February 4, 2009

Here's a piece of information which might make one or two recoil in shock. For the most part you couldn't spot a depressive from any other member of society; you might need to get very close to someone before it became apparent.Sadly getting close to someone for long enough for them to realise that periods of depressive illness are not something the sufferer has any control over, Close enough to realise that the sufferer is not trying to make them feel uncomfortable and that the behaviour they are subject to is not a personal attack on them is extremely difficult.

Those of you, who glanced over my previous blog on gaining employment as a sufferer of mental illness, will be aware of the dilemma we face when approaching an employer first up. Do I or don't I divulge the nature and extent of my illness? Well for the purposes of this blog, for employer read partner.

If finding employment is tricky (and that's something of an understatement) becoming involved in a long term relationship and hanging on to it is a task of mammoth proportions. There you are on the crest of a wave, enjoying an extended period of good mental health, you meet someone, and you like them, they like you, hell you may even have fallen in love. You've thought about your situation at some length and you have decided honesty is the best policy. It's what all female oriented magazines say when you've browsed through them in the doctors' waiting room, what all the Sunday magazines tell you, what all the agony aunts recommend. Women like honesty, they respect honesty and openness and will give you credit for sharing something about yourself. Well that might be the case for some women, but guys don't count on it. I'm sure men are the same, no in fact they are probably worse ;( most men think a woman who calls the day following a date is slightly obsessive and possessive!) But my experiences with women so that's the perspective I have.

A while back, I met someone, she was fantastic, and we dated and fell in love very, very quickly. It was a whirlwind but I found the time before it all took off and got out of control to tell her of my illness. She was very understanding and in spite of my doubts about whether or not she would be as understanding if, and I suspected when, the depression returned I carried on enjoying the moment, the feeling of having someone there who loved and understood me. This continued for about six months after four months I moved in with her, gave up my flat and threw my all into the relationship. Then one Friday night it all came to a head, I had been feeling a little low (I thought) and my partner challenged me about the way I had been behaving, I tried to explain that this is part and parcel of the condition but the atmosphere remained tense and turned into a full blown argument the following morning. We patched things up but from then on things were never the same again. This situation culminated in her telling me she needed some space and asked me to move out. My head just closed down. I thought it was all over and in my depressed and confused state I took an overdose with alcohol (which I never touch) I was taken to hospital and had my stomach pumped. On discharge I stayed with my parents and though we tried to make another go of the relationship, ultimately my partner could not deal with the prospect of this occurring again.

I was left shattered and as low as I have ever been, I'm still not sure I will ever trust anyone properly ever again which means that I may never properly love again and that's a thought which would drive the so-called “sane" to madness. This experience has certainly made me question being so honest and open about my illness, although working with TTC a little has made my illness a good deal less of a secret. Which I am choosing to see as a good thing, if people know from the outset what they are taking on then perhaps they will more carefully consider engaging with me in the first place.

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