Mental Illness and Relationships – How to Make It Work?

I’m creative, funny, conversational. With the number of podcasts and documentaries I watch, you couldn’t say I have nothing to talk about. But I’m also someone who struggles with anxiety, PTSD and sporadic depression. From my experiences, I know making a relationship with mental illness work isn’t always easy.

They’re the ‘bad days’ – when symptoms affect your behaviour and plans. The days when you cope with negative thoughts. Not to mention, the taboo impacting how some perceive mental illnesses. It can also feel stressful for people who have partners living with mental health problems.

How metal illness affects relationships

“intimacy problems”, “codependency” and “shame” can impact a relationship with mental illness. “low self-esteem” and feelings of inadequacy could affect a couple’s bonding time. Certainly, feeling sexual isn’t a straight-forward task when you don’t consider yourself attractive.

Many many years ago, I was in an unhealthy situation where I expected my wonderfully confident and self-secure partner to help uplift my insecurity. When he didn’t say the right words (he often didn’t) I’d end up in a mood which led to us arguing. Besides showing signs of codependency, I struggled to communicate my thoughts. It felt better to be angry than vulnerable. I know of people who have ended a relationship when her partner’s mental health became too taxing. You feel drained and helpless – at a loss on how to support them.

When your partner’s mental health problems impact your own well-being

It’s really important to have good boundaries in these situations. What that means is taking time to make sure your own emotional needs are being met. If your partner is having mental health problems, they may be less emotionally available for a period. So practically this means getting support from friends, taking time to nurture yourself and using physical space to take a break. In some cases, it will be necessary to encourage your partner to seek medical help. You don’t have to fix them. In fact, you almost certainly cannot be the answer for them.

Despite a lack of training and education, I feel there is a pressure, not only in romantic relationships, to take on the role of therapist and offer advice. This advice tends to be based on personal experiences…. “You should exercise/read/take a bath… this is what helps me”. We want to reach out and assist loved ones, but certain suggestions may potentially make a person feel worse. I would consider therapy when:

  • “The offloading is becoming a heavy burden
  • Things are no better despite all your care, all your advice and all your love
  • You feel out of your depth
  • When you see the same cycle of thinking and behaviour happening over and over again.”

Making a relationship work

While mental health problems can come with some unappealing traits, there are also great positives. Friends say their mental illnesses have made them more understanding, more appreciative of life’s happy moments; more mentally strong and aware of themselves. For me, I feel my darker days have cultivated more creativity. I wouldn’t write the same if I hadn’t felt particular emotions.

It’s entirely possible to enjoy a healthy and satisfying relationship regardless of whether one partner or two lives with a mental illness. Making this work involves good communication and care. This can include:

  • Asking open ended questions; letting a person talk at their own pace.
  • Not dismissing a partner’s feelings; avoid telling them they have nothing to worry or feel sad about.
  • Trying to encourage your partner to create small goals that are achievable
  • Not attempting to shield your partner and act as therapist. (A partner is one person in a network of family and friends).
  • Not assuming all experiences are the same.
  • Putting in place healthy boundaries – not accepting damaging behaviour as an excuse for mental health problems.

On occasion, making a relationship with mental illness work can mean knowing when to step away. No one can be responsible for the mental wellbeing of another person.

Subsequently, if you have a mental illness, consider whether a partner’s behaviour or perception of mental health could be harmful to your wellbeing. A partner doesn’t have to understand what it feels like, but they should be able to respect your feelings.

The impact of Covid on mental health

For couples struggling with their mental health during the pandemic, please see below some tips I have created

  • “Reduce expectations and accept that sometimes just watching Netflix together is enough.
  • We are in a time when physical touch and tenderness is more important than ever. Physical affection can decrease stress. Also, it doesn’t necessarily have to lead to sex.
  • Keeping communication open is crucial but also, time limit sharing and make sure you both get equal airtime. You don’t need to solve the problem; just show you are listening and present.”

Sleeping With A Bra On..

Have you ever wondered how victims handle it so well? How they hold themselves? Have you ever wondered what it is like to sleep with a bra on because you are too scared to sleep at night? Have you ever laid in your bed sleeping with one eye open with your phone and keys right next to you? I am going to talk you through what Domestic Violence is and how sleeping with a bra on throughout my abusive relationship made me feel safe and secure.

Imagine being held hostage but only no one really knows that you are being held hostage. You are forced to plaster on this smile and fake your life and happiness on social media, so you are not alerting everyone of the danger you are in. There is no one to save you but yourself, you are forced to save yourself. You are forced to feel scared, hurt,worried,upset and broken. You are forced to feel trapped in your own home and thoughts.

I spent a relationship trying to please someone with a twisted disease. I tried to become the person they wanted, the person they could control and use. Domestic Violence does not just have to be violence, they do not have to just hit you, choke you, or slam your head into a wall. He degrade me, humiliated me, blamed me, screamed at me, lied to me, cheated on me and even tried to control me.. It is still domestic violence. There is a reason why victims do not leave and why it is so hard to leave. Even if you are the most observant person, emotional abuse can be so gradual that you won’t realise what is happening until you are deeply entangled in its web. As a result the abuse can be “forgotten” as the relationship progresses but you still feel unsafe and therefore end up keeping your bra on to feel that little bit of comfort. I slept with my bra on most nights when I felt insecure and un safe, the reason I did this was in case I needed to escape and I did.

Never ever feel sorry for anyone who deliberately harms you. Being in a previous relationship to feel sorry for a narcissist who abused me was one of the most dangerous aspects of narcissistic abuse. It set me up to not only accept bad behavior in people but to sympathise and make excuses for them. “He won’t do it again” “It was only a push”. Healthy individuals do not want us to pitty them, to feel validated and understood yes but not to pitty them. However narcissists always want us to feel sorry for them all the time. This lowers our standards and boundaries, you feel trapped but you have to do as you are told because after all you are going to be facing another ton of abuse(The sad realisation – it is true) Narcissists will often pause their abuse and smother you with kindness and warmth. This can cause you to become trauma-bonded to them, you are constantly trying to make them happy. Then when they turn abusive again you start to believe that you deserve it. But you don’t!

To my abuser, you cut my soul more times than you eve kissed it, and broke my spirit more time than you ever lifted it. You took more good from me than you ever gave back to me, and you stood there and watched me bawl my eyes out more than you ever comforted me. You watered my insecurities with pleasure, helping them to grow stronger and shushed my voice and my expressions so that I could remain in your eyes, smaller than you. You used my weaknesses against me, threw my past back in my face and I still stayed. Time after time Stayed and that.. me staying.. boosted your ego.. What are you now? Nothing.. It does not matter how great you were, how good you made me feel, or what you did to make me “happy” in the beginning.. you know why? Because in the end I cried and hurt every day.. I left, I escaped, I am free.

You get tired of trying to work things out, you get tired of constantly taking abuse, you get tired of listening to their excuses and giving chances. Sometimes for your peace of mind… you just have to let go. So they can treat the next person like they have treated you. I just got to a point where I decided that I want to live an unbullshitafied life. I am strong, I am fierce, I am upset, I am hurt and I am angry that it took over a year for me to get any justice and feel safe again. But I won.. You only have control of these things in your life, the thoughts you think, the images you visualise and the actions you take. I took action, I never gave up fighting and I never will.

There is a woman reading this now, a woman who has tried her hardest to hold on to a relationship that is no longer worthy or her grip. That woman is tired of loving someone who refuses to love her back, there is a woman reading this now that needs to be reminded of how strong she has always been. Is that woman you? I believe you are strong enough to walk away from the abuse, move on with your life. This is a sign.. this was written for you. I hope you learn like I did to choose yourself because right now.. YOU deserve better YOU more than anybody else.

WHAT IS THE MOST INTIMATE ACT?

For me, it’s oral sex – sitting on a guy’s face. I wanted to say something more profound and deep – chatting all night, sharing my deepest secrets; nursing a lover back to health. But the minute I typed the question, the thought rummaged past my wondering desire to drink decaf coffee. Up close to someone’s ‘private parts’ – it’s surely a contender for the most intimate act – at least physical?

One person is in control; it’s a selfless thing to do in a vulnerable position. With sex, you’re both hopefully experiencing pleasure, swerving between how you feel and what they’re doing. Watching a person put aside their own needs to sexually fulfil you however – that’s such an open, power play.

  • A true act of intimacy must be when silence can linger. That’s why I’m not particularly fond of first dates at restaurants. Between glancing at menus, waiting for food and actually eating (the worst is listening to bread being crunched), it’s like you have to comprise 100 questions to keep chat going. If you can sit and walk with someone and not say a word – you’ll know your bond is close. More so if you stare at one another’s eyes.

Do we agree?? What’s your thoughts on intimacy ? Your favourite intimate act?

Get involved –

Rules About Morning Sex

Hi All,

I hope you are well?

So this has been saved in my drafts for a good while and I thought I would share. If you cringe I am sorry.

I love sex. Sex at ANY time of day is just fine, as far as I’m concerned. But there’s one part of sex that I really don’t appear to have figured out that well yet, though …

Morning sex.

I get that we are going to have different morning priorities here, but there are some factors that are non-negotiable for me. So, I decided to write down the unspoken rules of morning sex.

1 – WAKE HER UP BUT BE NICE ABOUT IT.

If you’re gonna do it, do it nicely. Caress her neck with your fingers, kiss her collarbone, twirl your tongue around her nipples …

Stabbing her in the small of the back with your morning wood is not going to make her wet. Nor will poking and prodding away with your fingers at her sore vagina, caused by the great sex you had last night.

Which brings me nicely to my next point… 

2 – POKING & PRODDIN’ AIN’T GONNA WORK.

Right, if you’ve had sex the night before, or even a couple of nights before, there’s a good chance her vagina is still going to be a bit sore. It’s probably swollen and still stings a bit. That means it is sensitive. Super sensitive. If you’re going to gently caress her to orgasm in the morning light, please do it gently. Sticking a finger in and wiggling it around hurts. Gently circling her clit with your lubricated (spit) fingertip doesn’t hurt. Think about it.

3 – IT’LL TAKE A WHILE TO GET HER JUICES FLOWING.

In the morning, it takes a while for most things to happen. I’m never fully awake before a cup of tea. I can’t function properly at work until I’ve had that first cup of coffee. I have a system: wake up, drink tea, go to work, have coffee, be human. That’s how it goes.

If you try and make her do stuff before that system of events has happened, it’s not going to go right. In the morning, if you try to have sex with her, you need to work that little bit harder before she is wet enough to proceed. Do you get me? Be prepared to play around for a little while longer. If it’s not wet yet, don’t put it in yet. Simples.

4 – DON’T GO DOWN …

…if you came inside her the night before. This has actually happened to me on a benderific night out. He went to help lubricate things along the next morning, with his tongue, only to be met by that smell: you + him after a night of rampant fucking.

Come on, guys, you know what I’m talking about here. It’s him mixed with her after it’s been left to mix together all night in the sweaty crevice between her legs. It’s gross. To me it is, anyway. Some guys say they don’t care about licking their own semen, but with that stench, both are going to be embarrassed if it actually happens. Do yourself a favour and just don’t even try to go anywhere down near that region. Anything below the nipples is going to make her squirm uncomfortably, scared that you’re going to get a good whiff.

Oh, and alongside cunnilingus, anal sex is most definitely NOT COOL first thing in the morning. Not for me. No, thank you.

5 – PEE FIRST.

Guys, you know you can’t climax until after you’ve peed in the morning. You’ll be hard for hours, but I know it’s the wrong kinda hard. Just get up and pee first (if you get the chance). It only takes a couple of minutes. Pretty please.

6 – HOURS = NOT FUN.

If you think that going for hours is fun first thing in the morning, think again.

Firstly, you’ve probably got shit to do.

Secondly, after a while, she is going to go dry and it’s going to start hurting. Once again, this is even more so the case if you had sex last night and she is still swollen and sore.

Thirdly, you won’t climax because you didn’t go and pee first.

Anyway, after about half an hour of straight-wakeup-morning sex, you are going to be gagging for a drink… well I usually am.

7 – NO FACE TO FACE.

Morning breath. It’s disgusting. Don’t talk to. Don’t breathe in the same direction. Don’t try to kiss her lips. Don’t come anywhere near her or with that putrid smell coming out of you. She will try and avoid doing the same.

Spooning is one of the only acceptable positions for morning sex [for me]. Doggy is a bit too dirty. Cowgirl is a bit risky because I probably don’t look that great with my squinty eyes and cray-cray hair. Definitely not missionary position. That’s too close. Reverse cowgirl is a bit dodgy (think of the morning farts), and being bent over the bed is also terribly questionable.

Stick with spooning – it’s the safest option.

(Unless you’re gonna get up and brush your teeth first, and make me brush mine too. Then we’re good with missionary. Honestly though, who’s prepared enough for that? I never remember to have mints next to the bed for when I have company even though I keep telling myself I’ll be that prepared.)

8 – THERE’S GONNA BE STUBBLE – ACCEPT IT.

If she shaved for you last night there’s a good chance that there will be stubble by the time you get around to the second sitting in the morning. Don’t talk about it. Don’t draw her attention to it. Don’t even react to it. Get used to it. Accept it. The more you sleep with us, the worse it’ll get. Long-term-relationshipper’s can go months without shaving their legs or bikini lines. Ask them. But for me I shave weekly or when I know I am getting it.

9 – SHE IS NOT GONNA LOOK PRETTY – ACCEPT IT. 

Honestly, I’m hideous in the morning. My hair is standing up all over the place, there’s a good chance I’ve got panda eyes because I didn’t take my makeup off last night as I’m lazy, my face is all puffy when I first wake up, and I’ve got a badass attitude with a mouth and scowl to match it.

Why would you want to sexy up with that beast?

I’m not pretty first thing in the morning. I’m pretty about an hour after I wake up, once I’ve showered, washed, dried and styled my hair, and slapped on enough makeup to impress a TOWIE regular. Oh, and I’ve had a cup of tea/coffee.

So accept she is not going to be looking her best!

10 – CUPPA TEA.

The only way to end morning sex is with a cup of tea. You get in that kitchen and make her tea. She will love you for the rest of the day. Strong but with enough milk to make it drinkable almost straight away, please, and with two sugars 😉

You survived another sex post! Well done you! Now get practising.

Peace, Love and Gin xoxo

the importance of space in a relationship.

Whenever I’m in a relationship, I’ve always found the concept of you do your thing, I do mine and we meet in the middle. Don’t get me wrong, one of the most amazing things about being with someone is actually being with that someone and spending quality time together. But I cannot stress enough how much I love spending time with me, myself and I (no vibrator puns please, you cheeky lot). But it is soo important you give your partner space, this is the key to long lasting relationships.

Why is she harping on about this you may be wondering?

If someone had shown me this subtitle a couple of years ago, I would have closed the browser. To me, relationships were all about closeness. Space was almost a dirty word — one that’s usually used right before a breakup: “I need some space right now, so maybe we should stop seeing each other for a while.”

But now I realise that personal space is as important for our relationships as air is for our bodies.

We all need time to relax, to engage in activities that we enjoy outside common interests and to associate with other important people in our life. Space is also absolutely essential for individual growth and personal development.

But perhaps the best part of personal space is that it reignites the magic in a relationship. Interactions between you and your partner become much more interesting.

You are genuinely excited to see each other after a little time apart. Something in the air feels like those early dating days. Suddenly, you can really feel the love and not just the attachment.

We all know that relationships are complicated. However, they are also the most rewarding and worthwhile parts of our lives. They are well worth the effort they invariable require.

It isn’t always easy to tell your partner that you need more space — whether that’s an evening alone, a vacation with your girlfriends, a room of your own or simply permission to make a decision without his/her input. On the flip side, it can be just as hard to give space when your partner asks for it.

Think of it as a long-term investment. When space is taken out of the equation, all that remains is commitment. Are you willing to settle for a relationship devoid of passion and excitement? Few of us are. The good news is we don’t have to settle!

Take the chance, for both yourself and your partner. Give each other room to be unique individuals who bring different things to the relationship.

Give each other permission to enjoy this gift of life not only together, but also separately. Give each other some space, and you will be rewarded with a love that’s more passionate, more powerful, and more deeply, intensely alive.

I only see my partner once/twice a week due to work commitments and giving each other space to do things, we have been dating for a year, together officially 5 months and it feels so fresh. When we do see each other it is the most magical moment and we appreciate the time together more. But for the love of God, please don’t ever become one of those couples who is so self-reliant on their partner that they forget how awesome it is having ones own space and seeing their friends. Date nights are also important in a relationship but I will touch on this with another blog post.

Anyway for now, Peace, Love and Gin xoxo

To the girl who doesn’t believe she deserves love…

You do!

Hey it’s me again, just thought I would give you the low down on what is happening in my life currently…. I have recently started a new job as a Student Support Liaison and also studying a degree in Business Management. I am also looking at taking a course in Journalism at college. Yes the goal is to manage a company and write articles in magazines… The dream. I am just an A* English Student who had Tumblr for way too longer, trying to make it in life.

Okay so the love life.. Fuck me, I don’t even know where to start. The craziest love story… Head over heels for this guy. It has been nearly a year and it’s really not that relationship where we are with each other 24/7. I have never got bored of this guy, He keeps me on my toes, we have our own lives and try and do date night once/twice a week. He makes my vagina skip , he gives me butterflies, he is just dreamy. I have found someone who I want to travel with, try new foods and play pranks on. He is different and we like different. Okay now back to topic….

To the girl who thinks she doesn’t deserve love,

I know you can’t keep a count of how many nights you have stayed up waiting for texts or calls, or both. Just let it pass… Trust me.

Go watch a movie, instead. Do your self care routines, Don’t believe in love until you’ve someone who says that you look beautiful even though you hate yourself. Wait for someone who’d write you letters just like that. FYI the guy I am with compliments me everyday and I have never had that.

Wait for someone who’d call you just because he is missing your voice. Eventually, you will cross paths with someone like that. At that moment, do not let him go.

Hold him close and let go of the clutches of your past. It barely matters if you think you don’t deserve love, because guess what, he knows that you do – and you deserve all the love there is in the universe. You have got this baby girl, I believe in you so believe in yourself.

You have a habit of giving up on people, don’t do that with him. Sing songs, even though you can’t. And he will join you midway. It’s always better to have some music in the background and it will bring out the silly side of you both making you feel comfortable.

Love will come and hit you out of nowhere. and when this happens, love starts living in your head rent-free. every small thing reminds you of them. the roses growing near your window sill are the exact shade of the t-shirt they wore yesterday, your favourite song sounds like it was made just for you two and apparently, both of you like coffee the same way.  The way their eyes crinkle when they laugh, or even how they turn the pages of a book, nothing they do is ever short of a masterpiece. when you’re with them, you’re simply standing in an art gallery, in awe of everything around you. and in those moments, you don’t dream of riches or fancy castles, all you want is the two of you, together, forever. 

Once you fall in love, you want to keep loving them, till that’s all that’s left around you. it’s crazy, but aren’t all the best things like that?

All you have to do is to wait. Never think you don’t deserve happiness, okay? And just one last thing – happiness is not synonymous for love. You will find love, someday. Believe.

Boundaries in relationships

Healthy boundaries in relationships are highly recommended and are an essential part of effective communication in couples.

Healthy boundaries allow a person to assert and maintain their sense of self while also engaging at an intimate level with the other. Unhealthy boundaries on the other hand can feel invasive, can be damaging to the self-esteem, can give rise to feelings like resentment and anger.

Examples of boundaries in relationships

Some examples of healthy boundaries:

  • Having friendships outside the relationship
  • Who pays what bills
  • Agreeing the kind of sex life you want
  • Having “Me time”
  • The right to privacy
  • Don’t bring up past relationships – The past is in the past

Some examples of unhealthy boundaries:

  • Inability to give space
  • Not being able to share your thoughts and opinions
  • Not taking responsibility for your needs
  • Causing arguments for the sake of it

People lack boundaries because they have a high level of neediness (or in psych terms, codependence). People who are needy or codependent have a desperate need for love and affection from others. To receive this love and affection, they sacrifice their identity and remove their boundaries.

Boundaries play an important role in telling someone how you want to be treated in a relationship and prevent you from getting used. This is why communication of what you want needs to be clear. Whether explicit or implicit, boundaries should be clear between partners.

For a healthier and happier relationship follow these simple steps:

  1. Know yourself
  2. Take responsibility for your needs and have some time
  3. Don’t spend every day with each other – It is not healthy
  4. See YOUR friends
  5. Communicate
  6. Listen and respect each other

WHAT IS LOVE?

It’s buying me a coffee and a blueberry muffin with the last few quid you have in your pocket just because you know I’ll really appreciate it for breakfast. It’s buying you the new playstation 5 even though it’s ridiculously expensive and totally out of my price range, just because I know you’ll tell me it’s the best gift you’ve ever received. It’s putting the kettle on every time I get that text that says, “Honey, I’m on my way home” 

It’s making a roast dinner with all the trimmings but having it with chicken dippers rather than an actual roast chicken because you forgot the main ingredient for our Sunday feast. It’s laughing it all off as though it doesn’t matter, rolling around in hysterics so much that you can’t stop the pee trickling down your leg.

It’s snuggling up together in bed, pulling the duvet and blankets in close, desperately sheltering each other from the freezing cold temperatures. It’s watching endless shows on Netflix even though we’re bored of them, making the most of a bad situation during a pandemic.

It’s making you feel loved even when you think the rest of the world is against you. It’s making you feel special when you don’t think you’re special in the slightest, and when you think you don’t deserve the special treatment. It’s smiling at you other across a crowded restaurant and instantly knowing what you’re thinking, just from a look. It’s being able to sit in your hoodie, barely moving from the bed. It’s all the cups of tea that aren’t asked for, and all the ones that are.

It’s sharing everything I have with you, everything I feel with you, and making sure you know that you can share everything with me too. The farts, the smelly armpits, the weird spots that we seem to find ourselves with, in really unsavoury places. It’s performing open-butt surgery at three in the morning, using an ice cube as the anaesthetic and a sewing needle as a surgical instrument.

It’s being there every time you feel scared. Every time I need to go to the doctor. Every time you forget something. Every time I can’t face a bumblebee.

What is love?

Love is all of those things. Relationships and life are journey, do not force it.

Go out, have fun and do not be terrified, just be you. You cannot put a time on Love, Just have fun.

The hard days are what makes us stronger, keep your eyes on the stars and feet on the ground.

❤️