Forming Healthy Relationships During Mental Illness Recovery
Forming healthy relationships isn't easy in mental illness recovery when I'm experiencing symptoms of my bipolar disorder because I'm known to behave badly. Well, not necessarily badly per se, but differently than I'd behave if I were completely healthy. At times, my behavior affects myself and at other times it affects forming healthy relationships with the people around me. These relationship mistakes have sometimes caused me to lose friends and alienate acquaintances. But when I work towards forming healthy relationships during mental illness recovery, it leads to greater understanding and better connections (Why Healthy Relationships Matter).
Forming Healthy Relationships in Mental Illness Recovery and Romance
Earlier this year, I went out on a few dates with Matt, a man I'd known from primary school. At the time, I thought that I was ready to date, but some of my actions were not those of someone in their best mental health. I'd started writing about our relationship, rather my feelings about our relationship. I was negotiating my re-entry into the dating scene so my writing was filled with questioning, uncertainty and anxiety.
Given my emotional state, I probably needed to put my feelings into words. My mistake was writing about my feelings in public, and inviting Matt to read what I'd written. Imagine someone peeking into your most fragile moments, your least self-confident days, and learning all about them? That's what happened to me. And I believe that it soured the relationship, or at least put a damper on his romantic feelings for me.
He became very concerned about how our relationship affected my emotional state, which is a lovely sentiment but perhaps one better left for some point after date two. Needless to say, we stopped dating.
Recently, Matt and I have reconnected as friends and potential lovers. We've talked about the swirl of emotions that I expressed earlier in our relationship and how that informed his opinions. Thankfully, I am farther along in my mental illness recovery than I was when we'd dated. We were able to talk about my improved mental state, and how when I'm not depressed, our relationship is less fraught.
With distance, I was able to see that I really wasn't ready to date and that I may have put him in an awkward position by exposing him to all of my negative thoughts at once (Starting a New Relationship During Mental Illness Recovery). Now I still feel free to share my feelings, but I'm aware of how much strain is fair to put on what is now a healthy relationship.
Forming Healthy Relationships With Friends During Mental Illness Recovery
It is also difficult either maintaining or forming healthy relationships with friends during mental illness recovery. My relationship with my closest friend has weakened under the strain of my disease. During years of my ups and downs, Tammy had been supportive of me and understanding about my struggles with depression and bipolar disorder. I told her about my symptoms. She visited me during hospitalizations. And I was always honest with her about how I was feeling, even when it wasn't good.
Most of my honesty centered around not feeling well enough to go out with Tammy. For months I begged off going out because I was sad, or didn't have the energy to leave the house (Why Don't We Want To Shower When We're Sick?). I thought that I was doing the right thing, since I'd previously been guilty of cancelling plans and being a no-show when my depression got the better of me.
But even though I had good reasons for not socializing, the end result was being isolated from my friend. So she met new people to fill the hole where I used to be. Of course I don't fault her for that, but now our relationship isn't what it once was. And that makes me sad.
Getting my relationship with Tammy back to its previous state will take some more honesty on my part. I'll have to be honest about my feelings of rejection and abandonment, which aren't entirely rational. I mean, my friend can have other friends without me needing to feel bad about it. I'll also have to be honest about what kind of friend relationship I want. Being honest about my feelings has always been a scary concept for me, but I'm willing to try it -- with the help of my therapist -- because I need healthy friendships in my life.
Whether dealing with friends or lovers, forming healthy relationships during mental illness recovery that support you and your path is your key to progress.
Lloyd, T. (2015, October 15). Forming Healthy Relationships During Mental Illness Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/relationshipsandmentalillness/2015/10/forming-healthy-relationships-during-mental-illness-recovery
Author: Tracey Lloyd