4 Things That I Learned about Relationships and Mental Illness

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Relationships can be hard and they take loads of work.  They can be even harder when one of the people involved in the relationship has a mental health disorder.  


I have been involved in several relationships, many of them were before I knew that I had anxiety and bipolar disorder.  When I look back on those times, I can see that my symptoms were clearly showing themselves. Of course, I can across as negative, unhappy and out of control (to say the least).  

Learning about my illness and symptoms have really shed light on how my mental health disorder affects me and relationships with other people.  Having this information is key to making relationships work as well as maintaining my mental health.


While relationships and mental health are a topic that I can go on for days about.  I have learned so many things, but here are 4 important things that I learned about being in a relationship and managing your mental health disorders:


1.Take care of your mental health and learn about your symptoms and triggers so that you can educate yourself and your partner.  Education is so very important when dealing with mental health disorders. Once you have the information you can make a plan of action.  

2.Communicate your thoughts and feelings so that both parties are on the same page.
  When you are honest and open about your thoughts and feelings you can determine when your symptoms are appearing and how they can be dealt with.

3.Know that you are not your illness and you are in control.  This will eliminate some of the negative thoughts and feelings that you have about yourself.


4.Have a support system outside of your partner.  Having a strong support system is so very important when managing a mental illness.  Having support channels outside of your partner could alleviate some of the stresses that may come along with your partner being your only source of support.  


These are just a few things that I have learned about relationships and mental illness.  Do you have any tips for maintaining your mental health and relationship? I would love to hear from you. Let me know your tips!





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Rumination!  It's Exhausting

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How naive was I to think that anxiety just caused me to worry constantly.  

I really did think, )years before my recovery journey) that anxiety only caused constant worry.  Not regular worry like forgetting something off of your grocery list, but major worry. Many times about things that were highly unlikely to happen.  I would worry about romantic relationship problems, when I was not even in a relationship. Or another example would be to worry about a conflict that had not happened.  I thought about what the conversation would sound like with the other person, and then on top of all of that, I would be upset by the outcome of the imaginary conflict. I just came up with scenario after scenario and over and over I would worry so much about things that were not even a problem.  


Now, I do have quite an imagination, but these thoughts were always unpleasant and I ended up upsetting myself after having these thoughts.  There was a time when the harder I thought the more upset I would get and I would display physical symptoms because of this. I would feel nauseous, have headaches and things like that.  It was pretty out of control. Little did I know that for all of those years I was ruminating. According to Psychology Today ruminating is “simply repetitively going over a thought or problem without completion. The repetition and feelings of inadequacy raises anxiety and anxiety interferes with solving the problem.”  In other words, I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Ruminating is exhausting.  

I was caught in a loop of stress and anxiety and would focus on the negative, instead of the positive.  I say it all of the time and I am going to say it again. Maintaining a mental illness is a lifestyle change.  One of the major lifestyle changes is mindset which is so important. When we change our thoughts, we train our brains to look for the positive as well as seek out solutions.  


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My Top Mental Health Care Tips

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I have been on this mental health journey for over a year and a half.  

I have for the last year and a half been consistently taking care of my mental health and mental illness.  As I have said many times before, maintaining a mental illness is a lifestyle. Once I realized that this was a lifestyle, that is when things started to look up for me.  This illness is a part of my life and maintaining it is a part of my lifestyle.


I have learned so much about myself and my illness on this journey.  

I am still, learning new things everyday and I enjoy the discoveries that I make.  I want to share my top five mental health care tips that I have compiled over the last year and a half.  This is not everything that I have learned but I think this is a good list to use when navigating through the oh so tough journey to mental health recovery.


My Top five (5) Mental Health Care Tips:


  1. Maintaining a Mental Illness is a Lifestyle - I have said it about a thousand times but this is so true.  Maintaining a mental illness is a lifestyle change. There are changes that have to be made in order to maintain good mental health.  Realizing this is a step in the right direction.

  2. Find A Good Mental Health Care Team - Do you have a hairstylist, or barber that you trust your tresses with?  Are you so committed to him or her that you wouldn’t let another lay hands on your hair?  That is how I feel about having a good mental health care team. Your brain an important organ and having a team that specializes in caring for your brain is a must.

  3. Eliminate Negative Influences in Your Life - This may seem like a no-brainer but I have to say it.  All negative influences and relationships should be considered and evaluated.  Mental Illness can be alot to deal with. The emotional changes that occur can take a toll.  Having factors that are not conducive to maintaining a healthy mental lifestyle will make your journey much tougher.

  4. Get Some Rest - Again this one may sound like it is obvious, but we can take our bodies for granted.  Getting the proper amount of rest essential. That not only means going to bed at night for the recommended 8 hours of sleep, this also means to listen to our bodies when we feel tired or exhausted.  

  5. Do Things that Make You Happy - Do you have hobbies that you enjoy?  Have you thought about it? If you have not, it is time to make a list of the things that you do.  Do them, as often as possible.


I could go on for days talking about all of the lessons that I have learned but I am going to stop here.  There is more where that came from. But, if I could offer one piece of advice to go along with this list it would be this: Mental Health Recovery is Possible.


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Everyday Warriors: Fiona Barker

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I want to fill you in on a little secret.

 I LOVE to see people who were diagnosed with mental health disorders living the lives that they want and deserve.  We are here to live out our dreams. We are in charge of that, for ourselves. For years, I was in a closet of shame and I was afraid to come out.  I didn’t know that there were others like me who had careers, families, dreams, oh yes and mental illness. I was so brainwashed by the shame and stigma surrounding mental health and mental illness.


Whenever I come across amazing “Everyday Warriors”  I get so excited, that I have decided to share their stories with you.  The more people that come forward regarding their mental health challenges, the more normalized the conversation of mental health and mental will become.

I met Fiona Barker on social media a couple of months ago.  She is a designer based in the UK and started her own business called Fiona Barker Design.  She creates inspirational illustrations that promote positivity in the home. She also has anxiety.  The reason why I was drawn to Fiona and wanted to share her story is for several reasons: 1) She is a talented creative woman, 2) She took a chance on herself and started her own business, and 3) She is very open about her struggles with anxiety and how she copes with it.  I love this! And I love people who are examples of my motto “Living Your Best Life Despite a Diagnosis”.


Fiona created a magazine called “Being Yourself” Magazine.  

In the magazine, she talk about her anxiety and what she does personally to combat the feelings of overwhelm, and anxiety, among other things.  I invite you to take a look at the magazine. We can all learn from each other, and she shares some great advice in this issue.


Click here to see the magazine!


I also invite you to follow Fiona on Instagram where she is sharing sneak peaks of her work, her cute dog and her life.  She is a true example of not letting a diagnosis stop you!


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https://pages.convertkit.com/b4f4efbe7e/94d48bee47

Support! Who Needs Support?!

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The quick answer is everyone.  


Being diagnosed with a mental illness is one of the most difficult things that you can deal with.  When I was diagnosed, I wanted to get as much information as I could possibly get my hands on regarding bipolar disorder.  I wanted to how I could live with it and what I would do to maintain it. I was looking for hope. I found a few articles online and I also found a magazine called BP Hope.  It is a magazine that tells the stories of people who live with bipolar disorder. This what exactly what I needed because I figured if so many others could live successfully with their illnesses, then so could I.  While reading about these awesome people in a magazine were great for me to see, I never found people in real life that I could relate to, who also suffered from some sort of mental health disorder.


My need to connect with others who shared a situation that was similar to me was overwhelming.

I wanted to be around people who were high functioning, had families, careers, and also a mental illness.  I wanted to feel like I was not “abnormal” or the only one in the world who suffered in silence. I wanted a connection, and I was determined to find it.


I searched high and low for a support group that I could attend with people who could relate to me.  I did find a support group, and it was nothing like I expected. Now don’t get me wrong, the people were very nice and they were polite and all of that.  The thing that I did not like about the group was that when I would leave, I felt more sad and depressed than when I arrived. I was always under the impression, that support groups are supposed to help you through your tough time and also offer hope along the way.  That is not what I felt. I felt like I was doomed and that I would live a sad, grim existence based on the folks that I had met in this support group. If I could help it, I never wanted anyone to feel the way I did during my support group experience.


I have created an online support group called the Sanctuary Support Group.  

I created this group to combat the feelings of loneliness, and isolation that I felt so many years ago.  This is a safe place for sharing hope, inspiration and experiences with others who live with a mental health disorder.  The group will meet once a month, and the next meeting is scheduled for January 19, 2019.


For more information on the Sanctuary Support Group Virtual, please visit the link below.  

http://bit.ly/SanctuarySupportVirtual



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