Romantic relationships are something almost all of us will experience or desire at some stage in our life. All relationships will come with their ups and downs, and can be difficult enough without the addition of a mental illness, or more than one mental illness thrown into the mix. I have wrote about the matter of Relationships and Schizoaffective Disorder before, however, I only touched upon this subject briefly, and I never provided my personal perspective or experience on the matter. Therefore, that is what I am here to do today.
As I became ill at the young age of 13 years old, almost all of my relationships have had difficulties. I am not going to talk about the relationships I had in school however, as we all know that the majority of them are pointless and it’s merely a part of growing up; though not all of us may have had relationships during the younger years of our lives, and that’s perfectly okay too. The relationships I am going to talk about are the only serious relationships I have had in my life, and unfortunately, my mental illness has affected them all in some way.
The first serious relationship ended as I simply could not handle being in a relationship with someone at that time. This was the healthiest relationship I had ever been in at this point in my life, the girl in question was a wonderful person, and it is a shame that the relationship did have to end, but it just was not right for me at the time. A year later, my next serious relationship occurred. This one was an extremely unhealthy and abusive relationship, on her part. She also has some form of mental illness, and I will never know if that is why she treated me the way she did, yet I let this continue for over a year and a half. I do believe that it was my mental state which was what caused me to put up with her behaviour and remain within the relationship, although other factors were also involved. I am going to talk about this relationship in depth at some point in the relatively near future, as I’m not entirely ready to talk about everything that occurred yet. Once this relationship had ended, I soon met the most wonderful woman I know. Our relationship progressed naturally and was not forced in any manner. We both suffer from mental illness, yet we help each other merely by understanding each other. We do rely on openness and honesty, as this allows us both to know how we are feeling and if we are behaving out of character, we know why that is. This is the best relationship I have ever had, and I hope it does not end too soon. However, it has not taken long for my mental illness to start to have an impact on the relationship, at least from my side, as I usually can keep my inappropriate thoughts and behaviours under cover. However, this is not always the case.
The first symptom that is typically noticed by whoever I may be in a relationship with, is my paranoia. Being paranoid to the extent that everything is questionable can make relationships extremely difficult, for both parties. I am paranoid most of the time, I do attempt to talk myself out of these ridiculous thoughts but my attempts have always seemed to fail. Unless I were to vocalise my paranoia, it would typically go unnoticed; however, retaining all of those thoughts to oneself can be almost impossible.
As I have previously mentioned, I have quite a lot of problems with anger, although it is never directed at any individual or event. I have never been one to take my anger out on others, and I hope that I do never behave like that. However, it can be quite apparent when I am angry or irritable; even with my attempts to hide it. As far as I’m aware, my anger has never caused any significant problems within my relationships, although I’m sure it may have made others feel uncomfortable at some point.
One of the biggest problems that I face with relationships, is the social aspect. When I am in a manic episode, my social skills are wonderful. However, once the mania subsides, I return to the socially inept being that I am. I tend to dislike the majority of people within reason, I especially dislike meeting new people or being in large groups, and a lot of the time, I do not feel well enough to even go outside. I find it extremely hard to initiate and maintain conversations that are face-to-face. I am quite the introvert, therefore I greatly appreciate and need my privacy and alone time; which often leads to a large amount of isolation. However, I enjoy this isolation. I do not want to be social, and that’s what makes the issue that much more difficult. For obvious reasons, not being a social person and having a lack of social skills can and more often than not will have an impact of some form on the relationship.
A lot of the time, I feel as if I have too much going on in my own head, and that I spend too much time up in my own head to even have time to think about relationships. My hallucinations and delusions will either turn them or me into a monster, I go through phases of despising physical contact, which is usually important in every relationship; I am almost always filled with vast amounts of apathy, which can and will affect the way I interact with others. All of the symptoms I experience will have an impact on my relationships in some way, which is too many symptoms to talk about individually in this article.
I do what to point out that this article is addressing how my mental illness can affect my relationships, this does not mean that all of my relationships are constantly filled with difficulties and problems. The majority of my previous relationships have been wonderful experiences and I look back fondly of them. This article is mainly from a negative perspective as to me it is about a negative subject. However, it is important to remember that people with schizoaffective disorder are still people, a relationship with a mentally ill person is no less than one with a person who does not suffer from a mental illness.
A mental illness does not take away the opportunity for a beautiful and loving relationship.