It’s Friday and it’s Valentine’s Day. Whether you are celebrating it or not, whether you are with someone or not – it is all over Twitter and Facebook and so difficult to avoid. Relationships can affect our mental health, and our mental health can affect our relationships, so I thought this was a good day to have a look at that in more detail.
Youthnet recently developed a website called Madly in Love, which describes itself as a place where young people share how they feel about sex, love and mental health. It is run by the same team who run TheSite and it links to discussion boards and additional information there. On the website you’ll find information from experts, options for support, playlists. The part of the website I found most helpful though was the area where people have shared their experiences. There are videos and stories on there about relationships and depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder, as well as a great piece on dating when in recovery from depression. The website is relatively new and they are open to feedback and suggestions on how they can develop it – and you can contribute your own experiences to the website.
Another place to check out if you want to know more about how mental ill health can affect relationships is last year’s Valentine’s blog post on Time to Change and the information on relationships, dating and mental illness.
The message that I’m getting loud and clear from all of these websites and blogs, and from conversations with peers living with a mental illness, is that initially talking about it can be difficult, that there can be a lot of anxiety around whether you should tell a new or potential partner, and when that should be. It is also potentially more difficult to meet people and sometimes it feels more effort than it is worth. I am also reading that once people start dating or meet someone and tell them about their mental illness, the reaction is not what might be expected – genuine interest and concern are often the reaction.
Importantly though, when and if you tell someone about your mental health is your own choice. Your mental health is not the same as personality and your character – which your potential partner will be much more interested in!
Another point that comes across from the stories is that it is perfectly okay not to be in a relationship. What you are comfortable with and what makes you happy are the most important factors.
So Happy Valentine’s Day if you are celebrating, Happy Friday if you aren’t, and have a great weekend whatever you do!
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