The Galleon - Portsmouth's Student Newspaper

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Sex and Relationships

Mental Health in Relationships

It's important. It's happening. It's 'now'.

Everyone is unique. This means that everyone copes with their own mental health in very different ways. You could find it difficult talking to strangers, you may keep yourself at a distance from your friends and family, unable to show your true self, or you could be in an unhealthy relationship and not even realise it. Mental health can impact daily life in numerous ways.

Many of us feel the need to live up to the ideals we see on TV, in magazines and on social media. In today’s world, the majority of people are living their lives in a cyber world rather than in reality. That is why many, whether in a relationship or not, struggle with anxiety and depression which happens to be triggered mostly by the isolation that is a cause of the hierarchical society that we live in.

“Just because you aren’t physically alone anymore, it doesn’t mean you can’t still feel lonely.”

Seeing other people promote their happiness on social media can have a negative effect on us, even if we don’t realise it. People express strong emotions online that can impact others mental capability without intending to. Loneliness is something we all feel or have felt in our lives, but it is something that people with mental health issues face more often. People that are diagnosed with anxiety and depression are stereotyped as feeling ‘sad’ or just simply ‘worrying to much’ which can lead to panic attacks and isolation. But, unless you have personally suffered one of these things, it is unfair to make assumptions. Everyone copes differently and each struggling person will experience different symptoms in different ways. You could be perceived to be a happy-go-lucky person without any problems to outsiders but this doesn’t mean you aren’t suffering behind closed doors.

“There are a lot interpretations of unrealistic and idealised relationships surrounding the media to make you feel like you’re not good enough.”

The isolation and panic attacks do not end when you enter a relationship, they are very much still a part of you. What people don’t understand is that just because you aren’t physically alone anymore, it doesn’t mean you can’t still feel lonely. There are many understanding people out there who know things about mental health but there are also partners of those suffering with mental health issues that know nothing nor how to deal with it. Patience is key. If you are beginning a relationship with somebody who has been open and honest about their difficulties, which is something that is tough to do within itself, and accepted them for who they are, then you need to be patient whilst they’re dealing with something new. The panic attacks, low days, mood swings and worries won’t suddenly go away, although it would make things a lot easier if that were the case. Be comforting, kind and listen. They may not always want to talk but you simply being there is listening enough, even when there is nothing to say.

Low self-esteem can be another significant impact on your mental health. People may have days where they have a negative body image which can lead to panic attacks and severe low periods. One of the main causes of having a negative view of oneself comes from comparison of others. It is very easy to do this when entering a relationship as the worries kick-in about others surrounding you and whether they are seen as a ‘threat’ or not. This is unhealthy and can have a large impact on the relationship. It can change the whole outlook of you, as a person, and  in a split second. There are a lot interpretations of unrealistic and idealised relationships surrounding the media, and this can be a main source to make you feel like you, or your relationships, are not good enough.

“No one should brush aside your needs or tell you that they are not important.”

Even if you are in a loving relationship and have a close circle of friends, it is normal to feel isolated and down sometimes. Although going through challenging times with your partner often makes you grow stronger and closer; stress and tension within a relationship can lead to self-doubt and can make you feel as though you are not living up to the image that is ‘expected’ of you. It can make you hide your emotions in front of your friends and family because you don’t realise something is wrong or may not want to put them out in helping you.

Many people get so caught up in caring for other people’s needs in friendships and relationships when a loved one is reliant on you. This can happen so much so, that they forget to stop for a while and care for themselves. Never feel selfish when it comes to your mental health, especially in relationships. If the person you are with does not understand and appreciate that you need time to care for yourself and your wellbeing then it’s time to reevaluate the situation. Mental health is something that can affect both people in a relationship whether you’re the one coping with it or the partner trying to help them as much as they can. No one should brush aside your needs or tell you that they are not important, simply because they may not understand.

Mental health is challenging and can bring you to the lowest point in your life, but there are so many ways you can get help and grow stronger. Even if you feel like you have no one, your loved ones are always there for you and even if they haven’t been through it themselves, they’ll want to help no matter what. Being in a relationship with someone who struggles with mental health problems can equally be as challenging, never knowing what to say or how to act around them. But simply listening and being there is the best thing you can do because mental health doesn’t define a person. It’s their flaws that make them who they are.

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