Unfortunately for folks suffering from mental illness their bystanders get the side effects. I’ve lived with an mentally ill mother my whole life. When she was up she was the happiest and most joyful angel and when she was down, the lights are out.
Being an only child to a bipolar type one, schizo effective, borderline personality disordered parent makes you extremely aware of how people feel. I never bullied anyone, I was always “the nice” one. I always put people before myself. I always cared what people thought of me and I probably always will, because I was trained to care.
If I wasn’t fully aware of the kind of day she was having I was immediately aware of the kind of day my father was having. He like most men kept all his feeling tightly wound up in an angry eruption that was set to go off at any and everything from the moment he stepped foot in the room to the moment he left. That was his way of dealing with her illness, he got angry.
When he died, it made a lot of sense why in fact he was so angry. People with mental illness not only live in their own little world but they wrap you up in their problems. They keep you close and involved and if you question their intentions they turn on you like you are no one. All the while you have to keep your cool because YOU aren’t the sick one.
I tend to think that people who are mentally ill or addicts get a free pass for bad behavior. They don’t have to pay the price for their failings because they are sick. It’s as though their affliction exempts them from being decent. I don’t agree. I tend think they are lucky in a way as well. They never have to face the reality of the world, the responsibility of adulthood or make amends for their sins. As if this weren’t unfair enough, then the people who are in the lives of these people get hurt wth no apologies.
The people who live with someone with mental illness suffer the worst because they truly never know the person they are with. Will they love me tomorrow? Will they keep their promises? Will they hurt themselves? The uncertainty of it all is stressful enough, but then when you think you’ve caught on to their pattern they do something that throws you for a loop and you start to question your own sanity. It’s like dealing with someone with dimensia or a degenerative illness, the perception is skewed or their body fails but you love them despite it all. Sometimes the sick say things without thinking and we get hurt by accident. Make no mistake though, sometimes the mentally ill intend to hurt you, the ones they love the most, but only if you let them.
It’s not every day that you feel like the black sheep, sometimes they do things to make you feel great, like you made their life worth living. You get on their highs and they’ll drag you through their lows, but life must go on. Staying strong through the nonsense takes a lot of patience and a lot of lessons, but once you become resistant to the bullshit you are free. The best advice someone gave me once was be kind to yourself and don’t engage in their behavior. It works if you stay focused.