Tonight at my women’s support group we talked about self-esteem.  The leader talked about what we can do to improve our self-esteem. She also talked about abusive partners who run us down.  She said if someone is always saying negative things about you, you begin to internalize it.

My relationship with my husband is different from the relationships that the other women had with their husbands, in that my husband never physically hurt me AND in he did believe in me. He believed that I was more than my diagnosis. In fact he questioned whether or not I was truly bipolar.

As the leader was speaking about ways abusive partners can run us down, I began to get angry at the lie I was fed. For a second I thought I would tear up about what my diagnosis has done to me. It has done as much harm to me as any abusive partner ever had done…I believed that I had  a “brain disease” I believed that I was ill, that something needed “correcting” That belief chipped away at my self-esteem more than anything else.

I think I put up with the mean way my husband spoke to me because I didn’t have the self-esteem to believe I had options. I remember the first couple times he spoke mean to me. I was so stunned and shocked the first couple times. I remember thinking, “He shouldn’t speak that way to the woman he loves, but I also thought, “What can I do? I am mentally ill. Who else will understand me, who else would want me after they find out about my illness?” I couldn’t even tell my mother, because she was obsessed with my illness. Not a day with her went by when she didn’t talk about my “illness”. It was actually a relief to be with my husband because he didn’t talk about my illness.

I felt in a catch 22. My husband believed I was capable of many things…but he had mean tone when he spoke to me. I didn’t think I could leave because I didn’t think I could hold down a job, or that disability would be enough for me. I had been alone before. And I hated it. I did definitely have problems with depression and being lonely. I didn’t think I could make it without him. I thought I was too fragile because of my “illness.”

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