Monday, 16 May 2016

Relationships & Mental Health

It's Mental Health Awareness Week, which is focusing on RELATIONSHIPS. 
As a professional organiser, I've lost track of how many times I've worked with people who I believe may have undiagnosed Autism Spectrum Condition (including Asperger's) or ADHD - conditions which can make every day skills like organising, planning, house-keeping or time-management difficult.
I've also lost track of the number of times where my client and their partner (or client and other family members) have relationship and/or mental health problems - often due to frustrations about clutter, disorganisation or hoarding.

And nine times out of ten, these two situations can go hand in hand with some kind of bullying, oppression, repression or suppression in their lives for one or both parties, which may have started or happened in childhood.  The result can be low self-esteem, lack confidence, anxiety, depression or all of these - or worse. 

It's a vicious circle:  undiagnosed condition + mental illness = damaged relationships = downward spiraling physical and mental state for one or both partners = the clutter continues or gets worse.
So I encourage clients to step back and consider things from an holistic perspective.  Ask themselves "what might have made them - or their partner - different (not "neurotypical" - NT)?"
Realising that conditions such as ADHD and Autism are treatable and not just an excuse for laziness or exhibiting "unreasonable", inattentive or obsessive behaviour can transform a relationship, as can a better understanding of mental illness.  
With the right diagnosis and the right treatment, perhaps they would have more patience with each other, and relationship breakdowns could be prevented.  
This video about relationships for spouses with Asperger's explains how easy it can be for seemingly impatient or uncaring partners to misunderstand situations and put relationships and people's mental health at risk - their own and others.  
I love the idea that the Mental Health Foundation has come up with for Mental Health Awareness Week 2016 - making a Relationship Resolution; pledging to take the time to assess how much time we actively commit to building and maintaining good relationships, and to ask whether we can invest more in being present with and listening to friends, family and colleagues - for the sake of our mental health and others.
By promoting good relationships and tackling the barriers to forming them - including mounting pressures on work–life balance and the impact of bullying and unhealthy relationships - we can help ourselves and others deal with life-
clutter as well as physical clutter and disorganisation.  

Reducing mental health pressures on our bodies helps improve our physical health and enables us to live longer and happier lives with fewer physical and mental health problems.  It's a win-win situation, which proves that decluttering is good for us!
Life Isn't For Ever, so let's live it well....