The Burden of Severe Mental Illness

The Burden of Severe Mental Illness

“If you get the chance, take me out immediately! You have to!”

I awoke to these words, my words. In a dream of course. But I said them with such conviction. And I was talking to my husband of all people!

But why did they startle me so much? I mean, it was just a dream for goodness sake! And it was nothing compared to my sleep paralysis episodes.

The thing is, it’s common for our dreams to uncover things we’ve hidden away in our subconscious. Like for instance, the fact that I feel like a burden to my family.

Obviously, I’m not the only person with a severe mental illness who feels like a hinderance to others. This is one of the many reasons why people attempt & complete suicide.

Living with bipolar disorder, I feel like a ticking time bomb. When it went untreated, full-blown mania destroyed my family. We somehow made it back together, miraculously. But for years after, I couldn’t walk a straight line without looking over my shoulder. I had to see if that black cloud was still following me. I was always waiting for all hell to break loose again.

I had this innate feeling that suicide was my ultimate fate. And statistically I wasn’t too far off. Suicide is the leading cause of premature death among patients with bipolar disorder, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center.

I thought that black cloud evaporated. Clearly it has not.

Bipolar disorder affects me daily, thus it affects my family daily. In addition to struggling with the symptoms of bipolar disorder, I struggle with worries of being a burden. For example, sometimes my energy is unpredictable. What I say I’m going to do tomorrow might not get done. Even though I wholeheartedly intend on doing it. I worry, are my daughters going to resent me when they’re older? How is having a mother with bipolar disorder truly affecting them? And my husband, the most patient & generous man on this earth. Is he going to one day decide he deserves better?

So what am I to do with this lovely information that my subconscious has so generously offered up? Am I to just go through life as I used to? Looking over my shoulder wondering how much time I have left? Am I to accept that this is my existence?

Hell no! That’s what my illness wants me to do. I may not be able to just – POOF! – make this thought process disappear on my own. But I can take it to my therapist so we can tackle it head on. I’m not going to sit with it alone. And I’m definitely NOT going to accept this for myself. I deserve better. We ALL deserve better.

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Krista-Lee-Pfeiffer :: Blogger & Creator of


  1. Veronica Engqvist

    Thank you for sharing. I feel the same way. Worrying every day that my husband will leave me for someone “normal”. The feeling that I’m a burden on everyone is constantly in my head. I too wonder if my sons will hate me when they grow up. Or will they turn out like me? I worry that they might have inherited bipolardisorder from me.

    1. Yep, that’s pretty much me. But I have a feeling your husband would react the same way as mine did upon reading this post… he was shocked and saddened to learn that I feel this way. And I try to remember that there’s nothing I can do about the future. I’ll deal with it the best I can when and IF any of the worst case scenarios happen. Granted, some days this is easier to do than others. But it’s worth sharing.

      Thanks for visiting. Stay strong, Krista

  2. You will always be my favourite, most inspirational bipolar writer. I relate to everything you say in a way I never thought I would ever relate to anybody ever again after I was diagnosed. I can’t wait to read of your experience with your new psychologist.
    Sandra recently posted…I See Dead PeopleMy Profile

    1. Sandra, You are warming my heart so much. It means so much to me that you can relate. Wait, actually I’m really sorry that you can relate! I truly wish you couldn’t. But since you can, I’m so honored to be a place you can come to.

      And btw, I feel the exact same way about you & your blog. Thank you so much for sharing all that you do. You’re helping more than you know.

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