How Schizoaffective Disorder Has Affected My Relationships

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I’m 30 years old, and for many years, the longest relationship I had to date was in middle school — it lasted six months.

I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder at age 19. Schizoaffective disorder is thought to be a unique combination of schizophrenia and a mood disorder like bipolar, presenting with symptoms like difficulty communicating, episodes of depression, delusions, and even hallucinations. It presents differently from person to person, and there’s still a lot to be learned about it. Though it has negatively impacted my life in many ways, it’s been especially difficult to navigate in my social life.

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7 Truths About Love to Remember This Valentine’s Day

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If we were to ask pop culture what the ideal relationship looked like, most of us would expect an image of fireworks in the sky with that one and only person who completes us. Romantic comedies may be uplifting, and love songs beautiful, but much of what we learn about relationships early on sets us up for unrealistic expectations.

The result? We never feel like our relationships are good enough, and may doubt if we’re deserving of love.

Holidays like Valentine’s Day can exacerbate these worries. Social media often makes it seem like everyone else is coupled and in an ecstatic state of love. If we’re partnered, we may wonder if our relationship is as good as everyone else’s seems to be. And if we’re single, we may feel even more inadequate.

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8 Ways Being Single is Great for Your Mental Health

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Let’s get one thing straight: Being single doesn’t mean you’re going to be forever alone. If nothing else, being single is a learning experience — one that happens to be good for your mental health, believe it or not.

So stop stressing over those seemingly endless (and cliché) “I SAID YES!” posts everyone shares on Instagram, and start appreciating the benefits of single life. Here are some ways being single is actually beneficial to your mental well-being.

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Dating Someone With Social Anxiety: 6 Tips from a Therapist

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It’s hard to have social anxiety. You feel like everyone is judging you, and you’re frequently uncomfortable in your own skin. It can also be difficult to date someone who suffers from social anxiety. Sometimes it can seem like your life is being constricted in ways you didn’t sign up for, and that issue can lead to resentment and irritation. Here are some tips to keep in mind when your partner has social anxiety, so the relationship can withstand the pressure of this disorder.

1. Try Hard to Empathize With Your Partner

You may not have social anxiety, but do you have any other issues you wish you didn’t have, or that you are actively working on improving? Most people wish they were different in some way or other. For instance, if you struggle with ADHD, it is useful to compare the conditions in your mind, saying, “I don’t try to forget things, and my partner isn’t trying to be scared of social situations. We both struggle.” Continue reading Dating Someone With Social Anxiety: 6 Tips from a Therapist

Ask a Therapist: Anxiety is Tearing My Boyfriend and I Apart

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Talkspace is pleased to continue our advice column, this week with therapist Dr. Samantha Rodman. Send your mental health questions for Samantha to [email protected].

Dating Drama writes,

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for almost three months. In the beginning, everything was perfect, but then it’s like a huge storm came and destroyed our relationship. I am trying to help him deal with his severe anxiety, and we constantly fight all day. He accuses me of doing things wrong when I do nothing. I understand I have flaws and faults from the past (before we were together), but I am not the same person as I was when he first met me. I’m constantly being insulted and being accused of these ridiculous things. He even blamed me for what someone else posted on their social media. Continue reading Ask a Therapist: Anxiety is Tearing My Boyfriend and I Apart

How to Manage Social Anxiety When Meeting Your SO’s Friends

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My first experience meeting a significant other’s close friends was like being thrown into the lion’s den. I’m from a small rural town and had recently moved to a city. The group I was diving into was a suburban clique that had known each other since childhood.

I was in an unfamiliar place. People asked me lots of questions. I drank to relax. Long story short, it was awful.

Just getting out and dating with social anxiety comes with its own set of pitfalls and requires both courage and commitment. Now that you’ve jumped that hurdle, getting serious means meeting friends and family. This step of relationship growth can be a big social anxiety trigger.

Over the years, I searched for ways to make the best of meeting my partner’s friends, much to the benefit of the authors of the books I bought and therapist I paid. The following tips are what I learned and will help you have the best experience possible when meeting your significant other’s close friends or family. Before we dive in, my tips assume your partner knows about your social anxiety, your symptoms, and is committed to supporting you. If that’s not the case, that should be your first step. Continue reading How to Manage Social Anxiety When Meeting Your SO’s Friends

How To Get Over A Breakup

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Breakups suck, whether you’re the one who’s dumped or the one doing the dumping. When overcome with such intense emotions, it can be difficult to keep your mental health in check and figure out how to get over a breakup. Already plagued with depression, breakups are particularly difficult for me, often leaving me bedridden and writing bad poetry.

My first serious boyfriend made my biggest fear come true when he broke up with me because he could no longer handle my mood swings and depressive episodes that were “bringing him down.” I thought he was the man I’d marry…and then that was shattered. My next boyfriend broke up with me for strange reasons I can’t begin to get into, and then drove across the country to move to California. This split left me unable to be awake for more than a couple hours at once, let alone eat.

I’ve experienced some pretty serious heartbreak that really messed with my mental health, but I at least learned how to get over a breakup. Here are my pointers to stay well during a turbulent time. Continue reading How To Get Over A Breakup

7 Tips For Dating A Survivor of Sexual Abuse or Assault

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As a sexual abuse survivor, dating terrifies me. Abuse taught me that a relationship meant losing all of my agency and performing sexual acts I didn’t want to — “no” wasn’t an option. Subsequent relationships have been mixed at best, from the partner who got mad when I froze during sex, to the dates when I could barely squeak out what my job title is because I was so petrified.

Survivors like me are not rare, especially considering the statistics. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted, including both male and female victims. This means at some point in your dating life, odds are you will encounter a survivor.

“If we’re going to be dating, and if we’re going to be dating a lot, we’re going to run into someone who probably is a sexual assault survivor,” says Cynthia Stocker, a licensed clinical social worker with more than 30 years of experience. “It’s really pretty common.”

Dating as a survivor often brings out traumatic memories, sensations, and emotions because of past experiences. When a current partner is empathetic, educated, and understanding, however, that can make dating easier to manage for both parties.

With that in mind, here are seven tips for dating a survivor. Continue reading 7 Tips For Dating A Survivor of Sexual Abuse or Assault

Dating With Depression: 8 Tips For A Great Time

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Millions of people around the world suffer from depression and many of them are actively dating, often using online dating sites. No doubt dating can be difficult when you suffer from depression, but it can also be a tremendous source of happiness when you meet someone special.

Here are some tips to keep in mind if you are dealing with depression and trying to find love — or maybe just trying to enjoy a few fun dates!

1. Think About Professional Help

Dating can be challenging, even more so if you are suffering from depression. If you are considering getting out there, or already dating, you could seek professional advice from a therapist who will help you get the most from the experience. Working with a therapist is a great way to identify and manage mental health issues that come up with dating and relationships. Continue reading Dating With Depression: 8 Tips For A Great Time

6 Quick Tips to Maintain Your Mental Health While Dating

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Dating and relationships can be wonderful — meeting new people, the exciting first kindling of romance, establishing a deeper connection with someone who knows you intimately. But it can also go wrong. And when it does, the damage to our self-esteem can cause intense emotional suffering, the type of pain that hurts in ways you didn’t imagine before getting involved with someone. To avoid some of that hurt, try these quick mental health tips.

Try Not to Be Jealous

If your significant other goes out and you know they’re with attractive people, it can make you start comparing yourself to others who your partner interacts with. This is an unhealthy mindset to fall into because it can exacerbate insecurities. Try your best to stop comparing yourself. Continue reading 6 Quick Tips to Maintain Your Mental Health While Dating