Repairing Relationships Damaged By Mental Illness
Mental illness can damage relationships but you can repair relationships damaged by mental illness too. When you have a mental illness it can be difficult to maintain all kinds of relationships. Symptoms of unchecked mental illness are often the very factors that cause rifts in relationships between two healthy people. But it is possible to repair a mental illness-damaged relationship. As repairing your relationship with, and feelings about, yourself takes time, so does rebuilding the trust of loved ones and the closeness you have with others.
How to Start Repairing Your Relationships Damaged by Mental Illness
My last depressive episode lasted nearly two years. Over the course of that time I couldn't work and went into the hospital twice. Now that I'm headed towards recovery, I notice that my relationships with friends have suffered. I already have a tendency to isolate when I don't feel well and I rejected my closest friend's social invitations because I also had little money. I thought she understood my symptoms and that I couldn't help how I felt but my mental illness eventually had an impact on our friendship and her behavior; she stopped inviting me to do things with her, which I believed was because she didn't care enough to be my friend.
Since I have started feeling better, I have started to mend my hurt relationship with my friend. I've shared with her how hard it is for me to overcome the lethargy, the withdrawal and even the guilt I've felt during the last few years. She told me that she just wanted me to be better and felt like she didn't know how to help, which was the cause of her behavior. What I learned from her was that she might not be the friend with whom I can talk out all the details of my depression, but she certainly cares enough about me to keep in my life. I'm now more honest with my friend in hopes that we can fix our relationship to where it used to be.
Some Relationships Damaged by Mental Illness Are Difficult to Repair
My relationship with my family is more damaged than that with my friends. My large family has more preconceived ideas about who and what my behavior should be. Therefore, when I have an episode and I don't talk to my aunts, for example, their first though is that I'm being a "bad" niece. I feel, and they exert, an incredible amount of guilt around how I should behave. That guilt keeps me from communicating with my family when I'm ill, and lingers uncomfortably in our relationships when I'm well. I always anticipate getting a guilt trip and that dread triggers my negative thought patterns.
My family's beliefs about my behavior extend to my disease as well. Some people don't want to see or hear me cry when I'm upset, going so far as telling me to stop. Some people don't believe that I have a disease, though; I don't understand what they think of my times in the hospital. Many family members just want to cheer me up and talk about other things, presumably because it's too difficult to understand my experiences. In these instances, I've sought out aunts and cousins who are capable of hearing about my illness, about my bad moods, about my feelings. I don't believe that I can really have a relationship with people who don't acknowledge my disease, so they remain family and remain outside my circle of trust. It is too difficult to live every day with a potentially debilitating illness while simultaneously worrying about how everyone in my family will react to me.
Lloyd, T. (2015, April 23). Repairing Relationships Damaged By Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/relationshipsandmentalillness/2015/04/repairing-relationships-damaged-by-mental-illness
Author: Tracey Lloyd
We both had very reactive responses to any kind of stress- sometimes I would fly off and sometimes he would fly off.
Sometimes our reactions would build on what and how the other was reacting, causing a cataclysmic effect of massive fights, where, particularly myself, should have been hospitalised as the result of the nervous breakdowns that I had. Instead, I would create incredible amounts of drama and cause huge amounts of damage to relationships around me: friends, work, family, basically anyone I was in contact with. As a result, both his family and friends don't want me anywhere near him and my family and friends don't want him anywhere near me.
During times of separation (which are many) we have the ability to work on ourselves and stay more cantered than when we are together. At the moment, we are separated (again) and in looking at our relationship, it appears for the sanity of ALL around us, it is better we separate. But, even after all the drama we both cause, we still love each other very much.
I am wondering if anyone knows of help books that can help us out-
- resolving stressful situations in ways that DONT cause damage
- learning to be open to conflicting situations and learn how to respond, work out solutions to the situation
We do a lot of workshops and see psychologists. I find though that sometimes we need a bit more.
Can anyone help?
This is both saddening and