I often wonder who exactly is the victim of my illness. I very rarely see myself as one. Usually, in an episode, I feel bad about myself and my life, but not bad for myself.
Friendships and relationships are difficult for people with any mental illness
I see my family as victims. My parents for having had to watch their oldest child deteriorate into something un-knowable. My younger sister for not having a strong older sister to look up to. I've lost her trust and belief in me. I remember when I told her that I'd taken an overdose, and not to tell mum and dad. I was numb with grief at the time and I didn't think, but that was a stupid thing to do. I am more vulnerable than her now, and we've lost our close bond because of this. I hope she knows that I would protect her until the very end, because I would. That I can still feel this unquestioning, unconditional love is something that gives me hope.
Friendships and relationships are difficult for people with any mental illness. I like the TV show Homeland, and remember a scene where one of the central characters who has bipolar disorder reveals how she believes no-one could really love her because of her illness. It sounds very pessimistic, but actually I recognised that feeling. I look back at my previous relationships and I know I ruined them. My illness ate me alive and the men who had grown to love me then grew to resent me. I don't blame them.
Mental illness is just something that happens to some people
So it returns to me. Am I also a victim of my illness? Yes. This realisation only comes to me at very select moments. A breakdown in my room in student halls, vividly thinking this is not my fault. Walking back from A&E at 2 am after the nurse discharged me and thinking I'm an OK person, why is this happening to me? Why am I letting it happen? Just as a leukaemia patient cannot blame themselves for their disease, neither can I. It's just something that happens to some people. It's very easy to rage against and much harder to accept.
What I have written here is the reality of my illness. I am not a freak, and I am not a bad person. I want to reach out to you and tell you what it is like, so that the next time you see someone having a nervous breakdown in public, or someone with scars of self harm on their arms, remember that we are people with families and relationships trying to make the best of a very odd and very difficult situation inside our own minds.