better … she’s often very supportive.

    I used the opportunity to try to understand her; just as I would hope she would use my many difficult moments as opportunities to understand me.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Lucy says:

    Excellent post 🙂 I’ve had a bad couple of days with some personal issues so I can really relate to this. What you wrote about friends/loved ones saying things out of frustration is so true. I think it must be so difficult for those around us to see someone they love in so much turmoil, that they can say things out of anger. Thanks for sharing
    Life inside the Locket

    Liked by 1 person

  5. tracihalpin says:

    Thanks for your perspective on this issue. I have bipolar and when it flares up, my mom will say why or what caused it and start looking for a reason. It’s like she thinks it’s gone away. I have to keep reminding her it doesn’t go away; it’s so frustrating 😩

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rebecca says:

    Beautiful post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and struggles and considering your struggle from others’ perspectives. I hope others who are struggling will find comfort and support from your insight. Hugs!

    Like

  7. stuffthatneedssaying says:

    “But you’re laughing”

    Oh, I hate that one. It wasn’t even a mental health issue most recently, but a couple of months ago I went to my DBT group just days after having surgery. I was asked how I was doing by the therapist, and said, “I feel like crap.” (I was in pain, but also really doped up on painkillers at the same time.) She said, “But you’re smiling.” I was so frustrated. Yes, I’m smiling because if I didn’t force myself to smile and laugh through the hard times I would be a weepy miserable mess non-stop. I’m not just faking it for others’ sakes, I’m faking it to keep myself going.

    Like

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