I am one of those people with bipolar disorder who happens to have a very strong support system. These people include my family and friends, doctor and therapist (well, I’m in a transition with that, but my previous one was Rockin’ Awesome Therapist Lady) and also, my cat. I can call up any one of my sisters and they will lend a solid listening ear no matter what time of the day or night it is.
I also have a simple, low-stress job currently. It doesn’t provide much pay and doesn’t provide benefits and barely supports my family, but I can surely say it’s the best job I’ve ever had. I have no worries whatsoever, the owners adore me, and the customers are sweethearts. (Did you hear that? I just said the word “customers” and “sweethearts” in the same sentence. And I totally mean it. I know you don’t believe me. You should.)
So in saying all that, I’m pretty lucky. I once was a manic mess battling myself in a mental hospital. It gave me a deep, sincere empathy for certain populations of the mentally ill in this country – those who you might see outside a department store, homeless, muttering to themselves. I truly and honestly believe that that would be my life if it weren’t for all the blessings I have been given to maintain a certain level of sanity in the maintenance of my bipolar disorder.
I did lose my job at one point when I had a manic episode and had to be hospitalized. I almost didn’t finish college when I had my first psychotic episode and took time to recover. But I did it. Thanks to the support.
So if you are someone who loves someone with a mental illness and is supportive, please give yourself a hug. Because it is HARD WORK and for some of you, you may be the reason that the person you care about is still alive right now. I know that is true for the ones who helped me when I so desperately needed them.