The Mighty Logo

How Mental Illness Can Sometimes Make a Relationship Feel 'Wrong' When It's Not

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Finally, happily, wonderfully, you’re in a healthy relationship. This might be after a long string of bad ones, that toxic one that lasted too long or no relationship at all.  While a healthy relationship is good, and can often be helpful to someone struggling with a mental illness, it sometimes can still feel “wrong.” Not the kind of wrong that bad relationships can feel like, but still wrong.

These feelings of wrongness can bring on guilt, insecurity, agonizing over what might be wrong with you that you’re having this feeling in the first place. Sometimes these feelings can arise from not understanding or maybe mental illness snuck in and is doing its part to amplify those feelings. It can be hard to understand during the relationship and may even damage it. It’s a feeling that can hold you back from embracing something you deserve.

It sounds strange. How could “right” feel “wrong”? Where are these feelings coming from?  The thing is, if you’ve been in all the unhealthy relationships over your life, a healthy relationship can feel foreign.

When a mental illness seems to strip away the ability to make good choices, it can leaving you feeling vulnerable. Sometimes it can feel like you won’t ever find anyone better than people who took advantage of you in the past. However, there are still paths to healthy relationships. 

Once you are in a healthy relationship, it can feel quite the opposite of “normal,” or of reality as you know it. Unfamiliar like the raisins being removed from those chocolate cookies you’d love so much more without them.  It tastes better, it smells better, it’s simply exactly what you want. But change is hard, even if it’s good. Biting into that cookie and not feeling that raisin texture or small distaste you’ve just gotten used to. It is weird at first, but then once you take a few more bites, then bake another batch without those raisins, then it becomes the new familiar.

When someone doesn’t cheat on you, doesn’t hurt you and when you communicate and thrive together, it can be strange if you’ve had poor relationship experiences in the past. But I believe good relationships can help individuals with mental illness navigate their condition and manage it. It’s in relationships like these where the word “toxic” can stay in a barrel where it belongs. Then, healthy relationship can be the key phrase. 

I believe everyone deserves a healthy relationship, and it can be achieved. But the problem of it feeling wrong when it’s right still needs to be acknowledged. Understood, not shamed. Most importantly it can be worked on, and healthy will feel right.

Communication is important in a healthy relationship. Communication about mental illness is essential for understanding and trust. I hope this can help couples go hand in hand happily towards a bright future together.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via KristinaJovanovic.

Originally published: July 7, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home