Humans are social beings, we naturally cooperate, care and compete with each other. We build many bonds and relationships throughout our lives, which brings us to a plethora of questions: Why are we attracted to certain people? Why do people fall in love? What makes a relationship work? Are men really from Mars and women from Venus? These are the questions that intrigue some of us.
Relationships, whether they are friendships, family bonds or romantic relationships, form an important part of who we are and how we see ourselves. Healthy relationships help us learn and grow. On the other hand, toxic relationships can have some seriously negative effects on our mental and physical health. But relationships take work, and while they can be a source of happiness and comfort, there are also moments that cause anxiety and stress. It is important to take care of ourselves by setting healthy boundaries and communicating our needs and wants.
“Once you’re back on your feet — if you ever make it back on your feet — that’s the ultimate achievement. I remember I was in New York at the Trump Hotel and I woke up and I just knew I was over it. It was a different day. I felt different. I didn’t feel lonely. I felt like I wanted to get up and be in the world. That was a great, great feeling.” - Rihanna
“I had a boyfriend who told me I’d never succeed, never be nominated for a Grammy, never have a hit song, and that he hoped I’d fail. I said to him, ‘Someday when we’re not together, you won’t be able to order a cup of coffee at the fucking deli without hearing or seeing me.” - Lady Gaga
“Being in love is the worst. I mean it’s the best, but it’s so hard and scary to open your heart to someone. It’s much easier to kind of float and not invest and not expose yourself and not open your heart. But, the point is, vulnerability is the key to happiness. Vulnerable people are powerful people. Opening your heart and sharing it means you’re going to get so much love in your life.” - Amy Poehler
Perhaps the most important relationship to cultivate from a mental health point of view is the relationship with oneself. Understanding our own strengths and limits, recognising negative thought patterns, and taking the time to pay attention to our needs and to indulge in some self-care are essential. Self-care can mean different things to different people, but it can also be as simple as writing in a journal or hanging out with your dog.
For those of us who are struggling with mental health issues, maintaining healthy relationships are difficult but important. We need to pick and choose our people, a network of friend and family that we can count on and whom we can turn to when we’re feeling low. It reminds us that we are not alone. And while it may be scary at first to reach out and to ask for help, connecting with others is vital to recovery and towards living a full and happy life.