Maintaining Mental Health During Emotional Setbacks

November 28, 2011 Tracey Lloyd

I'm trying. I'm really trying to maintain my mental health during this emotional setback. This break up. Any advice?

In my last video post, Emotion Regulation and Dating with Bipolar Disorder, I talked about what I thought was a burgeoning relationship or something with Erik. Well, that something has become a nothing and I'm crushed. Not because I was in love with him or anything, but because in spite of my new-found emotional health I ended up where I've generally been: alone.

Sometimes Emotional Growth Means Learning From Mistakes

In spite of the emotional maturity I've gained in the last few years, and the wisdom from being intentionally single, I've gained no discernment when it comes to the opposite sex. I was happy to have connected with Erik, and perhaps astounded that someone to whom I was attracted returned my interest. It's been years since I had a healthy relationship with sex: during my days of unchecked hypomania, I sought out numerous one-night-stands over a period of months. It's amazing how many people you can get to have sex with you - using protection, of course - if you put your mind to it. When you don't feel that good about yourself, but you're still jumping out of your skin, sex is one of those things that tricks you into feeling desirable.

For the last few years, I've chosen to be celibate in order to separate my emotional vulnerability from sexual activity, so I was happy to contemplate an attraction with Erik that was genuine and not driven by psychosis. Turns out that I may have been premature in my happiness, as after Erik and I shared some physical companionship I learned that he had a girlfriend. That revelation made me mad ("Hey, would have been nice for him to tell me about the girlfriend before he kissed me and before I liked it") and sad ("Why am I still in a non-emotional sexual situation even though I'm fully aware of my own feelings?) I thought being healthy and aware of my feelings was supposed to make me happy, not more frustrated. And why, if I'm doing all of the good work, are other people ruining my frigging enlightenment?

Preserving Your Mental Health is Your Responsibility

When we're in recovery, it's very important to observe the lessons that we've learned throughout our journey. A popular saying notes that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Basically, I shouldn't keep throwing myself into physical relationships - even those where I have an emotional attachment - without setting expectations with the other person. I'll admit that spending the night with Erik was far better than having done it with someone I don't really know and will never see again. That's progress. But in the future, my recovery and emotional health will be better maintained by communicating my expectations and managing my own disappointment.

I'll let you know how it goes.

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APA Reference
Lloyd, T. (2011, November 28). Maintaining Mental Health During Emotional Setbacks, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Tracey Lloyd

Michael Hammes
February, 8 2013 at 1:44 am

There are a number of thoughts that run through my mind about this. I hope a few will help with your painful experience. Once is that it is painful when we have to get emotionally unattached. Just the way it is. Second, the person whom we become intimate with cannot make us happy. They can enrich our life but we are responsible for our happiness. Third, be careful of expectations we create. We often make assumptions that become expectations that often set us up for failure. This hurts. Fourth, believe that you will get through this, life will be good again, learn from the experience and lastly, be good to yourself. We all make mistakes, learn from them. Learn to love yourself and the pain will stop when you stop it. Keep in mind that the heart misleads us, the mind tricks us and our inner voice will help us to see what is. Hang in there.

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