If you have a partner who has a mental illness, you have to remember that it is not their choice to suffer from it, nor is it a weakness or a fault in their personality. Nor is it a consequence of anything or that you have little willpower to overcome it. A mental illness is something serious that deserves to be treated to improve the quality of life of the affected person and their close environment.

The most common psychological disorder is depression. Relationships with people with mental illness are not always easy and it takes extra effort to make it work. A person with a mental disorder can be a complicated or difficult person in many situations. Always, it is necessary to be well informed about the mental health and illness suffered by the loved one in order to better understand what is happening to him and how to treat him.

Education is key

The most important thing you can do for your partner is not to judge him. It is a disease . This means that its causes are biological and environmental. It is necessary that you educate yourself about the condition that affects your partner, that you inform yourself and that you find out what exactly it means. This will help you understand why they say certain things and react in a particular way to certain situations. It will also help you understand that sometimes their reactions are not their fault. Try not to take things personally.

Communication

As with all couples, disagreements and arguments are inevitable, but should they be approached differently when your partner suffers from anxiety or another mental health issue? During discussions, couples have to communicate in a way that is more of a dialogue, and use the “soft start” approach.  Most conversations that start out hard will end badly. You can “smooth the start” of a difficult discussion by addressing your partner with affection, using a small gesture of physical contact or affection, being aware of the tone of voice and being sensitive to the moment of the discussion.

Possible challenges

These depend on the type of illness your partner might be dealing with, and each relationship varies depending on the severity of the disorder. The challenges include:

    • Unpredictability in mood and behavior.
    • Being on the receiving end of communication or behavior that might feel offensive.
    • Having to witness your partner suffer emotional pain or self-destructive behavior.
    • Coping with the frustration of trying to encourage your partner to give up an avoidance behavior, or overcome resistance to trying something new as a result of anxiety or low self-efficacy.
  • Deal with your own emotions in the face of your partner’s mental illness.

What can you do

Just as there are challenges, there are also a few things you can do about it:

    • Pay attention and use “repair attempts,” that is, the little efforts that you or your partner make during the heat of an argument to reduce the intensity. For example, if your partner puts their hand in yours while you argue, or refers to you by an endearment, know that this is their subconscious way of trying to reconnect with you.
  • Let your partner understand your intentions, that although you may disagree about something, you still care about their well-being . Just because you argue and disagree with something does not mean that you will abandon him. This builds a safe space to discuss.

What you must not do

There are some things you should NOT do if you want your relationship to work:

    • Don’t criticize your partner. You can complain about the behavior, but criticism involves a painful attack.
    • Don’t show contempt with revealing or sarcastic humor.
  • Don’t get defensive or activate ‘stone walls’ (tune out, purposefully look in the corner of the room, or do something to show that you are not paying attention to what your partner is saying).

Talk about triggers

It is important to recognize the type of incidents that could lead to your partner’s panic attacks. If you have anxiety , talk about your triggers. Take notes of the type of environment and situation you are in whenever you feel uncomfortable. Knowing the causes will help you understand the situations to avoid or the type of reaction to expect if you are faced with unavoidable circumstances.

From stagnation to dialogue

If you have trouble communicating, therapy can ease the stress in your relationship. Therapy offers perspectives that may be difficult for you or your partner to see and allows you to shift from a stagnant state to dialogue. The therapist can offer information, dispel any myths about the disease, and suggest powerful strategies for managing symptoms.

It allows couples to explore what this disease means for their relationship, reevaluate the relationship and improve the bond that exists in the couple. If you have trouble communicating, therapy can ease the stress in your relationship.

How to show your support for your partner

Ways to show support for your partner include regularly asking him how he is and how he is feeling, and what he needs from you in the relationship. Support can vary, so it is best to have an open and honest conversation with your partner about the expectations in your relationship and their active role in your ongoing journey.

You can ask him what he needs from you: is it space, empathy, encouragement, protection, tranquility? It is also vital to know more about the treatment you are receiving, any medication they are taking (and always making sure they remember to take it), and the places to go, in case they need additional help. It’s crucial that they don’t feel like the problems in their relationship are the result of their illness, so find ways to show them that you care and that you want to help them overcome the condition. It is important to let your partner know that you are there and that you will love him “in health and in sickness.”

This reassurance will go a long way toward strengthening your resolve to control your illness, while a negative reaction on your part can exacerbate the symptoms of mental illness and lead to feelings of hopelessness.

Take care of yourself too

Living with someone who has a mental condition can affect you too. If possible, talk to your partner’s therapist , who will have a better idea of ​​the type of situation you are facing. If you’re feeling exhausted from the relationship, tired, or anxious and worried, these could all be signs that the relationship is causing stress in your life.

From time to time, and using the appropriate communication tools , remind your partner that the situation is not easy for you either and that sometimes you may lose patience or have difficulty coping with the situation, so you should also be careful. his part if he doesn’t want to lose you.

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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