Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today because your girl is going through a break up (yes I know my love life is the dictionary definition of a train wreck). Since I have a PhD in overthinking I keep ruminating over: Why is it easier to tell your partner you feel physical pain that it is to tell them you suffer from emotional and psychological trauma? Why is the issue of mental health overlooked in society? What role does it play in romantic relationships?
Well I’ve narrowed it down to about five-ish things…
Ever heard the saying “If you don’t heal from what hurt you, you will bleed on people that didn’t cut you”, well it’s true. If you think that Herbert who broke your heart in 1996 who told you “you are damaged goods, no one will ever love you” will not impact your next relationship, you are sorely mistaken. Obviously every situation is different but if you do not take time to grieve and mend that fractured heart you will constantly compare your significant other to your ex. You will find yourself rushing a connection with a person you are better of keeping as a friend. The world does not need any more bleeding hearts.
Children are conditioned to accept being ill-treated and disrespected because they grow up in households where abuse equates love. Rupi Kaur writes:
Everytime you tell your daughter you yell at her out of love,
You teach her to confuse anger with kindness
Which seems like a good idea till she grows up to trust men
Who hurt her cause they look so much like you.
Children are like sponges and are highly impressionable therefore it is essential that parents watch what they say to them. A perfect example could be referring to your child as “fat cook” (sdudla) in front of their peers then acting stunned when your child develops eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia and binge eating in future. What you say to your kids impacts their self-esteem. What you say to your children impacts how they think the world views them. Speak highly of your kids because what they believe is what they become – Brooke Hampton.
Weaponizing mental illness
What happens when your mental health starts to deteriorate or your partner’s mental illness starts to take a toll on you? What happens when you are in a relationship with a “neurotypical” (an individual who is desensitised and undermines mental illness, who believes people should simply get over it, I’m paraphrasing here) who seeks to lower your self-confidence and makes you feel bad for something you have no control over? It is important to set boundaries before the relationship becomes toxic. For those struggling with mental health self-awareness should be a priority as it enables you to investigate your triggers and in turn educate yourself and your partner.
Fear of opening up due to lack of emotional support
The stigma that surrounds mental illness is unprecedented. I know numerous individuals who believe that depression can be cured by a good night’s sleep and a glass of water. Those that struggle with mental health worry about feeling like a burden, others do not want to appear weak. Since when is having a mental illness something to be ashamed of? Does this not shed light on how we’ve failed as a society? I cannot stress this enough, talk to your partner. If its space and silence that you require, say so because this avoids misconstrued misconceptions.
It is common for the individual who does not struggle with mental health to try and fix the problem, in most cases your partner just wants you to listen. Your job is to create an environment where your partner feels safe to open up, encourage them to seek professional help and most importantly educate yourself on the ins and outs of mental health, read books and articles from renowned authors, ask questions, be compassionate and reassuring.
Southern Africa has the highest rate of spousal rape globally. Men please stop raping your girlfriends and your wives (p.s. I do not care what makes men uncomfortable). Sex is not compensation for domestic violence. Again South Africa has the highest incidence of gender based violence against women. This could stem from alcohol abuse, childhood trauma or flat out entitlement. Unfortunately this can impact their children who continue the cycle years later.
Feeling unsafe in your own body is exhausting so be kind to yourself and surround yourself with people that are rooting for you (Remember you are not an island).
Mental health helplines
Global/International – https://togetherweare-strong.tumblr.com/helpline
Zimbabwe – https://drsafehands.com/counseling/Zimbabwe