Today's post is something I talk about quite a bit because of how common it is and because it is a part of my daily life. Relationships already have their own waves, add in an illness, mental or physical and you've got a tsunami ready to boil over at any given time. I have been on both sides. I am someone who experiences mental illness and have been in relationships with others who are the same. Let me tell ya, putting two people like myself together is a special kind of ride! Although it can be hard and it can be tiring, it's also really beautiful in the way that I have tools to offer the other person and first hand knowledge on what might be going on.
You are not alone. If you struggle with this sometimes you are not the only one and I can promise you that. I'm not sure I've been in a relationship where my partner hasn't had any kind of illness. The ones who had them more intensely or multiple offer require something different from the rest. You never really know whose is going to flare up when so it feels kind of like this amazingly precious balancing act of figuring out if you are going to focus on your partners panic attack or the fact that you are depressed and haven't left the house in three weeks. Believe it or not sometimes these heavy things come out at the same time and multitasking isn't really helpful in this situation. In most situations you have to decide who needs the focus right in that moment and who can wait until later. This is super hard but if you get into the habit of listening to yourself and your body, you will know if you can let it all out or if you need to put it aside for a minute and act as a support. if you are in danger or anyone around you is in danger and needs help that is priority. Period. I have to add that in here because some folks are too willing to put themselves aside and can become very ill. If you happen to be with someone with more manageable mental illness or none at all it's also tricky because you might have to explain in depth a lot of the time and feel like they will never truly understand. Both situations have pros and cons to them, it's all about how to make things work for both of you.
Yes, it sounds like a mess and it feels like it too some days but that is one aspect of this. I want to tell you about my experience with this and be transparent about it. I experience mental illness and it adds a depth to my relationships that is full of ups and downs. It has layers. Just like onions and ogres ( hello Shrek reference anyone?!). One layer is being afraid to tell my partner about how I am hurting, another layer is my partner loving and supporting me so perfectly you'd think they were given a manual, another layer is rejecting love and support because I have learned that I need to do things myself and no one can help me and also why does everyone say that telling people and having them listen to me talk about icky feelings is good and helpful because I don't get that unless I'm the person listening to the problem? See? LAYERS, and they go on and on too. On the days when I feel good, I know I am loved. I am worthy of it and I am so capable of anything. On the other days, I feel sad. Sad because I'm anxious and feel hopeless, sad because I feel depressed and sad because I know someone I love is right beside me doing their best to tell me to not give up on myself and my dreams and all I can do is tell them "no". Guilt comes in hot, like lava, like tears. Telling me that I ruin people's days, I hurt people's feelings and I don't know how to accept love. I'm still learning how to do that.
This stuff can be complicated and difficult to navigate. I always wonder about what is going to happen to the love I keep rejecting or the advice I don't want to hear. Will it be too late for me to change my mind later? Of course not. It is always the right time to change your mind. If this is you sometimes I want you to know I see you. I feel it too and at the end of the day we DO deserve love and we ARE ok.
Here are the things that help me when I am in the middle of a steaming pile of garbage and darkness:
Being honest and vulnerable
I know. Sounds terrifying to a lot of us but it works. Next time you are in that sad slump and your partner(s) asks what's wrong, tell them the truth. They can't help or even try if they don't know what is going on. It also saves the tension of saying "I'm fine" and then getting pissed off about not having their help.
Don't keep coming back for more if you are in the same spot you were ten seconds ago
You ever come to that point in your discussion about something that is bothering you or your anxiety etc. where it kind of becomes a fight between you and your partner and you are like the little devil on someone's shoulder saying " I'm not done yet. Your suggestion won't work because of..." and your partner is the angel being like " Why?" ? I know I have. My feelings often get me in trouble in these situations because I'll be crying an oceans worth of water and then if I don't understand or I'm not ready to hear something my partner says, I am ready to prove them wrong. I'm a pisces which means all or nothing, 0 or 100 and I am in those extremes a lot. If you are also intense, don't go picking a fight within the fight. It's probably best to wait until you have a little mental flexibility before setting everything on fire. Love the glow, hate the burn you know?
Be as specific as you can when explaining
Sometimes our partners need help understanding where we are coming from and what is happening. Being specific and laying it out for them helps soo much. They might not get it on the first go so keep trying, they are doing their very best.
This is something else I'm not usually in the mood for but it does help. I find being physical helps me work through things easier and sometimes shifts my mindset. Getting up out of bed or out of your room might be the hardest part but after you will have at least done something! When I am really frustrated and feel like I need to get away, I go for a jog with my doggy. Other things I have done are make art about how I'm feeling, listen to music, read, count, basically anything to create some mental space.
Love and Light,