Community Contributions: Relationships

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.)

  1. erinire said:

    In large part, I feel like The Crazy ruined my marriage. Or else my marriage brought out the worst in the Crazy. Either way, if I hadn’t gone crazy, I’d still be married today. Which is fine until you consider that, if I was still married, I’d probably be dead right now.

    All this to say that I’m still working it out.

    And, technically, I’m also still married.

  2. ok that was a bit confusing. Not to mention the confusion in my brain after reading all those questions. So I’ll answer with my own line of reasoning right now, not necessarily having bearing on marriage in general, but more of a marriage specific moment in time (or too many long moments). I cannot often tell if I am reacting because I’m crazy or reacting because it’s the normal thing to do. It’s these times when I do not feel…OMG I can’t believe this person married me. Instead, I think, fuck, I married this person because?
    While at her son’s house, her daughter-in-law has now decided she does not like us to visit and stay with them, but did not bother to tell us BEFORE we came so we could make other arrangements. Said daughter-in-law is not even acknowledging my existence. Lots of tension, sadness, hurt, etc. So I tell my wife, or begin to, that I just said hi to daughter-in-law and looked at her and the woman did not even look at me. My wife says, “I know I know I know” (about 8 times) before I can say that this happened right now, just a minute ago, NOT yesterday. So when she finishes her soliloquy, I say it. She says, “oh.” I said, “I can’t believe you just did that to me.” That’s how far the pedestal goes. And it’s constant. I keep forgetting she’s human because I keep giving her all these props for being with me. Well, rudeness crosses all boundaries and miscommunication or the inability to listen is not the sole property of crazies. Just wanted to say that. Thanks for giving me the forum.

  3. Alan Smithee said:

    I’m enjoying reading others’ comments. I struggle a lot with depression and my marriage, which seem to be at odds with each other. My husband is a fatalist, whose negativity I can only buoyantly ignore for so long before the boat starts taking in water and I start sinking sinking sinking into depression. Also, depression, or the medication for it, has completely killed my sex drive. We go months without sex. I do fake how I’m feeling a lot, even with him, even without realizing I am doing it! I’m putting on the face, and goddamn it, no one and nothing will rip that off of me. I wish I could give more coherant thoughts, but my mind has been all jumbled lately.

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