Not everyone is going to understand you.
When it comes to mental health, sometimes you feel empty inside and you feel like nothing and no one can feel that void.
Being in a relationship with a partner having a mental health condition can be challenging at times however it can be rewarding as you may be improving their wellbeing without you even realising.
I asked some friends and bloggers to share how their opinion and viewpoint on mental health and relationships.
Q: In your own words, what does mental health mean to you?
Audrey: Mental health is a state of well-being. I aim to feel comfortable with the thoughts in my mind daily as a marker of “good mental health.”
Anisha: Mental Health is something that will always be a part of me, and I believe it is overlooked but it is very serious.
Young male: It is the state of your mental wellbeing. It is how you feel, it may not be visible, but it is just as important as physical health.
Young female 1: It means, depression/stress, anxiety disorder, panic attacks, when you’re not in the right frame of mind, whether it be insane in an aggressive way or you have random out breaks, from Tourette syndrome to schizophrenia or whether you feel like your body is here, but mind isn’t and your alone even with people.
Your body isn’t just drained but your mind and soul are too. It goes a lot deeper. It means a lot to me especially as a woman of colour to see that people of colour do not get the right treatment and care or can even afford too and it is a shame especially considering when Caucasians get help and treated with respect and proper décor or conduct in comparison.
Young female 2: The balance of a person’s emotional and psychological wellbeing.
Young female 3: Mental health is a condition relating to emotional and psychological states. To me, mental health is something that I’ve had since a young child and have been carrying it with me every day. It’s something that comes and goes, something I have to deal with. It is a part of me but it doesn’t define me.
Q: Has discussing mental health with your partner made your relationship easier?
Audrey: I don’t have a partner, but historically yes! I think open, honest communication with a partner is essential to creating a safe relationship.
Anisha: In some ways yes. We both suffer from different types of mental illnesses, so discussing our thoughts at times help us to understand one another and why we may be acting in a certain way.
It is hard sometimes when you are dealing with things mentally and even harder to express how you feel but when we do take the time out to just listen and support one another, it brings us closer together.
I think it’s important to be able to speak to your partner about your problems. Being able to feel comfortable with someone you are with is also important.
Young male: Yes. It has helped us to understand each other better and made me slightly more forgiving about things because I know what’s behind them.
Young female 1: Do not have a partner to discuss with.
Young female 2: Not applicable as I am currently not in a relationship. However, I do believe that the open discussions surround mental health is something that can help understand the other person better.
Young female 3: Discussing mental health with my partner has made things easier in the sense of him knowing about my anxiety, depression and so called mood swings, although there are times when being in a relationship while having so much on my mind makes things between us quite hard to overcome. Certain situations that occur sometimes get the best of me and make him feel like he’s walking on egg shells being with me because it’s hard being with someone who doesn’t have any mental issues and doesn’t understand what I’m going through. But yes. He has been and is very supportive.
Q: Have you dated someone with a mental health condition? If so, was it as dauting as you thought it would be?
Audrey: Yes. I dated someone who was dealing with depression. It was hard because he would isolate, which would then create a story in my mind…and that cycle really played out a few times in an unhealthy way. We ended up breaking up not because of mental health, but because of our inability to communicate at our young age.
Anisha: Yes, I have. I wouldn’t say I had any expectations when it came to be dating or being with someone who suffers from mental health. So, to answer the question no. Personally I feel that if I am planning of being with someone, I need to love and be very patient and understanding regardless of the situation.
Everyone goes through different things. It’s a part of life, so I don’t think of my partner having a mental health condition as “daunting”. It just makes me want to care and love them even more.
Young male: I think so but it’s hard to tell. A lot of people don’t want to talk about it or haven’t been properly diagnosed. I didn’t know beforehand, I don’t find it daunting, but it can be challenging.
Young female 1: Not that I’m aware of, although I do think that they both have problems mentally but that’s to do with the way they are/we’re brought up and how they think it’s best to treat others in such s negative way. Their own personal insecurity was a big thing too. To the point they would turn their insecurity on you and make you feel less than as if nobody would want you.
And that the only person in the world who loves them is them. Shatter you from the inside out. A way to make them gain power and security for themselves mentally. When in fact it makes it ten times worse, I think.
Young female 2: I have dated someone with mental health issues and from my experience it was a challenge as he didn’t want to address the issue, but it also taught the how to deal the situation should I ever need to again.
Young female 3: No, I haven’t.
Q: What advice would you give to others suffering with mental health?
Audrey: Remember that you’re normal and not broken. I like to be honest and talk about my mental health that way other people feel comfortable to share too…then I feel less alone.
Anisha: Firstly, do not feel ashamed or embarrassed if you do suffer from one. Don’t look at yourself as if you are not what society defines as “normal”. You would be surprised with how many people suffer from mental health issues daily.
As I have spoken to many people during my own personal project about mental health, I have learnt a lot and it has helped me to look at things with an open mind and understand people.
Being silent is NOT the answer!!
My advice I told them and still tell people now is, find your own way of dealing with your pain and hidden trauma. By this I mean a healthy way to express your emotions and who you truly are. Whether that is writing, drawing, singing, reading, playing an instrument, whatever it is. Find your escape and fall in love with it.
It is okay to have your days where you want to cry or just sleep. Do that but always remember that you are worth it, and you can build yourself back up again. Don’t let yourself stay in a dark hole. Be the solider of your life and time really is the best healer.
Sadly, mental health never truly goes away and it’s something that creeps back up all the time. See the experiences you have been through as motivation. We all have scars, but scars are reminders that you have overcome something and got through it!! You are NOT your mental health.
Young male: Get help as early as you can. See a professional who can help you to understand and deal with it. It can seem hopeless at times but it’s not. Also don’t feel afraid to talk about it with people you trust, it can be therapeutic, and it helps not to feel alone with your suffering.
Young female 1: Go to doctors, go seek out counselling. Reach out to people in your family and friends. Write about it. Just don’t leave it before it gets worse. Make sure the doctors do help you and gets you the right help if not complain or seek out another gp. Holidays help. Go to Dr. Sebi in Honduras if you can afford to do so one day.
Young female 2: Take each day as it comes, understand that it’s not something to be ashamed of but something to teach you where your boundaries lie.
Young female 3: To stay strong and believe in yourself, no matter how hard it gets, just know that you are strong enough to pull through whatever it is that you are going through. I would also suggest therapy and if you do not want to do a one to one session or group therapy. Perhaps think about writing in a journal or joining the gym because it really helps getting your mind off of things.
Q: Do you regularly talk about your mental health with your partner? If so, roughly how often?
Audrey: I don’t have a partner.
Anisha: Not really, only when I feel like it’ is at its highest limit. I try to give a warning that I may be a bit hard to deal with now and may need more patience, just so that they are aware that I am feeling unstable and I don’t want them to think that I am trying to cause an argument or any problems.
Communication is key! Don’t get me wrong, I get my mood swings all the time and sometimes I slip up and decide to be stubborn instead of just being open with my partner. But as mentioned before, if you are with someone understanding, you will be able to express this later and get through this.
Young male: I would say roughly on a weekly basis, I don’t want to make them feel like I’m pressuring them and that they have a problem. I just want to make sure they are ok.
Young female 1: Do not have a partner but I do try and talk to my friend about it or they talk to me about their issues.
Young female 2: I don’t speak about it as often as I like because I don’t think that I have had enough understanding of what the situation is like. But I do find it an interesting topic.
Young female 3: My partner and I speak about my mental health on a daily basis. I don’t hide my feelings or emotions away from him even if it gets a bit much for him and/or our relationship because at the end of the day he’s here supporting me at all times.
Q: If you have a mental health condition, have you received any help? If not, would you be willing to?
Audrey: I don’t have a mental health condition, but if I did…I’d like to think I’d ask for help.
Young female 1: I have seen a doctor who has given me the contact details to a counsellor, but I can’t afford that so cannot go.
Anisha: Throughout school I had counselling. I do think it help and I would encourage people to investigate this. Especially if they feel as they have no one else to talk to. It’s good to have an outside view on situations and to gain as much knowledge as you can with the condition you are suffering from. It’s also nice to learn new exercising that could help you.
Having a good support system is also great. So, my friends do an amazing job with being patient with me and trying to give me the best advice they can.
Young male: I suffer from anxiety issues and have received help before, to varying degrees of success.
Young female 2: I haven’t had any mental health issues; however, I would suggest speaking to someone outside of the situation.
Young female 3: Yes, I used to be on anti-depressants but because I felt disconnected from the world due to the effect they had on me, I stopped. For some time I couldn’t pull myself together but after a few months when I graduated university, I joined group therapy and now attend it every Thursday evening.
It’s a small circle with friends who I’ve known most of my life and I guess that’s what makes it easier for me because I trust them and anything that I say during those sessions is confidential.
I definitely feel better getting things off my chest, it’s almost like a weight coming off my shoulders and it clears my mind.
Q: How long did it take for you to open to your partner about your mental health?
Anisha: Personally, as soon as I get comfortable with someone, expressing my feelings can be very easy. Especially when they show you that they love you no matter what goes on in your head etc. I get my times where I still have barriers and I am not completely honestly about how I am doing but I think we get like this sometimes.
We hate the thought of bothering people and maybe them not understanding us because we see it as “how can anyone understand us if we don’t even understand ourselves”.
Young male: You always want to show your best side to a new partner. I would say it was a month or two before we started talking about it.
Young female 1: To my friends not that long they sure what was happening and as for them the same too
Young female 3: After roughly a few weeks of being in this relationship I opened up to my partner about my mental health because I felt like i can trust him and naturally be my complete self around him without him judging me in any way.
Q: Has your mental health improved since being in a relationship? Or did it improve when you were in a relationship?
Anisha: Experiencing different relationships with people, whether that is friendship or relationship relationships, I think you never truly have the same experience twice. No one is the same. Yes, we get similarities and our conscious sends triggers to our brain when we have gone through a familiar pattern, but I think it honestly depends on the person.
I would say looking for a relationship and forcing yourself into one will not take your mental health away. Depending on who you are with, they can help you and support you throughout it, but I think it’s important to find that peace in yourself as well.
Depending on someone else can cause problems mentally and physically later and you start to train yourself to not being able to be independent or without them or coping without them in your life. This is not the answer.
Practice self-care and focusing on your own happiness as well. You will then begin to learn to balance different aspects of your life, as well as the mental health issues and the relationship. Unhealthy or toxic relationships cause more damage than being alone.
Friendships can also be toxic, and I think people forget that a friend can break your heart too. So regardless of the “relationship” you need to make sure you are around healthy and genuine people for you to cope well with your mental illness or in other words to make it easier. Being around negativity can transfer onto your own energy and can make it 10X harder to deal with your personal issues.
Young male: I think my mental health has improved slightly while being in a relationship. It has made me feel validated and important, like I don’t need to prove myself as much.
Young female 1: Not in a relationship. From all the last ones no, they’ve made it worse well they add to it. Hope that the next one I’m happier within myself before I enter one.
Young female 2: I would say it has stayed relatively the same as I haven’t been in a relationship with anyone for the past year or so.
Young female 3: My mental health has been quite rocky. It’s hard to say that it’s improved when it has been up and downhill. So, yes and no but I definitely feel more confident with myself and with speaking about it.
And for me…
By being in a relationship, I have learnt to accept compliments a bit more. I’ve learnt to look at myself and accept my flaws as my partner encourages me to do so.
I do still struggle with anxiety and some days are better than others.
However, talking about issues that I am going through is my kind of therapy.
Not everything is going to be easy but as long as you try, you will make progress.
Thank you for all who contributed to this post. You can follow some of the individuals on Instagram:
Audrey – @365MeaningfulConversations
Anisha – @_.anishawilliamsx
To my readers, I do hope you find love in yourself first before looking for love outside of yourself.