Today sees my Husband S and I celebrate eight years since our first date. It’s not been the easiest eight years but one of the things I find myself looking back on this year more than anything is that I am grateful to social media for bringing us together.
In a year when social media has been responsible for people abusing their relationships with me, and causing me to regress in my recovery so much that I left social media for a full six months to regroup and decide where I fit into the world as a whole.
Today I am reminded that not everything that comes out of social media is bad and that my decision to return to some of the social media medium’s I was missing was a good idea.
S and I have a story much like many others, met online and lived happily ever after. But in our own way it is unique aswell.
I’ve read a lot of tweets recently from young people in their early-mid twenties who have mental health issues and they feel like they will never find love or don’t deserve love. I felt like that aswell. I had only had two serious relationships by the time I was 27, and by serious one was six months and one was two years. I had lived with neither of them and both had ended quite badly with my illness playing a big part. At 27 I had been single for seven straight years with the occasional fling, nothing which had the potential to last, or anything which did I promptly had one of my famous meltdowns at some point fairly early on (within first 2 weeks) and that quickly saw things to an end.
When I turned 27, I made a pact with a friend of mine who had been single for ten years herself, that I was done looking for a partner. That I was just going to work on getting well (I was only two years into my bipolar diagnosis and had been given no support to handle it, it had sent me off the rails), try and get my career on track (things at work were ropey), and to focus on being happy (a hard job for anyone with mental health issues).
I did a lot of writing for music websites at this time so was very active on MySpace (remember MySpace?!) because a lot of the bands I interviewed and worked with had all of their music and social media activity at the time on the site.
I used to get a lot of random messages from guys on the website, many of them overseas but all of them offering me love, happiness, blah blah blah. Privacy settings were not in 2007 what they are now people!
One day in March while clearing out all of these emails, which I always just deleted by the way, one caught my eye. I don’t remember now what the subject was or what exactly the message said but there was something different about it. The guy who had sent it lived in Bristol aswell according to his profile. He didn’t have any photo’s that showed his face properly so I wasn’t drawn in by physical attraction, there was just something about the way he wrote that made me hit reply.
Over the next six weeks this guy got dubbed my MySpace Stalker between me and my friends. Every time I turned on my laptop I would have a message from him, and being in a phase of hypomania I wasn’t sleeping so would be up for hours at a time during the night. I spent those hours online talking to him.
The six weeks ended with him asking to meet me in person. I was tentative but felt like it was the right thing to do, find out if this person was for real. Of course, not even knowing what he looked like I made sure I had friends on standby just in case and arranged to have a daytime date so that it was easier to escape if I needed to!
It turns out we clicked instantly, he was as for real as I was and our 2pm date was still going at 2am! We talked about everything, even that neither of us wanted children (a pretty important topic when you don’t want children in the future…who wants to get in a relationship only to have to get a broken heart because the person you fell in love with wants them…eeek!). But the one thing I didn’t talk about was my mental health. I felt like that could come out in time and as I was in a state of hypomania at the time I felt like everything was absolutely fine and I wasn’t sick anyway.
Our second date a few days later though saw everything come out in a spectacular fashion. I believe I was borderline manic by this point, I was not functioning well. Add alcohol to the mix which turns me into a psychotic lunatic at the best of times and it was a recipe for disaster.
During that evening, I threatened to kill my friend, a stranger, and S. I lost a coat and purse (I’ve since been told I ripped my coat off during my temper and threw it in the docks, purse in pocket, but I don’t remember this). I self harmed, and I tried to throw myself in the river. How I didn’t end up with the police locking me up that night I don’t know. The bigger miracle is that S calmly followed me the whole time this was unfolding to make sure I was safe, stopped me doing anything too bad, and when I was calming he held me and told me he wasn’t going anywhere and I wasn’t going to scare him off.
I don’t know what it was that meant that early on he knew he had to stick around but nothing has scared him off. He’s had his moments, caring for someone with bipolar isn’t easy and life would definitely be easier for him without me, but he says he wouldn’t be happier. He gives me strength, he has helped me fight my corner for the past eight years so that I can get the treatment I’ve needed, he’s made sure I’ve taken time when I’ve needed it to look after myself. When I don’t feel strong enough to pick up the phone he picks it up and makes the call for me. But most of all he is there for me whenever I need him.
It’s easy for anybody, but especially when you have a mental health issue to believe you don’t deserve love, I still don’t feel I deserve the love I get. When you don’t have anyone it can be soul destroying, but what I learned with my story, is that there are amazing people out there who don’t care what is wrong with you, they love you regardless, and accept the illness as something you have not as who you are.
It is hard for people with mental health issues to have hope, but do have hope. Don’t necessarily spend your life looking for love, but don’t give up hope, just live your life, look after yourself and when you least expect it the perfect person may just surprise you.