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Mental Illness Impact on Self

Juliana Sabatello
Fulfilling social connections can provide a feeling of belonging and a support system that benefits our mental health, but mental illnesses often cause us to isolate ourselves from others, making the mental illness worse by depriving us of the basic human need for connection. I talked about my experiences with social anxiety in a previous article, "How I Overcame Social Anxiety by Acting As If," and I want to talk a little more today about how, although mental illness and isolation go together, connection is a path toward mental health.
Juliana Sabatello
Whether or not we like it, we live in a world made for extroverts. Life demands so much of our social energy, and while extroverts feel energized in the company of others, introverts like me feel drained when they spend too much time around other people. Neurodiverse people and those with mental illnesses might feel even more drained in social situations than neurotypical individuals. If we don't recognize when we're socially overwhelmed and do something about it, we can end up coping with it in other less healthy ways.
Juliana Sabatello
People who know me describe me as friendly, and it's funny for me to hear because I wasn't always -- I had social anxiety. Connecting with others is at the core of who I am as a person, but social anxiety held me back from belonging for the first two decades of my life.
Juliana Sabatello
Social comparison is a part of being human. Using other people as a reference to decide how we see ourselves is often an unspoken force behind so much of what we do. "Comparison is the thief of joy," an adage often attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, has been on my mind quite often lately. I realized I compare myself to others at the expense of my happiness. I have two chronic anxiety disorders and sensory processing sensitivity which interfere with my life in every way, and I find that I often don't consider these traits when I criticize myself for not working as much, having as grand of ambitions, or achieving as much as my peers.
Juliana Sabatello
Love is a powerful force, but when it comes to loving someone with mental illness, we have to think about how to love through a different lens. We all likely have seen this type of story before where someone with mental illness or trauma falls in love, finds happiness, and suddenly all pain and hardship disappears for good. These stories put the emphasis on the partner as some type of savior, valiantly rescuing a "broken" person through the power of love. These savior stories create unrealistic expectations of what it's like to love people with mental illnesses as if the right person can rescue them from their darkness and pull them back into the light.
Juliana Sabatello
Anxiously overthinking a social interaction is a common event. We all have likely experienced a time when we couldn't stop ruminating over a conversation we had, thinking about everything we said or what we could have said differently. For those of us with anxiety disorders, this anxious overthinking can spiral out of control, affect our social lives, and even make our anxiety worse. I personally have a problem with overthinking. I often ruminate on these questions: Is that person mad at me? Did I say something wrong? Did I talk too much? Should I have said something different? Maybe these thoughts as familiar to you as they are to me.
Juliana Sabatello
Feeling shame in a relationship can begin a cycle of shame that's debilitating to mental health. An ex-boyfriend once told me I was a liability. My mental health was a risk against his future, and he didn't want his professional friends to know that he dated me. He made it clear that he was ashamed of me.
Miranda Card
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.
Miranda Card
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.
Miranda Card
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.