Relationships can be difficult enough without the addition of a mental illness thrown into the mix. A mental illness can create lots of barriers and obstacles in a relationship, and even in friendship. However, in this article I will be focusing on romantic relationships.
Firstly, when you have a mental illness, you often spend a lot of your time ‘in your own head’ rather than focusing on the real world. This can leave a person with barely any time to make and maintain relationships. With schizoaffective disorder, the symptoms of the illness can cause a lot of problems within a relationship.
How the Negative Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder affect Relationships
To begin with, I have withdrawn myself socially; meaning that I do not get the chance to make relationships, let alone maintain them. Social isolation makes building relationships to be almost impossible. Secondly, due to a loss of motivation in activities and everyday life, I am not interested or capable of doing what would be considered to be ‘normal’ activities within a relationship, such as going on dates or being out in public in general.
I have found cognitive impairment to be one of the most difficult obstacles in a relationship. A lack of concentration can make it extremely hard to take part in conversation, and as communication is a key part of being in a relationship, it is a huge obstacle to cross. Memory deficits also become an issue, as we can often forget meaningful conversations or events that have occurred with our significant other.
Inappropriate emotional responses can leave our significant other to believe we are purposely being rude, ignorant or just plain mean, even though this is not what we intended. Another issue is that our significant other may think that we are not happy with them due to what it is known as the ‘flat affect’ which is when a person has a blank facial expression and appears emotionless.
An obvious issue is the sexual problems related to the illness and the medications used to treat the illness. This may affect our libido, or even prove it to be tremendously hard to achieve an orgasm. As sex is seen as an important part of a relationship to the majority of people, this can make it difficult for people to stay in a relationship with us.
How the Positive Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder affect Relationships
The positive symptoms of schizoaffective disorder can have a great impact on relationships.
Paranoia and delusions can leave us believing that our partner is cheating on us; and constantly feeling paranoid is not healthy for any relationship. Hallucinations can leave us very distracted, and leave our partner feeling that we do not give them enough attention. As there is such a large variety of types of delusions, they can lead to a large variety of problems.
Thought disorder can also lead to many problems, as they can cause problems in both speech and writing, which can make it very hard to understand what we are trying to convey through conversation.
In conclusion, being in a relationship with someone who suffers from any mental illness can be difficult. However, everyone deserves love and although relationships with people suffering from a mental illness can be difficult, they can also be very rewarding; and often with time, our partners can learn to understand our illness and help us along the road to recovery.