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Healthy Relationships

Juliana Sabatello
Many people are much more open to the idea of mental health counseling nowadays, but I still encounter people who don't understand the point of paying someone to listen to them when they have friends who will do that for free. They might make jokes about their friends giving them "free therapy" or call therapy a pointless waste of money. Not only is that opinion based on misinformation, but using a friend as you would a therapist can put an unfair burden on the relationship.
Juliana Sabatello
You've probably seen that quote floating around the Internet, often attributed to Marylin Monroe: "If you can't handle me at my worst, then you don't deserve me at my best."1 People who like this quote might take it to mean that people who walk away from us in hard times don't deserve to be in our lives during the happy times. I agree with this sentiment, but the wording doesn't quite sit right with me.
Juliana Sabatello
Past traumas affect the way we live in the present, whether we like it or not, especially affecting the way we communicate in relationships. One way our past affects us is by clouding our reactions to present events with emotions based on similar experiences in our pasts. A conversation happening in the present can stir up memories of the past, even if we don't realize it, and we often don't. For people who have been through trauma, these trauma reactions can be even stronger and more frequent, and they can come between us and healthy communication in our relationships.
Juliana Sabatello
Many people have negative feelings toward mental health groups. Maybe it's intimidating to think about sharing your story with a group of strangers. Maybe you don't see a point in it. You might not know the difference between group therapy, psychoeducational groups, and support groups when one might fit your needs better than another. There happen to be many benefits of a group setting in treating and coping with a variety of mental illnesses.
Juliana Sabatello
Boundaries can be difficult for anyone in relationships, but emotional boundaries can be especially challenging for those of us who struggle with our mental health. I identify myself as a highly sensitive person (HSP), a term coined by Elaine Aron to describe people with sensory processing sensitivity. Sensory processing sensitivity involves processing sensory information more deeply and feeling emotions more strongly than the average person. Sensitivity applies to all experiences: Sound, sight, touch, smell, taste, internal sensations like hunger or pain, and both our own emotions and the emotions of others.
Juliana Sabatello
Apologizing when we wrong someone is an important social skill, but overapologizing, when it isn't necessary, can actually put a strain on our relationships. My anxiety compelled me to say sorry any time I felt insecure, guilty, ashamed, or worried in a social situation, and people would become annoyed and frustrated with me because of it. I would then apologize for annoying them with my apologizing, which continued from there in n cycle that was exhausting for everyone involved.
Juliana Sabatello
When your partner doesn't understand your mental illness, it adds an extra level of difficulty to a relationship. I am highly sensitive and feel my emotions deeply and extremely. When depression or anxiety strike, I lose my ability to think rationally. My partner of eight years is a laid-back math teacher who approaches each challenge in life like an equation he can solve. I am an unsolvable equation to him. We enrich each other's lives with our differences, but sometimes it feels like we don't live in the same world. Part of our relationship journey has been accepting that we may always live in different worlds, but with intentional effort, we can build a beautiful bridge between them.
Juliana Sabatello
Feeling shame in a relationship can begin a cycle of shame that's debilitating to mental health. An ex-boyfriend once told me I was a liability. My mental health was a risk against his future, and he didn't want his professional friends to know that he dated me. He made it clear that he was ashamed of me.
Miranda Card
I joined HealthyPlace as I began to reckon with the mental symptoms of my chronic illness. For years, I struggled with depression that came as a side effect to my steroids, the disordered eating that I developed as a result of my gastrointestinal trouble, and the trauma that came from a lifetime of health problems. But I was never able to treat these symptoms with the same regard as my physical ones. The HealthyPlace community helped me validate my struggle with mental health. But the time of COVID has been especially scary for those of us with chronic illness and I'm struggling to stay on top of my business, my graduate studies, and my health. So, though I will miss my HealthyPlace community, I have decided to leave the Relationships and Mental Illness blog in order to lighten my load a little and protect my physical and mental health.
Hannah O'Grady
Dating a sexual assault victim takes patience and empathy. Here are some tips for dating someone who was victimized by a sexual assault.