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Soulmate Attraction for the Rest of Us: Mental Health Issues

by Cassendre Xavier


This series is called "Soulmate Attraction for the Rest of Us: Dating & Relationships for the Polyamorous, Recovering, Survivor and Tantric." The series addresses issues that make it more challenging for some of us to find and maintain healthy, loving romantic relationships.

Mental health issues are included in that. "Recovering" includes not only living with an addiction or compulsive behavior, it also means managing symptoms of a physical or mental health challenge. That includes psychiatric diagnoses such as depression, manic depression/bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder and the various personality disorders such as Narcisstic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder.
"Recovering" to me also means living with or healing from trauma or abuse. Trauma creates symptoms or conditions, such as PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) that can significantly impact a relationship.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical/mental health professional nor a clinician. I am a longtime patient of mental health issues, and I write the "Living with Bipolar Disorder" column here at Wisdom. I am diagnosed, on medication, and attend 2-5 individual and group psychotherapy sessions per week. My symptoms are severe and do affect my relationships. But I find that relationships are possible for me, and that I do much better (and my partners are much happier!) when I am in regular therapy and taking my medications regularly.

I am writing to say that it *is* possible to find compatible love even if you have mental health issues and various other particular differences or challenges. I identify as queer/bi, polyamorous, kinky, tantric, spiritually eclectic, and having mental health issues that make intimacy challenging. I know I'm not alone out there.

There are many ways having mental health issues can impact a relationship. This is because it affects the sufferers in various ways:

Self-awareness

Ability to be patient

Sex drive (too high if manic, too low if depressed or on certain medications)

Self-confidence (creating more than the usual amount of jealousy, envy, and insecurity; and a heightened need for reassurance)

Also, there is a thing called comorbidity. It's the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions in a patient.

This means having more than one issue going on at the same time. This is very common. Someone can have addiction issues *and* mental health issues simultaneously. Many people with mental health issues are self-medicating. This is one reason why it's a really good idea to get treated for both mental health issues and addiction. Treating addiction often discovers and diagnoses the mental health condition, and also there are medications that help reduce or eradicate the addiction.

If you are trying to attract a soulmate or are in a relationship, and mental health issues are part of your life or your partner's life, here are some things that can help:

1) Always remember that number 1: you are deserving and lovable, just as you are. Whether it's you with the condition(s) or your partner, you deserve to be happy. Do things you can do to bring more happiness, joy, emotional safety and emotional security to your life and your relationship.

2) Avail yourself of, and write, relationship affirmations. Just as you do other affirmations for other issues in your life, begin to do mirror affirmations for your happiness in this relationship or as you attract an ideal partner, regardless of your mental health condition or symptoms. Again: you are worthy and lovable, exactly as you are. (This is often something I forget and that is hard to remember, given my trauma history, severe anxiety and mood disorders, and disordered thinking that all sometimes make my partners pretty challenged. But then I remember the angels, and all the affirmations I've done over the years, and I know that they are all true. I know Spirit finds us all perfect as we are. And that imperfection is being humyn. All these things I remember, and I also have returned to doing affirmations again. )
Affirmations are really very helpful, and great affirmations teacher/author Louise L. Hay did them daily until she passed at an advanced and happy age.
Affirmations are just a good habit to have, and once you do them, over a few weeks or so you'll really being to see and feel some benefits, especially if you look into a mirror and hug yourself as you say them. Louise recommended we begin with "I love you. I really, really love you." Highly recommended!

3) Seek support. Get help, go to support groups for whatever ails you. If it's your partner who has the issues, go to find out how to care for yourself as well as be a loving, stable, and supportive partner. 12 Step groups are good, too, especially Al-Anon, which is about dealing with people if you grew up in an addiction-affected household or if you have a loved one now who is "using." That, and other groups can teach you how to recover from codependence, a very common feature of many relationships, whether they are affected by addiction or mental health issues or not.

4) Seek treatment. If you have the issue(s), go to a behavioral health center and get admitted to get an intake and then treatment. See a therapist, see a psychiatrist. Seek medication if applicable. Go to group therapy if applicable. Definitely go to therapy. You may not click with the first therapist you try. Keep going until you find a good match. It will likely take at least two sessions to determine if the person may be a good fit for you. Same with medications, it may take trying a couple of different kinds to find the one that works for you and has the least amount of symptoms. Of course you can go the natural treatment route if your budget allows. The most important thing is to be consistent. Don't go natural and then quit because you can no longer afford it. It's best to be on Medicaid and then be able to consistently take your meds and go to therapy. Hopefully, you are working and have health insurance that can cover all of that easily.
If it is your partner that needs the treatment, you can gently suggest it. But if they repeatedly avoid and resist, then accept they are not taking action and either stay in the relationship with someone who won't get treated, and accept that, or start going to Al-Anon or CoDA (Codependents Anonymous) meetings to learn how to live well. Usually when people take care of themselves, partners come along for the ride, or the relationship dissolves, which is healthy also.

5) Have fun! Treatment, therapy, recovery, and "processing" emotions with your partner is a lot of work. Hopefully you have a partner who also can bring fun into the relationship. If not, if you're the fun one (and your partner is the one with the mental health issues/in recovery), know that it is a tremendous gift to incorporate fun into your dates or lives together. I know I really appreciate that about my partner. I am very serious (silly sometimes, but very serious!) and *highly* focused on my recovery and illness management. Also, I also just happen to find this stuff fun. I love going to therapy (two individual sessions and 2-3 group session a week) and talking deep stuff all the time with my partner. He on the other hand, while very emotionally and otherwise intelligent, and spiritual, and able to be deep, is all about the fun. It's annoying sometimes, iff'n you wanna know the truth! But it's so good for me. Be the one to bring the fun, or appreciate the fun if you're serious always handling your mental health issues. It's very important. Laughter heals!

6) If both (or more if you're poly) partners have mental health issues, take extra care. Write more affirmations. The most important thing is self-care. (Sorry it appears last - somehow there's something that reminds me of divine order and "Wisdom" about that - as above so below and so forth!)
If more than one partner in a relationship has mental health issues, it's a good idea for everyone to pay more attention to various factors such as symptom management, and scheduling. As we poly folk know, scheduling is a big part of our relating. It can be more difficult to be organized if one or more of us is manic or depressed, or just out of commission for a while - not wanting to engage - feeling antisocial. Or highly irritable and not easy to talk with for more than a few minutes at a time. This is why it's helpful for someone to, in calm and pleasant moments, take time to get the books out and plan happy get-togethers. Organizing is extra important for and with people with mental health disorders. One of the most calming influences for us is routine and stability. I always liken this to how it is with children and pets. Children, pets, and people with mental health issues thrive on and are soothed by routine and stability. It's a good idea, especially if there's more than one persun in a relationship.

These are some ideas I wanted to share. I hope you find it helpful.

I'll be presenting my workshop "Mental Health Issues & Maintaining Poly Relationships" at the 15th Annual Poly Living Conference in Philadelphia, on Saturday, February 8th, 2020, at 10:45am. (Conference dates are Feb 7-9) Info and date passes available at http://LoveMore.com, or Facebook "Loving More" fan page for info.

Cassendre Xavier has been writing the "Soulmate Attraction for the Rest of Us" series at Wisdom Magazine's online edition since 2011. She is the author of the forthcoming book Soulmate Attraction for the Rest of Us: Dating & Relationships for the Poly, Recovering, Survivor & Tantric, and has presented her workshop of the same title at Sisterspace Weekend in Darlington, Maryland (September 2014), regularly at the Annual Poly Living Conference in Philadelphia. She presented at Rocky Mountain Poly Living 2019 in the Denver, Colorado area, and will present "Mental Health Issues & Maintaining Poly Relationships" at the 15th Annual Poly Living Conference in Philadelphia on Saturday, February 8, 2020 at 10:45am. Visit the Facebook "Loving More" fan page or http://lovemore.com for more info.
Cassendre was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at age 23. She has been a member of
Philadelphia's LGBT, polyamorous, and New Age/ancient wisdom spiritual communities since 1991, and from 1996-1999 facilitated Sisters Healing Together, a peer support group for women survivors of incest with a special focus on compulsive overeating, which she also founded, at the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia. Under her self-assigned spiritual name Amethyste Rah, Cassendre released the popular Affirmations for Survivors guided meditation audio series (“Self-Love” and “Spirituality” in 2007, and “Sexuality” and “Life Skills” are forthcoming). For more information, please visit https://cassendrexavier.wordpress.com/


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