Sex, Love, and Mental Illness: A Couple’s Guide to Staying Connected
– Stephanie Buehler
Both parties need to understand the effects of mental illness-and of the medications used to treat it-on sexual desire and performance. The author provide ways to maintain both physical and emotional intimacy in a relationship.
The first section of the book centers on common sexual concerns and loving someone with a mental disorder. The second addresses a wide range of mental disorders, their effects on relationships, and ways couples can work together to overcome those effects. Among the conditions covered are mood disorders; anxiety disorders; chronic pain; eating disorders; substance-related disorders; post traumatic stress; ADD; Asperger’s Syndrome; and even severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia. The emphasis throughout is on each partner developing empathy and communication skills to enhance the sexual experience and preserve a healthy relationship.
Witnessing the suffering of a loved one can be one of the most difficult situations we face. Among other things, we may feel powerless, frustrated and frightened. That’s true whether the suffering originates from a physical illness or injury, addiction or self-destructive activity.
When a loved one suffers a debilitating, persistent and chronic mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, those feelings can be compounded. Strange, unpredictable behaviors can be terrifying and confusing. Your loved one may suddenly rage at you with blame or be utterly dependent upon you for basic needs and emotional stability.
You may experience many confusing emotions yourself, including anger, grief, guilt, fear and sadness. As you struggle with each episode of illness and worry about the future, you may feel anxious and overwhelmed.
Unfortunately, since serious mental illness still carries a stigma, you may be keeping it a secret, resulting in increased isolation, frustration and difficulty because you may have no one to talk to about your feelings or no way to get information and support.
Read next weeks post to find out how To Help Yourself in coping with mental illness. . .