When Mental Health Collides.

monochrome photo of couple holding hands
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

 

So, I have a question for you. Can two people, with mental health problems that they are fighting individually, work together and have a relationship be it platonic or romantic? Or is it a total recipe for disaster and ultimately, a great deal of pain and heartache?

This is something I have wondered, on and off for a little while but it has really intensified in the last couple of weeks. On one hand, you both get it. You both understand what the other one is going through and why they act how they act sometimes. You can support each other when you feel like no one else can.  On the other hand, if you’re both in your own pits, can you really help each other out of them? Does it depend on how deep each individual is ensconced in their own pain?

Those of us with mental health issues, will know that you can behave in a way that is not ‘you’. If you’ve read my blog up to this point then you’ll know I have been very open with my hideous behaviour which is cited as the work of my chimp Nerissa.  It wasn’t the real me. I am still having slips now. This week I was feeling very sorry for myself due to a painful eye infection, but equally, in other ways I have shown myself this week just how far I have come, and I am so proud of the progress.

Someone I know has poor mental health and they are not themselves. This has caused a collision in that I was quick to initially be really angry at their words and behaviour, but then on reflection only moments later, I realised – that was me only a few months ago. In April I myself had no clue who I was. How can I be angry at someone when I understand what they are going through? One thing that frustrated me a few months ago, which I mentioned in a post, was how I didn’t feel that people understood, or I didn’t feel that they even tried to understand. I felt judged and ashamed. On the basis of this, I need to learn from my experience and help make it easier on other people who come to me. How dare I judge and be angry at this person’s actions rather than be understanding? Holding someone to account is one thing, and that I certainly don’t apologise for, but I was wrong in that anger was my first reaction. I apologised for my reaction and said that I understood that this won’t have helped.

I have a Mel Robbins quote on the front of my phone, reminding me that ‘You can’t control how you feel, but you can always choose how you act.’ I should’ve taken a moment earlier to reflect, rather than get angry. I was seething. I was hurt. It was those feelings that I couldn’t control, and still can’t, but I could control picking up the phone and telling them that in an aggressive way. What good has it done to fill them with shame when I suspect they’re doing that quite easily by themselves? I should have been more constructive. More compassionate. Next time I will be, but I can only do so much. When the other person is fighting against you and your help, pushing you away, then there’s not much you can do. Sometimes people need to realise when they need professional help.  It is hard to take, though, being pushed away.

In answer to my own question, yes, I think you can. I feel you can work together and learn from each other’s experiences and learn together how to fight those inner demons, so long as you both want to. One cannot hold on whilst the other lets go. We all need love, understanding and empathy. Empathy is a shared experience after all; by giving empathy, you yourself are showing a vulnerable side of yourself that someone needs to see in that moment to feel understood and not alone. The only problem is when someone doesn’t want your help or your empathy. We’ve all pushed away people we care about because of shame or because we can’t quite get to grips with how we feel. But, know this. I will always be there. I will always want to help. I will always want to support you in any way I can. I will no longer do it to my detriment but I know where my boundaries are now, I know what I can take and what I can’t.

Unlike in April, I know who I am, and I am strong enough to survive the collision.

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