This post is for the reader who came to my blog using the search term “can a mental illness cause a man to cheat”. Don’t worry, I don’t know who you are. I don’t even know if you followed my blog once you got here. But I hope that this post will reach you.
I don’t know your story and I don’t know your partner’s but I do know this: mental illness or not, your partner does not have the right to hurt you. Mental illness is not a “free pass” to do as we please to those we love or to those who love us.
Perhaps you are searching for a way to explain away a recent betrayal. I can understand that only too well. Regardless of the situation please know that your partner is not more important than you. Your emotions and needs are just as important as his. And you need to take care of you.
Living with a mentally ill partner can be exhausting and emotionally demanding. It’s okay to admit that. It’s okay to need help. Its okay to need give-and-take. It’s okay to need. If you need to talk about you and how you can cope with your partner’s illness please seek out a counsellor or a support group. Please value yourself as equal to your partner. Never let another person devalue you or reduce you to a secondary character in your own life story.
Are you a male or female?
Bitch – Meredith Brooks
How do you feel?
Skipping Stone – Amos Lee
Describe where you currently live:
Virtual Insanity – Jamiroquai
If you could go anywhere, where would you go?:
Empire State of Mind – Jay Z feat. Alicia Keys
What is your favorite form of transportation:
Act a Fool – Ludacris
Your best friend is:
Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
You and your best friends are:
Count on Me – Bruno Mars
What’s the weather like?:
Purple Rain – Prince
If your life was a TV show, what would it be called?
The Lazy Song – Bruno Mars
Your current relationship?
Someone Like You – Van Morrison
What is the best advice you have to give?
Conversations with my 13 year old self – Pink
Thought for the Day?
Beam Me Up – Pink
Your motto is:
The Things that Stop you Dreaming – Passenger
After reading a great post on Serendipity this morning I’ve been pondering the questions posed at the end of it:
So … how much have you changed from the person you were in your late teens? What, if anything, do you do completely differently? Do you like the person you’ve become? Are you trying to change? Do you fit in? If you met the young you, what would you tell yourself?
I love being 30. That was my very first thought on reading the questions. It’s funny, I can’t truly explain the shift in my thinking but there has been a significant change in Mina since I entered this new age bracket. Or perhaps it’s down to a combination of things other than age; the death of a parent, a lost love, friendships re-evaluated, travelling the world, finding “the one”, moving to London. Who knows. I think I’m very much still evolving into the person I am destined to be but I think it’s fair to say that I’ve been on quite a journey thus far.
These days I find I am comfortable in myself for the first time in my life. On a “high” level I know that I am a good person. Friends and lovers have come and gone: I can attribute this to the changing tides of life. I don’t find a common ground in a group of strangers: I find it to be disappointing but nothing more than a tiring evening. I find myself in a politically-oriented discussion with nothing to contribute: I chuckle to myself that if the conversation turned to Austen I would be the one holding court. I no longer attribute these occurrences to some defect in my self. I’ve learned to give myself a break.
On a “lower” note, I wear yoga pants that may or may not in fact be pyjamas, when I run out for my morning coffee. I just ordered a pair of bright red wellies for the winter rain and last week I finally went all the way and got the pixie cut I’ve been lusting after for some time now. These are all quite superficial things but in this case, the outside has come to reflect the inside. These days my outside reflects an internal self that is far less bothered by the opinion of strangers and far more self-loving than ever before. I have even come so far as to realise that, in my own way, I am beautiful.
And so, to the questions:
Do I like the person I have become? Yes, yes I do. I’m not there yet of course, I doubt any of us every truly stop evolving, but I can stand before you today and say that I am happy with the progress I have made so far. Mina: she’s okay!
Am I trying to change? Of course! I want to continue this evolution, I want to continue to fight my dysthymia and I want to be ready for whatever challenges the world throws at me next. But if this is it, if this is “me” then that’s okay too. I reckon that I can get on quite well for the next 50 years or so with this person.
What would I tell my young self? This is a tough one. When I was younger, I figured the day would come when I would love myself because I would be different…a “better” me. Today, I love myself because I am not different. I am essentially the same me that I was when I was 12 years old, lost and alone, struggling to find my place in the world. Except now, I’ve learned to love that me, to value her uniqueness and to accept her flaws. I would tell my younger self: don’t wish to be different, learn to love yourself for who you are, because one day I promise that you will realise you are already a person worthy of your own love. Of course, if I told that to my 12 year old self she would roll her eyes, turn up her East 17 tape, and go back to dreaming about the future blonde, skinny, genetically re-engineered Mina!
I had a mini-epiphany at 6.10am this morning. For me to have anything at any hour before 11 is amazing so I’m really taking this one on board.
It was one of those moments in life where you see a situation clearer than ever before. Similar to that point in an eye exam where the optician suddenly drops the best lens into the viewing panel and you see things as never before: clearer, sharper, the layer of blur you just can’t shake removed. Like the eye exam it lasts only an instant but you know you’ll never go back to seeing things that way again.
I can’t really explain my epiphany without some context so hopefully you’ll bear with me. When I was first diagnosed I was in a relationship. It was pretty serious: living together with marriage vaguely on the long term plan. When my illness hit its peak the relationship crumbled and I dealt with that period in my life mainly by myself. We co-existed until I was strong enough to leave.
For the last number of years I have filed that relationship under “damn you depression”, the end attributed to my illness making it impossible for me to be somebody he could love. He couldn’t cope with the me he ended up with and I couldn’t be any different because of where I was emotionally. I have always looked back with a sense of regret – not that it ended but that it ended because of my health. Another thing to resent my illness for.
This morning I saw it very differently. I realised that we were in two very different relationships: I was in one where I thought I could be myself, even the very worst version of myself, and he would love me regardless. He was in a relationship with the girl he met, who had long since ceased to exist.
It might not seem like a very big epiphany but it has turned my brain upside down. It’s not that the reasons for the end have changed, on the surface they are the same: arguments, lack of trust, no communication. But my perception of the underlying cause, the “secret reason” we kept to ourselves, has been smashed. It wasn’t my illness, it was his inability to accept me for who I really am.
He once told me “it’s not that I don’t love you but you make it very difficult”. I now realise that until 6.10am today I thought that he was right.