I recently asked some people around me what they would like me to write about in regards to the mental health series. One of the suggestions was writing about having a relationship while dealing with mental health issues. It’s a touchy subject even for me because I just went through that and it’s still all pretty fresh. I don’t have the formula on how to make it work or whatever but I’ll tell you my experience and hope it in some way helps you.
I’ve dealt with things like anxiety or depression for years now. Pretty dumb of me that I’ve let myself deal with it for years but honestly every therapist or psychologist I went to never helped, I guess I just always ended up with the wrong people. Now I think I’m on the right path, but as everything good does, it takes time.
I think that there is often a misconception, that once you get into a relationship the mental health issues will disappear, cause you’re happy now right? Not alone or craving love anymore cause it’s at your fingertips. Alas that’s not how reality works. In some cases the beginning phases of a relationship may alleviate the issues because there’s so much love and excitement in the air that you’ve flown to cloud nine. I noticed that I only had one of my relationships to go past the honeymoon phase. Where it wasn’t wanting to see each other every second of the day anymore, but back to our real lives and still enjoying our time together. The thing is I don’t know what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like. My first relationship was being practically engaged to a narcissist, which, says enough about how healthy that relationship was. It also shows you I haven’t always made the best decisions. Plus it ended after not even four months so I was never in a reality relationship, just the first stages of being on cloud nine.
During that first relationship I was so swept away that I didn’t have a chance to realise that my battles with anxiety, bad coping mechanisms, were still there just being buried and buried with other meaningless things. When this guy left me it broke me, everything flooded back a hundred times worse, and that was my crucible. It took me a long time to recover, not from him because I got over him pretty damn quickly, but from what he did to me. How could I just walk away unscathed from a person that broke every form of trust, cheated, lied and manipulated. Of course I would be damaged. The past years have been an intense battle to stay on top of all that, and every day I make steps. Sometimes its two steps forwards and five backwards, others it’s one backwards and three forwards.
Recently I got out of my second relationship. This guy was totally different, the complete opposite of what my ex was and he wasn’t scared of my burned pieces, it was what made me me. However great this relationship was, the battles still didn’t go away. I discovered new triggers I didn’t know I had, which in itself was good but getting to the point of figuring out what that trigger was meant spending a day home sick to my stomach because something deep in me felt wrong and I couldn’t figure out what it was. However happy I was with this guy I still had my demons inside me fighting me at every step and turn. Every single time I pushed them down again, pretended they weren’t there and buried them with more meaningful and meaningless things.
Whatever situation I am to find myself in, the most important thing I think is to always keep working on myself, and never lose sight of me. I was a damaged person before my relationships, I was a damaged person during my relationships, and I am a damaged person after my relationships. This isn’t a bad thing. Everyone goes through hardships, everyone has a crucible. What is a bad thing is when I stop working on myself because I think that other person can fill the void. That they can make my imperfections perfect. No one can do that but you (and God of course but that’s a whole nother post if I go down that route). A relationship won’t fix the problems you already have, the best it can do is give you courage, support, and love while you fix yourself.
I couldn’t combine being in a relationship and dealing with my mental health. There were things outside of our reach or control that triggered me in ways I didn’t know were possible, and I had to choose one or the other because both couldn’t work. I had to stop burying my demons, and call them out to fight. I was and am done dealing with the shit that they give me day in day out. I am done letting them wreck beautiful things in my life. I am done letting them control my relationships.
Just because I couldn’t at this point combine taking care of my mental health and thriving in a relationship doesn’t mean it’s impossible. There are so many people who have managed to make the combination work and given it their own beautiful form. Sometimes people benefit greatly from having a partner while dealing with these things. Someone to fall back on, cry with, rant to, etc. I personally love it when people can be that open and vulnerable about what goes on in their head. I’m not there yet but it’s something I can work towards.
Sadly it’s the reality of life. These are things we struggle with and have to go through, and I hope for you it turns out differently than it did for me. But if it does end up with you alone again, that isn’t something bad. It’s the season you’re in then and make the most of it. Spend time doing things that you love, things that make you want to jump out of bed in the morning, work on yourself, never stop learning and growing. When the time is ripe everything will fall into place. There’s no sense in rushing things, there’s a season for everything and this may be the season for you.
Picture credits: PS I love you