I couldn’t tell you how it all started, but I can tell you how it ended – with my partner calling my mother in the early hours of the morning to tell her that he was afraid.
Afraid both of and for me. He told her that he couldn’t cope and that he thought I was a danger to myself.
The next morning my mother arrived. I was eating breakfast in bed, my cheeks dry from last night’s tears. My eyes red and my throat raw from my screams.
While my mother and I have a close relationship, she’d never turn up without having planned something with me beforehand. I knew something wasn’t right. My heart began thumping as my partner stood in front of me, beside my mother.
‘We’re going to get you some help,’ my mother said.
Help? I didn’t need help? What was she talking about? I’d had loads of meltdowns, why was this any different?
I now know that most people’s ‘meltdowns’ consist of crying and shouting. Not sitting in a bath screaming at the top of their lungs cutting their wrists with a razor blade.
While I was angry, the worst news was yet to come. My partner informed me that he was leaving me. He couldn’t cope any longer and our relationship was ‘toxic’.
I couldn’t take it. I cried, I shouted, I screamed, I held onto him and begged him not to go.
I told him I was sorry, that I’d be better, that I loved him, that I didn’t know why I was such a bad girlfriend.
My mother pulled me away and told me it was for the best, that this wasn’t good for me or him.
He packed his things and left. And I felt broken. I was broken. I knew deep down I needed somebody to fix me.
As I said, I couldn’t tell you where it all went wrong. We had experienced an extended honeymoon period, we moved in together, we were happy. I’d always had extreme mood-swings, but I took them out on myself, not him.
And then one year I fell sick. I was so sick that I was half an hour from death. I was due to have surgery to save my life, and he wasn’t there.
I remember laying in the hospital bed, maxed-out on pain-relief, crying for him at the top of my lungs. My mum tried frantically to call him, but he was in work and couldn’t get out. My mum shouted that he needed to be there, that I was going to be having life-saving surgery. He arrived five minutes before I was rushed down for emergency surgery.
After the surgery and a month in hospital, I had to move home with my parents because I was too sick to look after myself. My partner barely visited. I resented him for it. I later found out he was scared and he didn’t want to see me in such a way. I still don’t fully understand but I’ve accepted his feelings.
The months went on and I got better. But our relationship deteriorated. I resented him. I wanted him to know that.
Arguments became an everyday occurrence. I was always looking for a battle. Not because I wanted the fight, but because I wanted to make him feel the way he’d made me feel.
I know it’s sick and twisted, but at the time it all made sense in my head. I manipulated him. I would cause an argument, I would say disgusting things to him, I would call him names and pick on his insecurities. I would scream at him and push him away. And then, when he’d become close to walking out of the door, I’d cry. I’d tell him how he’d made me feel in the hospital, how the way I was acting was his fault.
When he’d break down, I’d feel awful. I’d feel so awful that I’d lock myself in the bathroom and cut myself as punishment. But this just made the situation worse. It made him feel even more guilty.
I’m embarrassed, ashamed and disgusted by my behaviour when I look back on it. I can’t believe I could do those things to another person. That I could treat another person that way.
These manipulative and toxic arguments happened at least every other day. I sent my partner into a depression. I’d made him feel worse than I ever had. I thought it was what I wanted, but it wasn’t. I was angry that he’d made me feel guilty. I was supposed to be the one that hurt. It wasn’t fair. So I didn’t stop.
And that’s how it led up to that night. The night where it all spiralled out of control. That night I started an argument, smashed multiple things around our living room, screamed in his face, called him names, and ran to the bathroom where I sat in my bathtub and screamed. And I’m not talking your average scream. I screamed until I went numb and I couldn’t breathe. I screamed until my head was filled with adrenaline. I screamed until my throat silenced itself.
And then I cut myself.
Over and over again. I watched as the blood poured from my wrists, dark and red, the burning sensation that followed more intense than ever before.
What I didn’t realise is that the result of the argument was also to be more intense than ever before.
It wasn’t like the other times, where he stayed out of guilt for not being there for me when I’d needed him. He was genuinely scared. He was scared that it was going to get so bad that I would fatally harm myself.
He made the right decision, I know that now.
He left, and I thought that was it. My mum cradled me as I cried. I wasn’t crying for me, though, I was crying for him. I was crying because I had treated another person so badly. I had abused somebody I loved. I was a disgusting excuse for a human being. I’d fucked up everything.
But I am grateful he left.
The day he did, I was taken for an emergency appointment to my GP, where I went on to receive further help from a psychiatrist.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and was trialled on a series of anti-psychotics and mood stabilisers.
And out of somewhat a miracle, my partner came back. We talked things through. I explained to him how I had felt while ill, and how desperately I had needed him.
He explained to me that he had been scared, that he didn’t want to see me in such a bad way, that he felt helpless.
We both accepted that our relationship was toxic, but after taking help, we decided to give things another go. And a year and a half later, we’re still going strong.
But although I took help and received a diagnosis, I will never use it as an excuse for my behaviour. While I’m sure it played some part, I take full responsibility for my actions. I cannot regret them anymore than I do, but I’m still trying every day to manage my emotions and make amends.
I am now stable on my medication and receive regular help for my mental health.
I am also incredibly lucky to have been given another chance by my partner.
But I will never forget the way I treated him. I don’t deserve to.