Starting a New Relationship During Mental Illness Recovery

June 18, 2015 Tracey Lloyd

Some people are anxious when starting a new relationship during mental illness recovery. They may wonder when they will be healthy enough to consider a new romantic relationship or even a first date. But there can be behavioral clues that tell you when its healthy for you to start a new relationship during mental illness recovery. I have experienced some of these during my recovery from various depressive episodes.

It is important to know yourself and identify your mental health triggers before you start an new relationship during mental illness recovery. That way, you can learn which aspects of dating and relationships are likely to cause you distress and signal possible relapse.

Move Slowly When Starting a Relationship During Mental Illness Recovery

The second time I was hospitalized for depression, I met a Noah in treatment. We talked to each other during free time and shared aspects of our lives and our diseases. After he was released, he called me at the hospital and expressed interest in getting together in the "real world." I was feeling better than I had in weeks, so we exchanged phone numbers and began talking every day once I'd been discharged.

As we became closer, he invited me on trips and talked about our future together. I began to fall for Noah, believing that he would sweep me off my feet and that we could travel the world. Then, on what was to be our first date, he never showed up, giving me a disjointed excuse the next morning about keys and his boss and picking up his mother.

Starting a relationship during mental illness recovery can be scary. Here's how you can start a relationship during recovery without fear. Take a look.After a few more conversations I realized that Noah had stopped taking his medication and was experiencing a mental illness relapse, causing him to fabricate stories and lose track of commitments. I felt badly for him, but also for myself because I'd slipped very quickly into depending on someone that I didn't know.

I realized that I was using the fantasy of being with Noah to combat my lingering feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. My reliance on Noah's attention told me that I was still recovering from depression even though I felt better and was out of the hospital. Whether it is accurate or not, I believe that I may have recovered more quickly had I spent more time getting in touch with myself instead of focusing on a new relationship during my mental illness recovery.

Know Your Triggers in Your Relationship During Mental Illness Recovery

It is possible to have a healthy relationship during mental illness recovery, but you should be self-aware enough to understand what relationship aspects trigger your disease. I learned this firsthand when attempting to date after a long bout of bipolar depression. Matt was a classmate from high school with whom I reconnected on Facebook. He expressed interest in me very early in our communication. He also told me that he was not monogamous and wanted to see me in addition to other women. I agreed, with trepidation, believing that his interest was more important than his other paramours.

Matt and I went out a few times, but I was plagued with self-doubt. Was I prettier than the other women? What could I say to make him choose me instead of the other women? I made Matt tell me about his other relationships and the more I knew, the more insecure I became, and I acted on that insecurity by over-communicating with Matt (Finally Stop Feeling Insecure).

When Matt stopped seeing me, I was devastated for a few days. Then I realized that I just wasn't ready for a relationship. Had I been fully recovered and healthy, I never would've agreed to see Matt to begin with. And if I had dated him, I would have been better able to regulate my emotions during the encounter.

Relationships are necessary to help us through our mental illness recovery, but romantic and dating relationships can cause particular triggers for our diseases. It is important to always monitor your symptoms when interacting with new people so that a new relationship doesn't lead to a relapse.

Find Tracey on Twitter, Facebook, and her personal blog.

APA Reference
Lloyd, T. (2015, June 18). Starting a New Relationship During Mental Illness Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 17 from

Author: Tracey Lloyd

August, 5 2015 at 9:21 am

The title of this article appears to be misleading. It's one thing to be in relationship with a committed partner prior to an episode, but starting a new relationship while in recovery is an another matter entirely. As the examples in the article show, the safe bet is focusing on the work necessary to recover. Focusing 100% on your recovery will allow you to make the space for someone when the time is right. Like the saying goes - timing is everything! With regard to timing, there is no set time table for recovery. Everyone's recovery plan is different. However, I doubt that courtship is included for any true recovery plan. Besides this article, I've yet to be exposed to any advisement encouraging dating during the recovery process - via a peer, a psychiatric professional, a therapist, or any literature on mental illness. Recovering from an episode is usually a very arduous process. I would advise anyone in recovery to use this time to focus on self-care. Again, if you are already in a relationship prior to an episode that is a different set of circumstances. In my opinion, jumping into a relationship, starting a new job, or a litany of other life changing events can be challenging circumstances for any person, let alone someone with a mental illness, let alone someone recovering from an episode! USE THIS TIME FOR YOURSELF! You deserve the space to recover! Surround yourself with as many reliable people as you can during this time. Companionship is an important piece to recovery, but it should come from your friends, family, or anyone that truly values your wellness. Recovery involves setting boundaries and safe guards to help promote stability. Is there anything remotely stable about dating? Readiness is a skill that is highly undervalued in the dating world. In my opinion, it's better served to work up to being stable enough that you can maneuver with the ebbs and flows of seeking an intimate partner. Why put yourself at risk dealing with the uncertainty of dating when it could distract or even hamper your ability to recover from an episode?

July, 19 2015 at 3:54 pm

This is a terrible article. There is virtually nothing said about actually 'starting', engaging or continuing in a romantic relationship. The title is misleading. Tracey Lloyd does not address the issue. An issue that is difficult and disheartening for many of us. Especially being a mental health website, the editor should have vetted the article better and held the writer to task for the task of what went unwritten under that title and about that subject matter. Aaaargh!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Tracey Lloyd
July, 27 2015 at 7:51 am

I'm sorry that you feel that way, Mike. It was the intention of the article to get us to think about how we feel and our overall mental health when starting relationships in various stages of our recovery. The article does not promise to tell anyone "how" to have a relationship -- that is more the purview of psychologists and so-called relationship "experts" -- but rather promises to give a perspective on what it may look and feel like when we get closer to new people. I certainly know how difficult it is to engage with new people while negotiating a mental illness. I wish you luck with your future romantic relationships and hope that you are able to navigate them with professional help.

J valdes-Fauli
July, 14 2015 at 6:14 pm

After becoming divorced , and after being single for 6-1/2 years, getting the proper help, medications, and other support I needed and worked hard for , I made the rash decision to make myself eligible and start to date again.
I set up an account on a very well known site for dating. I hesitantly filled out the lengthy questionaire and enclosed my mental health and physical health in the profile. Saying to myself, I just put my self and my life out on the line... Hopefully this will be s good thing. It wasn't long before a woman contacted me; we asked questions and enjoyed reading each other's answers !!!
A short amount of time went by before we were chatting on the phone and then eventually our first date.
We set up our first date to have sushi at a great place,and just chat., no expectations and certainly no pressure.
I was very nervous and yes, borderline scared. I was so nervous. But I worked out the jitters. We had a wonderful time and even though there was no romantic feeling between us , the thought of having a new friend to enjoy a dinner or movie with seemed great.
We continued to enjoy chatting with each other and set up a second date!
The day before we were to meet, I received a very generic call from this lady, asking how I was and what was I doing later?
I then got the " break up talk"
I'm so sorry, your such a wonderful guy, but I neglected to inform you," my ex husband was bi polar... And I don't want to go through all this again , it hurt to much!!!"
With unprejudice I told her it's ok, I want you to be happy. I hope you find what your looking for and its ok , I understand!!
I saw her walking by a few weeks ago and she acted like she didn't know me.
After chatting with my therapist about this venture, and gaining insight into all of it, I decided to remove my profile from this site..
I am not ready to date and nor am I ready to deal with the stigma of it all.

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