Unhealthy vs. healthy relationships

 There’s bad news and good news…

The bad news is that when you experience mental illness, and even during your recovery journey you might find that not everyone will stick by you. This has certainly been my experience. 

Not everyone will accept you as you are or want the best for you. Not everyone will want you to change, to grow, to get better or to stand up for yourself. However, you have a right to grow and change at any stage in your life. 

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

To give one example about how some people can react to mental illness, there was one person years ago I considered a “friend” but turned out to be only a “fairweather friend” after I had my breakdown. When things were going well or when it suited this person they spent time with me. However, they soon texted me whilst I was in hospital for my first admission to tell me they didn't have the “mental space” to deal with the fact I'd been sectioned. I never heard from them again. 

Here's another example of how some people may react when they see you doing well on your recovery journey. On many occasions I had put up with this other “friend's” bitter and caustic comments. However, as I increased in wellness and confidence I eventually plucked up the courage to politely challenge one of their hurtful remarks. Once more I never heard from them again. 

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

I can think of several other relationships in my past that have fallen by the wayside since my breakdown. These might have been romantic or platonic relationships. In each situation, the person in question preferred me to stay in the past as the person I used to be, or was not willing to tolerate my personal growth and was certainly not willing to grow with me so the relationship itself could change and mature. 

The recovery process is about learning how to best look after yourself, and looking after yourself includes being assertive in a healthy way and letting people know your boundaries. If certain people don't accept you as you are, respect your boundaries or help nurture you, it may be necessary to leave those particular relationships behind. 

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

The good news is that when you drop an unhealthy relationship of whatever kind - romantic or platonic - you make space for new and healthier relationships to come into your life. Relationships that are able to give as well as take, and where both parties can flourish.

I am happy to say that the unhealthy relationships of my past have been replaced over time with real, adaptable, strong and affirming relationships. People who want the best for me. The same can happen for you.

You may want to reflect on whether there are unhealthy relationships in your life?

What kinds of people celebrate your growth?

Bryony Bennett

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