It’s a proven fact that healthy relationships are beneficial both to our physical and mental health. You may be thinking, why are we discussing relationships again, and the simple answer is because I want us all to have healthy, thriving relationships.  

“Honesty brings about change, and complacency brings dysfunction.”

As I thought about this statement mentioned to me a while ago, it made me wonder how it relates to romantic relationships. I am a firm believer that honesty is the cement that holds healthy relationships together. But once we become complacent, the relationship slowly breaks down, leaving two people who used to be in love, in a situation of mutual toleration. Seriously, who wants to be tolerated?

I’ve had my share of relationships and admit some were good, but many were detrimental to my depression, causing my progress to regress. I can’t put all the blame on my partners. I have to take responsibility for a lot of it, and now, being single, I have had the time and headspace to not only reflect but learn and heal.

I had a conversation the other day and asked a friend what a woman needs if she is in a relationship with a man who struggles with his mental health. I sensed her careful contemplation before she stated that the woman in a man’s life can’t be his partner and his therapist and succeed at both.  A light went on for me as she explained that as the other half of the partnership, she would love and support her man, but would not take on the role of his therapist. 

I respect her honesty and realize that whether we want to admit it or not, as men who struggle with depression, we want to use our significant other as a remedy rather than seek the necessary medical assistance we require. Why? Because it’s easier, a one-stop-shop of sorts, and when she doesn’t ‘buy-in’ to our request, we self-sabotage by translating it into her not caring. 

I am here to tell you its not the case, and I know this because I used to be that guy. I expected that as the one with depression, it was my partner’s responsibility to be my lover, friend and therapist. Still, I didn’t do my part in getting the outside help I needed, nor did I take the time to ensure she received what she needed from me—love, friendship and attention.

Relationships are hard work! No longer are we navigating the complexities of a standard love relationship, we are adding another multifaceted layer that transforms how an individual thinks and interacts. 

We need to go back to the fundamentals of relationships and reignite the necessity of communication and connection. I don’t mean emails and text messages; I mean real conversation where you are in the presence of each other and can sense how the other person feels and see facial expressions. There is no room for unspoken miscommunications when the source is right in front of you.

Why do relationships break once there is a diagnosis?

Like I mentioned in last week’s blog, So you’ve been diagnosed now what? Our diagnosis is a part of who we are but doesn’t define us. The same is true when it comes to our diagnosis and our relationships; It becomes a part of the partnership. Still, it doesn’t supersede it, and we need to be mindful of this. I genuinely believe it will save and repair a lot of our relationships.
 I want us all to have fulfilling love relationships, first with ourselves, then with the person with whom we choose to share our lives. Above everything, be with someone who is good for your mental health.