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Dating, relationships and Mental illness

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  • This topic has 17 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 7 years ago by Anonymous.
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  • #152666
    Eliana
    Participant

    Hi, everyone,

    I won’t go into my past, several of you have seen many of my replies where I shared a lot of difficult details of a very traumatic childhood, which has led to an adulthood with chronic long term mental illness with several diagnosis. I am on medications and in intensive counseling as well as 12 step programs. Sometimes my therapy will end, but I find another hurdle and want to continue to better myself. I also end my 12 steps and go into other 12 step programs to be the best person I can be to hopefully someday, one day be in a long term healthy relationship.

    However, I am giving up on myself. Many people who meet me are surprised to learn I have mental illness. I only tell people I trust and am close to, and you on this board who I hope won’t judge me. Mental illness is only a part of who I am, it does not define me. If you were to meet me, you would see someone considered attractive, kind, funny, very outgoing, good conversationalist, compassionate, well travelled and cultured, very intellectual.

    Yet, I am alone and lonely because I sabatoge anything good that comes my way, including a potential relationship. No matter how much therapy I have had, I can’t seem to make anything work and men run for the hills so to speak. I don’t blame them. It’s a lonely life. And frustrating. I get angry at myself because II can’t get it right when others can. I hate that I’m so flawed. If anyone can relate please write. Thanks for listening.

     

    #152676
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Dear Eliana:

    I am glad you started your own thread! I would like to re-read some of your sharing on other threads before I reply further your thread, and will need to do it first thing tomorrow morning, with a refreshed brain I hope to have by then, ten or so hours from now.

    Take good care of yourself.

    anita

    #152684
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Dear Eliana:

    I read some of your posts as well as the other thread you started. Here is my summary:

    You were born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome to an alcoholic mother, had “delayed emotional development and growth.”  In your first six years of life, she often left you and your siblings alone for long periods of time, neglected, as she went on drinking binges and your father traveled a lot. Your childhood in those first six years was “a very traumatic and neglectful childhood”. The courts took you away when you were six. After that you were taken in by your father’s sister and her husband who were “a wonderful, loving and stable well to do couple.”

    You dropped out of community college when you were 22. At the time you were engaged to a man you were living with, a relationship that “turned very rocky and turbulent… All I wanted to do, was go to the beach and bars and party with my friends.”

    When you were about 31, you decided to improve yourself, you wrote, and you completed your AA degree. You had “no emotional support” from your family or friends. At 40 you got your BA degree, still with no family or friend support (“no one would come to my graduation”). When you were getting your degrees, you were “busy going to dances, joining the college newspaper, athletics, honor clubs”. Following getting your BA degree, you took graduate courses but did not complete those because depression kinked in hard.

    You have been “unable to sustain any kind of long term relationship. They are chaotic, intense on my part, I am clingy, co-dependent, have an intense fear of abandonment and perceived rejection. I do not know what a healthy relationship looks like. I want one so bad, but chaos is all I know.”

    You currently 55, living in a small town, in a HUD building,  on a small fixed income (disability), are in intensive DBT therapy and two 12 step programs (one related to having had a traumatic childhood and the other is Codependent Anonymous, both taking place over the phone three times a week).

    You wrote: “I’m still just now beginning to learn what healthy relationship means but can’t seem to find one or date.”

    Can you share more about the nature of your mental illness (in the title of your thread and otherwise mentioned)? I wonder how you view metal illness in general and how you view your individual case of mental illness.

    anita

    #152706
    Eliana
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Thanks for your reply. I have several diagnosis I am in treatment for, Panic Disorder, Borderline personality disorder, PTSD, disorder, and major depressive disorder all controlled by medications. And of course, case management and therapy. I guess that I don’t think about it at times, until I start to feel lonely, sad, sabatoge relationships..then think..God, what a mess I am. Although, in reality I know there is no truth to this, as I help people, volunteer, am very much into animal welfare..but there are times, I see people in loving relationships, with many close family and friendships, which I have never been able to have. It just makes me feel that my illness holds me back from someone who has alot to offer but does not know how to offer it. Thanks for any insight. It just gets tough and frustrating sometimes.

    #152742
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Dear Eliana:

    I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder as well, was on SSRI, mostly Zoloft (as well as other psych drugs) for 17 years. I also suffered (and diagnosed later) from a very early age (5 or 6, I think) from Tourette Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. And I was diagnoses with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as well. There were other diagnoses, including an eating disorder.

    Following my first experience with competent psychotherapy 2011-2013 and the healing work I continue to do every single day 2011 till today, I no longer fit the diagnosis of BPD. I am off all psych medications since Oct 2013.

    Your thread is about dating and relationships. My therapist in 2011 based his sessions with me on the BPD diagnosis and made it possible for me, over time, to have my very first healthy, loving relationship. I will be happy to share with you all that he taught me regarding having a healthy relationship, coming from my (now past) BPD diagnosis that you share as well.

    anita

    #152762
    Eliana
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Thank you for sharing your story and experiences with me. I am so happy that you have overcome things, especially getting off medications, and now being in a loving and stable relationship. I think that is pretty amazing. Yes, anything you can share with me would be great. I’m so

    #152764
    Eliana
    Participant

    Well, I’m not sure what happened to my last few sentences of my post, but I was saying, I’m so tired of messing things up in relationships.

    #152766
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Dear Eliana:

    To have a healthy, loving relationship takes two people, of course. If the man in your life is dishonest with you, abusive, then no matter what, you can not turn it into a healthy, loving relationship.

    If you were involved with an honest, decent man in your past and you did the “messing things up” in the relationship, how did you mess things up (generally and examples)?

    anita

    #152772
    Eliana
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Thank you for writing back. Your question gives me alot to think about. Maybe it is because I don’t know anything other than intensity, chaos, turbulence. Maybe, I felt I would be unfulfilled with a healthy relationship with a nice man, because I would be bored, since all I knew was instability.

    Also, it didn’t help, that when I lost my car and am on disability started meeting toxic unhealthy men online such as Facebook and Google Plus, or maybe I don’t know what healthy means in spite of therapy. Very confused right now, but all I know is that I did play a part in choosing these wrong men whether in person or online, and my illness and poor coping skills at the time could not handle difficulty. I wish I knew the answer.

    #152774
    Eliana
    Participant

    I am getting ready to go to a mandatory group, but will try to think more about your question and how I messed these relationships up..mostly I think, it was poor impulse control (the BPD), I would say things, I couldn’t take back, or I would do the passive aggressive, silent treatment, slam doors, verbal abuse, when I was verbally abused, insults when I was insults. It was like I loved being in love, then reality set in..then it all went downhill, and I would get too intense, another issue, I am working on.

    #152780
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Dear Eliana:

    What you wrote: “poor impulse control (the BPD)”-

    Both DMS 4 and 5 state about BPD: “a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity”. Impulsivity is acting on an urge without forethought. It is performing an action that is inappropriate to the situation, unduly risky, which often results in undesirable consequences.

    There are skills that can be taught in good therapy to notice that urge and take a moment between the feeling of it and reacting to it. These skills are part of what is called “emotional regulation skills”.

    It takes time and practice, and once you succeed at one moment, it is not smooth sailing from there on.  The progress is not linear. One has to practice patience with the process and gentleness for oneself. “Progress, not Perfection”.

    You have to place above all your values. A value is something you strongly believe in. If you believe in Respect as a value in interpersonal relationships, then you place that value above all. When you feel the urge to disrespect another, to verbally abuse another, you resist the urge. Maybe you take a walk, or a hot bath… whatever you need to do so to put time between the urge and the undesirable behavior.

    You… feel like reacting to the urge, it is calling you, urging you… but you don’t. It is difficult to practice this, but when you do and you are successful, there is a sense of pride in succeeding, and that will motivate you to continue this practice.

    anita

    #152782
    Anonymous
    Guest

    * didn’t submit correctly…

    #152834
    Mark
    Participant

    Hi Eliana,

    I have also dealt with mental issues in my life, although I never sought medication for them, and I had a few ideas that I thought might help. I know how chaotic the mind can be! One of the things that helped me the most was basically to just ignore my thoughts the first time they arise. You have a thought, and then you have a reaction to the thought. I have started focusing on the reactions . Just pretend the thought isn’t even attached to you personally. It’s just a blip of words. It has no meaning except the meaning you give it. But we place so much importance into these blip of words that they start to overwhelm our lives. Mediation, just sitting and listening and breathing without interrupting the flow of sounds may help to start to calm your mind a little. Listening — to the faintest sound, to all the different sounds — can be very healing. Ignoring your thoughts and homing in on the reactions they produce could also help with your coping skills you mentioned you have some trouble with.

    I can also relate on the dating side of your story. One of my biggest fears is my own issues making someone who I love life worse. So I don’t let myself to connect to many people. I actually like not having another person to always worry about, because I worry so much already. I read that much of unhappiness is the excessive desire for others to think about us. So I don’t hope for anyone to think about me. Instead, I’m just taking some time to work on myself, on my life. You can search and search for the right person, but perhaps only when you are ready will that person come into your life.

    At least you realize the issues that are preventing from finding a meaningful relationship. A lot of women don’t realize their issues. Work on the things about yourself that you don’t like. As you progress in your self-development, I think you will notice the quality of your relationships will improve as well. Focus on the possibilities — there are as many as you imagine!

    #152850
    Eliana
    Participant

    Hi Anita and Mark,

    Thank you for taking the time to write me, it really means alot to me. It also makes me feel not so alone, that others know about this illness and can relate. Mark, you had some very interesting and very relevant points, and Anita, I liked what you said too. It all comes down to Marsha Linehan’s concept of DBT that I have been in individual and group therapy for five years, and I don’t know if it’s me, but I am having a hard time with DBT therapy, it is very complex, and I find myself overwhelmed.

    So, I tried it again with a new therapist. Right now, I am on Advanced Distress Tolerance skills. I read it over and over and just can’t seem to get it. I don’t understand “radical acceptance” “Mindfulness” I don’t understand why her therapy is so hard. I much prefer CBT therapy. I try guided imagery. But when I get in the heat of the moment with someone, I get on the train, meaning, I become my thoughts, when like you, my therapist tells me to observe my thoughts, like they are white clouds drifting by. Or standing in the bottom of a beautiful blue ocean looking at fish swimming, seeing them as my thoughts. I can do it by myself, but as soon, as I am with another person, I lash out and hurt them verbally or in e-mail. I don’t know why I hurt the people I love. Its a frustrating illness to live with. All I can do, is just keep working at it, and sometimes turn it over to God. Like you said, when I am ready, the right man will come along, but I am 55, and feel I should have beat this illness by now, and I continue to struggle.

    #152908
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Dear Eliana:

    You wrote: “as soon, as I am with another person, I lash out and hurt them verbally or in e-mail”- for as long as you are not in control of your abusive behavior toward others, you should not engage in the kinds of relationships where your abusive behavior takes place. If within the context of “Dating, relationships” (in the title of your thread), you become abusive and can’t help it (so far), then avoid dating and relationships.

    Since you attend 12 step meetings, all taken after the concepts of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), I will compare your urge to abuse another to the urge of the alcoholic to drink. It makes sense for the alcoholic should avoid bars and for you to avoid relationships, for as long as you can’t control abusing another.

    I had Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). “Distress tolerance” means the individual’s capacity to withstand, or endure negative emotions and physical discomfort without reacting to those in ineffective, negative ways. Back to my quote from your last post: “as soon, as I am with another person, I lash out and hurt them”- this means that when you are with another person, you experience negative emotions. Your capacity to withstand, or endure those emotions is low. You become overwhelmed by them and react by behaving in an ineffective, negative way: ineffective because you are lonely and negative because it abuses another person.

    Wikipedia, in its entry on “Distress tolerance” states that distress tolerance “contribute(s) to the development and maintenance of several types of mental disorders, including mood and anxiety disorders such as major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, substance use and addiction, and personality disorders.”

    It also states:  “Borderline Personality Disorder is posited to be maintained through a chronic unwillingness to engage in or tolerate emotionally distressful states”- this means that until you are willing to withstand/endure/tolerate emotionally stressful internal states, you will continue to react to them by abusing another. The abusing of another relieves your distress. It is the quickest way and that is the payoff in it.

    In other words, to not abuse another, a person needs to be willing to suffer without inflicting suffering on another person.

    Radical Acceptance means to let go of fighting reality and instead, accept your situation for what it is. It is the part of the Serenity Prayer that says: “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”- cannot change and shouldn’t try, therefore. Instead, accept.

    Mindfulness Within DBT it is the capacity to pay attention, nonjudgmentally, to the present moment; it is about bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment. Mindfulness makes increasing Distress Tolerance possible (as well as Radical Acceptance).

    Having read Mark’s reply, when he thinks of a thought as “just a blip of words. It has no meaning except the meaning you give it”- he is practicing Mindfulness and Distress Tolerance. By paying attention to a thought and to the meaning he used to/ could give it, and then separating the emotional meaning of a thought from the thought itself (the “non-judgment part), he is capable of reducing his distress.

    I hope this helps.

    Dear Mark:

    I was intrigued by your sentence: “One of my biggest fears is my own issues making someone who I love life worse. So I don’t let myself to connect to many people.” If you would like to elaborate on it, please do.

    anita

     

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