Disclaimer: I am not a professional of any kind- this is only food for thought because I feel I need to shout my opinions into the internet like everyone else. All I am offering is a different perspective and to maybe help you kill a few moments of your time.
Relationship advice is everywhere. I can’t think of any other topic, other than many money, we human beings fixate on.
It’s all about love, baby.
But I don’t see a lot of brutally honest articles discussing what dating is like when you, or the person you’re dating, has a mental illness. They all seem to gloss over the actual, gritty experience. The things you can expect.
There’s the possibility that maybe I’m not looking hard enough or don’t know where to locate the articles I’m searching for– raw, first hand accounts of what people’s relationships are actually like when one partner, or both, manages a mental illness.
I see (and honestly, really enjoy) relationship quotes all over social media– specifically the ones that talk about how to build healthy relationships with everyone you love- romantic or otherwise. Because I’m very much into growing as a human being and doing my best to not be an asshole. I don’t want to spend my whole life being the same person when I could be a much better version of myself.
This doesn’t mean I agree with everything I read- as I’m sure most of you feel the exact same way.
But what I see most frequently are the expectations that come with dating and relationships.
How things should be. What someone who loves you should do.
…first off, I’m not a fan of expectations but I still have them. We all do. It’s a downside to human nature- expectations are a good way to set people up for failure.
I realized, while reading these relationship blips on IG and Facebook, that some of the expectations we set for the people we date aren’t exactly fair to those managing a mental health issue.
Funny as it may sound, this is something that just now occurred to me. As in today. I know- you’d think that me, juggling anxiety and depression- along with some abandonment issues, would have put this together a while back.
I may be late, but at least I’ve arrived to the party.
Sure, there are the core expectations that can easily be met: respect, love, support, communication, etc.
But you can’t exactly expect someone who is going through a depression to feel like writing you love ballads on demand. Or a person with social anxiety being up for a spontaneous evening out on the incredibly busy town.
For example: One of my best friends is bipolar and has ADHD. She told me when she’s in a depression (this happens even when she’s on her meds) that a lot of the time, she hardly has the energy to get through her days/weeks/months.
She’ll barely call or text anyone- not because she doesn’t love us. But because she doesn’t feel well. Whatever energy she has, she has to keep for herself so that she can do the most basic of tasks.
This is someone I typically talk to on a daily, or every other day, basis. So it’s basically like going from day to night.
For her, this is something that goes on a few times a year. Whoever she dates has to expect that there will be moments her depression will come back and she isn’t going to be able to be fully present for them. It also means there will be lapses in conversations or maybe none at all for a little while.
She isn’t trying to be an asshole. She simply just doesn’t have the bandwidth.
Before I decided to take meds, there were times I would stay home because the idea of going somewhere made me panic. I didn’t want to be around people. I didn’t want to go anywhere new. Sometimes I didn’t even like the idea of going somewhere I had already been a million times. All I wanted was the safety of my house. The comfort and familiarity of it.
Makes it hard to meet new people when I’m wanting to meet new people.
Unfortunately, depression and anxiety can both make me irritable. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s as though I spend my days exhausting myself at a theme park where none of it is exciting or fun. And there isn’t any funnel cake or cotton candy. I’m sad for no reason, angry, or I overthink things to death and create problems that aren’t actually there. Either way, it makes me sweat a lot.
Thankfully for me, my gentleman caller is an incredibly patient man. It may also help he’s a fellow introvert, so if I don’t want to go anywhere for whatever reason, it’s okay.
As you can see, this doesn’t mean you can’t have great relationships with people because of a mental illness. But you may have to make your expectations a little more realistic if you are going to date someone with a mental health issue.
We have a lot to offer. Because we struggle, we tend to be pretty compassionate people.
Anddddd a lot of us have killer senses of humor.
If you’re dating, or friends with, someone who’s managing a mental health issue, keep in mind they’re human and struggling. Remember this isn’t their fault. And it’s not personal. They’re not trying to hurt you, to be difficult, or to sabotage the relationship.
Girl Scout’s Honor.
More posts to come.