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Hey guys and gals, welcome back to day 27! You guys, I am so close to filling up my first journal with my personal stories and advice. This isn’t just a journal where I complain about everything going wrong. This is something incredible! I have over 100 supporters and I honestly cannot wait for this number to grow!
I noticed a lot of you are asking for advice about relationships and dating, especially with a mental illness. Relationships are hard enough to maintain and then you hear a lot of people leave because they can’t handle the sickness anymore. And if you’re like me, you’re stuck with Bipolar Disorder forever.
During my last relationship, we both dealt with our mental illnesses daily. And even though our relationship didn’t last, I can still offer advice from what I’ve learned.
“You can’t love someone unless you truly love yourself.” Is this a myth or fact? I think everyone has a little bit of love for ourselves inside of us. We have to. Because that love for myself, no matter how small it is, is my motivation for doing some things to take care of myself. But I’ll be honest, during my four month relationship, there were a plethora of days where I completely hated myself. Actually it was more than just pure hatred for myself. I thought I would be doin the world a service if I took my own life.
Gosh, how toxic is that? Me, often telling my boyfriend we should break up because I was better off dead. But here’s the thing, he said the exact same thing to me about himself.
One night I got really upset, with a plan to hurt myself. While I was asleep, he showed up at my house to make sure I was okay. And then months down the road he sexually assaulted me. Yeah, yeah, we’ve already heard that part of the story. But it makes you think, did he really care about me? Or did he want to have sex because sex supposedly always makes us feel better?
Now stop right there. You see that? Instead of accepting the fact that he had a few good moments and actually cared about me, I overthought the situation. I turned it into something negative. And that’s what we do when we have mental illnesses, we overthink everything.
But why do we overthink so much? A lot of overthinking comes from a lack of trust. And some of us have a good reason not to trust people. So here’s what I think, relationships don’t end because we struggle to love ourselves, they fail because a lack of trust and lack of communication.
Obviously this isn’t the only mold that can hold relationships together. We need to support each other. But what if you are both having an episode at the same time? Again, let’s try practicing healthy coping mechanisms. Learn how to cope through each other’s experiences. Give each other space if you need to.
Remember, we all have bad days, a lot of us relapse, and we think that makes us burdens. It doesn’t. You want a relationship to last? You need to communicate, support, trust, listen, offer/ get help, admit when you are wrong, take responsibility, and love. I know it’s a lot, but I know this will help and I’m sure my next relationship will be a lot better now that I know how to be better myself.
“When you see yourself as a burden, nothing is free—especially love.”—Lacey Sturm.
I have learned that relationships don’t work unless you are actively trying to get better. We are going to have bad days, but if you think you are a burden constantly, you are focusing on negative thoughts, instead of working on your relationship.
“I thought fighting for a person meant to fight the person if you had to.”—Sturm.
So many of us think this way. Even I was guilty of it. This mindset didn’t help our relationships grow, it just keeps watering the foundations of your arguments so negativity can grow. And remember no one is perfect. We all make mistakes.
“I used to think that saying whatever you think, whenever you think it, was being honest and intimate and that it's just what friends did. I now realize that if they are hurtful, out of place, or discouraging, those words are often really just selfish venting and are not rooted in real love.”
Communication is also extremely important in relationships. Sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Other times we think we are saying the right thing when in fact we are actually saying the wrong things.
“It’s not loving to say, ‘I can’t live without you.’ Instead say, ‘Things are better with you.’”—Sturm.
This advice allowed me to be okay even when I was single. It gave me confidence. And when I’m in a relationship, it makes the other person feel loved and not trapped.
“Obedience is not love, it’s the evidence that you truly love.”—The Mystery by Lacey Sturm.