Maintaining Mental Health During Emotional Setbacks
In my last video post, Emotion Regulation and Dating with Bipolar Disorder, I talked about what I thought was a burgeoning relationship or something with Erik. Well, that something has become a nothing and I'm crushed. Not because I was in love with him or anything, but because in spite of my new-found emotional health I ended up where I've generally been: alone.
Sometimes Emotional Growth Means Learning From Mistakes
In spite of the emotional maturity I've gained in the last few years, and the wisdom from being intentionally single, I've gained no discernment when it comes to the opposite sex. I was happy to have connected with Erik, and perhaps astounded that someone to whom I was attracted returned my interest. It's been years since I had a healthy relationship with sex: during my days of unchecked hypomania, I sought out numerous one-night-stands over a period of months. It's amazing how many people you can get to have sex with you - using protection, of course - if you put your mind to it. When you don't feel that good about yourself, but you're still jumping out of your skin, sex is one of those things that tricks you into feeling desirable.
For the last few years, I've chosen to be celibate in order to separate my emotional vulnerability from sexual activity, so I was happy to contemplate an attraction with Erik that was genuine and not driven by psychosis. Turns out that I may have been premature in my happiness, as after Erik and I shared some physical companionship I learned that he had a girlfriend. That revelation made me mad ("Hey, would have been nice for him to tell me about the girlfriend before he kissed me and before I liked it") and sad ("Why am I still in a non-emotional sexual situation even though I'm fully aware of my own feelings?) I thought being healthy and aware of my feelings was supposed to make me happy, not more frustrated. And why, if I'm doing all of the good work, are other people ruining my frigging enlightenment?
Preserving Your Mental Health is Your Responsibility
When we're in recovery, it's very important to observe the lessons that we've learned throughout our journey. A popular saying notes that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Basically, I shouldn't keep throwing myself into physical relationships - even those where I have an emotional attachment - without setting expectations with the other person. I'll admit that spending the night with Erik was far better than having done it with someone I don't really know and will never see again. That's progress. But in the future, my recovery and emotional health will be better maintained by communicating my expectations and managing my own disappointment.
I'll let you know how it goes.
Lloyd, T. (2011, November 28). Maintaining Mental Health During Emotional Setbacks, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/relationshipsandmentalillness/2011/11/maintaining-mental-health-during-emotional-setbacks