Our relationships make our mental health what it is.
Did you know you are married to your mental health? And unfortunately, not all of us are successful in our marriage to our own mental health and well-being.
As someone who lives with depression and anxiety, I know a few things about mental health. I have ways that I manage, but I recognize the toll that my mental health can have on my wife and my family.
If you are a family member, I have compassion for you and I hope that you get the support that you need. If you are the one dealing with your own mental health needs, I hope that you continue to move forward with your recovery.
13 things I am learning about mental health and relationships:
1.I can be hard on myself, and this can be hard for my family. Family works best when we have kindness and respect for ourselves and each other. Negative cycles are difficult for families.
2.I need to take my meds. And I need therapy. These are just things that work for me. I am at my best when I have a professional to talk to.
3.When I exercise it is not just for me. The six pack is not important, but when I sweat, I am working on my stuff. I don’t often feel like exercising, but I feel way better after. That is one way that I can take care of myself and my family.
4.My comfort zones may put stress on my family. While I may enjoy Saturdays at home, my family needs to be out with other people. So we negotiate. Friday nights are movie night at home and sometimes Saturdays are the busier days. Maybe I feel like isolating, but my family may need me to be more present. Give and take can make or break your relationship.
5.I need people outside of my family to talk to. Sometimes I can be irrational and if I need to vent, it may cause more stress than my family needs to participate in. That is where friends can be a life saver.
6.Be honest about our struggles with mental health. I have told my kids about my mental health diagnoses and that I am taking care of myself. I have saved them the nitty gritty details, but they know the big picture. Our families can see that something is up, so it is in our best interest to let them in on it.
7.Listen to what they have to say. I wear man glasses and I probably need to listen more carefully. Family may have a more accurate view and they love you. Listening to them is good. Most times, family don’t want to control, they care but they can be blunt. We tend to be that way with people we love.
8.Decision making is the playground of our mental health. How we think about, and talk about our decisions will be one of the biggest factors in our relationship health. I am still working at this one. Decision making is so important to relationships and may be one of the biggest factors in relationship satisfaction. It all comes out when we make decisions.
9.My family needs to talk about things too. And sometimes it is not pretty. Just breathe and listen. Each person has different needs.
10.Sometimes self care can be selfish. I may need to take care of myself, but I cannot neglect my family responsibilities. Sometimes this feels more like negotiation. I may have to wait, have to settle for a little less than what I want or compromise. That is how families work.
11.I am thinking all of the time, and a key part of recovery is keeping them up to date on progress and struggles. And this depends on vulnerability. Unless I tell them, my family will have no idea where I am at. They may jump to their own conclusions and they may be wrong. Part of recovery is letting my family know where I am at, being vulnerable and asking for help.
12.Some days you don’t know what you need, and that is okay. Just telling your family, even when you are uncertain, will show that you are making progress.
13.Resiliency means using the strengths that we have. You and I have more strengths than we give ourselves credit. One of the greatest ways that we can demonstrate hope and recovery is by being honest about what we bring to our families. Our strengths include love, our uniqueness, our personality, along with things that we are good at.
Having a mental illness means that what we have to contribute to our families is even more important.
Keep it Real
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Photo by Carlos Pacheco