One of the main casualties of mental illness can be intimacy.
When I was first diagnosed, I remember thinking, “Ok. That’s it for me and women.”
The situation resulted in a complex. On the one hand, I felt unworthy of intimacy, like I was “damaged goods”. On the other hand, I felt increasingly afraid of being touched.
I took it as a challenge to my self-control. How little touch can I get by with? Can I keep people at arm’s length? Can I understand and control my own impulses, especially that of desire?
For many years, I lived in solitude, with little human contact. I did not even have a pet.
Slowly, something began to change. I started to listen to my body, to pay attention to my pain. I realized that I needed companionship, recognized that in some ways my life had become flat and two-dimensional.
I was at a friend’s birthday party, and I was struck by an intuition. I felt that I was going to meet someone special there. I introduced myself to several women– each admitted sooner or later that they either were uninterested, or already had a companion.
One woman allowed me to give her my e-mail address. She later became my wife.
To be honest, 5 years later and intimacy is still a complicated issue for me.
But I am relieved that I have someone to be with, and glad that I finally began to realize that I can’t manhandle nature. I can’t force my needs for human touch away.
Nature is not ever fooled this way– not for long, anyway.