Hey Minx Lovers,
Welcome to summer – have you had a nice Bank holiday so far? 🙂 I got incredibly sunburned this week but it has faded down from lobster to sun-kissed brown so I’m much happier.
So a few weeks ago it was Mental Health Awareness week, but as it was right in the middle of my essays I had to wait a while to get enough time to sit down and write this blog.
So as you know, dating and relationships and sex can be tricky enough things to manage at the best of times. When one or both people involved suffers from mental health issues, things can get a lot more complicated. Today I’ll be talking about my own experiences with dealing with dating and mental health. This isn’t going to be the usual type of blog I write, and it’s more of a general musing, so please bear with me.
A few years ago I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. From chatting to various doctors it looks like I have the kind that turns up every now and again and I’ve possibly had it since the age of about 12.
The reason I am writing this blog is that it looks like it’ll always be there and could turn up again at any moment. There is no waiting for a right time to date or hoping it will go away forever. It won’t.
So what does this mean? Well, obviously with the benefit of hindsight, I can now spot times when I was probably in the middle of a bad patch and just didn’t realise what the hell was going on. This means that partners would not have known what was going on either. I struggle to handle the huge surges of negative emotions that can rock up for weeks or months. Being in a relationship means giving and taking. It gets very difficult to be around someone and to act normal when your brain is feeding you this everyday:
“You’re worthless. You’ll never get married. He’ll cheat. She’s prettier than you. Everyone hates you. You’ll never get a proper job. You’re a freak. Nobody loves you. You’re a failure. You’re going to fail. You’ve forgotten something. You’ll never get that job…”
And it goes on and on and on. Fun times eh?
I find that I’m at my happiest when I’m really busy. I love variety and change and seeing lots of different people. Keeping busy and doing things helps to block out the negative thoughts and deal with the depression and anxiety. I feel like by moving and doing things, I’m DOING something to beat it, and I’m OK. HOWEVER, a big part of dating and relationships requires time and patience. You need to sometimes sit back and relax and let things happen. I feel constantly torn between knowing I need to chill, get off dating sites, relax, and feeling like I proactively need to solve my dating ‘problem’, both to meet someone, and to keep the negative monkeys off my back.
This means that I’ve been on and off dating sites for the better part of a decade. Still haven’t met someone. Dating sites have become increasingly popular over the last 10 years and more and more people are turning to them for dating….and casual hook ups….and to be cruel / bully people/ troll people. When most of my friends are now married/ have families, my options for meeting people face to face are shrinking at the speed of light (you need a social life with single people to meet other single people in the real world). Dating sites are one of the few options I’m left with to meet new people. What do they do to people like me? They basically magnify and multiply the worries and problems by 1000. They expose you to a lot of people in an environment where communication is ambiguous and people are less concerned about their behaviour because of the anonymity. I constantly felt like I’d woken up in a pseudo orgy/ frat party where I didn’t know the rules and I was made to feel needy and abnormal for actually wanting to meet someone and chat. It basically sucks so I’m off them all.
So yeah….meeting people is hard.
When I have actually met people, it was normally in real life. Bumping into my last bf was a sheer fluke. (For the record, no, I NEVER intended to turn into a cougar and get a younger man. I was after rich professors. 🙂 He just had charm and a cheeky grin.) Face to face and taking things slower works much better for me in terms of actual relationships, but in truth, I struggle with those. All the emotional crap gets so much that I generally find it upsets me too much. I get too attached too quickly or I cut myself off altogether. From a young age I started to divorce sex from feelings and just go after a quick easy fuck because…well sex itself is amazing and fun and you don’t have to love people to have fun.
After a while it became a habit and now I’m pretty much terrified of feeling something for someone again. I’m having to reboot my head/heart to try and get back on an even keel with it.
It makes it hard to open up and it makes it incredibly difficult to trust people. I generally put up a very loud bouncy and or scary front, and not many people ever really get to know me that properly because I keep walls up and I lie my ass off. It’s not intentional or meant to be deceptive. You do what you do to get through the day, and as I said, habits form. It’s no coincidence that I give my exes nicknames – I don’t just do that for the blog. It’s a way of distancing them.
During a bad patch my sex drive can vanish completely and I go emotionally numb. Not cold….I mean numb. During my last patch there are several weeks that are a vague grey blur I can hardly remember. But what I’ve learned is that luckily this will pass and things will get better.
As for telling people……I’ve only ever told one person, and bless him, he didn’t know where to look or what to say or do. Ironically he was pretty open about saying that he didn’t have a fucking clue, and that actually made me laugh which helped a lot. I didn’t rush into telling him…I’m not sure if that was a good thing or not. When I date again I’ll take each day as it comes. If people can’t deal…fuck em. I come with mental health issues, but I also come with a really warm loving heart, pretty eyes, a decent pair of tits and a filthy sense of humour. It’s a package deal.
So…how do I deal with it? Well, for starters, it’s not all there all the time. I have bad patches and good patches. I have spent the last few years tweaking my lifestyle and the way I do things to try and help myself deal with it better. I used to be a real sugar junkie and I have cut back a lot. I eat a lot better and I exercise now (never used to – was such a lazy kid!). I try and get out for a walk every day. I make sure I give myself plenty of time with buffers to get important stuff done – this was part of my general stress reduction techniques. I have started doing more things for me – writing this blog being one of them.
I’ve also had a really good long hard look at the people in my life and I’m making a huge effort to put time into relationships (of any sort) that are good for me. Anyone who makes me feel anxious or stresses me out or is basically displaying dick like behaviour is gone. It’s been quite refreshing to have a mental clear out like that, but at the end of the day, if they’re making me feel awful, I just don’t need or want them around.
I try to be calmer and to take things a bit slower. This is very difficult for me but I’m trying. I’m also listening to my gut a lot more. If I feel anxious or uncomfortable or if any red flags go up with someone or in a situation, I address it. I can’t afford to let any niggles become a big deal.
I’ve been trying to go off type and stray out of my comfort zone a little. This basically means dating blondes, gingers and skinny dudes. So far no luck, but it’s been interesting to branch out and try and meet new people instead of just dismissing men out of hand because they don’t fall into my safe zone.
I’ve also tried to give myself a break and stop beating myself up for not being married/ settled yet. This is really hard to do in today’s society. Single women without kids in their 30s get so much shit it’s untrue and if you don’t tick certain boxes you can be made to feel like a complete failure. The reality is that nobody’s ever perfect, and you don’t actually get any prizes for being in relationships or being married ( I checked!). It’s mostly down to luck and chance, so fuck all that noise.
Hmmm….let’s see…closing thoughts?
Does having mental health issues prevent you from having a sex life?
I find talking about my mental health stuff helps a lot. I have been terrified of being thought of as crazy and being judged. Opening up a dialogue helps to deal with that.
I get help and take steps when I need it. Mental health problems are no different or worse to physical health problems. You break a leg, you get a plaster cast, you catch a cold, you swig some Benylin (or whinge about manflu hahahah!). Both can affect or slow up your dating life, but it does not mean it can’t ever happen or it’s over forever.
At the moment I’m taking a break from dating. I’ve got a lot of other stuff going on right now and as much as I like being busy, with big life stuff I can only juggle a few things at a time. Still could really do with a shag, but that’s actually a good sign. I will get out there again…and I do still believe one day I’ll meet a good man. Hopefully one who’s packing and really good in bed.