Hello mental health champions, how are you doing?
Today I wanted to talk about maintaining a healthy romantic relationship when you have mental health disorders. Early on in High School, I didn’t really have major anxiety or panic attacks. I had my worst anxiety in 7th grade but that all stemmed from intrusive thoughts. However, sophomore year is when that all changed. I had gone through a horrific break up after a relationship that broke my trust completely. They were dishonest throughout the entire relationship in many ways. After this break up, my anxiety ramped up at full speed again. I would have panic attacks DAILY. It got so bad that many times I left school and even ended up getting a pass to leave class and go to the nurse’s office whenever I wanted to try and handle my panic attacks. It was honestly an incredibly tough time. After that ordeal, I would tend to have frequent panic attacks at random times. From that point on, I kind of just became this ball of anxiety. Looking back on it, I could see how I may have been needy, moody, and not very trusting. My problem has always been giving too much of my heart to people who don’t deserve it. I have always been a relationship girl who loves with every fiber of my being. However, some of this love can be too much for some people and instead come across as needy. I ended up always picking people that I felt the need to fix. It was really unhealthy for me and eventually I did find my person.
But remember no relationship is ever perfect. And when you have mental health disorders that impact your mood, it can cause issues in relationships so I will explain how I handle it. First off, communication is one of those things that is incredibly important when you struggle with mental health disorders. When I know I am feeling anxious, I try to communicate that to my partner so that my anxiety doesn’t manifest in another way. It can be very easy to express anxiety as anger and I wouldn’t want my partner to feel like they did something and cause an argument when really it is just me having a hard time expressing how I feel. I also try to just speak it out and let him know that I have a lot on my mind and am just trying to handle it the best way that I can. I tend to also get super moody when I feel anxious which makes things difficult for my partner to manage. Once again, communicating is the best way to keep the peace and avoid arguments.
Another thing I learned is to not use your partner or even friends as a therapist. I think that sometimes things can get blurred when you have mental health issues. Of course, you need to be open with your partner and should be able to share how you feel. However, there are lines and boundaries and you don’t want to overwhelm your partner so much to the point that they end up taking on all your issues and slipping into depression or anxiety themselves. You need a healthy balance and it is always good to have an outlet that ISN’T your partner. I had to throw myself into other things in order to keep our relationship stable and not where we both struggled from trying to help each other. For me, therapy has been the best option to have an outlet as well as physical exercise lately has really been positive for me. Remember there are still boundaries in relationships and loved ones can only help as much as they can handle too.
Something that also helps is just doing all the things you need to do. In my own opinion, I feel like it is unfair to not give my all and try my hardest to keep my mental health stable. It is the same with physical illnesses. I would expect my partner to take their medicine and see their doctor to help themselves. It is the same with mental health. I know to be the best girlfriend I can be, I need to be stable and do all the things I can to help myself. Effort is a huge part of a relationship, but you also need to put effort into yourself and loving yourself. I know that someone else can’t love me if I don’t love myself. Therefore, I do all the things I need to in order to love myself and feel my personal best.
Another thing that helps me is just letting my partner know what I need and when I need it. How is your partner supposed to help you if they don’t know how? This is for sure something that has saved a lot of frustration. I let my partner know what I need when I feel certain ways. I will literally make a list and say this:
-When I am anxious, it helps me if you can help me compartmentalize so that what I am facing doesn’t seem so large.
-When I am facing depression, I sometimes need motivation to get up and do things. A way you can help me with this is by trying to distract me and get me moving. Offering to go on a walk, browse around the store, or do an activity can help me get distracted and pull out of that depressed state.
-When I am having a panic attack, I need you to hold me and tell me that I am safe. I need you to help with sensory. I need a hug for touch, I need to smell your cologne, or hear your soothing words.
These are just a couple examples of things you can have your partner help you with. But, when they have a plan all set up for how they can help you, it will make communicating and getting through the tougher moments easier.
I will probably do a part two for this at a later time but I figured this was a good start of some ideas on how to have a healthy relationship when you struggle with mental health disorders.
Talk to you soon brain battlers, Gracie <3
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The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.