Within the last 3 months I have changed jobs, gone through a breakup and moved to a new city. My last post was me trying to stay above water. This one is to let those who read this know that I made it through to the other side.
A few friends of mine have partners with mental health issues or with disabilities. We often have conversations about their feeling the need to be a less authentic version of themselves in order to hold space for the individual they love. My friends feel the need to go out less or speak and hold themselves differently to properly convey their ideas in a safe way.
I outwardly encourage autonomy but I know what it is to want to perpetuate a relationship with someone who is not carrying their share of the emotional labor. When those of us with mental health complexities are our most authentic selves, do we then require those around us to be less so?
I am 30 years old and have been married (and divorced) twice. I am officially THAT person. Obviously I find myself questioning the losses in my life. Can we have life long relationships when our mental health creates controversy? Asking the people in our lives to hold space for the somewhat volatile nature associated with PMDD feels like a lot. My symptoms often mimic Borderline Personality Disorder or essentially crippling panic that every partner I have will leave. There also seem to be some somewhat abrasive problem solving techniques when I’m feeling vulnerable. I’m working on the last part, but the first (crippling panic) feels well founded most days given the circumstances.
It takes a reasonable amount of emotional labor to maintain a relationship with people like me. We need partners who are capable of establishing and kindly asserting safe boundaries for themselves. Boundaries are useless if you do not communicate them effectively. Self-care is something that our partners must learn but do individuals who have their shit together genuinely want to engage in a relationship that they have to have more aggressive boundaries?
I have come to the conclusion that until I figure out what I need, it is important that my romantic interactions maintain a certain fluidity. Whatever form that takes.
Have a partner with mental health issues? Leave a comment and let me know how you and your partner manage your dynamic.