Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 19th 2013 Contents B3
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Today I d planned on sharing the upshot
of yoga in my therapy. But for three consec-
utive weekends one or more of my house-
guests has questioned my life without a part-
ner in these wooded parts where I choose
While I welcomed the uninvited interven-
tions with good humour, I found the conver-
sations focused on a perceived lack of physical
intimacy. My preference is to approach the
issue from the angle of what s appropriate for
my mental wellbeing.
While I m open to participating in relation-
ships, at this stage I m discriminating, across
the board, against anyone creating diversions
from my healing. I ve separated myself from
the infidelity of my professed "angel" and
excommunicated one relative whom I always
favoured and who misguidedly felt amply con-
fident to be inaccurately and openly odious
(Facebook odium, too) towards me.
I remain emotionally accessible---though it
would appear from the exclamations about
how far I ve relocated that I m physically indis-
posed---but I ve retired the ebullient energies
which I ve been known to allocate to romantic
I m certain, however, that my partner will
come at the right time, so I carry no anxieties
about that matter. When he comes he ll know
that mental health is one of our challenges
and will have accepted that with love and care
we can grow together facing any difficulty.
"Having a mental illness," says www.men-
talhealthamerica, "shouldn t keep you from
enjoying fulfilling relationships of all kinds,
from close friendships to romantic relationships
and even marriage. Mental illness is fairly
common. In reality, there are many people
with mental-health conditions in loving and
nurturing relationships who share their lives
with their partners, often raising families with
"Romantic relationships can be enriching,
delightful and meaningful," the site continues,
"but negotiating the ups and downs of such
relationships can also be a major challenge,
especially for those with a mental illness."
Having a mental illness, though, should not
be a signal for a problematic engagement. All
relationships have problems.
It s constant communication and compro-
mise that make them work.
Frankly, mental illness shouldn t even feature,
and if it does, it should be within a relationship
disclaimer that says all human beings are
flawed in one way or another.
For me, having openly discussed my strug-
gles may have discounted my dating currency.
Candidly, though, any man worth his salt and
willing to approach the love in me should be
excited about the fact that I ve eliminated "the
discovery period" of things that so many
people discern in the other way too late.
The evidence is mounting which supports
the amazing impact of love, marriage, and sex
on mental and physical wellbeing. Scientists
differentiate the three stages of love as "lust,
attraction, and attachment, with each stage
producing different and varying levels of hor-
mones and chemicals in the brain."
"In the early stages of love," says date-
hookup.com, "which are generally distin-
guished by sexual attraction and lust, sexual
behaviour is typically initiated by increases in
oestrogen for females and testosterone in
males. The brain produces chemicals or neu-
rotransmitters in this phase, which are called
adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin."
As I have written before, serotonin and
dopamine are "chemical messengers" thought
to modulate depression, anger, sleep, and sex-
uality and are important for the regulation of
learning and mood, as well as linked to anxiety,
migraine, memory, and appetite.
"Oxytocin," says datehookup, "is a powerful
hormone, which is also released by men and
women during orgasm and deepens the feelings
of attachment between them following sex.
Because of its effects on affection, it s referred
to as the cuddle hormone. "
Some time ago I had dinner with a couple
at a Tobago hotel where we were guests. One
of them is a seasoned media personality whom
I ve known for a long time, and the other was
his spouse, whom I never knew existed.
Our discussion began with my response to
why I had "disappeared" from the local media
and communications sphere. As usual, my
openness prompted some deep sharing, mostly
about their management of his wife s issues.
I learned she works from home with an
intimate client base, has no interest in social-
ising so never attends any event with him,
and is never insecure, even as her few friends
continue to suggest that he would be unfaithful
being out there by himself. He in turn is a
supportive husband who has provided the
physical and emotional environment she needs.
He said he is never surprised, critical, or
annoyed if he meets her reading the same
book he left her reading that morning and in
the same place he left her, too. In fact, he has
ensured they have a bedroom fully equipped
with all amenities---including heavy drapes,
mini refrigerator, and air-conditioning---in
case she doesn t feel like coming out.
They infused hope for the intimacy and
loving support that I know await me, and
sharpened my resolve to not settle for less.
For me, right now, I loathe the increasingly
duplicitous nature of people, which does not
complement my heart s bearing. My mental
real-estate acquisition demands more head-
space than most men today want to give.
So I wait, patiently.
Courting: the effect of love on the brain
MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS
CAROLINE C RAVELLO
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