I joined HealthyPlace as I began to reckon with the mental symptoms of my chronic illness. For years, I struggled with depression that came as a side effect to my steroids, the disordered eating that I developed as a result of my gastrointestinal trouble, and the trauma that came from a lifetime of health problems. But I was never able to treat these symptoms with the same regard as my physical ones. The HealthyPlace community helped me validate my struggle with mental health. But the time of COVID has been especially scary for those of us with chronic illness and I'm struggling to stay on top of my business, my graduate studies, and my health. So, though I will miss my HealthyPlace community, I have decided to leave the Relationships and Mental Illness blog in order to lighten my load a little and protect my physical and mental health.
Mental Illness Impact on Self
Many patients with chronic illnesses find themselves with some amount of medical trauma. When you're a child, it's hard to make sense of surgeries, blood tests, and hours spent in hospitals with the sick and dying. But there's also the medical trauma that, for many of us, could have been avoided if our doctors had been better listeners.
My therapist tells me that my experiences with sexual trauma have changed my taste in men. I've been complaining that my boyfriend doesn't give me what I need; he doesn't crave intimate conversation as I do, likes to mostly be on his own, and doesn't think much about sex. In short, he hardly considers most of the aspects that I believe comprise a relationship.
Family dinner with disordered eating is always uncomfortable. Here's my deal: I was born with an autoimmune disorder called Behcet's Disease. My symptoms include gastrointestinal ulceration and pain when I eat. This has created a complicated relationship between me and food.
If it wasn't for my weekly virtual therapy session, my avoidant attachment behaviors would have caused far more mayhem in my quarantine life. What is avoidant attachment? It isn't a mental disorder or illness. Rather, it's a style of attachment.
I'm not sure who has it worse: folks who are isolated alone or those of us who are quarantining with our loved ones. All in all, I'm glad my boyfriend and I left our Brooklyn apartment before the state of emergency was declared in order to quarantine upstate with my parents.
Alleviating COVID-19 anxiety is especially difficult for me because I'm living with a chronic illness, which means I am the weak and immunocompromised who is most vulnerable to COVID-19. Because of this, the trauma that I have endured that has mounted due to a life in medical care and life-threat has been exaggerated. Still, I'm doing my best to stay calm.
No matter where you live, how old you are, what you do for work, or how healthy you are, coronavirus is most likely impacting your mental health in some way, shape, or form. As a graduate student living in New York City, where an imminent shelter-in-place may not necessarily be unrealistic, I have faced several lifestyle changes, for better or for worse. Furthermore, as someone diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I need to tend to my mental health during this coronavirus pandemic.
When I first started having sex, I didn't know I was engaging in sexual spectation -- I didn't realize I was analyzing and directing my own behavior in the bedroom as though it was a performance. But at some point, I realized that my one and only focus in the bedroom was to make myself attractive to the man who played my counterpart.