Relationships: icky, yucky feelings, bleurgh. When it comes to them, I have the emotional capacity of Spock. However, I guess, they’re pretty nice, aren’t they?
It seems we are quite empathetic when we’re in them. A survey by Mind concluded that 63% of people with mental health problems found that their partners ‘weren’t fazed’ and were ‘really understanding’ when they explained their conditions.
Moreover, by being in a positive relationship your mental health is likely to improve, Relate, a relationship support provider noted in a survey of people with mental health issues that 60% of them said their condition was improved by having a partner.
Indeed, when my flatmate and I were interviewed by a friend about our experience with mental health and relationships my flatmate positively said:
“My boyfriend also suffers with mental health problems, so we are able to talk about it together, we get each other’s mood swings and feel more comfortable in ourselves. And also, by being with him I now understand what it is like to be with someone who suffers from it, rather than just being the one who is.”
Nevertheless, sometimes, our mental health issues can hinder us in them. Mind also discovered that three in five people said it had caused break-ups in the past.
It’s true, previous relationships have been affected by my wobbles.
There have been those who disregarded my problems as me “living in the past” and assumed they were like having a broken arm. That I’d be ‘fixed’ eventually. Others have trod on eggshells around me like I was a hurricane.
I will admit, I am guilty of taking my issues out on boyfriends. My ex, honestly, I feel so bad for him; he cared for me when I was at a really low point, and all I ever gave back was more tears, breakdowns and erratic moods.
Anyway, it always seemed different once they find out about my Jekyll side.
Hence, I have decided that when I meet someone new, they won’t know about my problems until ‘the time was right’.
Part of my reasoning is that I want to get to know them before I give them my whole medical history. However, it is mainly because, and I know this sounds tragic, I want to enjoy being around someone who thinks I was normal. I am just Gina, an awkward, but endearing, opinionated, History and alcohol enthusiast. That’s the real me, or at least the me I like the most.
I’m not the broken, emotional mess that I can become.
There won’t be a constant mental b*tch elephant in the room. There won’t be incessant questions and shoulder holding regarding ‘how I was doing?’. Nor will there be any judgement or unease surrounding my past.
It’d be refreshing, to be honest.
People with ‘mental health issues’, unsurprisingly, don’t want their entire lives, including their relationships, to revolve around their issues.
I don’t want a partner to be my therapist, punching bag or executioner.
And yet, I’m not saying hide your problems, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
On the first date don’t whack out your anti-depressants and give them an in-depth saga about your oedipal urges for your granddad, but as you get closer to them, slowly let them into the fold about it. Not only will it mean you can talk to them, and you won’t feel the need to conceal your ‘down days’, but the more they know, the more they’ll be able to help and understand. And never think that because you have a problem you don’t deserve happiness.
And for those of you who are their partners, you’re not an emotional punchbag, but be patient. You’re going to see tears, panic attacks and have a lot of late night chats.