Social stressors and losses are commonly cited as a precipitating factor of mood instability (BPS, 2010). With regard social stressors, I can be extremely sensitive to minor disturbances in my relationship with others, which can lead to mental health problems. A disagreement, an uncomfortable silence, or a raw tension can tip me over the edge towards insomnia, anxiety, and extreme moods. My family have commented that I find it hard to live with others, but it would be more accurate to say that I am overly attached to maintaining peace, peace at all costs. I often find it most difficult when peace is disturbed. Although I am a peacemaker, I need to accept the reality of interpersonal frustrations. I need to accept that not everyone likes me. I need to smile like the Buddha.
We have a vital need from our earliest moments to the end of our days for touch, observes psychologist Tiffany Field, and that the least tactile people suffer from touch hunger. I have to say that I am one of these touch hunger people. My skin is the largest sense organ, but I don’t use it nearly enough. I like a handshake or a hug, but I find it difficult to kiss or to hold onto someone for more than a few moments. Knowing this, I am encouraged to use touch more and more. I cannot continue loving bipolar if I do not meet this vital need. At times, I need a ‘high five’ or a friendly pat on my shoulder. Other times, I need a hand to hold or a gentle kiss. I’d like to say “goodbye” to physical distance and separation, and to say “hello” to physical closeness.
I used to put up walls when dating: I said to myself, “Our values are different” or “Our belief systems are different”. I am now fully aware that taking chances on revealing myself is necessary for emotional intimacy. In this largely unknown foreign place, I dare to share something of myself. I look the person in the eyes and I enter a sacred place, a place that only exists between two people. I want to hold the other’s hand and say, “I feel safe”. I take things nice and slowly, trust the other, and go on a journey together. I recall an image of my grandparents: walking in the park, holding hands without saying a word, and smelling the roses. In my path towards family life, I give thanks for my current connections and I am ready for the real thing.