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I am looking for couples to interview for a new project called “Shit Just Got Real,” which will highlight relationships wherein one or both of the members struggles with mental illness. I want to hear about your story, how mental illness impacts your life and relationships, and how you’ve coped with it.

I’m interested in your story because it’s part of mine. I have Type 1 Bipolar Disorder, and here’s the thing: sometimes, being sick sucks the big one. Waking up from a night of nothing but nightmares with a fifty pound weight on your chest; dragging yourself from bed because there’s too much to be done to dilly dally; forcing yourself to interact and consciously trying to slow your brain to make some sense of words before they tumble out. Feeling the tugging on the side of your mouth that too often accompanies tears… and here they are, rolling down our cheeks.

The thing is, we’re everywhere, hiding our sickness, hiding what we struggle with every day. We just want to be normal, we just want to fit in, most of us. We hate that we can’t wear a t-shirt that tells the world we’re fighting a disease that claims 1 out of 5 of its victims’ lives so the world can rally around us and tell us we can beat this. We don’t want to be the 1 (But something in the corner of our mind tells us it’s inevitable).

We drag ourselves to work, we get our degrees and we write and we sing and we dance because if we stop… for even one moment… we might forget that we don’t want to be the 1.

Some of us are artists. Some are writers. Some are teachers, some pick up your trash on Monday and Thursday like clockwork. There are times when we live with our disease companionably. There are times when we are even grateful that our disease isn’t as bad as other things we could have…

Then there are the alone times. The times when nightmares plague our dreams. When they are too real to not believe and we wake up shaking and crying. When they startle our minds into believing we are back there again, in what we like to call “that place that made us crazy.”

We joke with people in our inner circle about being crazy. They laugh with us, but sometimes the worry in their eyes is too much for us to bear on top of all of this, and our smile falters a bit. Other times, our loved ones tell us: you aren’t really crazy, I mean you’re GOOD crazy.

We smile and die a bit when they say that because… let’s face it… we’re not always GOOD crazy. Sometimes it’s not good. Sometimes it’s downright bad. Sometimes the day finds us sitting knees to chest arms wrapped tight around and wondering if this will be the day we become the 1.

But we hide it, mostly… except when we can’t, then we just hide. Or… we take off all our clothes and give crazy the reins and walk down I-35 in cowboy boots and nothing else. Or maybe we simply sit in a dark room where we can be quiet and still and things might be ok if we sit here long enough.

And all the things in our lives that give us joy are drained of color and very distant, like a dream upon waking. And when they ask us if we are ok, we say “yes” but it is vacant and unconvinced and we aren’t sure if we even want to be ok anymore… or if it matters.

But it’s never just you living with your mental illness… there’s also your partner, your family, your children.

As a mentally ill person myself, my approach will be to present a sometimes irreverent and always honest dialogue about mental illness in relationships: the good, the bad, and the ugly. As the other person who is affected daily by my mental illness, my partner will be taking part in the interviews as well, offering questions from a partner perspective, hearing your stories.

I am interested in hearing about the following types of things:
* The story of your relationship – how you met, when mental illness made its appearance
* Best and worst parts of being in a relationship with a crazy person
* Strategies for long-term success and stability
* Stories from the front line
* Tips and tricks for other couples like you

If you are interested, please fill out this interest form: https://hatchwords.wordpress.com/shit-just-got-real-project/

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