Today I would like to talk about how to make and maintain positive relationships while struggling with a mental health diagnosis. These tips are useful for all relationships, including friendships, partnerships, professional relationships, and all of the other relationships that you can think of!
I know that sometimes having a mental health diagnosis can get in the way of maintaining positive, healthy relationships. It can be difficult to find people who understand and relate to your struggles.
However, having a mental health diagnosis:
Does not mean that you are unworthy of these types of relationships
Does not mean that you are harder to love
Does not mean that you have to settle for less because of your diagnosis
Having a mental health diagnosis:
Does mean that you are still human
Does mean that you are still lovable
Does mean that you are still a friend, a family member, a loved one, and so much more.
To recap, having a mental health diagnosis does not change your worth as a human. You are still worthy. Do not let anyone make you question that.
(1) Make sure that your partner, friend, etc. is aware of your mental health diagnosis. Remember that you only have to share what you feel comfortable sharing. However, it can be helpful to share details of your diagnosis, especially if you can work through problems with someone who shares and possibly understands your struggles.
(2) Try not to be too hard on yourself. In relationships, it can be very easy to blame ourselves whenever things go wrong. View failures or mistakes as opportunities to learn, better yourself, and grow in unison with your partner.
(3) Try not to obsess over the little details in life. For instance, my boyfriend and I went out of town to celebrate our three month anniversary a few weeks ago, and I let absolutely everything upset me. I was being completely unreasonable and forgot to look at the bigger picture: how precious it is to spend time with my significant other.
(4) Make note of all of the great things that you do for the people you care about (and vice versa). It can be easier to see our faults rather than all of the things that we do incredibly well! Start by thinking of all of the things that your partner, friend, etc. does for you. Then, think of all of the things that you do for your partner. Do you do the dishes? Do you offer your partner emotional support?
(5) Remember that it is perfectly okay (AND NORMAL) to express your feelings! Sometimes thoughts are overwhelming and we just need a little reassurance (or a lot!) to make it through the day. If you are having a bad day, tell your partner and let him/her/them guide you through it! If something upset you, share those feelings and work together to avoid them in future situations. Things do not have to be 100% perfect all of the time. It is okay to talk through things and share feelings! It isn’t healthy to keep things bottled up.
(6) Think before you speak. I think that this tip is a great one that applies to all relationships. When difficult situations arise, it can be very easy to let our feelings get the best of us. Therefore, it is important to step back, take a deep breath, and think before you speak! It is okay to step back from a situation, especially if you know that you need a moment to compose yourself.
(7) Remember that patience goes a long way. I have learned through my many years of life that it does not do much good to get upset about things, and it certainly isn’t worth ruining your entire day. There is nothing in the world that is more comforting than someone who is trying to understand what you’re going through. You deserve someone who will be patient with you, which means loving you on your best days and your worst days. Do not ever let someone make you feel like you are a burden simply because you have a mental health diagnosis and often cannot control your feelings.
(8) Practice active listening. There is nothing in the world that is more important than being a good listener. When venting, people often want to feel like they are being heard. In order to practice active listening, it is important to maintain eye contact, refrain from talking while the speaker is finishing his/her/their thoughts, check for understanding by paraphrasing what you heard, and encourage positive feedback.
(9) Practice being empathetic. As I’ve mentioned before, it is crucial to try to understand what your partner, friend, etc. is going through. You want to try to put yourself in his/her/their shoes so that you can figure out how best to help your loved one through difficult times. You want to try to feel the emotions that your loved one is feeling. While this is a great quality, it can also be an overwhelming one, so it is important to set boundaries and realize when it is appropriate to help and when it is not.
(10) Develop your communication skills and be open to feedback. In order to do develop your communication skills, you need to be able to openly and effectively express yourself and your feelings. Be open and receptive to expressed feelings and feedback. Try to learn from the situation and see how you can improve yourself, your communication skills, and your overall relationship moving forward. Be respectful of your partner’s feelings at all times.
This is just the beginning of an incredibly long list of ways that you can maintain a positive relationship. If you need more tips or have some that you want to share, please feel free to reach out to me, and I will gladly assist or add your tips to this post.
With love and warm wishes,