I have a twin brother and we are very close to each other and since we were children we tell each other everything. We now live and work in different cities, but that does not affect our communication. Recently my brother began a relationship with a woman and he is very much in love with her. He keeps talking about her, admiring her, not paying attention to the time concerning formalizing the relationship. And I, when I met her, found her very nice. But I spoke to a friend who happened to know her, and she told me that in their town everyone knew that the girl’s mother had a serious mental illness and she probably has it herself, because she had learned that she was taking psychotropic drugs. I did not say anything to my brother, on the one hand because he is on cloud nine, and on the other because this is his first real relationship. When I tried to ask him in general and vaguely, I realized that he had no idea. I’m in a dilemma about whether to tell my brother. On the one hand, I would not like to spoil his joy, but on the other hand what will happen if he commits to this girl and is faced with a very difficult situation? What would you advise?
Although in recent years we have begun to discuss more and more openly many issues such as sexual choices, the issue of mental health continues to remain a social taboo, despite the fact that today more and more people suffer from mental illness, especially after the recent pandemic.
Although more and more people appreciate the need and role of the psychologist, the words ‘psychiatrist’ and ‘psychotropic drugs’ remain negatively charged. The result is that people with a mental illness are afraid to talk about it for fear of losing their job, their partner, or their friends. And this unfortunately can happen, as long as logic, knowledge, and respect for diversity do not prevail.
Maybe this fear prevents your brother’s girlfriend from talking to him about her illness, if she really has not already done so and if she really suffers from something and it’s not all rumors that often circulate unchecked in small towns.
To find the answer to what concerns you, it might help to think of two things.
First, if the woman is really suffering from a mental illness and your brother does not understand something, it means that she can control the situation and is functional in her life and relationships and therefore, there may be no reason to worry.
If he knows about it and has not shared it with you, it probably means that he would not want to be influenced in his decisions that have to do with this relationship. As you write to me, it is his first serious relationship and he is happy with it.
Today, mental illnesses are most often cured or at least, with systematic treatment, people who suffer from them can have a normal life and enjoy it with those they love. What creates difficulties is ignorance and misunderstandings about these issues.
Stavroula Tsoutsa is a Certified Holistic Professional Life Coach, ICF ACC, Certified Heartmath Coach/Mentor and Trainer, and Certified Points of You Practitioner.