When living with a mental health condition, people often wonder about the aspect of normalcy in their lives – whether it is about day to day functioning, social interactions and most importantly romantic relationships. If you are involved in a relationship and suffer from a mental health condition, you may have often wondered if you should tell your partner about the disorder; if you are single, you must have wondered if being in a relationship is a good idea.
While these questions are bound to arise, it is also important to understand that living with a mental health condition does not stop you from having a healthy, romantic relationship. Many people with even serious mental health conditions are one half of a strong, supportive and committed relationship. Mental health illnesses are very common, and this should not stop you from engaging in nurturing and fulfilling romantic relationship. In fact, it can be an enriching experience that eases your troubles when you have someone to share your life with.
Can I Start A New Relationship Now?
Having a mental health disorder can make getting into a relationship difficult, not because of the perception about the condition, but the social interaction involved. In order to date someone new, you first need to socialize, interact and meet new kinds of people. But in many cases, a person with a mental health condition does not feel up to the task of connecting with someone when their own emotional and mental health is in a state of flux. Mood swings, behavioural changes, desire to withdraw, bouts of anxiety, inability to express empathy are a few feelings that accompany a mental health disorder which may make it tough for someone to accept a new relationship. However, this does not mean that you can’t try.
An important aspect of getting involved in a new relationship is to stay on track with your treatment. It is very easy to get swept up in the whirlwind of a new romance and lose sight of what is important and necessary. Also it is crucial to think about the qualities you would look for in a partner, and strengthen the same positive qualities in yourself so as to attract someone who shares your beliefs and ideologies and will want to walk down the road of a relationship together.
But most importantly, don’t get discouraged. It may take a while, but that’s only because you know that you deserve a healthy, loving and understanding relationship and you shouldn’t be willing to settle for less.
Should I Talk About My Illness With My Partner?
People often avoid talking about mental health problems, particularly when entering a new relationship, because of the stigma attached to the topic. But if you hope to be in a healthy and long term relationship, you will need to be open about the condition with your partner, just as you would expect the same from them. Once this knowledge is out in the open, it makes it easier for the partners to support each other in the event of a health crisis or even to soothe symptoms that occur more frequently.
Being honest about your mental health disorder with your partner is crucial to building a nurturing, caring and understanding relationship. But this also means that you should not be disheartened if your partner is unable to accept it. This does not mean that something is ‘wrong’ with you or that you are ‘incapable’ of being in a relationship. You need to accept that it is not your fault and the other person is just unable to cope with the responsibilities that a relationship would entail.
Just remember, that a mental health condition is an illness, just like any other physical ailment. While there is still a stigma around it in society, it needs to be eradicated. And this does not mean that you don’t deserve a chance to live a happy and love-filled life just like any other person on this planet.
-Neha Paranjape, AccioHealth