ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Learning How to Move On From Someone or Some Thing

Jack Bragen
Sunday November 19, 2017 - 12:27:00 PM

Millions of people are vulnerable because of the desire to connect with someone. This is why it has become lucrative for con artists to approach people over the internet, give a hard luck story while promising to become involved, and obtain money. Once the victim has wired all of their money to the con artist, abruptly, inevitably, the rip off artist is not interested any more.  

If you want to find romance via the internet, you should do so through a well-known, reputable dating website other than Craig's List. I have never done online dating. Yet, at a guess, many people placing ads misrepresent themselves, are dysfunctional in relationships, or are outright con artists.  

Letting go of someone with whom you have been involved (or with whom you wanted to be involved) is a skill. It is a lesson many of us must learn, mentally ill or not, and it can be a painful lesson. Yet, the ability to disconnect from someone, when that connection no longer serves a purpose, can serve you well for the rest of your life.  

I have been in some relationships that terminated in a not very good way. In other situations, things just fizzled out and apparently it wasn't a big deal. Being able to let go of someone, or even of some thing, is mostly learned, and it is a matter of overcoming primitive instincts. Addiction of any kind is messy, and sometimes causes complications that can ruin a person.  

People of any gender or orientation can be victims of catfish schemes. Anyone can end up in an abusive relationship. They can learn "red flags" to look for, through learning from experience, through counseling, or through other programs--to prevent getting into additional abusive relationships in the future. 

Either way, the mental resources must be found to let go of someone.  

Many people with mental illness, at the onset of illness or of a repeat episode, at the same time have issues with wanting a relationship or with a relationship not going well. This does not mean that loneliness or being obsessed with someone causes mental illness. 

Most psychiatric illnesses are based in a biochemical imbalance in part of the brain. Since this impairs how we process information, it can hamper the normal process of letting go of someone or some thing. This is accompanied by other symptoms, which for some include paranoia and disorganization. For others it might include depression, and for some it might include mood swings. Relationship problems aren't central to most mental illness. Many people with mental illness do not have issues with relationships, and do just fine with this area. 

Relationship problems often coincide with an episode of mental illness because relationships have the ability to bring forth strong emotions. The predicament of relationship difficulties could be the straw that broke the camel's back--the individual was becoming ill anyway and this was the last bit that knocked him or her over the edge. 

I have been with my wife for more than twenty years. If I had to let go of her, it would be like a limb being amputated. In some instances, hanging on is a good thing. When you have something that works, there is no reason to bring about the tools that would cause you to let go.  

Pretending to be "above it all" and not acknowledging that you want someone or something when you actually do, ends up becoming self-sabotage, especially if you want to make something work.  

However, if it is clear that a relationship or the seeking of a relationship is having negative or destructive ramifications, you'd better consider getting out. You can't let go of an attachment or an addiction unless you acknowledge you have it.  

(It is like not acknowledging a door that is in front of you. You're trying to get to the next room, yet, if you do not acknowledge the door and turn the knob, you'll keep bumping into the door, as though you were a malfunctioning automatic vacuum cleaner. Even an automatic vacuum, when working, is able to acknowledge a barrier. Why, then, can't we?)  

One way of letting go of a destructive attachment is to seek help. This is the sort of thing that mental health counselors are good for. If medication is at the right level, not too high or too low, if you get help, and if you realize that it is necessary to let go of a destructive perceived need, you should be able to do that.  

The above doesn't cure an underlying mental illness, but it does do a tremendous job of improving quality of life. Or, it can prevent quality of life from getting a lot worse. The ability to let go of a destructive behavior is power. The ability to disconnect when necessary is a form of power.  

A final note: There is nothing to be ashamed of if we've had relationship difficulties. This is a common problem for people with or without a psychiatric illness. And while society may project a lot of perceived shame about this, it is because many ignorant people have Stone Age thinking.  

My new self-published book, "Understanding People with Schizophrenia," is available now on LULU, and is subject to revision. I haven't received my first copy yet, as I didn't want to spend the money for fast shipping. If you buy it now and something needs to be corrected, it may some day become a collector's item. Later, assuming that everything is O.K. with it, it will be for sale in a wide variety of other outlets, including Amazon.