Mental health issues: emotions and relationships
Living with a mental health condition can have a serious impact on how you feel about yourself and how you relate to others. Your relationship with yourself and your inner world of feelings, emotions and thoughts is not separate from your relationships with other people. As human beings, we are all interconnected and interdependent, and that feeling of connection with other human beings plays and important role in our overall wellbeing and happiness.
Being aware of the different emotional states that you experience and taking care of your emotional wellbeing is key to maintaining good mental health.
Your emotions and feelings are available to you all of the time and can be used as a quick check to let you and others know how you are doing. To do this, it helps to have the skill of self-awareness. If you have it, that's great, but if not, you may want to try out some mindfulness techniques.
To find out more, have a look at the Mindfulness and mental wellbeing section of the NHS Choices website.
For some general tips on emotional wellbeing for people with mental health issues, check out the Improving Emotional Health section of the Helpguide website.
Talking about your feelings
It sounds simple, but it's not always that easy. Not everyone is comfortable talking about their feelings, but doing so can be a great way to keep your mental health in check.
If you think that talking about your feelings is a sign of weakness, it's just not so. It’s quite the opposite. By talking about your feelings you are taking charge of your wellbeing, and that is a sign of strength, not weakness.
You may prefer to talk to people you know well, such as family and friends. You could go a little further afield and talk to someone in your community, such as those who offer support services at your synagogue or your Rabbi. For people in London, In2Great is a new group that invites people to come together for fun and entertainment in a relaxed social setting. Call 0208 458 2223 to find out more.
Rather than a group setting, you may prefer to speak to a professional, such as a counsellor or therapist. It is, of course, your choice. What matters is that you find a way to be open about and express your feelings in a safe and secure environment.
Relationships with friends, family and colleagues
Central to maintaining good relationships with friends, family and colleagues are trust, acceptance and the ability to ask for help. These may seem like quite a tall order, but they will help to keep you feeling safe and secure.
It is up to you whether or not you disclose your mental health condition (and if you do, to what extent). If you are concerned about disclosing your mental illness, the Coming out about mental illness article on the WebMD website makes interesting reading.
If you have disclosed your mental illness and you feel that you can trust those around you, then you're in a really good position.
Good relationships with other people begin with self-acceptance. This applies to all people but is particularly important if you have a mental health condition. If you're not okay with yourself, then it may be difficult for other people to really understand you. On this foundation of self-acceptance, it's also quite important for you to find your way to be okay with asking for help. Your friends, family or colleagues probably don't have ESP, so they won't know you need help unless you ask for it.
Remember, this is an illness like any other. It's not your fault, and if you're open about it, you will most likely find people to be pretty accepting.
For more information on connecting with loved ones and people you care about—and who care about you—visit the Emotional wellbeing section of Jewish Care Interact.