I’m going to start this article off with some more information about me and my journey into polyamory while dealing with mental health issues.
I personally deal with several different mental issues daily. Several of my mental health issues are hereditary and several are due to a traumatic childhood. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, BPD(borderline personality disorder), OCD, social anxiety, and PTSD when I was 21. They can make every day life hard. I thankfully have a great therapist that I’ve been with for 16 years that has helped a lot. I also have worked through two great workbooks that I will provide at the end. Every day can be a struggle but you have to remind yourself that you will get through it.
As of right now I only have one partner and we have been together for 3½ years now. I’ve had several other partners but for multiple reasons those relationships never went anywhere. My partner has several other partners who I’m not friends with, as we practice parallel polyamory. This type of polyamory works the best for me due to a few of my issues. My partner also has his own issues. This sometimes can make me have issues of my own or it can make me feel more stressed out. He is who he is and I honestly wouldn’t change him for the world. Though sometimes I wish I could tie him up somewhere and leave him there lol.
Dating someone who has their own set of issues when you have your own can be challenging. You have to figure out if their issues are going to cause you more problems than what they are worth. It’s not always an easy decision to make. I’ve had to walk away from people I care about because I couldn’t handle their issues. I haven’t dated many people who would be considered “normal” (meaning they don’t have mental health issues). That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t date them but the few that I’ve dated who have claimed to be “normal” really weren’t.
Journey with Therapy
I’ve been in therapy for 16 years now. It wasn’t until about 6½ years ago that I finally hit the point in my life that I felt the need to change myself and stop hiding behind the issues. I really needed to actually do the work I needed to do in therapy so I could start getting better. Therapy works really great if you can find the right therapist. When I first started seeing my therapist I didn’t know about polyamory, though.
I knew I was into BDSM and I was scared to have that conversation with my therapist but one day it slipped out. She never once judged me for it. She did ask questions and I answered them. I’m not sure if she did any research later but I can say having her listen and not judge really helped me. Years later when I started my polyamorous journey I went to her again and she still didn’t judge me, she didn’t understand what I was talking about but she again actually listened when I explained it. I did later give her a print out of a explanation on it for therapists that someone had given me. (I will supply that link at the bottom of this.)
My issues have caused problems with dating in the past because I was so insecure. It took a few years to come to the realization that I didn’t love who I was so I would put that blame on whoever I was dating at the time. I had to learn how to really love myself before I could have healthy relationships. The first couple of years I chose not to date anyone as I needed to use time to work on myself. I still have days that I battle this insecurity but I use the tips I’ve learned along the way to deal with it.
My mental health issues do still cause me a lot of stress to this day. There are days I would love to release all those emotions at my partner. Especially on the days when he has pissed me off. However, it wouldn’t be worth it as it’s not his fault that I’m dealing with my own issues. I have even gotten to the point where I’ve started crying and typing this long message telling him off and how I don’t understand why he has to be such a pain in the butt. Then about halfway through my typing I realize I’m talking about myself so I delete it because it’s not his fault or anyone else’s that I got caught up in my own irrational thoughts.
Things That Help
One of the best things I have found that helps is talking to myself. I remind myself of all my good qualities, of course some might not think these qualities are good, but I do and that’s all that matters. Another tip is to just breathe and remind yourself that you are more than what people say about you. I also found a close friend that I now use as my emotional support person. They allow me to vent however I need to, and whenever I need to without judgment. Most of the time I feel better just being able to express myself however I need to at the time. I have also found writing in a journal helps as I can express myself without worrying about judgment and I can write as bad as I want.
Jealousy is another issue I had to deal with. I feel thankful that I ran across a really great book when I needed it. It helped me work through a lot of my jealousy. The book made me see that a lot of my jealousy was due to past trauma in relationships and that it was ok to be jealousy but it’s how to deal with it that’s important. I had never really taken the time to look inside myself for the source of my jealousy. My jealousy was like a roller coaster, sometimes I would get extremely jealous and other times it would be less. If it wasn’t for the book I found I would probably still be on that roller coaster. I still deal with jealousy to this day but I used what I’ve learned from that book to help me get through it. (I will provide the title and link for the book below.)
Does having mental health issues make it harder to be polyamorous? The answer is it can, but only if you choose not to do the work on yourself and work through whatever you are dealing with at the time. I recommend asking for help from your therapist, your partners, friends, and even polyamorous groups as someone might understand what you are going through. Don’t ever think you are a burden on anyone just because you have mental health issues. You are special and you are my kind of people.
- Growing Beyond Survival: A Self-Help Toolkit for Managing Traumatic Stress, Second Edition by Elizabeth G. Vermilyea
- Don’t Let Your Emotions Run Your Life (How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Can Put You in Control) by Scott E. Spradlin
- What Psychology Professionals Should Know
- JEALOUSY SURVIVAL GUIDE: How to feel safe, happy, and secure in an open relationship by Kitty Chambliss
- National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (Resource Library)