The White Punjabi Bride
Is Your Mental Health Impacting Your Relationship?
As a relationship grows and evolves with time, it is only normal to experience times when your partner may not be as attracted to you as they once were. Or they may possibly doubt the longevity of your relationship and if they married the right one. This could potentially be exacerbated if you happen to suffer from a mental illness. When times are tough and you don't manage stress well, then it can be very easy to slip into a depressive episode should you suffer Bipolar like I do. With time, although your partner is supportive, they may resent you for your behaviour and become less attracted to you as a result. Especially if it means that they feel neglected in the relationship or believe that you are just no longer compatible.
When I was dating my now husband, I was in relatively good shape and had only started taking a new medication. This medication worked wonders for keeping my mood stable, which in turn meant that my thoughts and behaviours were also positive. However it was detrimental to my weight and I gained a lot of weight in a very short space of time. I didn't even find myself attractive so how could I expect my partner to find me attractive.
Although he never said anything negative to me about my weight he would always encourage me to get fit and loose the weight. He is a fitness fanatic and spends a lot of time working on his buff physique. So it is only natural that he wants to spend time around someone else who is of the same physique and mentality. I decided to change my medication and stopped taking this particular one although it was the best mood stabliser that I had found to date. I needed to find a happy medium between my physical and mental health. Since then I am back to my usual physique, not accounting for the extra weight due to pregnancy.
However changing medication meant that I would be easily prone to depression, which was a challenge I faced when living in India. We faced a lot of major life changes in such a short period of time it was only normal to expect that times would be challenging for our relationship. Now that we are apart and living a long distance relationship until my husband's residency is finalised, he sometimes questions if our relationship will endure. Simply because of our circumstances, which are and have been out of the ordinary for any couple at any one given time. Yet we endured all of these challenges at once and all over a reasonably short period of time. We haven't had a chance to be stress free since being in a relationship, as to date it has always presented many challenges.
Though you need to remember to put your circumstances into context. The challenges we have faced as a couple have been many, and in such a short space of time that any healthy person would have had difficulties. Let alone someone managing chronic mental health conditions. "If you lead a healthy lifestyle, manage stress well and take regular medication, then there is no reason why you cannot have a happy relationship with your partner." It is when you don't manage stress well enough, or go through several major life changes at once, that life becomes overwhelming triggering your mental illness. This is what I try to reassure my husband with when he has those moments where he may question our relationship enduring as we are too different.
Suffering from a mental illness does not mean you will be depressed for the rest of your life just because you had a difficult time adjusting to stressful circumstances. It also doesn't mean you are lazy if you have to spend some time in bed to recuperate. Just like if you are unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with cancer, whilst being treated for the cancer it is expected that you need time to recuperate. It is also expected that you just won't be yourself during this stressful time. A depressive, manic or psychotic episode is no different to someone being treated with cancer.
As with any relationship it takes two to tango, so whilst your partner may be feeling a certain way about your mental health, remember you have also made compromises in the relationship. When it comes to my relationship I made it clear to my husband that me taking a leap of faith and following him to India after I lost my principal place of residence, would be challenging for me. Firstly because I could not obtain my regular medication in India and was only legally able to pack 3 months of supplies with me. Which meant I had to make my medication stretch and take half my usual dose. Then add to the mix learning a new culture and meeting all my in laws, whilst living under the same roof as them for 6 months. Not to mention I was not working at the time before leaving for India which also meant we had to rely on his parents financially. After living an independent lifestyle my whole life I was suddenly dependent on my husband and his family for the duration of my stay.
The ups and downs I suffered is certainly no reflection on my mental health when I lead a healthy and stable lifestyle. Rather, enduring those difficult times despite the ups and downs is more a reflection of personal resilience and loyalty. Especially since the compromises that I made for my husband, I knew would impact my mental health and I communicated this to him beforehand. This is what you need to remind your partner of should they be questioning your mental health impacting your relationship. In most cases you probably have compromised just as much, if not more without ever doubting your relationship. So it is only fair that they also support you during the difficult times just as you have for them.
Is your mental health impacting your relationship?
Living With Mental Illness In India