I’ve suffered from depression from a very young age–pill overdose at 14 and mh hospitalization at 21. All of my “relationships” until now have been of a sexual nature and I have been very promiscuous since losing my virginity at 23. I’ve had about 20 partners, most of them as a result of prostituting myself–at 26 and at 30 years of age. I’ve felt like I’ve lived a double life for so long. Despite it all, I’ve managed to get myself in graduate school this year; ironically, I’m going for my MSW. I have been living with my current–and the only person I consider a “legitimate”—boyfriend for a year but dating for two. I question the authenticity or the healthiness of my relationship with my partner because he was initially my “john.” Needless-to-say, I have a lot of insecurities around his faithfulness. We have a lot of problems because I feel he’s not affectionate enough towards me and I’m always seeking validation. I love his family and he loves mine but I don’t know if he’s the one. I think he’s a great guy but I also think he’s as good as I’ll be able to do because no one else would accept me with my past. He’s a typical guy in every sense of the word and gets easily frustrated when we talk about “feelings and emotions.” He thinks our relationship is fine–and for the most part it is–and says I just can’t help but self-sabotage. He’s perhaps the only person that knows EVERYTHING about me–I told him about my depression, he obviously knows about the prostitution–but he uses it against me when we have arguments. I want to make this relationship work but I don’t know if it’s because the only one I’ve ever really had or because I think I’m in love. My PCP, who knows my mh history seeing since I was a teenager, suspects I have Cyclothymia and encouraged me to get professional help. Needless-to-say, I’ve been lackadaisical about it. Sometimes I feel like I want to run away from everything because no one will ever understand me but I also feel like I want to try to get better. I’m confused about my relationship and I wonder how much my mh instability is affecting my expectations? Or am I really asking for too much?
A: First I want you to know how much I admire your courage for pulling yourself together and making it into graduate school. MSW programs are not easy to get into and the fact that you want to use your evolution to help others is to be celebrated. People who have recovered from life’s hurts almost always make good therapists.
Let’s not, as the ’60s slang phrase goes, push the river. So far you have been systematically evolving and resilient in making changes in your life. You are having more of what you want and less of what you don’t want. This means your life is moving in the right direction. Someone who self-sabotages is typically ambivalent about their circumstance – so if this is your concern, keep talking about what you want and don’t want in a relationship. Clarity is the antidote for staying in an ambivalent situation. If you keep moving toward clarity the risk of sabotage goes down.
I am assuming you are already in therapy, but if not I would encourage you to use the services at the graduate school you are attending. This will help with the process of clarifying.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Jan 2013
Tomasulo, D. (2012). Relationship & Mental Health Issues. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 19, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/01/06/relationship-mental-health-issues/