My Partner Has Mental Health Issues. What Do I Do?
Mental illness can be as disruptive as physical illness and can result in similar impairment. Mental health and mental illness affect far more people than we realize.
Mental health issues can include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as schizophrenia, and other psychoses. What if one of your loved ones, your partner, has mental issues? What should you do?
Mental Health Issues Will Never Break Us Apart
What happens when someone in your life needs treatment or help, but you aren’t sure what exactly to do? It’s natural to feel very confused, and you might wonder what to do, who to ask, how to find help, and whether your partner is really sick or just acting weird.
If you’ve ever experienced the stress of living with someone who has mental health problems, you know just how difficult it is to be in a relationship with someone who is ill. You want to help them, but you’re not sure what to do. Often the person with the mental health problem doesn’t want help, and you’re afraid to ask for it. This can be extremely isolating. What should you do if you find out that your partner has mental health issues? If you love your partner, you will find ways to achieve balance in your relationship as you help them get through this difficult phase in their lives.
Here are the following ways of how you can be a supportive partner to help your partner that has mental health issues:
• Know about the diagnosis — So your partner is sick. They’re in a dark place, maybe in the depths of depression, maybe in the throes of a psychotic episode. What can you do? How can you help? It’s hard to be supportive when you don’t know what’s going on in someone’s head, or worse, when you’re worried that they’re not thinking clearly. You want to be supportive, but if you don’t understand what’s happening, it’s safe to say you’re not. It would be better if you understand fully your partner’s diagnosis to know from there how you are going to support and be their strength during difficult situations.
• Research support tactics to help your partner better. One piece of information that we found especially helpful was the information on strategies that can be used as support for a partner with mental illness. For instance, supportive, kind, and loving words can go a long way to helping a person with mental illness. It can help them to know that someone is there for them, to remember that they are loved, to believe in themselves.
• Listen. Practice listening with compassion. Be supportive in ways that don’t put undue pressure on them. For example, try to avoid asking them how they’re doing too often, since most people enjoy positive reinforcement. Ask good questions. Give good advice. It’s not easy. But it’s not about you. It’s about your partner. Start by treating them with kindness and respect, and look for opportunities to show how much you care.
Mental illness is not always easy to talk about, but it can be an important part of getting better. Learning about the signs and symptoms of mental illness is key in understanding what your partner is experiencing, but it’s also important to talk about the feelings you have about the disorder. Being supportive of your partner’s mental health can help them maintain their treatment and reduce the risk of relapse.