This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.
TW: Talk of past self harm and suicidal thoughts.
Like I mentioned a few days ago, a year ago was the start of a major crash for my mental health. I spiraled in a major way and spent a few months wildly vacillating in a mixed mood episode. I had near constant suicidal thoughts, I crossed the line into self harm, I completely raged out against inanimate objects, breaking some furniture in the process, I spent a few months in a partial hospital program and even tried out an intensive outpatient program that ended up not being a good fit.
It was a really rough six months give or take.
And it occurred during the first year of my relationship with Wonder Woman.
Part way into it, we moved in together, and she saw first hand, 24/7, just what my mental illness looks like when I’m not on even ground.
More than once I expected her to walk away. I can’t say I would have blamed her even though it would have been devastating.
Instead, she stayed.
I think there’s a lot to be said for people who stick around through the worst.
There’s also a lot to be said for communication and boundaries during the hard times.
Often, when we are in crisis we spend the day alone locked in our head and all we want to do is vent when our partner walks in. Allowing and even encouraging your partner to say, “I can’t be there for you right now, I don’t have the energy” when they have had a long day, can avoid resentment and burnout. Realizing that our crisis doesn’t overrule their right to set boundaries, and in fact makes it more important that we allow them to protect their own well being while we are spiraling.
It takes a support network that consists of more than our partner, whenever possible.
Sometimes that may just be a therapist, or a crisis line, but often we can include friends and family. Being able to spread the load out among multiple people when things get rough makes a huge difference. It makes it easier to hear “I can’t today” but also makes it easier to find someone who is available when you need a support person.
But despite those two points, we can’t be afraid to let them in.
There’s a fine line between leaning on them too much, and not enough. If we spend all of our time shutting them out, they’ll have no idea how to best support us. You are ultimately the one responsible for your illness, but allowing your partner to be a part of the team that works towards your recovery can help them better understand you and your mental health, and ultimately strengthen your relationship.
Wonder Woman and I made it through that period of instability and as much as I’d love to say it’ll never happen again, I know that chances are, it will. All I can do is hope that we’re as good at communicating the next time around as we were this first time.