Relationships And Mental Health Issues


Dealing with any mental health issue is extremely taxing on an individual. You spend most of your time worrying about what is wrong with you, whether you will ever get out of the slump and even about whether life is worth living or not. Your relations with people around you suffer because one finds it hard to relate to them because they are not going through what one is going through so it becomes impossible to relate to them.

The most complex relationship to maneuver through when one is dealing with a mental health issue is a romantic relationship .Romantic relationships are already hard enough to deal with when one does not have demons to deal with in their head so add that to the mix and you have an extremely complex concoction. Like I mentioned on the Understanding Mental Health Issues post, I dealt with anxiety and mild depression for 2 years and luckily for me (and probably for them also),I was not involved with anyone for that time. I found it hard to love anything during that period, including myself. As a matter of fact I think it would be accurate to say I hated myself because I considered myself weak for not being able to get over what I was going through. I lost interest in almost all things that used to contribute to some happiness in my life, I lost interest in people and anything to do with them, I lost interest in life, I just wanted to be on my own most of the time.

When you are involved in a romantic relationship, obviously you cannot expect to be on your own most of the time because a relationship entails sharing a life with someone. It would be unfair of you, despite what you are going through, to expect your partner to leave you alone. So what do you do when your partner is your only source of light in that dark period but you do not even want to be with them most of the time? What do you do when you cannot even communicate with your partner about what is wrong with you? Do you let them go? Do you keep hold of them even if you can see that you are hurting them? It gets extremely complex, as all matters of the heart are.

Communication is key in a romantic relationship. We all need constant assurance from our partners that they love us as much as we love them. You cannot go through a relationship without knowing where in the pecking order of priorities you are placed by your partner. The problem comes when your partner assumes you do not love them because you cannot offer them that assurance because you are unable to communicate your feelings with them because of what you are going through. Men have always had difficulty expressing their emotions because, for some reason, society views it as a sign of being emasculated. Couple that preexisting stereotype with a mental condition, which is again considered a weakness for some reason, and you have a guy who is going to lose the love of his life and his only source of light because he cannot reassure her that just because he does not talk to her and prefers seeing less of her does not mean he loves her any less.

So how does one help and deal with a partner who has a mental health condition? As already mentioned on the Understanding Mental Health Issues post, we as a society have to create an environment which makes it easier for people going through stuff to be able to communicate and express themselves. In a relationship too, the same logic should apply. Be open and communicative with your partner about any little thing. This creates an environment where your partner is able and willing to talk to you about anything because they are used to you guys talking about anything. This is what people going through a slump want, an environment which they feel like is conducive for them to express their feelings and emotions without worrying about how its going to be received. Make it possible for your partner to be able to tell you that “hey, sometimes I just want to be on my own for a while and that does not mean I love you any less or that I don’t think you can help me deal with this, it’s the only way I know how to deal with it”. If you guys have not made it a habit to freely express yourselves to each other, its going to be difficult for a partner to suddenly put on their “expressing themselves” boots when they are going through issues.

It is difficult to “detect” when someone is going through issues, even a partner. Sometimes we only find out when its too late that the people we love the most were going through hell right under our noses. Sometimes, because of lack of knowledge, we mistakenly interpret their issues and the way they deal with them as a sign that they do not love us anymore, which cannot be any more wrong and end up leaving them when they need us the most. The only way to combat these misunderstandings is communication and nothing else. Make your partner be comfortable to talk to you about whatever they are going through, be it good or bad. It is better to be a nagging partner who is constantly asking “how are you” and “what are you up to” than be the partner who unknowingly leaves the love of their life when they are going through their worst because they wrongly interpreted their emotions.

If you are single and are going through a mental health issue, my opinion is that it is better to not get involved romantically with anyone, the reason being when you are going through the slump, you find it very hard loving your own self so taking on the extra responsibility of loving and sharing a life with someone else would prove to be very difficult. It is very easy to confuse loneliness as the reason you are going through that slump but I can assure you that getting a partner is not going to make you get better any sooner. It would actually be quite selfish of you to enlist another person to help you deal with your issues under the fa├žade of a relationship. If, however, you really want to get into a relationship, make it clear to your partner about what you are going through and how it’s potentially going to impact your relationship so that they get into it knowing exactly what they would have to put up with and decide whether they are prepared to go through that with you.

As difficult as dealing with mental health issues alone is, it is also unfair to enlist someone else to help you deal with your issues without their knowledge. It is unfair to make someone else feel like they are less of a lover because they do not know how to help you deal with your issues, something they did not know they would have to deal with. That counts as weaponising mental health issues and is as evil as the mental health issue itself. Above all, communication is the way to go about it. Talk to your potential romantic partner about what you are going through and if you are already in a relationship, create an environment which will enable you and your partner to openly and freely communicate with each other, through the good and bad times.




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