Free Support Group July 7: Struggling with a Partner with Mental Illness

July 7, 10 am-noon

When we committed to our beloved, we could never have known how difficult it would be living with someone who struggles with depression, PTSD or another form of serious mental illness. We may find ourselves changing, becoming less forthright or compassionate, feeling helpless, even ponder leaving.  I’ll review some of the most prevalent issues, including a better understanding of the many pitfalls in relating to someone with illness, and facilitate sharing our experiences. Possible ongoing fee-based group to follow, if sufficient interest. This is a PeopleHouse free Heart of Service workshop.

As an Emotionally Focused Therapist, I recognize that the deepest desire of those who commit to each other is to know, and be known, to accept and be accepted for ALL that we are. In our joy, to celebrate a major victory, or simply the beauty of a Colorado sunset. And in our most difficult times, to lean on our beloved and feel their sure arms holding us up. The pathway to this is through the softening of our defenses, our desire to blame, to see the other as an enemy…and to gain trust that one’s scariest, most primary emotions, of sadness, shame and anger can be revealed in all their vulnerability, and received by the beloved with respect and compassion.  All couples find that, over time, defenses build up and vulnerability feels like it is no longer an option. Yet in my experience and the experience of clients and colleagues alike, couples therapy often reveals hidden strengths in both ourselves and our loved ones, and can be a source of healing for both of us.

Yet, every so often, I have clients come into my office whose partners and spouses simply cannot be those strong arms that catch us, whose despair and overwhelming anxiety wall them off from joining with us in delighting at the world. Who suffer from depression, Bipolar, post traumatic stress disorder, Asperger’s, severe anxiety, even schizophrenia. We love them, have created a home, even had children with them…and we have tried mightily to overcome, to raise them up or soothe them. Sometimes, it even seems to work a little. But over time, we find ourselves compensating, holding back, becoming resentful, and feeling like we lack the support and safety of another.

My hope for this workshop is both to educate on some of these disorders, and to begin a discussion of what this experience is like from each attendee’s unique lens. If there is enough interest, we’ll start a group, keep it small (max of 7) to allow for needs to be met, and perhaps new strategies to be established. We’ll set goals, and hold each other accountable. And we’ll have a place of understanding, where we can find some ease and honesty. We may even find some ways in which a change in our approach, and in our expectations, positively impacts our relationships!

For any questions, feel free to contact me at 303.459.4776, or at lifecrafting@ingalarson.com

Peace to you all.