Relationships When You Have A Mental Illness

One of my favorite bands has always been The Beatles. From my mom making my brother and me sing the harmonies of “Hey Jude”, to the love of them bringing me and my boyfriend together, they have always had my heart. On top of that, their lyrics inspire me to write every single day. Some of my favorite lines are in the song “In My Life.” It says, “All these places have their moments, with lovers and friends, I still can recall. Some are dead and some are living. In my life I’ve loved them all.”

I have always had a strong sense of self, which is something that I am very grateful for. Since I can remember, I have never fit into a “group.” Groups of friends only lasted a couple of months, and even then, my closest friends were all over the place. I never felt like I was part of anything other than my community of me, myself, and I. But this does not mean I am a “loner” or “antisocial.” The truth is, I have had one friendship that has lasted longer than 3 years. My first relationship that has been longer than maybe a couple months is with my boyfriend, and he is not going anywhere. (I’d lose faith in all men.) Most last months, or at most, a year. But in my life, relationships have always come in waves.

Many people ask me how to keep relationships when struggling with a mental illness. But honestly, I often believe my illnesses save me from wasting my life away with people who can’t handle having someone as strong as me in their life.

I know myself. Very well. This helps me in these situations. I (obviously) am a very open person. Something I rarely lack is communication. This is because I know that, when I am in times of need, sometimes I really do need someone there for me. And in order for them to be able to help, they need to know how. Having my boyfriend sit there and tell me to breathe while I am suffocating from anxiety is only going to make me want to punch him. And honestly that would just hurt my hand and him.

When a relationship ends, I always think back on this question, “Is this a person that I have openly communicated my feelings with over and over again?” There are certain people in my life who have left after months of me giving them care and love, but receiving nothing back. And people who want me to fix their problems on days I am struggling to survive. For those people, I open the door when they leave and lock the door behind them. But the people who sit with me while I am sobbing and openly ask what help they can give, I hold in my heart. If they are willing to listen, I am willing to open up to ask them for help.

There are no bridges to burn if I don’t want a bridge there. People won’t always stay. But that does not mean it is a bad thing. Having two friends on your side is all you need. If the people surrounding you see you as your illness, leave. If the people around you don’t help you heal, run. Be vulnerable and communicate. It is okay to need help. Every single person in the world does at some point. Keep loving, even if you are scared. I am lucky to have had these relationships, even if they may have ended. And at the the end of the day, “All these places have their moments, with lovers and friends…In my life, I’ve loved them all.”

Xoxo

Sky

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