Author Topic: The Relationship Thread  (Read 2269 times)

Caracal

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #75 on: November 11, 2020, 05:12:31 AM »
Since getting married, I have set aside certain interests, types of food, etc. as they aren't popular with my spouse (and my spouse has made similar changes). 

Random Question: Why would your spouse not liking some types of food lead to you setting those foods aside? If you eat something spouse doesn't like, spouse doesn't have to eat it as well, do they? Is it like, you no longer go to certain types of restaurants because spouse wouldn't enjoy them? Or are they foods with strong aromas that would bother spouse if you had them at home?

If you're jointly cooking and eating food it doesn't really make much sense to make something the other person doesn't like. I like really spicy food-my wife has what most people would consider a reasonable tolerance for heat and doesn't like it when the food makes her mouth hurt. When I'm making dinner for us, I try to keep the heat at a level that she'll eat. I'd argue that adults should try to only have a few things they really don't like, not a long list of foods they think are gross, but that's probably a different discussion.

Caracal

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #76 on: November 11, 2020, 06:15:51 AM »

People try to say that belief you are a burden is a distortion of reality caused by the depression. I don't buy this. I think burden, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder; it's a subjective judgment. If someone feels their relationship with you is more burdensome than valuable, then it is. I don't want to make this post too long with the details, so I'll just say I prioritize mitigating the extra stress or effort involved in having any kind of association with me. More often than not, I *turn down* offers for help because I don't want to add any extra strain to anyone else's life. Even with my parents and partner, who swear up and down they don't want me to suffer alone, that they'll be there for me no matter what...I know from experience, they can be entirely sincere without really being equipped to keep their promises.



I think there is a certain amount of distorted thinking here. It might help to think of mental health as like anything else in a relationship. We all bring a certain amount of baggage and damage because we are human. To be in a functional relationship you have to find ways to manage that stuff. People in your life can help you through times of crisis, but they can't just manage a perpetual crisis.

I think you're being too hard on yourself because you know that. You recognized that you needed more help than family and friends could provide and you have taken proactive steps to get that help. You aren't doomed to  be too much trouble for everyone. I don't deal with depression, but I know that with anxiety one of the ways it distorts my thinking is that it always feels like my current level of anxiety is going to be perpetual. When I actually think about it, I quickly realize that it changes all the time-the periods of high anxiety don't last forever.

There's a separate question about your actual relationships. Maybe you aren't in a good space right now to be in a long term relationship with a partner. Maybe the relationship with your current boyfriend has run its course-or maybe not! Perhaps, you need to find ways of making different sorts of friendships where you don't feel like your mental health problems are just going to be seen as too much trouble. But none of this is about your ultimate ability to form lasting attachments with people.

smallcleanrat

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Re: The Relationship Thread
« Reply #77 on: November 24, 2020, 11:02:20 PM »

People try to say that belief you are a burden is a distortion of reality caused by the depression. I don't buy this. I think burden, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder; it's a subjective judgment. If someone feels their relationship with you is more burdensome than valuable, then it is. I don't want to make this post too long with the details, so I'll just say I prioritize mitigating the extra stress or effort involved in having any kind of association with me. More often than not, I *turn down* offers for help because I don't want to add any extra strain to anyone else's life. Even with my parents and partner, who swear up and down they don't want me to suffer alone, that they'll be there for me no matter what...I know from experience, they can be entirely sincere without really being equipped to keep their promises.



I think there is a certain amount of distorted thinking here. It might help to think of mental health as like anything else in a relationship. We all bring a certain amount of baggage and damage because we are human. To be in a functional relationship you have to find ways to manage that stuff. People in your life can help you through times of crisis, but they can't just manage a perpetual crisis.

I think you're being too hard on yourself because you know that. You recognized that you needed more help than family and friends could provide and you have taken proactive steps to get that help. You aren't doomed to  be too much trouble for everyone. I don't deal with depression, but I know that with anxiety one of the ways it distorts my thinking is that it always feels like my current level of anxiety is going to be perpetual. When I actually think about it, I quickly realize that it changes all the time-the periods of high anxiety don't last forever.

There's a separate question about your actual relationships. Maybe you aren't in a good space right now to be in a long term relationship with a partner. Maybe the relationship with your current boyfriend has run its course-or maybe not! Perhaps, you need to find ways of making different sorts of friendships where you don't feel like your mental health problems are just going to be seen as too much trouble. But none of this is about your ultimate ability to form lasting attachments with people.

Caracal, I appreciated the insights you brought to this comment.

I had a few scattered thoughts in response; brain's a little reluctant to stitch them together coherently.

1) You don't have to be in perpetual crisis to be considered too much trouble. Some people will never trust the good times again if they fear another crisis is possible. Some people will reject you preemptively based on a diagnosis (not limited to mental health). Sometimes I can take action to improve the situation; sometimes not. I'm not ultimately in control of other people's tolerance thresholds.

2) I suspect things with my labmates will improve as social distancing restrictions loosen and we are physically sharing labspace again. They first started distancing because I had a flare of severe tics lasting several months, and those have calmed down a lot. From the labmate who resumed friendly communications with me, I learned they still like me and would still enjoy hanging out socially. He says they periodically ask him how I'm doing, and that I could probably make them feel easier about interacting with me again by explaining something of my situation. I haven't worked out how to approach that yet.

3) One thing I wish people would not make me responsible for is deciding how much help to accept when it is being offered. People often offer help reflexively or out of a sense of social obligation. Unless it is a small favor, I say no most of the time. I don't want to put someone in the position of having to honor an offer they didn't want to make in the first place (and may have been expecting me to refuse). But it might be easier on everyone involved if people only offered help they were willing to give.

It gets especially awkward when the person keeps refusing to take "No, thank you" for an answer. Then, in order to satisfy them, I feel obligated to accept help even if I may feel uncomfortable or even if I find the "help" decidedly unhelpful. And a few people take on the role of martyr, insisting they be allowed to help, that they're more than happy to do it, then later complaining about how tired and stressed they are with everything they're doing for you (even if you've explicitly asked them to stop). Through experience, I've worked out some diplomatic ways to nip these kinds of thing in the bud, but it can really drain energy.

4) I *have* had a few friends recently ask if there was anything they could do for me (not knowing details but knowing I'm struggling). They seemed genuinely relieved when I said just keeping in touch (friendly chat about work, hobbies, pets, family...) helps a great deal; it's nice just to have that connection. A couple have followed through on this (brief internet chat a few times per month), and I'm grateful for that. I'm not yet in a fit state to be forging brand new connections, so nurturing the relationships I've already established seems to make the most sense at moment.

5) RE: "It's not forever." I have certainly gotten a lot of mileage out of this mantra; it's helped me with managing severe anxiety as well. But I'm at a point where I feel it's getting more critical to acknowledge that my diagnosis and history are consistent with lifetime vulnerability to severe (and treatment-resistant) mood disorder. It's something I'll always have to manage, so it will always have the potential to affect those around me.

It's a topic that comes up often with other people in treatment: when and how to disclose chronic health issues (physical or mental) to anyone (friend, partner, coworker, etc...) There are too many variables involved for a one-size-fits-all answer. But I suppose that's true of lots of relationship elements. That's kind of why I like to collect lots of stories from other people and...I don't know...explore the solution set?