Periodically, I will post an Open Call for discussion topics, either when I feel like I’m talking too much or when my life makes it hard for me to contribute worthwhile thought to the discussion. The Open Calls are advertised on DF’s Facebook page and my through Twitter (check the links on the right). As always, if you have something you want to see discussed here, you don’t have to wait for an open call. Shoot me an email at definefunctioning [at] gmail [dot] com, throw it on the Facebook wall (and start a discussion there!), or hit me up on Twitter. I’ll try to organize what I get thematically, but may also compile a bunch of suggestions into a “hodgepodge” post.
First up: Relationships.
I have zero idea where to start. The best I can think of is to list some thoughts to which I have no answers. Here are things that I’ve discussed with friends with mental illness who also have partners (in no particular order):
- Being afraid your partner will stop trusting you to be you because you can barely trust yourself to be you, and the worry that results from that fear.
- Thinking you would never have what it takes to be in a relationship with you. Then wondering what right you have to ask it of someone else.
- Freaking out at those god-awful questions: What’s Wrong? Are You OK? How Are You?
- Knowing that they only ask because they genuinely care and knowing that you might not really want them to stop asking.
- Thinking that maybe your relationship would be better if you could fake how you were feeling. Making peace with the fact that faking it isn’t fair to you and would probably be downright insulting to your partner.
- Getting what you need and giving what your partner needs. Wondering how the hell you’re going to manage pulling BOTH of those off without some insurmountable conflict between the two. Wondering if the latter is even possible when the former seems improbable.
- Is the Crazy a deal breaker?
- And then. Then there’s the guilt, because lurking behind “What did I do to deserve someone like this?” there is “She/He does not deserve to be with someone like me.”
All of this sucks, and it takes work. I recognize that this list presupposes that (a) you’re in a relationship and (b) you’re in a working relationship. There are, of course, the slew of questions and worries and discussion topics that go along with trying to start a new relationship, being in a relationship that is decidedly NOT working, and having a relationship end because of your illness. Personally, having checked off those experiences, I’ll let someone else start those conversations.
(For the record, I read this list to my husband before posting.)