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Relationships and Mental Illness

Dating someone with disordered eating can be confusing. I've never been in a relationship where my significant other totally gets my complicated relationship with food or my disordered eating habits. Despite their best efforts to empathize and understand, there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding regarding these habits and the underlying motivations and experiences.
The relationships that I form with my personal training and online coaching clients are important, but they're also complicated. As a fitness professional, I fancy myself a peddler of good health. But in truth, the fitness industry is fraught with side effects and unintended consequences. Many of us use social media as a way to advertise our services. But as we label the photos we post of our abs as "fitness inspiration," many of us are willfully ignoring the fact that photos like these often make women feel worse, not better, and are perhaps contributing to body dissatisfaction and diminished self-esteem. Furthermore, in our efforts to help clients reach their fitness goals, we often find ourselves giving nutrition advice, which is outside of our scope of practice. Our clients trust us, and we want to form strong relationships with our clients. At the same time, it's important for us to keep in mind the complicated dynamics that go along with food -- and it's imperative that we don't matriculate our clients and followers into obsessive behaviors and disordered eating.
Why do you need to take care of your mental health over the holidays? For many people, the holiday season is a highlight of the year; with the holidays comes spending time with the ones we love, a vacation from work (albeit brief), reconnecting with old friends, and enough food and drinks to fill us until the new year. However, for other people, the holidays can be a nerve-wracking period filled with turmoil, negative interpersonal interactions, and complete and utter mental exhaustion. It is essential to stay mindful of the disparities that people experience during this time of year and to remain sensitive to the experiences of others. For those grappling with mental health difficulties, or any obstacles in general over the holidays, here are some tips for coping.
There is no denying that nearly all mental health diagnoses are shrouded in stigma and pejorative views. When it comes to addiction and substance use disorders, this stigma has the potential to take on a dangerous form. From my experience, those grappling with addiction rarely receive adequate social sympathy, and this lack of support has the potential to exacerbate symptoms. In fact, research shows that those who experience stigma are less likely to seek out treatment for their substance use. As someone who has struggled with addiction, I can assure you that there are right, and overtly wrong, ways to communicate with someone who is dealing with addiction. 
As a child, I experienced three years of sexual abuse at the hands of a family member. As a teenager, I fell asleep drunk on a train and woke to a stranger's hand in my underwear. In the past, I've discussed the impact this abuse has had on my early experiences with sex and on my relationships with my family. Today, I'm going to talk specifically about how this abuse has impacted two of my most serious relationships.
Do you have phone anxiety? In our current society, there are nearly endless forms of communication. With these new forms of communication comes new anxiety. After all, there is no denying that a lot can be lost in translation when communicating via technology, as opposed to catching up with someone face-to-face. Add a dash of generalized anxiety disorder into the mix, and this phone anxiety can skyrocket and become nearly unbearable. Here are some ways that I have learned to cope with phone anxiety.
Sexual harassment is a topic I discuss with a new friend from school. On Monday nights, we take the train home from class together. We get out late, after nine o'clock.
My mental health condition affects the breakups I've experienced. A breakup, or the ending of any relationship, can be one of the most devastating events that anyone may have to face in their life. As someone who used to describe myself as a serial monogamist, I sure have had my fair share of heartbreak. I understand that no one enjoys getting broken up with; however, I have noticed that breakups hit me harder than most. I have always been someone who feels extraordinarily deeply, both the good and the bad. This ability to feel deeply, combined with my mental health conditions, has affected how I experience breakups in a myriad of ways.
Depression damaged my relationship with my doctor because I learned I couldn't trust her. Just last year, I was diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune illness called Behcet's disease, but I've had it my whole life. Prior to diagnosis, my doctors treated my symptoms with heavy-duty steroids. It worked. The treatment wiped me clean of mouth ulcers, abdominal pain, migraines, knee swelling, and internal bleeding. It was like magic.
Sexual abuse impacts my life, even today. Around the age of three or four, I had my first experience with sexual abuse. My cousin would lead me into an empty room and initiate "truth or dare" games. He would dare me to undress, then it would start. He was a teenager at the time. Once our parents found out what was going on, they put an end to it, but the experience of sexual abuse impacts me and the decisions I make.