How Relationships Are Affected by Mental Illness
Many years ago during a conversation with a man who had a Doctoral degree in studying the homeless populations around the world. He said, “What they say is not true. Not everybody is two paychecks away from homelessness. The only people who are that close to not having a place to live are those who don’t have relationships.” Relationships are key to life, and part of the glue necessary to keep our hearts together. A question that has been posed to me is “how have my relationships been affected by my mental illness.”
My perspective is, of course, a one way mirror. I only see my own reflection, leaving me to guess at what is going on in the minds of those on the other side of the glass. My perspective is this. Relationships are my salvator and my nemesis. Trust, the foundation of relationships, is a hard fought commodity for me. From birth through almost all my teen years I have been rejected, abandoned, pushed away and abused. I have been hurt too many times to be able to rest easily in any relationship. The problem with a world view based in hurt is you/I expect people to hurt me. I expect they will reject me so I just don’t want anybody to get close. If not nurtured into health this can become an unnecessary wall. If handled with care it can become wisdom, boundaries and guiding lines for relationship. The choice is mine to make. My prayer is that the walls that were put there by my circumstances and the walls I have allowed to cement themselves because of bitterness and anger, will be broken as I submit my life to Christ and His care for me.
Mental illness can be an unstable crutch—an opportunity to blame my sinful behavior on mental or emotional deficit. Mental illness can be a tool used to wound others. My prayer is that I will find forgiveness and healing in my heart, mind, body and spirit, but that I would also not pass my hurt on to others. It has been said not forgiving others is like drinking a poison and expecting the other person to die. I want to live my life in the light of forgiveness. I absolutely do not accomplish this every day, but the more I do the healthier I become. Much research supports the fact that those who live in bitterness and anger cause ill health, physically and mentally, to breed in themselves. I am not suggesting that mental illness is only caused by gathered and held anger and hurt, but it is certainly a part of perpetuating it!
Finally, I know my illnesses affect those around me, especially my family. I cannot even begin to describe the unfairness I feel that my illness, specifically C-PTSD, is because of others. But I am determined, to the best of my ability, not to carry those harmful patterns on to my beautiful children. We have worked hard to provide a loving, secure, God centered home for the four beautiful children in our care and God has been faithful to our family in every way.
Relationships are key to my continued health and healing, so I nurture my relationship with Christ first so that I may truly invite others to follow me as I follow Jesus.
How has this post challenged your thinking or actions? Comment below
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